The Story of Legay: With Rob Townsend

The search for a new drummer led to Rob Townsend, who was a friend of John Knapp. Rob was a former member of The Beatniks and was now playing with The Broodly Hoo, a local band who mainly performed soul covers. Rob’s main musical influence was traditional jazz, following the likes of Acker Bilk and Chris Barber.

Rob joined The Broodly Hoo after their drummer took ill and Klock Agency recommended him to the rest of the band. He played a gig with them at Wyggeston Girls School and then, about a month later, another one was scheduled at The Casino on London Road. At the time, The Broodly Hoo were a blues outfit, playing numbers by musicians such as ‘the father of British Blues harmonica’, Cyril Davies. Rob was about 18 when The Broodly Hoo started to break up. It was at this time that he joined Legay, at first temporarily covering for Legay Rogers, who was ill.

Klock publicity shot with Rob Townsend, 1967. (Klock Agency)

“Anything that was on at De Montfort Hall I went to because I really wanted to play the drums. And the jazz boys really had the best drummers…”

Rob Townsend

The news that Rob Townsend had left Broodly Hoo to join Legay was covered via The Leicester Chronicle on 24th March, 1967. It’s interesting to note that while the journalist believed that ‘Rob’s presence has not meant a great deal musically’, the band on the other hand thought completely the opposite, so much so that they had to adapt to Rob’s sound and technique, becoming louder to accommodate the dominant sound of his drumming, which was the complete opposite of Legay Roger’s cymbal led approach.

“Rob started to play the drums and the whole room shook, he was incredibly loud, an unbelievable sound…”

John Knapp

In 1967, Legay embraced the psychedelic scene, absorbing new influences such as the Electric Prunes, Jefferson Airplane, The Move, The Beatles (in particular Sgt. Pepper and The Magical Mystery Tour) and Pink Floyd. Jumping head first into the visual ethos of ‘Flower Power’, Legay were seen in Leicester, and by the media in particular, to be at the forefront of the American led ideology. The Leicester Illustrated Chronicle took great pleasure in reporting the fact that Legay had a ‘typical flower power cult retort’ to those that abused them – they would hand their detractors a gift of either a flower or an apple.

“Sgt Pepper changed a lot of things, we were talking about it a lot at that point…”

Robin Pizer

With Rob Townsend in the drum seat, Legay went to Derek Tompkin’s studio in Kettering to record a series of tracks including Out Of My Mind, Barmy the Policeman, Take Me In Your Arms, Why Do You Wanna Make Me Blue and You’re Gonna Love Me Baby. Although the sessions went well, the band refused to bring in a producer to oversee the recordings. Out Of My Mind was a cover of the Buffalo Springfield track. After the recording session, Legay played a gig at the Frollocking Kneecap in Market Harborough and they took a copy of the demo with them. By the end of the night however, they discovered it had been stolen and was never heard or seen again. It was also during this time that Legay recorded demos for Polydor, under the guidance of Giorgio Gomelsky, who at the time was manager of The Yardbirds.

“We didn’t really do covers as such because they sounded nothing like the originals…”

Robin Pizer

While initially playing covers, Legay were soon performing their own material, with Robin’s writing in particular becoming a key factor at this time. Barmy the Policeman, a song that many predicted would send them straight into the charts, was the first one penned by Robin with the band and was well received by the public.

“Family were big, they were in a different league to Legay…”

Rob Townsend

Rob Townsend’s stay in Legay was short lived. In September 1967, he left the band and joined Family, throwing Legay into yet another drummer related crisis. Whilst the rivalry between the two bands was friendly at first, this was all to change when Rob Townsend left. Formed in 1966, Family consisted of the remaining members of The Farinas and later, The Roaring Sixties. The band had a blues / R&B sound that was characterised by singer Roger Chapman’s distinct vocals.

“Rob was a great drummer. In the short space of time he was with us, he was extremely influential…”

John Knapp
Publicity shot, 1967. (Unknown photographer)

In the short time that Rob Townsend was with Legay, he had injected a higher level of professionalism, volume and inventiveness into the band. Once again though, with Rob’s departure, Legay had to search for yet another drummer.

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