The story of Savoy Brown's Blues Band begins sometime in 1965 when John met guitarist Kim Simmonds waiting in the rain outside Transat Imports record shop in Lisle Street, Soho.. To call Transat a record shop would be an exaggeration; a damp basement buried deep in a seedy area of Soho, it none the less stocked American blues, R&B and soul records which were impossible to find elsewhere in England. On that fateful Saturday morning they both sheltered in the doorway before opening time. Incredibly, It turned that they were neighbours and lived about a couple of streets from each other close by Wandsworth Common. This chance meeting, led directly to the creation of Savoy Brown's Blues Band which went on to become one of the most enduring of British blues bands. They soon set about finding others to join them. First, was another neighbour, drummer Leo Mannings, whom Kim had met at a Blue Beat party. Leo's friend and singer Brice Portious was next and an ad in Melody Maker brought in bassist Ray Chappell.

          Deep in darkest Battersea,  situated close to a candle factory at 205 York Road was a Victorian pub, The Nag's Head. It had an upstairs room which was a venue for a secret society known as The Grand Order of Water Buffaloes and a local folk club. The landlord was persuaded to let them use it for rehearsals.  On these occasions the Head Water Buffalo's throne was pushed aside and the band band set up learning their craft. The search for a pianist (again via the Melody Maker) brought Trevor Jeavons. Trevor a schoolteacher was unable to commit his time and travelling and was replaced by Bob Hall. Bob was experienced (from John Lee's Groundhogs) and his recruitment gave the band a considerable lift.

By this time the blues scene was winding down after the first wave of bands playing blues soon became more commercially orientated leaving only John Mayall sticking with the blues. John's band with Eric Clapton's Freddy King style guitar playing was a significant source of inspiration to Kim. All of this was about to change because the music was about be turned on end with arrival of Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Paul Butterfield who laid down the gauntlet for harmonica players.

Finding it impossible to get gigs in the beginning, the band set about turning their rehearsal room into a gig! Calling it Kilroy's,the band launched it's own club on Wednesday evening at The Nag's Head .  It was a tactic that worked, because soon they began to find an audience and an initial following. A smart dresser, Brice Portius turned out to be an flamboyant charismatic frontman and with Kim's brother Harry, now manager, they began to find their feet,sharpen up their act and play other gigs. Harry, who worked for the Post Office,  became a booker at The London City Agency and very quickly learned the ropes of how to manage a band. He invited blues authority Neil Slaven had just come back from Chicago saying Savoy Brown was better than Magic Sam's band. Record producer Mike Vernon came along too and impressed,persuaded Harry to let him record the, He produced their first recordings for his own Purdah label. Recorded in August 1966; two titles" I Tried" and "I Can't Quit You Baby" were released on 45rpm and subsequently reissued on the Immediate label along with  2 unissued titles "True Blue" and "Cold Blooded Woman".  Eventually Mike Vernon took over running the Club, renamed it The Blue Horizon Club, and promoted gigs by Freddy King, Fleetwood Mac, Frtee and Chicken Shack there.

Kilroy's (later The Blue Horizon Club) was situated at
The Nags Head 205 York Road, Battersea, London SW11
The pub was built in 1851 and finally demolished in 1992
photo circa 1933
After breaking out from Kilroy's Savoy Brown now played at all the major London clubs; graduating from supporting John Mayall's Blues Breakers at The Marquee to their own gigs there. They played at The Cream's first official club gig on August 2nd 1966 at Klooks Kleek, frequent slots at  Eel Pie Island,The Marquee,  The Speakeasy, a residency at The Flamingo, gigs at Tiles, Blaises and The Scotch of St. James and the very happening University Student's Union circuit. A particular highlight for them was backing New Orleans blues legend Champion Jack Dupree and being meeting Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on that memorable night Butterfield played "All My Life" with John Mayall. Bloomfield loved the band saying that he had a band before Butterfield that sounded just like his! Jack Dupree was an enthusiastic mentor and offered to write songs for them!. Both John & Kim loved his album "Blues From The Gutter"!
On February 15th 1967, the band, now with guitarist Martin Stone in place of piano was back in the studio, this time at Decca's West Hampstead studio with Mike Vernon producing and Gus Dudgeon engineering. Three tracks, "365 Days", "Too Much, Little Girl" & "Snatch It Back & Hold It" were recorded. These titles were never released but, rather, led directly to Decca signing them.
Shortly afterwards, John, following a gig at The Scotch of St. James and unhappy with Harry Simmonds increasingly authoritarian behavior over what was still  a co-operative band, had an irreparable dispute with Harry and promptly resigned. Harry's called him up  the next day and threathened him with legal action. His final words were "if you form another band, I'll sue you!"  Although Shakey Vick and Steve Hackett both auditioned, John was not replaced. 
The band of course continued with Kim ultimately taking sole leadership. Considerable credit is due to him for enduring and for taking the band on to become an international success story. A great achievement indeed!

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john o'Leary blues harmonica .....since 1965