The Class of '58 are recognised as one of Europe's Premier and Best Loved 50's Rock & Roll and Doo Wop bands and consists of Howie (Dad) on Guitar/Vocals, Chris (Mam) on Double Bass/Vocals, and their sons Johnny, on Drums/Vocals and Davie on Piano/vocals.
The band, this year, are celebrating 19 years of playing together - and still going strong! The Class of '58 are probably the most versatile, hard-working and most unique band playing '50's Rock 'n' Roll music today.
Versatile - because their set consists of the whole spectrum of '50's music - Doowop, Jive, Rhythm & Blues, Boogie Woogie, Rockabily, Classics and more!
Hardworking - because their Gig List is a testament to their desire to put their music out there, which is reflected by how busy they are!
Unique - because the band is made up from all the members of the complete family unit - Mam, Dad and 2 sons. Whereas it might not be too unusual to come across bands occasionally with siblings, a relative, or one parent in, an ENTIRE complete family is both rare and unique - especially playing '50's Rock 'n' Roll!
Many years ago, a well respected veteran of the music industry christened them "The First Family of Rock 'n' Roll", which is a badge that they're proud to wear to this day.
They were the first entire family to play together in this genre of music and they paved the way for others to follow. Thus making it more acceptable for promoters to give other youngsters a chance to play - After all the lifeblood of any music is youth!!!
Charlie Gracie once said : " They sound like they've been playing together for 40 years! " - and that was a long, long time ago, when the boys were still in Primary school!!
The band has and continues to tour extensively throughout Britain, Europe and the rest of the World, playing anywhere and everywhere - From Cruise Ships to Festivals, VIP & Corporate Events to Holiday Resorts and Hotels, Motor Shows to Rock & Roll gigs and Jive Clubs and many other events! Earning the reputation as a high quality band that always comes up with the goods!
Whether you want to dance, or just watch the show, this is the band for you! A great night is always guaranteed.
The hills are alive with the sound of music?
The Von Trapp's never sounded like this!
Howie started playing guitar at twelve and loved Rock & Roll music, all he ever wanted to do was play his guitar. His early influences were Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins - and being a guitar player, of course, Scotty Moore. Like all youngsters he used to play along to records in his bedroom.
Reality hit, however, when he left school and went to work for the National Coal Board as an engineer - he hated it!! But he still kept dreaming of becoming a musician. At that young age, if you told him where his musical path would take him - travelling the world, meeting and working with his musical heroes, then onto being on the road with his family and being able to share some incredible, unique experiences, he wouldn't have believed you because this was impossible. Although while working in a freezing workshop on night shift, he'd have settled for a tiny, tiny piece of it.
At twenty one, he left the Coal Board and moved to the city, where he spent a year or two playing in local bands in every smokey bar and music venue he could - All he wanted to do was play.
In 1986, "The Class of '58" was formed. This period happened to coincide with a lot of the original fifties artists coming over from the USA, playing the increasing Rock & Roll festivals and gigs on the Revival Circuit. Howie being known as a good, reliable guitarist was offered the opportunity for him and his band to back these stars on tour - Both in the UK and Europe - He couldn't believe his luck!! He got to work with, not only rockabilly artists off the famous Sun Record Label, but also the household hit-makers of that era, not to mention the British stars of course. It was a very exciting time.
The one constant Howie has had in his life, from being a youngster to where he is now, is The Class of '58. As you can imagine he has many great memories and stories - some repeatable and some not! The one "stand out" story though, was having supper sat next to DJ Fontana and just spending the evening chatting. Then weeks later, DJ greeting Howie like an old friend and introducing him to Elvis' legendary guitarist, Scotty Moore! As a big Elvis fan since being a kid, this was just mind blowing. Coming from a small Welsh mining community, thirty years after these records were recorded, this should've been impossible - Wow!!
The thing is, he says, stories are like buses - when you wait for one, another one comes right along and another "pinch me" moment for him was when he sessioned out with Freddie "Fingers" Lee and ended up on the Ray Charles show, on a warm evening in France. He couldn't believe it! The Class of '58 has become Howie's life. He's spent many, many years gigging, travelling and generally having a great time and it has presented him with a great many opportunities and experiences. The band has now evolved and Howie feels it has been elevated to another level of enjoyment and opportunity.
Time goes by so quick and the band is now a family business. What Howie enjoys most is, now his sons have grown up, telling them the stories of some of those tours - Some believable and some unbelievable. If people ask if it's hard work, he says "No, the Coal Board was hard work - This is a love affair - playing your music with your family, travelling to great places; it doesn't get much better!".
Chris has loved Rock'n'Roll since she was a youngster and never in her wildest dreams would she ever have believed that she'd one day end up on stage playing with the very same people that she listened to on her vinyl 45's!
At 14, she took up the guitar, just wanting to play the music. She was 15 when she went to her first concert, which was to see The Stray Cats - She just loved the energy of it all. Fast forward a couple of years later, when she was 17, she went to a Rock & Roll dance to see a live band and that's where she met Howie, they've been together ever since!
