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John Patrick 'Pugwash' Weathers (born February 7, 1947) is a drummer, best known for playing with the innovative progressive rock band Gentle Giant.

Early Life

Born in Carmarthenmarker, Carmarthenshiremarker, Walesmarker, he moved to Swanseamarker until, aged 15, he went to live with his aunt in Liverpool, just as the Merseybeat scene exploded. Weathers had had a drum-kit as a child, so took up drumming again, playing in several local bands. Returning to Wales in 1964, his experience on the Mersey scene got him into several local bands, including The Vikings (1964) and The Brothers Grimm (1965) .

Eyes of Blue

In 1966 Weathers joined a Neath band The Eyes of Blue, along with Phil Ryan (keyboards) and Gary Pickford-Hopkins (vocals) from The Smokestacks. The band turned professional, and won the 1966 Melody Maker Beat Contest. The prize was a one-year record contract, but they had to record songs chosen for them, rather than their own material and neither of their singles, "Heart Trouble" / "Up And Down" and "Supermarket Full Of Cans" / "Don't Ask Me To Mend Your Broken Heart", sold well.

The Eyes changed label from Decca to Mercury Records and recorded their first album Crossroads of Time in 1968. They then recorded an album Buzzy, as the backing band for American singer-songwriter Buzzy Linhart, before recording their second album In Fields of Ardath in 1969.

The band Strawberry Dust supported The Eyes, and impressed Weathers, who persuaded Lou Reizner to commission an album, which Weathers produced and wrote/co-wrote 6 songs. Women & Children First was released in 1970, but Reizner renamed the band Ancient Grease, without telling them, and credited himself as co-producer.

The Eyes of Blue’s third album, Bluebell Wood, released under the pseudonym Big Sleep, was their last, as the band broke up shortly afterwards. Weathers briefly played with Strawberry Dust, until they also broke up, later reforming as Racing Cars.

In 1970 Weathers and Phil Ryan joined Pete Brown & Piblokto! playing on one single, "Flying Hero Sandwich" / "My Last Band", before Piblokto also disbanded. Weathers then joined an embryonic Wild Turkey with Glenn Cornick (ex Jethro Tull), Gary Pickford-Hopkins (ex Eyes of Blue) and Graham Williams (ex Strawberry Dust), but Weathers and Williams left to join Graham Bond’s Magick before Wild Turkey recorded any material.
 He appeared on Graham Bond's 1971 album, We Put Our Magick On You, and later that year joined The Grease Band.


Gentle Giant

(For details of Weathers' work in this period see Gentle Giant)

Weathers joined Gentle Giant in 1972, as a temporary stand in for their drummer Malcolm Mortimore, who had been injured in a car crash. He first played on Gentle Giant's Octopus album, and his position soon became permanent, remaining with them until they broke up, after their last album Civilian. He was well-liked by fans for his distinctive hard-bashing drum style, and also played vibes and xylophone, among other percussion instruments.

Whilst with Gentle Giant, Weathers occasionally played with Phil Ryan's band The Neutrons, including their 1974 album, Black Hole Star.

Recent Years

After Gentle Giant disbanded in 1980, Weathers played a number of temporary positions, until he joined the progressive rock band Man when they reformed in 1983. Apart from a short spell, when he was unwell and Rick Martinez temporarily took over, he stayed with Man until 1996, recording 2 studio albums and 3 live albums, and becoming their longest serving drummer, allegedly leaving because Gentle Giant were about to reform, . Ironically, he left Man shortly before Phil Ryan re-joined the band. John was infamously featured in the 1986 S4C TV programme Rocking With A Sikh, backing the Sikh Elvis impersonator Peter Singh, along with Martin Ace and Micky Jones.

It was variously reported that he was suffering from RSI or arthritis, but according to him was actually “diagnosed with a condition called Spinocerebellar Ataxia, which is akin to M.S.” The unpublished memoirs of his time spent in Morriston Hospital - Two Weeks in Pain - Under the Knife, hilariously document the trials of an NHS in-patient in post-op recovery.

John has appeared on several Welsh TV soundtracks, and in 2006 rejoined the latest re-incarnation of Wild Turkey, to record their album You & Me In The Jungle and tour Europe.

Weathers is also a keen ornithologist.

References

  1. Man's Family Jungle Retrieved 10 October 2008
  2. The Tapestry of Delights, Vernon Joynson - ISBN 1 899855 15 7
  3. Sleevenote to reissue of "Women And Children First"



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