the Holy Black

(also known as Holly Black)

Obituary
Nic Pickard

We are very saddened to learn that bandleader/songwriter/guitarist/singer/organist Nic Pickard of the Drifters and the Holy Black has recently lost his personal battle with cancer. In recent times both Nic and his daughter Nicole have been in touch with this website, sharing their music, thoughts and memories. Nic Pickard and his band mates have entertained so many of us through the years and for this we are profoundly grateful. Our thoughts go to Nicole and to Nic's family and friends. 

Nic you will be missed........
Bas Möllenkramer

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This website is for the 60's and 70's Rhodesian band Holy Black
webmaster Bas Möllenkramer of the Netherlands

  
Left to right: Neil Fox, John Davies, John McBeath, Jerry Barnard, Mel French, Nic Pickard

Introduction

The Holy Black was a rock band formed from an earlier band called the Drifters (see below) in Rhodesia around 1970/71. They played mainly cover versions of the best contemporary rock repertoire. The nucleus of the band was a four-piece, consisting of organ, guitar, bass and drums. They were often augmented by several brass instruments. The band split in 1975, all members moving to South Africa. 

The Name Change

Mel French, the Holy Black's bass player and vocalist, informed us that they were not allowed to use the name Holy Black for records issued in South Africa. Although not specifically stated as such, the reasons probably have something to do with race and apartheid. The name Holly Black was used for records, but the band's real name is certainly Holy Black. 

Personnel in 1973

Nic Pickard, keyboards, guitars, vocals
Jerry Barnard, lead guitar, vocals
John Davies, trombone
John McBeath, saxophone
Mel French, bass
Neil Fox, drums

Posters from 1972-73

These were emailed to this site by Tony Smith. Thanks Tony!

Recordings

There are only two known vinyl record releases featuring Holly Black. The first is a pairing of two songs from the musical Godspell and the second is an attempt to crack the charts with their own composition. 

Side A: Day By Day (Stephen Schwartz) Valando Music
Side B: By My Side (Hamburger, Gordon) Valando Music
Gallo PD.9884 mono
1973 Gallo (Africa) Ltd.
Holly Black with Margie Stephens (Side A) and Myrtle Adams (Side B)
Side A: Funky Music (N. Pickard) MPA 3:32
Side B: Brother (Alexis Korner) Francis Day SA 3:18
Gallo PD.1035 stereo 16-9-1974
1974 Gallo (Africa) Ltd.
Produced by Holly Black and Peter Thwaites
Both songs are sung by bass-player Mel French, who has kindly contributed his memories to this website. 
Side A: Someone Someone (Pett/Greines) MPA 3:12 
Side B: Lucille (Collins/Penniman) Melody Music 1:50
Teal TS 60 mono 1964
by The Drifters

A personal thank you to noted South African collector Tertius Louw for adding this valuable gem to this collection! 
Title: Bundu Beat (LP_
Side A, track 3: Moonglow  3:57
Side A, track 4:  Golden Earrings 2:29
Side B, track 1: Finglebunt 2:35
Side B, track 2: Summertime 3:35
Brigadiers BR/R1 mono 1964/65?

The Drifters

The Drifters are perhaps the most versatile group, whether playing modern beat numbers or mood ballads. Lead guitarist Harry Hayden shows particular brilliance in the Drifters subtle rendering of the old favourite Moonglow. In contrast their powerful playing of the beat number Finglebunt has a vivid vitality all its own. 

The Drifters were: 
Nick Pickard (leader)
Harry Hayden
Jim Mc Diarmid
Melvin French

Cover Design: Doug Story. Recording Engineers: Alan Perrie, Paul Weltman, Production: Dave du Preez.
Recorded in Paulas Recording Studio for Brigadiers (Rhodesia) (Pvt.) Ltd., P.O. Box 850, Salisbury

Note: after years of searching it has finally been possible to add this very rare LP to the Holy Black collection. Bundu Beat features tunes by three band, the Chequers, the Etonians and of course the Drifters who later became the Holy Black. 


NEWS: There is an excellent compilation CD of songs and other background material relating to the history of Zimbabwe, entitled Rhodesia Was Super, a pun on a tourist advertising slogan of the seventies. This CD contains Funky Music, which, apparently is taken directly from the original master tape. For those interested in this and other material please contact enartee@iafrica.com. The CD also contains a live version of Day By Day which differs from the above. And it's great!