With Howie being in bands, Chris would always be there and would get up and sing the odd song or two. This is where she developed her love for singing. Before she started playing the double bass with "The Class of '58", she would get up as a featured singer and also provide backing vocals when required. One of her fondest memories was "standing in" at rehearsals for RCA Victor Recording artist Janis Martin, who was doing an upcoming European Tour. Janis really appreciated this and invited Chris on stage to sing with her at one of the shows, which she absolutely loved.
In 1990 Chris became the permanent double bass player, as the original double bass player left. Howie and Chris had moved back up the Valleys and it was a simple case of not knowing anybody who could play the double bass. In three months she had to get to grips with the instrument and learn three sets, as there was already a European Tour with visiting American's booked - Baptism by fire!
Chris has said that taking up the double bass was the best decision she ever made as, in hindsight, the band wouldn't have turned out as it has. It's all just been luck, that everything has fallen into place.
John was born in 1994 and started playing the drums when he was 5. His first kit consisted of a cardboard box bass drum and 2 plastic paint pots for snare and tom-tom. His top quality cymbals were cake tins! This would be the kit on which he would hone his fledgling skills! At this young age, he’d already made up his mind that he wanted to play in the band with Mam and Dad!
At 6 years old he had his first real kit of drums – now he had quality drums, there was no stopping him!! Although he’d already played a couple of times in front of his class, his first “proper” gig (with Mam and Dad as The Class of ’58) was on his 7th birthday, when he did a 30 minute spot in a small local club. Once he’d had a taste of this he wanted more and progressed at a phenomenal pace. His chance finally came in 2002 when, at 8 years of age, he joined the band permanently, and he’s never looked back. As with any musician, the more gigs you do, the better you get and he did so many gigs that he improved at lightening pace. He came up with the idea of singing backing vocals, which worked out great and he even managed to get through without any problems when his voice broke - He changed from singing high to singing low over night, which was very entertaining! This became his role, laying down the beat and providing doo wops!
At a very young age John never had any drumming influences, as he just played what he felt. It was only as he got older that he discovered great drummers. As John was self-taught he developed his own drumming style which, these days, he describes as “A mix of all my favourite bits from all my favourite drummers”. He has become a well respected and admired drummer amongst his peers and audiences alike, which has resulted in him becoming an endorsed artist of Murat Diril Cymbals, Natal Drums, Code Drumheads UK and Pellwood Drumsticks Europe, which is a great plaudit for any musician.
These days John's role has grown even bigger as he has now taken over the management of the band - running everything from publicity, to booking enquiries and negotiations, social media, photography, videography and everything in between!
Although drumming is John's passion, he is just naturally musical and can play a number of different instruments. He is an accomplished guitarist and loves nothing more than plugging in his ol' Gretsch and playing some Brian Setzer - That's when he's got the time of course. When you spend so much time on the road, there never seems to be enough hours in the week! In his spare time, John acts in Hollywood Films, TV Series', Adverts and everything in between (Keep your eyes peeled!!) and in his spare, spare time he turns out to play rugby for Penallta RFC - The same team that he’s played for since he was little!
David was born in 1996. His first instrument was the harmonica, which he picked up through jammin' along in the house. He had an 18 inch toy piano when he was 5 and asked his Daddy to show him some songs. The first song he ever played was Buddy Holly's "Everyday". All he ever wanted to do was play the piano and at 6 1/2 he had his first real keyboard which was bought for him just to learn on. He progressed so quickly that at 7 years of age he joined the band and although the keyboard wasn't meant to be for that purpose, it ended up being on the road with him for the next 4 years and thousands of miles, when he eventually made the step up to a full-size piano. Even at this young age his ability and confidence was such, that when asked to get up and play with another band once, he did so without even thinking - He just enjoyed the ride!
From a young age David just loved the sound of the piano and took influence from the music that was played around the house. He loved to listen to all sorts of music from the 50's era, it didn't matter what style it was. As the saying goes "It's all Rock & Roll to me". Like his brother, his first taste of playing in public was in front of his classmates. His Primary School years were great fun, because when the school was short of a piano player for assembly, etc. they would ask David – the only thing was, he could only play Rock ‘n’ Roll – “Coca Cola”, “The Speckled Frogs” and “Wheels On The Bus” never sounded so hot!! Over the next few years David went from strength to strength, and continued to do so at speed because of the amount of gigs that he did. He just became the rhythm of the band.
The next step in David's career was as much of a surprise to the family as anyone else. One Sunday afternoon the family sat down and watched a film about Frankie Lymon's life story and David became completely hooked - He wanted to be just like him. He said he wanted to sing some Frankie Lymon songs in the set, "We couldn't really see how this would work, until he opened his mouth to sing and then we were totally sold". He kept this going until, unfortunately, his voice broke! Then poor old Frankie disappeared from the set - David's voice dropped faster than a cartoon anvil!
While his hormones and breaking voice were sorting themselves out, he just concentrated on playing his piano. Which he did with aplomb courtesy of being a crazy teenager! Although as we speak at this moment in time (2019) he's not much more than a teenager as he's still only 22 years of age - And still crazy! That all said and done, he's turned into the backbone of the band, playing in between the cracks as they say and laying down some great rhythm as well as supplying backing vocals.
Many, many people tell him how much they enjoy his playing at shows, this is something that he is extremely proud of. He often says that he can't believe how lucky he is to be so young and to travel all over the world through playing his ol' piano!