On the weekend of March 31 and April 1, 2007, The Bootleg Shadows were invited to perform at the 47th International Cliff Richard and The Shadows Fan Meeting in Tilberg, Holland. Amid the comfortable surroundings of the Hotel de Druiventros, the boys were able to chat with Shadows fans, meet other Shadows influenced groups from all over Europe - and ended up partying late into the night with non other than Bruce Welch and Brian 'Licorice' Locking!
Groups performing during the weekend included The Rumble (Holland); The Blue Shadows (Germany); The Red Strats (Holland); The Moonlight Shadows (Belgium); Men of History (not quite sure); The Sleepwalkers (Finland); The New Jumping Jewels (Holland); The Explosion Rockets (Holland); The Shades (Hungary); Danny Davis and Shadowfaction (Holland/Belgium) and Periferia (Finland).
The most knock-out performance, however, was turned in by British group The Foot Tappers, from Derby, who wowed the audience with their look, their sound, and their astonishing recreation of The Shadows' stage show. Bootleg Shadows' rhythm guitarist John Harper said: "They were amazing. Their drummer is only 11 years old - and the rest of the band are only in their teens and early 20s. They have gone into the Shadows with such fine detail, capturing not only their sound but their look and stage mannerisms. We were gobsmacked. We really hope to see them do a full show at some time in the near future."
The Bootleg Shadows were the final act of the weekend, and after a turning in an enjoyable hour-long set (the first time they'd ever been on stage with new lead guitarist Mark Burton!) they headed for the dressing room... and then the bar. Bass player Tony Cole takes up the story.
"As we were coming off I asked Bruce and Licorice if they fancied a beer" he explained. "We all met up in the bar and Bruce and Licorice came and sat with us. We were having a good old chat, and then somebody produced an acoustic guitar. Bruce began strumming a few chords, and before long we were involved in a serious sing-a-long session, led by Bruce but with The Bootlegs supplying the harmonies, or what were supposed to be harmonies!
"We went through a lot of Elvis, Roy Oribison and Everley Brothers songs as well as some Cliff numbers. I distinctly remember our rhythm guitarist John and I singing 'The Young Ones' and doing the Shadows' walk with Bruce! We even did the Shads' Eurovision song 'Let Me Be The One'. How good is that!"
As the night wore on into the early hours, a Dutch Shadows fan managed to persuade Bruce to play 'Guitar Tango'... while he whistled the melody! Bruce looked nervous at the suggestion, but manfully took up the challenge. At some point during the rendition, our Dutch friend (whose physical appearance was something between Shrek and former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev) leapt up and began performing handstands. This caused considerable hilarity among those present - and it was probably just as well that no health and safety representatives were present!
"I couldn't believe where I was and what was happening," said Bootleg Shadows lead guitarist Mark Burton, who had only joined the band two week's earlier. "I'd been given a crash course in the Shadows songs and dance movements... and here I was with the Shadows themselves. Unbelievable."
Rhythm guitarist John Harper added: "Licorice mentioned some of the famous records he'd appeared on... with Marty Wilde, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Donovan and a load of others. It was a real pleasure to meet him... but to find myself singing with Bruce Welch is perhaps my fondest memory."
All agreed that Joop & Jolanda, who organised the event, and everyone else involved in staging the weekend made it an unforgettable experience.
Bootleg Shadows' drummer Steve Sheldon - who put much effort into persuading the barman to carry on serving beyond his allotted hours - added: "It was a fantastic end to a memorable couple of days. As someone once said... you should have been there!"
Is this the place?'... Tony and Mark spot some familiar faces on a poster at the Hotel de Druiventros
'I've got one of those'... After coming off stage The Bootleg Shadows shed their jackets and ties to meet a new boy... called Bruce.
Guitar Tango...Brian 'Licorice' Locking joins the Bootlegs' line-up.
Time to relax... After the show the boys were joined in the hotel bar by Shadows legends Bruce Welch and Licorice Locking. Bootleg Shadows rhythm guitarist John Harper tries to tell Licorice that someone is taking a photo of the back of his head... while Bruce entertains the other Bootlegs with some King Fu impressions.
Lit up... Licorice flashes his famous smile.
Master class... Bruce explains to Bootleg Shadows lead guitarist Mark how to hit the high harmony on 'Bachelor Boy'.
'You're 'avin' a laugh'... Bootleg Shadows bass player Tony Cole, left, finds the impromptu show mildly amusing.
'You can't be serious?'... A bemused onlooker can't quite grasp what John, Tony and Bruce are trying to do.
'What do you think of my red shirt then?'... Tony tries to impress ex-Shadows bass player Licorice with his dubious dress sense. Bootlegs keyboard player Tony Bayliss has seen it all before - unfortunately!
Special turn... Our Dutch friend (Comrade Khrushchev) entertains us with a unique whistled rendition of 'Guitar Tango', accompanied by Bruce Welch on rhythm guitar. Seconds later he launched himself into a series of spectacular handstands!
'You dirty rat'...John doesn't seem overly impressed by Bruce's James Cagney impression.
The Young Ones... John and Tony join Bruce Welch in a decidedly dodgy rendition of the classic Cliff and the Shadows hit.
'A-one, two, three, four'...John lurches into the memorable Beatles' song 'This Boy'... flipside of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'
'This boy, wouldn't mind the pain'... Bruce adds sublime harmony to John's lead vocal.
'You go up and I'll go down'... Bruce and John discuss the intricate harmony arrangement.
Bruce Welch and John Harper... a legend meets a leg-end!
All smiles... Bruce Welch with Bootleg Shadows drummer Steve Sheldon, left, and bass guitarist Tony Cole. What a night!