Rocker sets right poultry wrongs of the past
SIXTIES rocker Vernon Hopkins has returned a 'stolen chicken' to a South Wales social club 49 years after one of his band mates — the legendary Tom Jones — was accused of taking it.
In a bizarre variation of the well-worn chicken jokes, the Pontarddulais-based founder of The Senators returned to Fochriw Social Club near Caerphilly to hand one back.
"The band was called Tom and The Senators back then and after the disappearance of the chicken, which was first prize in the club raffle, we were blacklisted from the village of Fochriw," said Vernon.
"I read in the paper a year or two ago that the village had finally decided to lift the ban after nearly half a century. I thought it would be a nice gesture to return a chicken to thank them."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Now people in the village of Fochriw, which has a population of 1,000, have vowed to put the past behind them and say that Tom and the band would be welcome back whenever they like.
Vernon played bass guitar with The Senators and has now written a book about his time spent with Tom Jones.
He insisted on bringing him in as lead singer and became as close as a brother to him until stardom tore them apart. Vernon was fired by manager Gordon Mills in 1969 and has only seen Tom on a handful of occasions since. But he recalled the chicken incident with affection
"When I was writing the book, it just jogged loose so many memories," he said.
"I can vividly remember the evening, it was a full house that night and Tom was magnificent. The band was introducing people to rock 'n' roll, they hadn't seen anything like it. Everyone was used to choirs back then.
"There was going to be a raffle of the chicken to raise money for the club at the end of the night. To be quite honest it wasn't unusual to witness many a punch-up from the safety of the stage. A great many of our audiences, up and down the valleys, comprised mostly of miners and they worked hard and played hard.
"Unfortunately on this occasion it was no ordinary punch up. It just went on and on, tables and chairs and pint glasses flying all over the place. We had to stop playing when they started fighting at the foot of the stage. We had to use our microphone stands to keep them from spilling onto the stage.
"The curtains were suddenly drawn and we started packing up our equipment like our lives depended on it, which they probably did. We were unable to hear each other as we carried the equipment back to the van, it was bedlam. They were still fighting as we drove off, we were lucky to get out in one piece.
"Tom used to like to lie down in the back of the van and I remember this gruff voice saying, 'Guess who is going to have chicken tomorrow?'"
Club spokesman Neil Evans was one of the 200 people packed in there that fateful evening. His brother had just got married and was enjoying his wedding reception.
"I was very young at the time and was there for my brother's wedding reception," he said. "I remember asking Muffy 'Fab' Davies, the entertainment secretary who the act was that evening. Muffy told me he'd booked a fabulous singer and band.
"I must admit Tom and the band were magnificent but during the performance a fight broke out and all hell broke loose and that's when a chicken went missing. It's good to have it finally back after all these years."
The book — Tom Jones, Just Help Yourself — is a no-holds-barred account of their time spent together. The group got caught up in the world of Fleet Street gossip, groupies and sex.