BELAIRES

Circa:  1962 – 1967

Home town:  Salisbury

Members:

  • Angus Kennedy – Vocals

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  • Noel Browne – Lead guitar

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  • Lawrence James – Rhythm guitar

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  • Butch Bennett – Bass guitar

RS - Butch Bennett

  • Ian Strachan – Drums (Band leader)

RS - Ian Strachan

In subsequent years there were the following changes:

  • Des Sherwell replaced Lawrence James on rhythm guitar on his departure  overseas.
  • Max Paton took over bass guitar from Butch Bennett when he left the band.
  • Raymond Browne took over the drums from Ian Strachan.

On occasions, the following musicians deputised for those who were not available:

  • John Roberts – Rhythm guitar
  • Clyde Boyd-Sutherland – Bass guitar

Band manager from 1965 – 1967 was Johnny Rosenberg.

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I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND! THE BELAIRES IN MARCH 1962. Back Left to Right: Noel Browne (lead), Lawrence James (rhythm), Ian Strachan (drums) and Butch Bennet (bass). Front Left to Right: Ronnie Pienaar (vocals) and Bonnie Bennett (vocals).

In February, 1962, the BELAIRES started out being known by their original name, THE OUTSIDERS.  The founder members of the band were Noel Browne (lead), Ian Strachan (drums and the band leader), Lawrence James (rhythm guitar) and Butch Bennett (bass guitar).  In the first few months of the band’s existence, Ronnie Pienaar and Bonny Bennett shared the vocal duties.  At that time, however, the band based themselves on the Shadows so most of the material was instrumentally based sans singing.

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HAREM SARUM? The Belaires lay it on the Sarum Youth Club audience (1964). Left to Right: Des Sherwell, Max Paton, Angus Kennedy and Noel Browne. Note that the poster on the back wall is advertising the 1964 Mashonaland 100 motor racing event.

In the very early days of the band’s existence, Noel Browne played lead guitar on a home made electric guitar which he had made himself.  (Could he have been a budding Leo Fender in his own right?).  The day arrived, however, when he was able to “upgrade” and it was with much delight that he, Butch Bennett and Lawrence James were able to visit Radio Limited to purchase their brand new Fenders ~ Lead, Fender Stratocaster, Rhythm. Fender Esquire and a Fender Precision Bass!

Ian Strachan had to wait  a little longer before being able to replace his old second hand Premier drum set.  That day, however, also arrived and a champagne coloured Gretsch drum kit with Zylgin cymbals replaced the faithful, but tired, Premier kit.  Ian was positively bristling with pride at his new acquisition!

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IT’S ONLY WORDS… Such was the pressure of the day to be thr first to cover the latest greatest hits, time often didn’t allow for the memorising of lyrics and chords hence the evidence of “sharing” and “crib notes”! Left to Right: Des Sherwell, Max Paton, Noel Browne, Angus Kennedy and Raymond Browne.

Early in 1963 the band changed their name from the Outsiders to the Belaires, cleverly entering into an agreement with the manufacturers of Belaire shirts to promote their clothing at their gigs.  From inception the band proved popular, playing at many places and venues throughout the country.  They were seen in Salisbury, Umtali, Que Que, Gatooma, the Gwelo civic halls and at the Jewish Guild Hall in Bulawayo.

The BELAIRES broke up in October, 1967, with some of its members relocating overseas in pursuit of their careers. 

The BELAIRES gigging history sparkles with noteworthy concerts, gigs and television appearances guaranteed to stir the vague memories in many of our readers’ minds!    Perhaps you can remember some of these occasions?

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“HATFIELD, DO YOU DIG US?” Playing at the Hatfield Hall in 1962. Left to Right: Noel Browne, Ian Strachan and Angus Kennedy.

Farmers’ Clubs

Banket, Bindura, Wedza, Hartley and Salisbury South.

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MAZOE HOTEL 1966. Angus Kennedy on lead vocals.

Hotels

Held the record for drawing the largest crowd (in excess of 1000 folk) for the Sunday afternoon sessions in the hotel’s gardens.

Red Fox, Seven Mile, Kamfinsa, Highlands Park, Estoriol (Beira) and Meikles.

Rock Sessions

Duthie Hall, SOE (Sons Of England) Hall, Hatfield Hall, Lochinvar Railway Club, Sarum Youth Club (every Wednesday night having largest attendance and being the longest running regular session band, lasting all of 3 years!).

Night Clubs & Restaurants

Brett’s, Le Coq D’Or, Kenya Coffee Lounge, The Wreck and Yellow Orchid.

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HAVE YOU READ THE NEWS TODAY, OH BOY…

Television

Appeared on RTV’s “Teen Time Show” on a number of occasions.

Radio

The band, for a season of Saturday afternoons, played the latest hits of the day on the RBC radio half-hour programme known as “The Belaire Show”, hosted by Mike Daffy.

Texan Rock Band Competition – 1965

Angus Kennedy was judged second in the Best Vocalist section.

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DRUM SOLO?. Left to Right: Noel Browne, Lawrence James, Ian Strachan (on drums), Angus Kennedy and Butch Bennett.

 

Where Are They Now?

Noel Browne – Sadly passed away in Zimbabwe on 27 July, 1994.

Ian Strachan – Emigrated from Zimbabwe to South Africa in 2007 when he retired to live in Johannesburg.  Whilst preparing this entry for the band, the tragic news was received that Ian had died of a heart attack on 4 November, 2009, whilst lifting speakers in his music shop.

Lawrence James – Left the Belaires in 1964 and relocated to the United Kingdom.  Whereabouts unknown.

Angus Kennedy – Emigrated to Australia from Zimbabwe in 1981.  After pursuing a successful career in the motor trade he is now retired and living on a small holding a short distance from Sydney.  Still musically active.

Des Sherwell – Emigrated from Rhodesia in the early seventies to pursue a career overseas.  He is now retired in Maidenhead, England, after working for many years for Newsweek magazine.

Max Paton – Emigrated from Rhodesia in 1968 and lived in New Zealand for a number of years before moving to Sydney, Australia, where he worked for the ABC.  He is now retired but remains active in music.  Still a committed Shadows fan, he recently recorded and produced his own CD as a tribute to the band.  He is also involved in the refurbishment and repair of guitars.

Raymond Browne – Emigrated from Zimbabwe to South Africa and is living in Cape Town.