Repertoire


Here is a list of songs known to have been performed by the Holy Black
(although some may have been Drifters repertoire)

Chicago: 25-Or-6-To-4
Jesus Christ Superstar (complete)
Alexis Korner: Brother
Neil Diamond: Cracklin' Rosie
Blood Sweat & Tears: Lucretia McEvil
the Beatles: Get Back
Unknown: Baby I Don't Care
the Hollies: Carrie Anne
the Beatles: Help
Jethro Tull: Cross-Eyed Mary
Godspell (complete)
Holy Black: Funky Music
Temptations: Papa Was A Rolling Stone
the Beatles: Ticket To Ride
the Rolling Stones: Satisfaction
CCR: Bad Moon Rising
CSN&Y: Our House
the Beatles: And I Love Her
Deep Purple: Child In Time
Led Zeppelin: Whole Lotta Love
Chicago: I'm A Man
Carole King: You Got A Friend
the Beatles: Hard Day's Night
Tom Jones: Green Green Grass Of Home
Barry Ryan: Eloise
Deep Purple: Lazy
Doobie Brothers: Long Train Running
Blues Image: Pay My Dues
Elvis Presley: Blue Suede Shoes
the Temptations: Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
Various: Fever
the Beatles: I Feel Fine

Shows

Holy Black played all the music for at least two excellent stage productions of rock musicals. Both Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar were performed by a large and enthusiastic cast in the REPS theatre, in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in the very early 70's. The musicianship and quality that was inherent in Holy Black, both individually and collectively, ensured an evening of quality entertainment. Jerry Barnard played the role of Jesus Christ in JCS.

During 1973 the Holy Black performed at the Students Union building at the University of Rhodesia, for what seems now like every Saturday night. In reality they probably played there about 10 times. Occasionally the SU building was reserved so the theatre/cinema was used instead. One performance was given when the band had returned from a sojourn in South Africa, with many wonderful looking new instruments. The opening song on that night was Cross-Eyed Mary.  

On New Year's Eve 1974-1975 my own band of that time, Canyon, was booked to play at the Students Union building at the University (see above). Later the Holy Black were also contracted and in the end our band ended up playing openers for them. I recall chatting to Nic Pickard, who gave us some encouraging words. 

Pictures


Paradise Park: with Paddy Beech on drums, Jack McGroarty behind him singing. 
Jerry Barnard to the right of Jack, Mel French behind Jack. 

Sheet Music


Sheet music for Day By Day, featuring Des & Dawn Lindberg who performed the South African version and Margie Stephens who sang in the Rhodesian production. Her name is misspelt as Stevens.

The sheet music for Funky Music written by organist, guitarist and singer, Nic Pickard.

Solo Activities

Peter Adams Trio

Nic Pickard, John Davies and John McBeath contributed their musicality to the Peter Adams Trio in the early 70's. This trio consisted of Peter Adams - piano, Norman Dyer - drums and Theo Venutti - bass. Thanks to Theo Venutti's son, we have recently exhumed live and studio recordings and radio recordings from about 1973.  The radio show is hosted by Claire Marshall and is interrupted by cigarette advertisements. Nic Pickard played mainly keyboards in Holy Black, but returned to guitar for his contribution to the Peter Adams Trio. Of the recordings recently auditioned, the stand-out tune is a lengthy jam based on Dave Brubeck's Take Five. 

Zeebra

Jerry Barnard runs the B&S Studio in Cape Town. In 1983 the group Zeebra recorded an album entitled Uncertain Age there. Several tracks are graced with Jerry's guitar playing, notably the memorable solo on the song Souvenirs. The album was released on the Mountain label, catalogue number MOULP(D) 18. Here is a picture of the album sleeve. Oh by the way...it's quite a good record! There is also a single from the album shown at right. The A-Side is Souvenirs and the B-Side is Wake The Day, both from the album. The record is MOUNT 227. These records were given to me by my good friend and fellow collector, Tertius Louw. (Many thanks!).  

Others 

Jerry Barnard and Nic Pickard both produced records (see above). A single called Lat Dat Dee Dat Daa by the group Late Final was released on Mountain records, produced by Gerry Barnard (sic). The B-Side was Hang On Sloopy. Nic Pickard produced a single entitled Lutsandvo on Trio Record VPS 143 by Vernon Roux. The B-Side is an instrumental version of the same tune. The record has great keyboards.....is that Nic himself? Once again thanks to old eagle-eye Tertius Louw. 

 

Origins

The Holy Black had it's roots in an earlier band called the Drifters who first formed in the very early sixties. In 1964 the band comprised Nic Pickard, Mel French, Paddy (?), Chris (?), George De Klerk and Dave McLelland. They played at the Mazoe Hotel on Sundays. Later, the band featured Harry Hayden, Mark (?), Paddy (?), Jim McDiarmid and Neil Fox. The Drifters released several records. Two 45's were titled Lucille and Ode To An Undertaker. An album entitled Bundu Beat was also released. Your friendly webmaster would warmly welcome these records or copies (tape/cassette/cdr) which will be handsomely rewarded! The band changed their name from the Drifters to Holy Black as the first name was already in use by a USA band. 

Webmaster

This website is created and maintained by Bas Möllenkramer, Soest, the Netherlands, with lots of help from Tertius Louw, Flip Möllenkramer and other fans of Holy Black. Thanks to Holy Black bass player and singer Mel French for getting in touch and for his support. A special thank you also to Nicole Pickard, Nick Pickard's daughter for her enthusiasm and news.