Ian's Photo Gallery
     
 

Bill Puplett & Scarecrow

 
     

Scarecrow were a London pub rock outfit that I saw regularly from the summer of 1974 until 1979. Bill Puplett was their lead guitarist, and I still don't believe I've seen or heard anyone better. Before Scarecrow, he was with a band called Serendipity, and Scarecrow themselves originated as Information. Bill now has a Guitar and Mandolin building and repair business in Harrow Weald, and is name-checked by Oasis in interviews as the person who sets up their pick-ups and credited with guitar set-ups on the sleeve of Oasis' latest offering Heathen Chemistry, and for Chrissie Hynde amongst others [Saw Chrissie supporting ZZ Top in Nashville in 2007 !]. Bill has also written as "Guitar Doctor" for Guitar Magazine. Bill has no web-site but web searches throw up his contact details - [here an example].

Original Bassist Clive Yeats is apparently still playing as East Side Blues in Gibraltar. Clive has also put up some material on YouTube, including Scarecrow playing "Bird".

See Spilt Milk Records, still run by long time fan Charlie Pritchard, for live album and more Scarecrow details.

It was purely fortuitous I came across Scarecrow at the Western Counties pub (now the Sawyers Arms) stopping over one night in Paddington on my motorcycle trip to the Farnborough Air-Show from my home in Guisborough (North Yorkshire). The coincidence was that purely on spec, not even remembering (knowing ?) their name, I walked across Hyde Park shortly after I started at Imperial College the following year, and they were playing there again that very night. After that it was The Lord Nelson (High Street, Islington), The Windsor Castle (Harrow Road), The Lord Palmerston (near Fulham Broadway) The Thomas-a-Beckett (the boxing pub) (Old Kent Road), The Brecknock Arms (Camden), The Greyhound (Fulham Palace Road), The Angel (Islington) The (original) Marquee (Wardour Street), The Bridge House (Canning Town) Another (?) (Harlesden), and no doubt a few more I will recall. (Did they ever play The Golden Lion ?)

Scarecrow played 99% original material by John Stewart (some co-written with drummer Dave Rumsey), enough for evolving and varied playlists; several albums worth. Mostly melodic and structured stuff, with Bill's picked, high-sustain finger-vibrato tone teetering on the edge of feedback at all times - not a single effects pedal or footswitch involved. But I have strangely vivid memories of John's favourite covers of Morning Dew by Tim Rose, Watchtower by Dylan / Hendrix, and Crossroads by Cream / Clapton - assisted by a little Wah-Wah and Delay-Line Reverb. Can never hear those three songs without seeing John performing them.

Like Charlie, the first two years that I was a "fan" I saw them over 200 times a year, fourteen nights in a row was not uncommon - the gaps were usually due to other touring bands / gigs to see - mad times - I once unloaded a Led Zep ticket to a tout 'cos I preferred to see Scarecrow that night, than see a second night of Led Zep at Earl's Court. Fortunately, the third year I noticed I had a degree to complete. Only once saw them outside greater London, at a nightclub tour gig in Scarborough of all places.

Apart from Charlie, who arrived on the scene a year later, there were so many regulars - Julie, Denise, Dave, Mike, plus few college mates that turned into regulars, and many more - and so many individual stories. Charlie has some photos of the band [link currently broken] that include Julie, Denise and Dave.  Denise I still contact in 2008 (through her career counselling business !) Still have recent contact with a few other fans thanks to hits on this page.

(Charlie' still in touch with John and Dave in 2008 says there's a rumour John wants to get the band together at least one more time ?)

(Grahame White, now with Jackie Lynton, deputised for Bill for a month or so back in 1978.)

Below : Bill, a class act at the Marquee.

Below : The original Scarecrow at the original Marquee Club
Clive on Bass, John Stewart on Rhythm & Vocals, Bill on Lead, Dave Rumsey on Drums

Below : The creative frontmen - John Stewart's songs & Bill's Guitar.
These two shots from the Angel, Islington.

Below : Clive the original bassist, here with Bill at the Marquee, left to become a croupier in Gibraltar.

           

Below : John and replacement Bassist Dick, at The Angel

Below : Bill in classic thoughtful pose - his Gibson doing the talking.