Doug Sandom (The Who) talks to eyeplug

Doug Sandom  –  a founding member of The Who. The Detours 2nd and The Who’s 1st drummer, 1962 – 1964.

01. You have written a book about your time in the The Detours and The Who. What inspired you to write this book and why now?

Doug Sandom – ‘Actually I got bullied into it by my friends. They were always asking me about the early part of my life and my time in the band, and wanted me to talk about it. So they kept on and on and eventually I thought well why not.’

02. Pete Townshend provides a really touching foreword to the book and he was really complimentary towards you.  He regarded you as a friend, and a mentor and feels genuine remorse about the circumstances that led to you leaving the band. How did you feel about what Pete said?

Doug Sandom –  ‘I was taken aback and stunned by what he said. To be fair Pete has always been good to me and has always been very friendly towards me’.

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03. How did you manage to get Pete to contribute to the book?

Doug Sandom – ‘Through the publisher Chris Hutchins’.

Barry Ratcliffe – ‘Chris Hutchins the publisher knows Pete very well and they were both out walking their dogs in Richmond, and Chris mentioned the book to him and asked Pete if he would mind contributing a few words to it and he graciously accepted.’

04. Your book has been on Ebay and sales have been quite considerable. How do you feel about being held in such high regard by fans of The Who?

Barry Ratcliffe – ‘Doug likes seeing the fans a lot. Do you know the story about Roger Daltrey saying we are successful because of the kids and we need to look after our fans? That actually came from Doug.  It all started over an incident, which is in the book with a girl fan when Pete kicked a door into her as she came in looking for an autograph. Doug turned around to Pete and had a go at him for what he did and the point he made was that the fans come to support us and pay our wages.’

Doug Sandom – ‘Pete kept saying that he did not want fans hanging round, and I said we need them here Pete as they do pay our wages, and without them there would be no band.’

05. You amusingly mention in the first chapter how you ended up being in The Detours? You thought it was a chance meeting with Roger, but Roger had already sounded you out through a mutual friend. Were you flattered that Roger was so keen to get you into The Detours?

Doug Sandom – ‘Yes of course I was.  I was going to see somebody about an audition at the Priory Girls School in Acton. When I got there the school was closed and I thought it was a wasted trip. Then all of a sudden, I saw a little guy coming towards me and he said to me ‘What’s the matter mate?’  I explained about the audition I came down for and felt I had wasted my journey. Roger said ‘It is not a wasted journey mate as our drummer has gone away on holiday, and would you like to sit in with us?’ We arranged to meet at Acton Town Hall on the following Friday, and after that audition their drummer got the sack and I was in.’

06. Can you tell me a little bit about your music career before you joined The Detours? What inspired you to become a drummer in the first place?

Doug Sandom – ‘I was always tapping as a kid and I used to drive my mother mad (chuckles).  I taught myself how to play the drums and never had any lessons. After the Ramrods I was playing in different bands around Acton and at the Town Hall. Then when I joined The Detours I thought this is mine and I could see there was plenty in them. They all treated me really well, even Peter. If you got a smile out of Peter – that meant something.’

07. The tension with band members in The Who is the stuff of legend, however, there seemed to be plenty of disagreements in The Detours and in particular between Roger and Pete. Was it just musical differences that caused friction between Pete and Roger?

Doug Sandom – ‘It was only music. It never got too rough between them, but Roger would sometimes shape up to fight Pete and I would have to get in the middle of them to try and stop them. I thought the world of Pete, but he could sometimes drive you mad with the aggravation, but I could not help but like him.’

08. Who were the primary musical influences on the Detours? It seems almost every guitar band in this period was covering numbers by Howlin Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters. Was electric Rhythm and Blues a key part of the bands repertoire in this period?

Doug Sandom – ‘No not really.  We were doing chart stuff like The Shadows.’

Barry Ratcliffe – ‘The Detours were doing stuff like The Shadows and pop music of the day.  The Detours played at dance events and in the early days they were playing as a party type band in some venues, and were just playing all the well-known covers. The very first song Pete wrote (It Was You) they recorded in Barry Gray’s (Thunderbirds theme composer) basement flat and Doug actually played on that recording.  It was Pete’s first published song and that particular session was organized by Bob Druce. We reckon that he must have the master tape and as far as I know there was 1 original song by Pete and 2 covers, possibly including ‘Young Man Blues’. Matt Kent (Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle Of The Who 1958-1978) has also tried to contact Bob Druce but as yet we have heard nothing back from him.  I would personally buy that tape for Doug and it is important to get that music out there so the fans can hear it.’

09. In 1962 The Detours did an audition for Druce’s Commercial Entertainments at the Oldfield Hotel, Greenford, West London. Have you any recollections of this audition? Did any of you see this as a make or break situation for the band?

