Lois Lane as a childBiography: The Early Years

BIOG: EARLY YEARS > THE CARAVELLES > GOING SOLO

I was born in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. My Dad, Edward (Ted) Wilkinson was in the RAF and my Mum, Dorothy (Dot) and I, lived in a small caravan on a farm near Conningsby airfield. When I was about 3 we moved back home just outside London. I fell in love with music at an early age. My Dad played Banjo and 4 string guitar in his uncle’s band as a lad, then in RAF concert parties. He taught me some chords when I was about 11 and I’d play his guitar in the lunch-break at the convent school I went to in Barnet. The girls loved it – the nuns weren’t into ‘Singing the Blues’ or Elvis.

Lois Lane playing the guitar with her dadOn ‘Hire Purchase’ I got a 6 string guitar. My Dad’s rekindled enthusiasm meant we all regularly went to a Django Reinhardt Jazz evening at a local club. I knew then I wanted to be a jazz guitarist. I finished my education at Clark’s College doing a secretarial course and left school at 16. I started work in a local Estate Agents as a secretary and in the evening played rhythm guitar at a club in Soho London called ‘The Tatty Bogle’, (Scottish for Scarecrow). It was frequented by doctors, lawyers, journalists and, folk and trad-jazz musicians. No sleaze here.

Lois Lane playing at the Tatty BogleI accompanied a great character called Banjo George, who could play anything from ‘When the Saints go Marching In’ to ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. Jimmie MacGregor (who with Robin Hall recorded ‘Football Crazy), Steve Benbow (well known folksinger) and Tony Pitt (later played in The Alex Welch Band), were my predecessors. Jack Hutton, editor of The Melody Maker brought his trumpet, Paddy Fleming, PR man for Phillips Records brought his snare drum and many others brought bongo drums, trombones and DJ Ed Stewart once struggled down the basement stairs with his double bass, not forgetting my Dad with his tenor guitar. Quite a jam session!

Meanwhile, I left my first job and joined Lawson Piggott Motors to become secretary to the General Manager. Working in the main office with 4 other girls was great fun. Just after I arrived so did a shy young girl called Andrea Simpson. When she came out of her shell she was great fun. She knew more rude songs than the rest of us. Her Mum and Dad had both been in ‘show business’. Dad, Eddie played accordion and had sung in various variety vocal acts and her Mum was a dancer. In fact her whole family were musical in some way.

During this period I was offered a job playing guitar with Eggy Ley’s Jazz Band touring Germany, but at 17 - Mum and Dad said no. I’d been persuaded by guitarist Mick Lauder to sing with him at a folkclub in St Albans. Although I was absolutely terrified, it went quite well. I began to think I should take this singing thing more seriously...

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