By John Warburg: The Wheels started out as The
Golden Eagles, who were the house band at the local Mecca dance-hall,
the Plaza. The Golden Eagles were fronted by well respected local
singer Brian Rossi (born Brendan Rosebotham, in 1940, in Belfast) (ex
Manhattan Showband), and featured Herbie Armstrong lead guitar (born
Herbert Armstrong, in 1944 in Belfast) from Glenmachen Street, in West
Belfast (ex Manhattan Showband); Kit Carson guitar and Tiny Tinsley
bass. With a change of fortunes and youth styles they soon became The
They were subsequently fired from the Plaza. With Morrison, now free
to concentrate on them, Rosie, Armstrong, Tinsley, Carson and drummer
Victor 'Okki' Catling headed to England in Sept 1964, and secured a
residency at a club in Blackpool. After just four months, the volatile
guitarist Carson returned to Belfast to join the Platters and the
search for a replacement began. Eventually Armstrong and Catling also
returned home, and found young R & B enthusiast Rod Demick, just out
of school. They stole him from Tony and the Telstars in early 1966!
The Wheels went back to Blackpool and started to pick up a large
following in the North of England, where they supported groups like
The Drifters, and singers Tommy Roe and Little Eva. The band claimed
to be making two hundred pounds a night on the Mecca circuit in the
North of England. As well as playing guitar, Demick sang most of the
R & B orientated numbers, leaving Rossi to handle the more
sophisticated material. Rossi more of a Frank Sinatra fan than Chuck
Berry, shaved his head to distinguish himself from the hordes of
would-be long-hairs. Drummer Catling rivalled Rossi in the
head-stakes, with his peroxide 'Jimmy Saville' look.
Addendum by Mike Niblett: John Warburg may have the dates re: Rod Demick a bit out. Since I was with The People late 1965 and much of
1966, (probably the half-life of that band under that name and Rod did
not play in the band with me, in fact Tiger Taylor was on transient
lead when I joined and left very shortly after), so Rod must have left
The Telstars in the later part of 1965 and not 1966. Other corrections
and titbits are the bass player was known as "Tito" Tinsley not "Titi"
(sorry, had to laugh at that one). Mike.