Travelling band hit top gear by hopping on to Mister Buss

Dere feat pix 11/8/14

Dere feat pix 11/8/14 - Credit: Archant

The wind was blowing and the snow was falling but the boys in the band were determined to get from their homes in Norfolk to the gig in Felixstowe...the show must go on.

Dere feat pix 11/8/14

Dere feat pix 11/8/14 - Credit: Archant

They may have been late but members of the Fifth Gear Travelling Band made it and so had the audience who were waiting for them.

When they finally got on the stage at the seaside hotel, singer Viv Ritchie quipped: 'I apologise for being late, we missed the bus.'

Some thought he said: 'We're Mister Buss.'

Soon afterwards they decided to change their name from the Fifth Gear Travelling Band and became Mister Buss, a class act which has entertained people across East Anglia and the rest of the country for four decades.

It was, believe it or not, back in 1974 in a loo at the Lotus factory that three young lads were talking about their musical careers. They were Richard 'Will' Styles, a guitarist, Andy Harrison, a drummer, and Viv Ritchie.

Will and Andy, along with Alan Kindlesides, a lead guitarist and bass man Paul Womack already had a band named 'Dritt,' that's Norwegian for rubbish, courtesy of Will's Norwegian fiancée.

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What they didn't have was a front man. Up popped the charismatic Viv – and the band was formed with the name Fifth Gear Travelling Band as they all worked at Lotus. Paul left soon afterwards with another Lotus man, John Wallis, taking his place.

They clicked. The music was good. The people of Norfolk also loved them and after playing local clubs and pubs for a couple of years they moved on to bigger venues, backing the likes of The Foundations at Scunthorpe Baths Hall, Andy Fairweather Low and others. In 1977 Andy left and was replaced by drummer Ian Clarke.

Under the name Mister Buss the band had various musicians with Viv being the only ever-present member. They worked with the likes of Marmalade and Showaddywaddy until, in 1988, with the start of a new business and a baby, Viv called time on Mister Buss. It was the end of the road.

Then, ten years later, the Evening News Golden Years charity gigs came along, and organiser Terry Wickham persuaded the boys to get back together, for one of the great reunion concerts at the UEA. Viv, along with Ian Clarke, Phil Selby, the late great Dennis Woodcock and Roger Lingwood reformed Mister Buss...and went down a storm. Mister Buss were back...and sounding better than ever.

There were more changes. Phil Chapman, an, ex-pro who played at the Talk of the Town in London for eight years, and then Terry Smith joined. The band went on to headline at the much-loved Golden Years, for several years. Delighting old, and new, fans.

'Over the past 40 years there have been some real highs, backing big named bands, travelling to gigs as far away as Dublin, summer summers along the coast, and some real lows, such as the loss of two former members, Peter Sear and Dennis Woodcock and our friend and agent Chic Applin,' said Viv.

'Personal tragedies too, but there has always been a spirit of camaraderie between current and former members. It's a friendship which goes beyond the music,' he added.

'Talking of friends and agents we don't forget people the likes of Norwich Artists, Paston Associates, D & S Artistes, Terry Wickham, Derek James and the Evening News, David Clayton and the Radio Norfolk presenters and many others, said Viv.

And, on behalf Norfolk music lovers, I would like to thank Mister Buss. They entertained us well and have helped so many Norfolk and Suffolk charities over the years. A class act.