The Wheels (Belfast)

Related: Telstars


Thanks to Wheels' drummer Victor Catling, John Warburg and Mike Niblett, we have three pages on The Wheels from Belfast.

From left:  Victor Catling, Rod Demick, Brian Rossi, Titi Tinsley, Herbie Armstrong
Vocals: Brian Rossi
Lead Guitar: Herbie Armstrong
2nd Guitar: Rod Demick
Bass: Tito Tinsley
Drums: Victor Catling

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 Wheels. 

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.

Gateway | Showbands Index | Beat-Groups Index | Ceili bands | Contact IBA
The Irish Bands Archive is an ongoing work in progress. Photos, cuttings, posters, adverts, line-ups, etc. to be added are always welcome and appreciated. If you have anything to contribute, please contact us by email.
FBK | 2001-2020