Doug Sandom – ‘When we turned up for the audition there was already a top band playing there, (The Bel-Airs) and I mean they were the top dogs. Then they let us poor little sods play a couple of numbers and that was the worst thing they ever did. We got on there and we took over from them almost straight away. At the audition I remember Peter being so nervous and I was quite relaxed and cool, and I kept telling Pete to calm down and not to worry. I thought I did quite well at keeping him cool as it looked like he might walk out. We played about 5 numbers and the crowd went crazy for us, and from then onwards we played at the Oldfield Hotel every Thursday.’

10. The Detours built a loyal and dedicated following in West London at venues such as the Goldhawk and the Railway Hotel. What were your favourite venues to play at and did the Detours have a strictly Mod following?

Doug Sandom – ‘The Oldfied was my favourite and we loved playing there. We also played at a place down by the Thames in Putney (St Mary’s Hall) and all of a sudden we had become the warm up band for The Searchers, and the Stones.’

Barry Ratcliffe – ‘The Glenlyn Ballroom (Forest Hill) was a Mod hangout. The Detours did not really have a Mod following and that Mod thing really blew up after Doug had left the band and when they became The High Numbers. Pete was naturally a Mod but it was only when Keith Moon joined the band that they became a full on Mods band.’

11. The Detours and The Who in this period played gigs with Johnny Kid and the Pirates, The Stones, The Kinks and The Hollies. It seemed that The Detours had become a professional band in a short space of time. Did you in particular feel that the band had made it to the big time at that point?

Doug Sandom – ‘Yeah absolutely. We were the warm up band for the Stones on several occasions and we did not feel in any way inferior to them at all. We would go on stage first and knock the hell out of the audience and they absolutely loved us. Even the bands we used to warm up for would tell us how good we were and to hear that just fired us up even more.’

12. Irish Jack also makes a contribution to your book. He has become almost as legendary as The Who in some respects. I take it you and Irish Jack are still friends after all these years?

Doug Sandom – ‘I have been to Cork in Ireland a couple of times to see him and we are still good friends. Jack is a real character and is a funny chap and he chats too much (chuckles).’

13. I was reading through an old book of The Who recently and you were according to Roger and John a fundamental part of the Detours. John Entwistle in particular said that you were ten times better than all of them. Despite those plaudits how did you feel when your time in The Detours came to an end?

Doug Sandom – ‘We were playing a gig at The White Hart in Acton on a Sunday evening, and after the show I was going up to meet my wife at her sister’s. I happened to be going the same way as John and he was very quiet. I turned round and said to John what’s the matter mate? Have I upset you or something? John said no not at all but I have got to tell you something, and he said the band is going to do some recoding next weekend and you are being set up. It was a horrible day for me because I am expecting to be slung out of the band and our manager was Helmut Gordon and he did not like me and I hated him.  Pete also started arguing with me and I just said that’s it I have had enough. Pete said you can’t just walk out as we have got too many bookings, and I agreed to finish the bookings and then I said to Pete that is it – I am off! The last show I did was at the 100 Club and I died that night, as I felt that it was me who helped get them up to the next level, and all of a sudden that’s it – all over!’

14. Did you carry on in music after you left the Detours? What became your chosen career path?

Doug Sandom – ‘I did play with a few bands after I left The Who and I just thought God what am I doing? None of them were really good enough and you know I was in The Who and where else could I go after that.’

15. It did make me laugh when I read in your book that Roger insists that he speaks to you every Sunday. Is this really true?

Doug Sandom – ‘I have to phone him every Sunday and have been talking to him for years. I don’t see him much and even if he is not home he insists that I leave a message for him as he likes to hear my voice and to make sure that I am alright!’’




The Who before The Who – Doug Sandom

So much has been written about my favourite band The Who over the years that I really believed that there was not much more that could be said on the subject. My book shelf is littered with books about The Who but there was one person who had a valuable insight into the early days of The Detours and subsequently The Who that neglected to tell his version of events until now. Every true fan will be aware that Doug Sandom was the original drummer of The Detours and The Who, and that he played a pivotal part in a band that would eventually go on to world-wide fame and acclaim.

I was lucky enough to meet Doug and his good friend and Who fanatic Barry Ratcliffe recently. I had prepared a number of questions and with the help of a few beers the conversation became free, and I felt instantly at ease with both Doug and Barry. Doug is a charming and pleasant man who told me such brilliant tales of a band that consisted of 4 such disparate characters, and how their love of music somehow overcame differences of opinion and the now legendary tension that existed between members of the group. One of my questions to Doug was why did you write ‘The Who Before The Who?’ At this moment you would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Doug wanted to pour scurrilous verbose on the other band members or perhaps wallow in self-pity at an opportunity missed for superstardom. The answer was simple (‘I was bullied into it’) and that statement said a lot about a man who came across as self deprecating and unassuming to say the least.

The bullies I might add were his friends who had always been fascinated about Doug’s tales of the music scene in early 1960s London. Doug would regale his friends with tales about the early days of The Detours, and they convinced Doug to put pen to paper and share these stories with fans of The Who. The book has finally materialized and it had taken a year to complete. What I got in the post recently was a book with a striking red hardback cover with that iconic picture of Pete Townshend in windmill pose adorning the front cover.

