The Night Owls
A HISTORY OF THE KNIGHT OWLS POPULAR MUSIC GROUP The Knight Owls were formed in early 1965.
Lead Singer: Andrew Huddlestone
Bass Guitar: David Flanders
Rhythm Guitar Roger Leighton (deceased August 2013)
Lead Guitar: Roger Fearnside
Drums: Nick Brown
Andrew, Roger Leighton and David Flanders all went to Ilkley Grammar School and became friends after sharing the same interest in popular music. Roger Fearnside and Nick had known each other for years having gone to the same school in Leeds. Roger Fearnside lived next door to David and they chatted about playing and David suggested he come down and try a jam one Sunday. Roger suggested that Nick might be interested too.
Roger Leighton’s Dad Tom was in charge of Ilkley Fire Station living in the adjoining house.
In early 1965 auditions were held at the fire station which was an ideal place for a pop group to practice. It was here that the five members got together and agreed to become The Knight Owls.
The group soon started to develop a good portfolio of commercial popular music comprising of The Beatles, Stones, Searchers, Hollies, Buddy Holley, Bo Didley, Muddy Waters, Spencer Davis Group etc but sadly none of their own. I think the reason for this was that four of the members were in sixth form college and time became a precious commodity particularly as the group itself was soon playing at various venues across the region.
Our first public performance was at The Blue Gene’s which was a cellar under Christ Church on The Grove Ilkley. There was one way in and one way out. Of course that would not be allowed today and the cellar was I believe removed during some remedial work on the Church in the 1970’s. It was here that we first met another Ilkley Group “The Tarantulas” later to become “The Mouldy Warp”. Our paths crossed on several occasions when we played at the same venue.
Other venues we played at were “The Casbah” in Ben Rhydding Scout Hut, Rawdon Golf Club, The Stoney Lea Hotel, The Kings Hall, A club within The Arndale Centre Headingley, (where there was also an Excel Bowling Alley a new feature at that time), Ilkley Grammar School and Prince Henrys’ Grammar School in Otley. There was also a popular public house in Keighley where we played a few times and Keighley Youth Club. Addingham Village Hall where we supported a group called The Lancastrians and who featured in the top 20 with a record “We’ll sing in the sunshine”. We also played at private functions; I remember one in the same hall opposite Ilkley Middle School where Nick organised a jumble sale to enable him to purchase his first set of drums, a set of Autocrat from Kitchens in Leeds. These were soon replaced with a set of black pearl Premier drums after a few months when the Knight Owls were up and running acquired again from Kitchens. Functions also at Draughton and Esholt Village Halls and also various others which time has elapsed from memory unfortunately.
In 1966 we changed the group’s name to Moomintroll and continued to play the same venues. Andrew added an electric piano to the format which he played.
It all pretty much broke up around September 1966 when Roger Leighton and Andrew went off to University We tried a few things after that but nothing really gelled.
In 2006 Nick had the idea of reforming to play at his 60th birthday party to be held at Darrington Golf Club in July 2007. This was not as easy as it sounded. He knew the whereabouts of Roger Fearnside, and Roger Leighton knew where Andrew lived in Denmark where he performed professionally. No one knew where David was but someone mentioned that they thought his brother worked in the NHS. Nick also worked in the NHS and sent off an email in the standard NHS format. Success and David was contacted.
A few months later the group arranged to meet for a weekend in Cambridge and after dinner that night they reminisced and Roger Fearnside produced a demo disc he still had and had transferred to CD and Nick produced some photographs. The group agreed to play at the birthday event the following July.
The group met at the lunchtime to practice the 6 numbers they had chosen. That evening they performed the numbers and also an encore and a good time was had by all. The performance was filmed. What a great end to the Knight Owls/Moomintroll; we are left with some treasured memories.
Sadly in August 2013 Roger Leighton died suddenly from a heart attack.