Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts

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Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts
Brett Marvin with Keef Trouble 2009.jpg
Background information
OriginCrawley, England
Years active1968-2013
SunHouse Records
Associated actsKeef Trouble
Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs
Jona Lewie
Past members
  • Keef Trouble
  • Jona Lewie
  • Tony Proto
  • Jim Pitts
  • David Davies
  • Peter Swan
  • Peter Gibson
  • Graham Hine
  • Richard Ansell
  • Dave Barnes
  • John Randall
  • Dougie Strathie

Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, formed in 1968, was a rarely performing British pub blues band. Significant band members Jona Lewie and Keith Trussell were members of Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs, which released "Seaside Shuffle", a single that reached No. 2 in the UK charts in 1972.[1]


Brett Marvin and The Thunderbolts was formed from a previous connection in 1967 to Thomas Bennett Comprehensive School in Crawley, Sussex, England.[1] Peter Gibson, a teacher at the school and a graduate of Liverpool College of Art, set up a blues and folk club, at which sixth-form student Graham Hine played. Gibson was also playing in a blues duo called Bottled in Bond. Hine, with fellow student Keith Trussell (aka Keef Trouble) and friend John Randall, were joined by Gibson and new acquaintance Jim Pitts to forming a new band whose members were Hine (acoustic/electric guitar), Trussell (rhythm/zobstick),[2] Randall (rhythm/washboard), Gibson (kazoo), and Pitts (mandolin/banjo/harmonica). This new band, called Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts, developed a country blues style accompanied by a variety of eccentric percussion instruments.

Studio 51[edit]

During 1968, the band performed around the South East and London music venues, where they became acquainted with blues musician Jo Ann Kelly. Kelly invited Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts to play at Studio 51, Great Newport Street, London. It became the resident band for four years, running a Sunday session as a drop-in venue for blues musicians, including Howlin' Wolf, Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup, Fred McDowell, Dave Kelly, Juke Boy Bonner, Medicine Head, The Steve Miller Band, Lol Coxhill, Sam Mitchell, Bottleneck Bill, Mick Taylor, Larry Johnson, Tony McPhee, the John Dummer Blues Band, The Groundhogs, Roy Bookbinder, and Long John Baldry. While at Studio 51, John Lewis (who later changed his name to Jona Lewie) saw the band. Lewie, who played blues and boogie-woogie piano on the music club circuit, joined the band as its sixth member.

Recording and performance[edit]

In 1970, Tony McPhee from The Groundhogs invited Brett Marvin to contribute recordings for a British blues collection on the Liberty Label, Gasoline, produced by Mike Batt. Later, some of these were reproduced on the album Son of Gutbucket. Soon afterwards, the band began a five-year recording contract with the Sonet record label that released the band's first album, Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts. In 1971, the band released its second album on Sonet, entitled 12 inches of, a combination of blues standards and songs written by band members.

During the early 1970s, Brett Marvin toured the UK blues club and university music circuit, having signed with the Robert Stigwood Agency while appearing on television in Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands. In 1971, the band performed in a concert with Son House. Shortly after this, Gibson and Pitts dropped out of touring. Lewie had begun writing for the band, and his "Seaside Shuffle" was released as a single under the band name Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs, a recording that included all six members of Brett Marvin.[1] In 1972, Sonet entered into a marketing and distribution agreement for the song with Jonathan King's UK label; it reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart,[1] leading to three appearances on Top of the Pops. Another single released under the Terry Dactyl name, "On a Saturday Night", did not achieve such popularity. However, Sonet issued a third album, Alias Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs, which took advantage of the success of "Seaside Shuffle" and included a compilation of tracks from the first two Brett Marvin albums. Following this album's release, Lewie left the band.[1] He was replaced by David Davies (keyboards) who had been playing in the Jaw Bone Jug Band. Gibson rejoined the band, as did a new bass player Tony Proto. Consequently, a fourth album, Ten Legged Friend, was recorded and released on Sonet.

The new line-up performed at the Colne Blues Festival and The Blues Band's Christmas Party. During the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s, Brett Marvin performed almost exclusively an act on the London pub music scene, particularly at the Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington and the Stapleton Hall Tavern near Finsbury Park. In 1992, the band performed at The Town & Country Club.

In 1993, the Brett Marvin released a new album, Boogie Street (Exson Music Ltd.), with the addition of a new bass guitarist, Peter Swan.[1] In 1998, Brett Marvin was featured on two compilation albums, Gutbucket (EMI Records) and Tony McPhee & Friends (BGO Records), and released a CD version of Alias Terry Dactyl and the Dinosaurs. The band collaborated with Peter Moody in 1999 to produce a CD of previously unreleased live and studio recordings from 1970 to 1989, called Vintage Thunderbolts (Mooncrest Records, part of Trojan Records). Swan left the band in 2001, being replaced by Dougie Strathie on bass guitar.

From 2000[edit]

Brett Marvin no longer perform; some of the band members have gone on to produce solo albums. In 2010, the band released the studio-based EP Keep on Moving featuring Keef Trouble and keyboard player, songwriter, and vocalist David Davies. Davies died in June 2010.[3] In May 2012, sax player and vocalist Jim Pitts died.[4]

Radio broadcasts[edit]

In 1971, two members of Brett Marvin, Trussell and Pitts, took part in a live radio broadcast discussion on the Jeremy Gilbert Show on Radio London with the tagline "Can White Men Play the Blues?". Keith Moon joined in the discussion by phone.

In 1991, Brett Marvin played a live set on the BBC's Paul Jones show.

In 1992, Trussell, Lewie, and Pitts were interviewed on Greater London Radio's Mary Costello Show about Brett Marvin and its history.

Notable band musicians[edit]

Notable musicians who have played in the band are Wilgar Campbell on drums;[citation needed] Lol Coxhill on saxophone and flugelhorn;[citation needed] Dennis Elliott on drums;[citation needed] Jona Lewie[5] as composer and on vocals and keyboard; and Keef Trouble[6] as composer and on vocals, percussion, and guitar.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 177/8. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "Christmas Special", British Comedy Guide. Danny Baker references "Seaside Shuffle" and the zob stick on QI.
  3. ^ Puddifoot, David (29 June 2010). "Taffy Davies obituary". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Jim Pitts dies". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Where are they now…? Singer Jona Lewie", Daily Express, 11 July 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2016
  6. ^ "A song for mums everywhere"; Mid Sussex Times, 5 March 2008.

External links[edit]