Pete Townshend provides a fitting and touching tribute to Doug in the foreword, and Pete admits that as soon as Doug joined the band in 1962 he became convinced that the band would make it, and Doug’s steady and controlled time keeping provided The Detours with a tight and focused rhythm section. Pete shows genuine remorse at the circumstances, which led Doug to eventually leave the band. Pete admits he cruelly provoked (with some encouragement and provocation from Helmut Gorden) Doug to the point where he had no choice but to quit the band. Pete is gracious enough to admit that Doug was a mentor to him, and only when Doug left did Pete realize the importance and loss of his friendship with Doug.

The book consists of twelve quick fire chapters told in an almost conversational style that is both direct and engaging. Almost immediately we witness the birth of the Detours by a chance encounter between Doug and Roger Daltrey at Priory Girls School in Acton Green. This was no chance meeting but intended fate as Roger had set up the encounter through a mutual friend. What occurs after that fateful meeting is an audition at Acton Town Hall that goes so well that Doug now found himself in The Detours at the expense of their previous drummer who went away on holiday only to come back and find he was out of the band.

From Doug’s initial meeting at Acton Town Hall the band embarked on a whirlwind trip from playing pubs and private functions to coveted slots with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Rolling Stones, The Searchers, The Kinks and The Hollies. However, it would be fair to say that there were plenty of ups and downs in the fledgling years of The Detours and subsequently The Who. Despite the well-known tensions within the band, Doug was battling his own troubles and what he reveals in this book is a hard working and loyal man in every sense, but was torn between his love of music and his home life.

Doug Sandom was a bricklayer by day and a budding Rock n Roll star by night with a wife and child at home. These three competing demands on his time would eventually lead him to quit the music business. However, in the 2 years that Doug Sandom was behind the drums the band would perform on a west London circuit to an ever increasing and loyal following, which could be found at venues like the The Railway Hotel, The Goldhawk and the Oldfield Hotel. The band had a hectic schedule and was often playing seven nights a week. It is no wonder that this work schedule was to put a strain on Doug’s personal life.

However, Doug’s account of his time in The Detours is far from doom and gloom, and what this book reveals is a burning passion by all 4 members to succeed in the music business. This ambition often led to arguments within the band, and Roger was clearly the leader in the early period and the one who chose the songs, which usually consisted of songs by The Shadows and other pop hits of the day. Doug points to one pivotal moment when the power of control was to slightly shift towards Pete. It was a gig with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates that was to influence the band greatly and in particular Pete, who was impressed by Mick Green’s unique rhythm and lead guitar style. Pete would eventually develop a similar style, which allowed the band to play without a second guitarist.

The shift towards a more R n B sound did not suit all members of the band and Doug freely admits that he did not much care for Pete’s taste in music. This was not the only change afoot and Doug was called to a meeting to announce that the band had to change their name because there was already a band with the same name (Johnny Devlin and the Detours). Doug witnessed first hand a slightly stoned Pete and his art school friend and Who know it all Richard Barnes discussing names for the band, and after plenty of ridiculous names were thrown about including The Hair, they eventually settled on the name The Who.

The end of Doug Sandom’s tenure in The Who is well known by most fans of the band. However, it is Doug’s version of events, which needed to be told.  Doug reveals that it was a fateful meeting with Helmut Gorden that would eventually lead him to leave the band. Helmut Gorden promised the band fame and fortune if they changed the drummer. It seems incredibly shallow to use age as an excuse to remove someone from the occupation that they love. Pete Townshend admits in his foreword that Doug was not too old, but Helmut Gorden’s promise of a lucrative record deal swayed opinion at the time, and Doug’s last gig was to be at the 100 Club on April 13, 1964. It must have been a bitter blow to Doug but thankfully he has shared this and his other brilliant tales of the London music scene in the early 1960s with us in good humour and style.

Irish Jack needs no introduction here, however, he has contributed a piece to this book, which consists of his memories of writing to Pete Townshend from his home in Cork, Ireland in the early 1970s. Letters went back and forth between the two and Jack was possibly the first to be told about Pete’s new ‘Rock Opera’, ‘Quadrophenia’. Irish Jack reveals that it was the song ‘Long Live Rock’ that provided the gem for the album, and in July 1973 while in London Pete let him hear the tapes to the unfinished album. The friendship between Irish Jack and Pete Townshend stretches back more than 50 years, and I think it reveals a lot about not just these two but also the special relationship that exists between The Who and their fans across all age spectrums.

A very special mention must go to Barry Ratcliffe. His encyclopedic knowledge on The Detours and The Who was impressive to say the least. Prior to meeting Doug Sandom I did wonder how he managed to put this book together, and what I discovered was that Barry has greatly encouraged Doug along every step of the way over the past year, and he is the driving force behind the promotion of the book. Barry can be found on www.WhoCloudcast.com where he dedicates a show every 3 weeks to his favourite band. A show not to be missed by any dedicated follower of The Who.

To obtain a copy of this great book. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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