Johnny Kidd and the Pirates were dynamic rockers who paid little respect to convention. They based their stage act around the Pirates theme, with Kidd wearing a black eye patch and swinging a cutlass in a very dangerous fashion.
Kidd was born Frederick Heath in London in 1941.
He formed the Five Nutters skiffle group, which became Fred Heath and the Nutters, then Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, in circumstances explained by Mick Green below.
The Nutters and the original Pirates included in their line-up Alan Caddy, who later joined the Tornados.
Kidd wrote their first single, Please Don't Touch, which made the top 20 in 1959, and a year later they had a number 1 with Shakin' All Over, which was written hurriedly in the Freight Train coffee bar in London for future use as a B-side. (In 1965, Canadian group Guess Who had a number 1 in the USA with the number.)
From 1961, Kidd and the Pirates began covering US releases, but had two Top 30 entries with I'll Never Get Over You and Hungry For Love, which were written by Gordon Mills, a member of a UK vocal group, The Viscounts.
Kidd died in a car crash in 1966.
Johnny Kidd's backing group, the Pirates, re-united in 2000, after a break of 18 years. The line-up is Mick Green (guitar), Johnny Spence (bass) and Frank Farley (drums).One earlier version of the Pirates, Green, Spence and Johnny Patto (guitar) were originally the Redcaps, who backed black British rock and roller Cuddly Dudley.
Mick recalled the origins of the group's name, and Johnny's trademark eyepatch.
"He was playing Wandsworth Town Hall and he was tuning the guitar up and snapped a string which hit him in the eye. It didn't actually do any damage. It was watering and all that so they put an eye patch on it. Then he went out and he decided after that to wear it all the time and changed the name of the band from Fred Heath and the Nutters to Johnny Kidd and the Pirates."
As part of his pirate act, Johnny had a cutlass, which he used to twirl around his head, then throw at the floor, in the hope that it would stick into the stage. Sometimes, this worked.
Mick Green recalled:
"We did a gig at the Cavern, which had a concrete floor and linoleum over it.
"We go in and do this lunchtime session. Kidd used to throw this sword at the stage, and it used to land right at my feet.
"So he's got the thing over his lamp (eye) and he's got the sword and he's waggling it around and he throws it and as he throws it I look down and I can see that where I'm standing is concrete because the lino's been worn away.
"I'm going: 'No, don't throw it' and he thinks like I'm getting into it, y'know. He throws this sword and it hits the concrete - I mean, it don't stick in concrete - and it flew straight out at the audience and some Scouse scallywag grabbed hold of it and chased out of the Cavern and we had to go chasing half way down Mathew Street to pick it up."