Johnny Kenson New Motif Band

Johnny Kenson

When we introduced our sub-label DIAL in 1976, we decided to introduce a new sound as well. The first LP (Dial LP 001) is called NEW SOUND IN ROCK AND ROLL and the musicians are JOHNNY KENSON & THE NEW MOTIF BAND.

Born March 12th 1940, Johnny Kenson (Ken Johnston) was introduced to Rock/Country music in the mid fifties when he played double-bass and sang with 'The Lincoln Four', a locally well known rock/country band of the fifties.

Always very fond of Rock and Roll with a blues influence the music of artists like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, The Inkspots and Bing Crosby played a great part in the direction of Johnny Kenson and the style of music he writes and sings today (1976). During the late fifties Johnny Kenson, then performing under his real name, Ken Johnston, was friendly with and performed with some well known singers including Jimmy Justice and Ricky Vallance.

In the old days many happy evenings were spent in Ken's parents house in Surrey (UK) where Jimmy Justice, the Jimmy Little, and Pete Heathersay, a succesful pianist would sing and play old traditional songs such as 'Love Is A Many Splendid Thing' and 'Cool Water' and also work out harmonies and melodies for new compositions not knowing then how succesful some of their songs would become.

After a frustrating time musically in the early seventies, Johnny Kenson was introduced by his brother Mick to the 'New Motif' band. A great chance had now arisen to get things moving again.
The New Motif band already very succesful on the Club circuit were keen to record, particularly music with the fifties sound. Using their own technique and mostly their own material Johnny Kenson and the New Motif band recorded some of the songs on this LP.

The New Motif members are Mike Wordingham, lead/rhythm guitar, a friendly easy going chap having a liking for Country music but can play a good guitar to most kinds of popular music. Then there is John Leonard, rhythm/lead guitar, lives and loves to play music and co-writer of 'Ever In Doubt' and 'I'm On My Own'. Mick Johnston, Ken's brother, singer and good all rounder who can mix comedy with an acceptable singing style, likes to sing slow ballads and enjoys being with people. Paul Pergande, bass player, has good musical ability and a natural feel for bass arrangements, has a liking for heavy music. John Bowdry, drummer, youngest and biggest in the group, a happy go lucky guy who loves beat music and he tells me he'll play rock and roll drums forever, or as long he can lift the sticks any way.

Johnny Kenson (Ken Johnston)

Johnny Kenson (Ken Johnston)

JOHNNY: I am pleased to have helped create the record. Most of the tracks you hear on this LP were recorded in my front room at home in Croydon, the remaining tracks were recorded in a small Church Hall.
Using quite unusual techniques we tried to create original yet fifties sounding material. In fact many songs were written and recorded between 1957 and 1961, such as 'Tell Me, Tell Me' and 'Boo Hoo Baby'. Other tracks were written soon after.

The guitarists John and Mike along with my brother Michael played an important part in capturing the primitive fifties rock and roll sound we aimed for with this record. Since my early years I have had a strong attachment for Nashville style Rock and Blues music and I hope some of my feelings come over to you in the songs I have written and sung on this LP.

The New Motif Band

The New Motif Band
Jason Leonard

The picture was taken in 1976 at the Conservative Club in Mitcham (south part of London) in the UK.

The players (from left to right) are as follows:
Paul Pergande - Bass
John Bowdry - Drums
Mick Johnston - Vocals
John Leonard - Guitar and Vocals
Mike Wordingham - Guitar

After putting the Diwa Records Catalogue on the internet, we got in touch with Jason Leonard from Canada. JASON: I'm familiar with the Johnny Kenson album since my dad (John Leonard) was the guitar player / lead singer on a few numbers on the album. I do have a copy of this album (which my grandmother gave me a couple of years ago), but it is heavily scratched from years of playing by my grandmother (she got her copy in 1976 when the album was released). This is currently the only copy that we have in the family.

I will give you a quick overview in regards to my father and the New Motif Band. Unfortunately, the story is a sad one...
From what I understand my father was still doing the club circuit in the UK with the band in 1975 / 1976 (I was only 6 years old at the time, so this information is mostly from what my grandmother has passed on to me). Towards the end of 1976, my mother passed away, and (from what I can recollect), my father stopped playing for a short while after that. Early in 1978, my father wrote and recorded a couple of original songs ('Dreams and Memories' and 'Sad, Sad Day' (I have these on tape)) which he shopped around to various record companies in the UK, in the hope of getting a 45 released. A record deal didn't materialize, and unbeknownst to me at the time, my father was diagnosed with cancer.

In early 1979, my two grandparents (on my dad's side), my father and my brother, immigrated to Canada. In late 1979, the illness spread, and my father died in December that year. My brother and I stayed in Canada and lived with my aunt and uncle.

As far as the other members of the Motif band go, the only one I have a recollection of is Mick Johnson. I do remember him hanging around our house in the UK. I'm not sure what he is doing now, but I do know that he is still living in Morden in the UK. Also, I'm really not sure what happened to the band after my father left. I think that the band broke up after his departure, and I don't think that they recorded any more albums.

LP Tracks

Side 1

Reelin' and a' rockin' (C. Berry)
You mean a lot to me, take 1
Don't you say no
T-Bone Kelly
I'm on my own
Rockin' Robin (J. Thomas)
Wanting you
Ever in doubt

Side 2

Memphis (C. Berry)
You mean a lot to me, take 2
Tell me, tell me
Born to lose
It can't be wrong
Skinny Lizzie
I've been waiting
Boo hoo baby
Brighton line

All songs written by Johnny Kenson except 1, 6, 1