The Story of The Zeds


In the early eighties a loose bunch of musicians based around the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge played together in various combinations, mainly playing R&B and rock covers to raise funds for local causes and things like nuclear disarmament, anti-whaling etc.

When the miners’ strikes began, a few of these players decided to have a go at playing some reggae covers and ‘Citizen Reg (Mike Shillabear) and the Reggieburgers’ was formed. The band lasted about a year, playing six or seven gigs before a few members decided to take it a little further and write some original tunes in the Ska/Reggae vein with the aim of making people dance.

John Armstrong (keys & vocals), Jim Gault (bass), Steve Grey (vocals), Duncan Smethurst (guitar), Mo Lindley (drums), Willy (clarinet) and Danny Fishel (trombone) formed the original lineup playing their first gig at the Ground Floor project in 1984. (although Willy walked out half way through the second or third gig and was never seen again.)

*** Here’s a link to an interview by Eva from Wild Rose Arts with vocalist Steve Grey. ***

In the early years the band would often set off in a hire van sleeping on the floor at the venue after the gig and travelling to the next gig seated on the amps in the back of the van.

Later on they were a popular act at the famous Hill Inn at Ingleton where the bands started to play in the barn after the pub had closed at 11pm (there was a bar in the barn.) The audiences were cavers and climbers and other wild outdoor types and it wasn’t unusual for the Zeds to be playing the fourth set at 4am.

Here’s a set of tracks recorded in the first fifteen years or so, compiled by founder-Zed John Armstrong.

Owter Zeds – Year by Year

Since then the band has seen the following members: one lead vocalist, one bass player, one clarinetist, two keyboard players, two trumpeters (one of whom, Colin Alker, has sadly died), four saxophonists, four trombonists, seven guitarists and nine drummers. Several members have left and rejoined the band and one (Steve Andrews) has played both guitar and drums at different stages.

Despite pressure to play covers at different times in its history, the band has stuck to its original principle of playing only original material with many of the members contributing tunes over the years.

In the mid nineties the band went to France to play at the Sunnysounds festival and tour the Charente region. This became a regular event and, although they don’t go every year, they are still popular in South Central France and are likely to be seen there in years to come.

Meanwhile the band are alive and well , playing regularly around the North West and occasionally further afield and hoping to make inroads to the festival circuit.

…and here’s the studio album we recorded in 2005 – you can purchase some of the tracks on iTunes.

Owter Zeds – Owter Zeds

We’re planning to record a new mini-album in the next few months. Watch this space….