Everything has a beginning.
For the Fivepenny Piece it was a hotel in Ashton-Under-Lyne. John asked the landlord of the Broad Oak if they could borrow his back-room to rehearse and a few weeks later they were booked in — they were drawing too many customers out of the bar!
They are five, and they come from that part of the North where the county boundaries intertwine inextricably. This is Cheshire, but you can walk westwards into Yorkshire! Down there is Lancashire but Glossop down the road is in Derbyshire.
John Meeks (Guitar) writes the music, his sister Lynda looks pretty (and sounds even prettier); Colin Radcliffe (Lead Guitar) writes the words; his brother George — "The only real musician among us", says John — plays bass guitar. And then there is Eddie Crotty — more of Eddie later.
Those are facts. To be so down to earth about the songs of the Fivepenny Piece is much more difficult. May I chance a guess at your reaction to hearing Side One for the first time? Pretty tunes you will think, "some very pretty tunes, and what curious words". "Riding in the water in a watering-can … Mmm." And you will be hooked. There is an elusive quality about these songs (perhaps 'allusive' would be more correct). The tunes carry words, the words create pictures, the pictures have a meaning. But as with all pictures that meaning will change with the stand-point of the viewer. What is clear today will be confused tomorrow. What was in focus yesterday is today blurred and shadowy. Sometimes no meaning appears at all.
And then there is Eddie Crotty … There is a 'sinewy' quality to Lancashire humour. In conversation, Eddie tells the tale of the Lancashire spinner who was so mean — the lad broke his time-scarred tea-stained mug and he claimed not only the replacement, but also the Divi coupon. Owd Rimbant was such a man. Side Two is a collection of these tales sung by Eddie (except Fine Feathers, which is John). Nor are they entirely fanciful. Some are based on monologues left by the late Bill Froggatt, a mill-owner in his life, and a man of great humour and compassion.
Obviously, being entertainers, The Fivepenny Piece want us to like their music. But they have to please themselves first. After that they can only hope that in their audience are more who think the same. I hope so too!