Home town: Gatooma

  • John Allen – Bass guitar (See also NIGHTHAWKS)
  • Sonny Boy Bezuidenhout – Lead guitar
  • Charlie Armstrong – Lead vocals & rhythm guitar
  • Mike Wildman – Drums

astronautsThe Astronauts played, mainly, in their home town of Gatooma although forays further afield to Umtali, Salisbury and Que Que were not uncommon.  The Umsweswe Hotel, well known to many party-goers of the era, was one of the Astronauts’ favourites haunts and gigs there always gandered lots of support from their Que Que followers.  Amongst this group of fans was a fellow who, apparently, used to remove his glass eye after a few drinks and chase the girls with it!

John Allen played in other bands, too, including THE NIGHTHAWKS with Bob, Earl and Joy Mundell and the Schofields (Ken and Marie).  Amongst John’s recollections is of an evening when he was playing as a member of a dance band at the local school charity dance when some dunce – we know the type! – tripped over the backstage wiring disconnecting the guitars.  This was particularly obvious to the audience as they were halfway through a Shadows number!  Frenetic action by John, however, saved the night in getting the band “re-connected”.  Could this has been the first time the Shadows had ever been covered unplugged?

Another memory of school dances is the occasion where the band were paid in “kind”, rather than in cash.  On this occasion the “kind” comprised of a carton of cigarettes and an ashtray each.  It is with no so small amount of pride that John is able to state that, whilst the cigarettes may be gone, the ashtray has survived the years and is lovingly cared for!

Today, John Allen and his wife and family live in Derby in the United Kingdom.  Mike Wildman and Charlie Armstrong passed away some years ago and the present whereabouts of Sonny Boy is thought to be in South Africa.