Old Rockers Discover Their Drummer Is Not Dead
The Hustlers split nearly 50 years ago and lost touch but now the band are back together and reliving their misspent youth.
They believe they could be one of the country’s oldest rock and roll groups with all its original members.
Formed in Brighton in 1960, The Hustlers played at youth clubs around Sussex but split five years later as they felt it had run its course and several members were getting married.
The band includes lead singer Tony Burchell, 72, lead guitarist Barry Gillam, 73, bassist Richard Pearce, 69, Pete Dresch, 70, and drummer Ken White, 67.
Over the years the friends lost touch and when lead singer Mr Burchell celebrated his 50th birthday he tried to contact the others on a radio station in Brighton.
But a caller phoned in and claimed that drummer Ken had passed away.
However, 22 years on, the band found each other on a 1960’s Brighton bands website only to realise that Ken was very much alive and well. They met up and decided to get back together.
“We just started laughing because 45 years had gone and we remembered it all,” said Richard, an upholsterer.
“Nobody had changed that much – we’d all grown older, but we hadn’t changed a great deal in looks. We were all instantly recognisable to each other.”
They have been performing gigs mainly in the Worthing area, some for charity, and fans from the old days have come back to see them.
Richard joked: “Most of our applause comes from the fact that we can stand up for two hours unaided. “We enjoy ourselves and hope the audience does.”
The band performs covers of classic rock and roll hits of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, such as songs by Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley.
They said that, although there are other older bands like the Rolling Stones, they believe it is unique to have the same line-up as they did before.
As well as restoring friendships, the men say playing and having to memorise nearly 70 songs keeps their minds active.
“The fact we can still do what we do is great,” said Tony. “We may be old, but we can still rock and roll.”