Express & Star

Barber's shop picture brings back memories for musician Gary

For decades the sign outside Jack Wall the barber was one of the most familiar landmarks in the Black Country.

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The Love Hounds pose for a picture outside the former Jack Wall barber's shop: Paul Aston (bass) Steve Cartwright (guitar) Eric Cox (guitar) Tim Johnson (drums) and Gary O’Dea (vocals / harmonica).

The large yellow sign on the side of his shop at Five Ways, Tipton, was known for miles around, particularly among sniggering schoolboys, for its rather direct approach to promoting 'something for the weekend'.

And when glam rock band the Love Hounds wanted a witty location to feature on the front of its new tape, it seemed the perfect choice.

Our feature this week on the appeal by the Dudley People's Archive for memories and stories about growing up in the Black Country brought memories flooding back for Gary O'Dea, who immediately recognised one of the photographs featured.

The picture, taken about 1988, is the image which was used on the Love Hounds cassette cover. And vocalist Gary, is pictured on the right.

"At the time there used to be a butcher's shop opposite, Alex's, and one of the members of our band lived in the flat upstairs," says Gary, now 59.

"Paul Aston was from Gornal, the rest of us were all from Tipton. We always thought it was a funny sign, advertising 'Durex and Old Spice'.

"The picture was taken, I would say about 1988, the barber shop had just had a new owner, after Jack Wall had retired. We all thought 'that sign is going, they will be taking it down soon', and thought we had better take the picture while it was still there."

And sure enough, a few months later the sign was gone.

Gary, who lives in Peartree Avenue, says the picture was taken by Adrian Hill from Stourbridge, who went on to enjoy some fame as the drummer with Dr & The Medics.

He recalls to very happy times with the band, which he says was one of the best he played in.

"We were a bit out of step with the times, everything back then was about indie and shoe-gazing at the one end, and then you had Duran Duran at the other, and we were doing our own stuff like the early Stones and garage R'n'B. We were like fish out of water."

Gary says he and Eric continued to perform up until the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and Gary recently performed an acoustic guitar set as a support act to the famous London band Dirty Strangers.