Friday, August 24, 2012

April - Coventry Folk Rock Band 1969 / 70

APRIL were Coventry's answer to Fairport Convention c 1969 / 71. I got to know them and their music well as they practiced at the Coventry Arts Umbrella club and open up the Umbrella for some of their practice sessions. They did a range of material which included some of their own compositions, James Taylor's Carolina On My Mind, Fairport's Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

The band consisted of -
Bill Jackson (vocals/guitar/recorder/piano),
Mick Thompson (12 & 6 string guitars/steel guitar/vocals),
Ron Lawrence (8 string bass/guitar/vocals),
Gray Richardson (assorted percussion including congas/bongos/claves/drums),
Pat Lawrence (sound balancer extraordinaire).
The band played both rock and folk venues and the Warwick University Arts festival. Their manager was Stuart Urquhart of Warwick.Their blurb sheet read -


“We really like what APRIL are doing. Their approach to music is really original and their sound is a full and complete one.” Magna Carta

What is so different about APRIL’s approach to music? Basically the way they get such a beautiful mellow sound with an unusual electric line up.

“April are an ultra-contemporary group turning in their ideas and music towards a folk influence. 80% of their material is original and so is their approach to material written by others. As can be seen from their line up, the group comprises a great variety of instruments (& effects) which go together to form a very interesting show, with good music the aim in mind.”

April were the hosts every Tuesday at the Swan Folk & Kontemporary Klub, Yardley Birmingham and supported acts such as Cliff Aungier & Gerry Lockran.

Ron Lawrence lived out at Shilton on the Leicester road at the time and later formed another band with Roy Butterfield and Al Hatton (both ex Indian Summer), Al Docker (Ex Tsar), Ron Lawrence and Bill Jackson (Ex April) and called themselves Runestaff after the Michael Moorcock trilogy. I was living there at the time and watched them rehearse in the dining room. It was an attempt at a kind of Coventry Supergroup and it was sounding pretty good. Sadly the band split up before they had got to the gigging stage. I count myself lucky to have been one of the few to have heard them. Ron and Bill went on to play with another Coventry supergroup Monster Magnet and Moon In 1971 Ron Lawrence also played in another outfit based at the Umbrella club - Love Zeus with Loz Netto, Al Docker, Tony Cross. Ron Lawrence and Gray Richardson

By 1979 Ron Lawrence was playing along side another Coventry musician - Loz Netto in Sniff and the Tears who had a hit with Drivers Seat. Over the years Ron has sessioned for a lot of bands including the Kinks. Ron lawrence was featured on some tracks from the Kinks 1978 album Misfits -  A Rock n Roll Fantasy, Live life, Get Up  and on Come Dancing.

The band played all the usual venues and folk clubs in the Coventry and Midlands area including -

They also supported Birmingham band Tea & Symphony at the Coventry Arts Umbrella Friday 21st August 1970. Also down to play Club Caroline - Walsgrave (Pete Waterman’s venue) March 1971. although this was cancelled along with the Umbrella gig owing to the split. They also played the Walsgrave June 2nd 1970 with East Light. 1971 Warwick University Arts Festival saw them playing a folk concert (Saturday March 6th) with Jeremy Taylor and Jo-Anne-Kelly. They played The Village (Colin Campbell) sat 26th Dec 1970.

The band split up in autumn 1971, cancelling the gig I'd booked with them for the Coventry Arts Umbrella. It's a great pity we have no audio or videos for this band although i suspect some exists with band members.

New Addition - Brian Fawcus sent in this earlier photo of April with a slightly different line up which i think may have been from 1969.

In the above photo, left to right Unknown (Brian thought it was Roy Butterfield but it doesn't look like him - anyone know?), Bill Jackson - vocals, Ron Lawrence (holding the door open) bass, Mick Thompson (on the floor) guitar, Barry Fawcus (Brian's brother) drums and Grey Richardson percussion. So it looks like they had a drummer originally. The unknown person could have been part of the road team even.

April at Warwick University Arts Festival 1971

Comments from the Hobo Vox blog

[this is good]

Hi there , not quite sure what to say but my Dad is Michael Thompson From the group April.

I would be gratefull if you could let me know where you keep all this wonderful stuff as Id like to see it in the flesh. Dad found this website and I was so amazed to read it all. Is there any chance I could have a copy of anything as he has nothing from his band days and I would love to surprise him with somthing. Thanx.

Posted by: tracey cairns | 07/14/2008 at 11:41 AM


  1. Hi, my father is Barry Fawcus, whilst I have the original photo image of April in front of my dads Transit van I had never seen the Top Image (poster?) of this Page which appears to be my Father in the top left of the Photo. Just wondering if anyone else can back this up?

    Many thanks! Love the work you have done.