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Legend: Alan tells of life with world rock stars

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: August 03, 2011

  • Bassist of St Austell band The Shades, Alan Ross.

  • St Austell band The Shades in their heyday. Alan Ross on the left, Mike Bunt on the drums, the late, great Spike Hooper, middle, on guitar and Colin Pryce-Jones, on the right, on lead guitar.

  • Records produced by St Austell band The Shades, who had top three hits in Spain.

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A ST AUSTELL rock 'n' roll legend, who rubbed shoulders with the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, had his memoirs published in a book this week.

In his heyday, Alan Ross claims to have had coffee with the Beatles and to have "gotten on very well" with Michael Jackson.

The 70-year-old was once the bass player with St Austell-based band The Shades who made it onto national TV and had hit records in Spain.

In his book, written by Alex Kendall, Mr Ross is also described as the last man alive to play in The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

In the run-up to the book launch Mr Ross told the Cornish Guardian about his star encounters.

One day in 1963 Mr Ross said he was doing crowd control for the TV programme, Ready Steady Go, on which the Beatles and Cilla Black appeared.

He soon found himself going for coffee with the Liverpudlian superstars including John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

In 1968 Mr Ross said he was in Copenhagen supporting The Jimi Hendrix Experience with a London band but ended up playing bass with Mr Hendrix himself.

"The bass player was too drunk to play due to girlfriend problems," said Mr Ross. "So when I turned up to the gig they said I'd have to fill in for him. Jimi Hendrix wasn't the icon he is now, mind. They said there was an extra £30 for me if I did it."

Mr Ross's list of famous faces even extends to Michael Jackson, whom he met while playing with The Shades on the Spanish version of Top Of The Pops.

The band had two hit records in Spain and happened to appear on the same show as the Jackson Five.

"I talked to Michael Jackson about blues and jazz for about half an hour," he said.

"We got on very well but our record was No 2 in the Spanish charts and theirs was No 3."

The Shades have been described as the biggest band to come out of Cornwall.

"I've travelled all over the world but it suits me here," added the father of three who has lived in St Austell for 11 years.

Alex Kendall's book, Bass Of Shades, was self-published this week and can be purchased by e-mailing him directly at alexkendall@talktalk.net

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