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Early 1962, top of the “charts” at No.1 was Cliff Richard with “The Young Ones”. A month later, the Shadows took over with “Wonderful Land”. The local dances were held in the St. Andrews or the Fisherman’s Hall, to local bands like the Apaches, the Sabres & Sonny Rodgers & the Swinging Rainbows & from the south, the Allisons, Checkmates, Mike Berry & the Outlaws, Shane Fenton & the Fentones, among others. During the week, youngsters would meet in cafes like the Soda Fountain & Marandolas’ drink cokes & listen to the “juke box” play the latest “sounds” of rock & roll.


Around that time, four “youths” met, & toyed with the idea of forming a group. Iain Lyon, an apprentice painter who had played guitar with skiffle group the “Saints”, Rob Lawson, a schoolboy, who had played up-turned biscuit tins, & later drums with the B.B’s, Ali Ewen, also a schoolboy, who, along with Bill Cameron, an apprentice photographer, had guitars & “jammed” at weekends. They got together to practice wherever they could, somebody’s bedroom or a church hall. Anywhere with a bit of heat, & a 60 watt bulb.


At one of the practice sessions, they were heard by Ronnie Rossvoll, who was organizing a “record hop” in the Commercial hotel hall, & he asked then along to do a guest spot at it. So armed with a 5 watt amplifier, two small speakers, a snare drum, & little else, they first performed in public, calling themselves the Cimmarrons”. Playing mainly instrumentals, they went down well, but, what was needed was a singer. John Stewart, an apprentice butcher, from Portnockie, who had sung with the Apaches, was invited along to the next practice. John knew a lot of song lyrics & was the missing piece of the jig-saw.


A few days later, John’s elder brother Alex was asked to “manage” the group, so he set about arranging funding for better equipment.  Along with Ian Johnston, (Bill’s boss) they persuaded the Buckie Round Table to loan the band some money to buy “gear” so that they could play in the local venues, & in return, the band would play at 3 “charity dances”, so raising money for the Round Table. Of course, the original loan would be paid back as the band would now be able to earn from playing. Another change was the name. Taken from an echo unit, (the Watkins Copycat) & the traditional of the day to put the singers name firs, they became Johnny and the Copycats.

Alex also persuaded Elgin promoter, Albert Bonici, of Modern Dancing Enterprises, to give the boys a two week-end “trial”. He did, & the reports from the dance managers must have been favourable, as they got more and more bookings from M.D.E. one of which was the Longmore hall, Keith on Wednesday 2nd of January, supporting a little known group called the Beatles. But, as snow-storms ravaged the North East, the “Love me do” boys, as they were advertised, were struck down south, somewhere. The two groups would appear together the following year, but in totally different circumstances.


During 1963, they played all over the north-east, supporting such names as Eden Kane, the Big Three, Brad Newman, & the Nashville Teens. In October, they won the Elgin heat of a national beat contest, going on to the Scottish finals in the Town Hall, Hamilton, but they weren’t allowed to play their “spot”.  After much bad publicity, it was decided to re-run the finals at a “neutral” venue, the City hall, Perth. A bus-load of Buckie and district fans went down to give support & to make sure the “boys” would get to play this time. They did get to play & they came first! Then in December, they flew down to London to compete in the finals in the Granada theatre, Tooting & after watching the contest “judges” Heinz & the Saints, Bert Weedon & Joe Brown & the Bruvvers play their set, the boys were told they had been awarded 2nd place. During that month the work-load was getting so hectic that they decided to take the chance and go full-time.


Being able to travel further afield, 1964 would see the “Cats” playing in central Scotland, & with groups like Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, the Ronettes, & the Hollies, at places like Dundee’s Caird hall & Paisley town hall. They also went back down to London to play at clubs & to make their first record “I’m a hog for you”. Then, on April 29th & 30th, the “big” one, opening for the Beatles in the ABC theatre,  Edinburgh, & the Odeon,  Glasgow. Ali left the band in the Summer, but the other boys kept going, appearing on STV’s Dig This & One Night Stand, & after opening the show for Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas at Aberdeen’s Capitol theatre, went off for a month’s tour of England. 1964 also saw the boys turn eighteen years old, so now they could get work permits & go over to Germany, which they did in February, 1965. Returning home for the summer, they were to appear with Herman’s Hermit’s, Sandi Shaw, & Adam Faith & the Roulettes. September saw them back in Germany, playing Cologne & the Frankfurt area & again in November/December, supporting the Searchers.


In 1966, that trend would continue. Playing,in England, Germany, and then home for a while, playing support to the Mindbenders, the Moody Blues & Cliff Bennet & the Rebel Rousers, before heading off for Germany in September, this time to stay for the rest of the year & into 1967. It was in April ’67, while in the Top Ten Club, Hamburg, that a group called the Easybeats saw the Copycats, & offered to record them later that year in London. A deal was fixed with EMI Parlophone & the song “Elusive Face”, written by John, was released in April 1968, followed by “Stop, stop, there I’ll be”, in October ’68 with their new name, “My Dear Watson” on the label.


Meanwhile, the big name groups kept coming up to Scotland, MDW providing support to Pink Floyd, Geno Washington, Paul & Barry Ryan, the Casuals, Dave Berry, the Small Faces & the Foundations. In 1969, the BBC started the “Radio One Club” & every Friday, 12 – 2 pm, it would broadcast live, from Scotland, featuring a Scottish band, MDW would play on the show several times in the coming years. ’69 also saw John leave the ban to settle down to family life in Portsoy, but he kept writing songs & would be a regular visitor at the Rathven hall practice on Wednesday afternoon with new material. In 1970 MDW were invited down to DJM studios to record a possible LP & single. Another young “hopeful” Reg Dwight was there too & the Watson’s were asked if they woul like him to play some keyboards on their recordings. They did, & they also asked him to do some vocal backing on the single “Have you seen your saviour”, & flip-side “White lined road”. Young Reg would change his name to “Elton John” record a number called “Your song”, & the rest as they say, is history.


In the summer of ’70, My Dear Watson was invited to the Loch Ness location “shoot” of the film “The Private Life of Sherlock Homes”. Because of the name connection, somebody thought it would be a good idea to get the boys to meet some of the crew, including director Billy Wilder, & actors Colin Blakely, Robert Stephens, Christopher Lee, & have photos taken with them, for “mutual” publicity. In October that year, they were joined by “Siggi” Slater on keyboards. They continued to play all over the country, & on several occasions, on the BBC “Radio One Club”, from places as far apart as Galshiels in the Borders, to Kirkwall in Orkney, as well as Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen & even one from the Elgin town hall, with D.J. the “Emperor Rosko”. On some of their visits home, to the North of Scotland, they played support to names like the Alan Price Set, Slade, the Troggs, Dave Edmunds Rockpile, Hot Chocolate, Johnny Johnson & the Bandwagon, Christie, Manfred Mann, the Jack Bruce Band, Fleetwood Mac, & Status Quo. The boys decided to “call it a day” on Saturday 2nd of September, 1972, playing their last gig at the Fulmar club, RNAS Lossiemouth.