The group started as a bit of fun (still is, of course) more than thirty years ago in a pub in Willenhall called The Lane Arms.
The Lane Arms recently. It wasn’t like this when we started but you did tell us to raise the rafters.
The original line-up consisted of several ne’er-do-wells, about six initially but soon trimmed down to its core members, Albert Mallen, Dave Tarry, Ollie Jones and Eddie Tonks. Here’s what Albert, Dave and Ollie looked like then. We don’t have a photo of Eddie from back then but if anyone out there does, we’d like a copy.
But we do have a recent photo of Eddie. Still looks much the same.
After a few years and some wonderful gigs, Eddie left us and Mick Bagguley badgered us with his presence and his dry sense of humour.
We performed at festivals and sang on local radio as well as at folk clubs around the country.
Here’s the artwork for a cassette tape we produced then – very arty!
In about 2001, a great upheaval came upon us when Ollie met his soon-to-be wife and took to the hills of Wales, a little too far for rehearsals, and at the same time, Mick decided he’d had enough of the fame and limelight and gently faded into obscurity. But lo, on the horizon, were two more ne’er-do-wells (we do seem to attract them).
Derek Wheeler, ex Squire of Victory Morris (a Portsmouth side) and a noteable harmony singer, joined us.
At the same time we acquired Dave Reader, another singer of renown. We gelled well and carried on doing the rounds, having some priceless moments along the way.
After an all too brief time with us, Dave decided to leave to pursue other avenues on the folk scene. Oh dear, we’re one short again, but who’s this, another great find, Martin Willis.
Martin brought a different dimension to our sound. A very good harmony singer, but we had to control the high end of his range or wear very tight undergarments.
Then in 2011, we were two short again, with Albert retiring to Norfolk and Martin putting his feet up in Ludlow.
Dave (now the only remaining original member) and Derek both wanted The Laners to carry on, so they invited Clive Brooks, a mutual friend and, of course, ne’er-do-well, to join them.
Clive, who hails from Bromsgrove, has been playing and singing around the country for many years and has also performed in the USA, New Zealand, Holland and Ireland.
Well, we were one short again following Derek’s untimely death. He had contributed so much to the group in his seventeen years as a Laner. He was a larger-than-life character, well-known and loved by so many, a splendid and caring bloke with a great sense of humour. We were honoured to have spent so many hours singing with him.
How do you replace the irreplaceable? It was a tough ask, but Dave and Clive called on Pete Grassby to take on the task. Pete is very well known for his fine solo work, as the leader of the Aardvark Ceilidh Band and the singing group Starley Road. As all who have met him can testify, he’s also a ne’er-do-well of the first order.