There has never been a decade before or since, that has produced so much innovation and creativity regarding the development of popular music. This was particularly true in Britain where the 'Mersey Sound' led by The Beatles and others, would ensure that British popular music would have a far-reaching influence on the rest of the world. The 1950s may have lit the fuse in terms of rock 'n' roll, but the 1960s was certainly the explosion. In light of this, the period may be termed as the "Big Bang" because of the long and continuing influence that the 1960s has had on the development of music in subsequent decades.
The term 'Brum Beat' or 'Brumbeat' originated in the early 1960s in the wake of the famous 'Mersey Sound' (later incorrectly described as "Mersey Beat") that came out of Liverpool and was spearheaded by such well known groups as The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers. The Mersey sound was sweeping all over the country by early 1963, and Cliff Richard and The Shadows producer Norrie Paramor of EMI Records, went up to Birmingham (Brum) in order to audition local talent to sign up. This large industrial city is located about halfway between London and Liverpool and was thus subjected to influence from the Liverpool Sound in the north and also the Rhythm & Blues that was becoming popular in the London area and promoted by bands like the Rolling Stones (Mersey Beat was actually the name of the famous Liverpool publication founded by Bill Harry - see www.mersey-beat.com).
Norrie Paramor apparently came up with "Brum Beat" as part of an advertising campaign to promote national interest in the bands he had signed up from Birmingham, but Brum Beat would later become known more for the geographical location that certain groups and performers came from, rather than for a single unifying 'sound'. That geographical location not only included Birmingham, but also the heavily populated area to the west as far as Wolverhampton and known locally as the "Black Country" because of its long history of coal mining and heavy industrial activity. The area includes towns such as Walsall, Dudley, and Stourbridge.
The West Midlands did have its own thriving music scene prior to the Mersey Sound, but few of the local performers were well known outside of the Birmingham area. Until recently, most of the local bands of that time were ignored and forgotten unless they had hit records or were in some way connected to a famous group. Many of the more well-known bands and performers on this site have both official and un-official web sites devoted to them. Examples of these are The Moody Blues, Spencer Davis Group, The Move, Traffic, Slade and Black Sabbath. The main intent of the Brum Beat web site is to gain recognition for as many as possible of the West Midlands groups from the 1960s who helped create a local music scene that allowed so much individual and collective musical talent to flourish.
Some of the bands listed in the MAIN INDEX (such as the ones mentioned above) will be well known to most music fans and much information can be found about them, but for many of the others, little is known although they were still very much a part of the scene from which a lot of famous names have emerged. With this in mind, I encourage anyone who was a part of the West Midlands music scene in the 1960s or even an observer or interested researcher like myself, to e-mail me at: email@example.com if you have stories or information you would like to share in order to help set the record straight.
www.brumbeat.net should be regarded as a 'work in progress' and will be updated periodically.
Many thanks to Mike Lavender and Laurie Hornsby at TGM Ltd. for allowing some of the images that appear in the book Brum Rocked! to be used on this site. Thanks also to those who have submitted previously unpublished photos from their private collections.