Norwich rocker a hit on the web

A record made in the 1960s by Norwich's godfather of Freakbeat, Pete Miller, has sold on Ebay for more than �1,600. Derek James reports.

A record made by a cult Norwich rocker in the 1960s, and on sale in the city for less than 25p 45 years ago, has just sold on Ebay for... �1,649.95

Baby I Got News for You was written and recorded by Pete Miller, now aged 68 and regarded as a pioneering and ground-breaking composer and artist, and it is only now his talents are finally being loved and appreciated by a wider audience and the next generation of music lovers.

Today Pete, the founder of The Offbeats and one of Peter Jay's Jaywalkers, is living and working in San Francisco where he runs his own recording studio.

And after a career, launched at Norwich School in the late 1950s, Pete is now regarded as the godfather of Freakbeat – a European rock music genre which peaked between 1966 and 1967.

'I didn't put the 45 record up on on Ebay. I'm not even sure I have a copy,' said Pete.

'I wrote the song in 1965 and presented it to Peter Jay for the Jaywalkers to record but he didn't like it so I took a couple of the Jaywalkers, augmented them with members of The Herd, I believe it was Peter Frampton on rhythm guitar and Mickey Waller on drums, and recorded the tune myself,' he added.

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'I had seen The Herd playing at the Cellar in Norwich during September 1965 and thought they would be perfect to back me up on this record,' said Pete, who also went on to work at the famous Washington Club.

The record came out on the Columbia label in November of 1965 when Peter quit the Jaywalkers and embarked on a solo career. He did a short tour including Hammersmith Palais and the Marquee Club plus some radio Luxembourg shows.

'The poster was distributed at that time to all records stores, including W E Willsons in White Lion Street (near the steps) and also at Willmots record shop on Prince of Wales Road, where you could buy it for 4shilliings and 11pence – less than 25p in today's money,' he said.

Does Pete get any of the Ebay money?

'Not a penny – oh well...that's showbiz!'

Pete's plans for 2011:

'I intend to release a couple of full-length CDs on 22 Records, my own record label, which I formed in 1974.

'The first will be a compilation of a dozen well-known Norfolk bands which I recorded in my Margetson Avenue recording studio in the 1960s. The second will be recordings made at the Washington 400 Club from 1967-9 containing many surprises including The Peter London Trio, The News and of course the inimitable Tony Weston,' said Pete.

None of the recordings have seen the light of day before.

His most recent album – 'Winklepickin' contains a dozen new skiffle tunes which he wrote and recorded with his original 1959 band from Norwich – The Offbeats, who reformed for The Golden Years.

'It contains story-tunes of local interest including – The Last Train from Lowestoft and Hemsby Gap. There's also one about the Norwich Blitz which took place on April 27, 1942 – exactly one month before I was born,' added Pete.

You can listen to the album and buy it from his website: click on the link in the top right of this page.