Charlie SirEScotts RIP

27 08 2021

The music world has lost another of its all-time greats with the recent passing of the lechendary (and very spaideil) Rolling Stones tub-thumper Charlie Watts. Closer to home, another lesser known but no less-respected drummer also shuffled off (get it?) this mortal coil; Charlie SirEScotts, who for nearly sixty years occupied the drum stool of the Rodel Stones, foremost band in the Harris R&B scene (Roghadal and Borrisdale). 

The Rodel Stones’ origin story takes us back to 1950 where Charlie’s future bandmate Keithstreet Richards was attending Bragar School with his pal Mick MacAskill. Mick (short for Murchadh) was a very common name in 1950s Lewis, and so MacAskill was always known as Mick Bragar in order to differentiate himself from all the other Micks, which became very confusing when his family then upped and moved to Brue. Separated by insurmountable distance, the boys lost touch, but years later Keithstreet met Mick waiting for the 6 o’ clock bus back home and noticed that he was carrying a Flair LP. They bonded over this and quickly began making their very own ruppish music under the name “Brue’s Boys”.

Meanwhile, Charlie had started playing drums with Alex Dan LazyKorner in his band ‘Brues Incorporated’ alongside melodeon player Ian Stewartscreamofthebarley and slide guitarist (and early Trans pioneer) Brian Blones. Brues-style music became very popular around Roghadal and Borrisdale and it was in 1962, whilst playing around the South Harris R&B scene, that Charlie first met Mick Bragar and Keithstreet Richards and soon formed a new band with them.  Brian Blones phoned up “Events” to have their first gig advertised and was asked what the band’s name was. He glanced out of the phonebox, saw the wall around St Clements’ Church and replied that they were called “the Rodel Stones”.

The line-up of the Rodel Stones changed several times. Stewartscreamofthebarley was kicked out for being too ugly, but became their road manager instead and Bill Aidhaidhman soon joined the line-up on bass. In later years (After the sad demise of Brian Blones), a young trendy FP melodeon player called Mick Secaaay-der  joined the band but he only stayed for five years as he got a better job as a piping instructor in Mangersta School. He in turn was replaced by the lead accordionist in ‘The Fèises’, Ronnie WoodlandsCentre, who along with Keithstreet Richards, formed what is probably the best known accordion partnership ever seen in R&B and Ceilidh circles.

The band quickly gained popularity, but true success didn’t come their way until their manager Giorgio Gormeliasky was replaced by former Peatles manager and respected deacon Andrew Loog Orduighean. 

Orduighean (a staunch FP) was responsible for the band’s look and initially tried to get them wearing good serge suits and homburg hats, but, realising that a raunchier, more dangerous image would make the band more desirable to the cailleachs, he allowed them to take off the homburgs. 

They soon secured themselves a three album deal with Ness-based label DeccaStation Records and released their first single; a cover of a Church Berry song. However, Orduighean wanted them to get their own songwriting royalties instead of giving them up to “middle aged Bacachs”, hence the title of what became their first self-penned hit “(I Can’t Get No) Sustentation”.

Their next single “Get off, MacLeod” also went to number one in DD Morrison’s chart and they soon released their first album of very good originals “Aftermathdharìreabh” which featured the hit song “Paint it Back”.

“Between the ButtonKeyAccordions” came out in 1967, tackling diverse subjects such as the difficulty of finding romance while still needing to finish essential tasks on the croft (“Let’s Spend The Night Togatherthepeats”) and the shortage of buses to Point (“Rubha by Tuesday”).

Their material took on a darker tone after Orduighean left to go in for the ministry. Particularly controversial were the album “Their Satanic Marvigs Request” and subsequent single “Sympathy for the Deamhais”. Even their album covers caused a stir. “Bleigeard’s Banquet” was criticised for its photograph of a seagull eating chips outside Perceval Square public toilets but this paled in comparison to the fuss made about the sleeve of “KennyStickysMill Fingers” which depicted a weaver struggling to operate a hattersley loom while wearing trousers that were too tight.

The band played some of the biggest and best known concerts in island history, although these appearances often hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. While on tour on the West Side in 1969, Mick Bragar blurted out to a Gazette reporter their plan to hold a free concert in the yard at Denis Autos. Fearing that Bragar would be inundated, the organisers were forced to move the show to Arnol. However, “Arnoltamont” was to become infamous after the Barvas Grazings Committee were hired to do security and the Stones’ set was cut short when an audience member was clubbed with a marag.

Their free concert at Haoidh Park in 1969 didn’t fare much better. As a tribute to Brian Blones, who died just a couple of days before, the Stones planned to release 100,000,000,000 midges which would form a sombre black cloud. After a lengthy prayer and a eulogy where Blones was never once mentioned by name, the midges were set loose and the entire audience of between 25 and 27 people fled home flailing their arms.

Success brought with it romance, and the other members of the band were often seen in the narrows after closing time with beautiful and glamorous women holding them upright. Both Brian Blones and Keithstreet Richards were involved with Lochie actress Anita Balallanberg, while Bragar was paired with Mairi-Anna Faithful (who had the cùram), married to Niseachcaraguan heiress Bianca Perez-Morag Maragas, and later partnered with Texel supermaw-del Jerry Laxdalehall (who allegedly cheated on him and ended up marrying wealthy newspaper mogul Rubha-poirt Murdoch). 

There was none of that carry-on for Charlie, though, who remained happily married until his death to the blone he met at the 1964 Carloway Show – Siabost Siarach Shearing champion Shearly-Annag Sheepherd. Charlie’s exemplary behaviour compared to the rest of the band, and the fact that Shearly-Annag was a world-renowned expert with the deamhais, were entirely coincidental, propaply.

Over their lengthy career, the Rodel Stones released a seemingly endless string of records including “Exile on Mainland”, “Sheep’s Head Soup”, “Tattoo Ewe”, “Let It Bleat”, “Bridges to Bayble” and “Soum Girls” –  and a raft of classic singles such as “Jumpin’ Cac Flush”,

“Honky Tong Woman”, “It’s Only Deoch an Dole”, “Angie”, “Gimmer Shelter” and “Start Me Tup”.

Despite his success in the world of rock and blues, Charlie was at heart a chazz fan, his early taste in music having been formed by the likes of Jelly Roll Maw-ton and Charlie Parkend. When he wasn’t playing with the Stones he could often be found jamming away with one of his side-projects at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz and Fish Club.

But we’ll leave you here with fond memories of Charlie SirEScotts and the words of one of the Rodel Stones’ best known songs, that well known warning against sheep rustling “Get Off, MacLeod”:

I live in an apartment on the ninety-ninth croft in Garyvard

And I sit at home looking out the window waiting just to catch thon ceard

Then in flies the guy next door all dressed up in a peephole boiler suit

He jumps the fence and sets about molesting my prize mehags at their food

I said Hey! Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby 

The telephone is ringing 

I say, “Hi, it’s me. Who is it there – on the phone?” 

A voice says, “Oh a’thighearna flossie tha gaol mor agam ort – you fleecy blone”

He says “it’s three am so I’ll come over and I’ll meet you at the fank”

I don’t care about the cove that owns you – 

he can go and jump into his septic tank 

I said Hey! Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby

I was sick and tired fed up with this

And decided I was gonna call the law

No dice the cops was all off at a riot in a mission house in Keose

But then I saw the vet returning from a prayer meeting in Cromore

He’ll git the guy next door fixed like a molt so he won’t bother me no more 

And I said  Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!   

Hey Macleod! Get offa my Ewe!  

Don’t hang around or I’ll have the law on you

On Macleod, baby


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