REUBEN ARCHER'S BIG BIRTHDAY BASH: NOVOTEL, WOLVERHAMPTON
Reuben Archer is the lead singer of Stampede, the melodic rock band who first made their name in the days of the NWOBHM explosion and who made a fine return some twenty-eight years later with the rather nifty 'A Sudden Impulse' album. Over the years the loveable and down to earth Reuben has made many friends and is one of the most well known faces on the rock scene, often propping up the bar at aftershow parties of some of the biggest names in British rock.
As a young nipper he attended the Kingston School Of Art where he was good buddies with ole slow hand himself, Eric Clapton, and also played conkers with Hawkwind's Dave Brock and Keith Relf. Archer's introduction to the music scene was when he treated his young teenage stepson Laurence to the guitar and they both started to play the six string together before both getting serious with bands such as Lautrec, Lionheart and Wild Horses which featured former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain and their shows at London's legendary Marquee Club would often see Phil Lynott guest with the band.
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It is with Stampede that Reuben is best known. A band that were favourites at the Marquee Club and at the Reading Festival where recordings were used for the 'Official Bootleg Album' and the Polydor released 'Hurricane Town' album which saw the band share stages with greats such as Saxon, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Gary Moore.
Although the career of Stampede came to an abrupt end when Reuben slipped after larking around with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson which resulted in a badly broken leg and soon after Archer quit the music business to create on his Graphic Art and Exhibition Design company that still runs successfully today.
This evening at the Novotel in Wolverhampton there was a Black Country communion gathering of family and friends to celebrate the big birthday bash of Reuben. I'm not going to say how old the boy is but if Ronnie James Dio was still with us then Archer is living proof that Dio would've still been at the top of his game.
Many had made the trip up from London including journalists Malcolm 'vodka and orange' Dome and Dave Ling, who managed to squeeze into a vintage Twisted Sister 'Under The Blade' t-shirt. Also on hand were John Dryland from Cargo Records, off duty photographer Noel Buckley, DJ Roger Fauske, former Metal Hammer scribbler Pippa Lang and also Spike from the Quireboys, looking exactly the same as he does on stage, and also Magnum's ivory tinkler Mark Stanway who originally played on Stampede's 'Hurricane Town'.
From MetalTalk and starting far too early on the train on the way up were Tina Saul and myself who were greeted by the old road hog Dutch Michaels at the hotel bar where we remained for quite a while as the entourage turned up and shared tales far too early before even checking into the rooms for the night.
As the evening officially started, guest were greeted with a glass of rose or the bubbly stuff. A refreshed and healthy looking Krusher Joule was on hand to spin the discs on the deaf decks. I'm not saying that Archer has a reputation or anything but every guest got him a present which was either a bottle of wine or whiskey. Days of wine and whiskey indeed.
Around the silver candle lit tables a bottle of Jack Daniels was quickly shared out making me even more tipsy than I already was at this early time. The booze and laughs were flowing at an early rate and there was live music on hand too.
Most of the guys in Stampede have little side bands on the go to keep themselves busy and what great entertainment they provided too. The aptly named Off The Rails, featuring Stampede's guitarist Chris Clowsley and drummer Stevie G played solid versions of some vintage rock including 'Crossroads' and 'Black Magic Woman' before they were joined by young singer Andy Dodds for some Contraband of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and 'Whiskey In The Jar' which reminded me to go to the bar for some more Jack Daniels.
Reuben Archer got up on stage with a Gibson guitar slung around him and was joined by his better half Sharon Marriott, who has a great voice on 'Baby That's The Way I Feel'. Then it was time for some Stampede as the band gave us 'Send Me Down An Angel' with audience participation and 'Moving On' before the side doors swung open and a trolley appeared with a giant guitar shaped birthday cake with a candle burning for every year of Reuben's life.
Ole Archer was gobsmacked and was truly surprised and seemed a little dazed by the whole evening. After blowing all the candles out in one big blow, he gave a very nice speech thanking friends old and new. He avoided the bumps but he got a great chorus of cheers from all the guests.
Archer then had to do some serious mingling as even more guests were arriving as the live music continued with Stuck It & See with some Cult and Thin Lizzy classics before Krusher went to work. Unfortunately for Krusher, he was playing to an almost empty room, although still supplying the perfect background soundtrack, as most guests being the drunkards that they are were now hovering around the hotel bar making a full nuisance of ourselves.
The intelligence of conversations was reaching very low levels as the level of alcoholic consumption was reaching an all time high. There was far too much man hugging going on before the hotel staff kindly advised everyone to return to the function room for some karaoke antics with Krusher. Well that's the official line.
There are many stories I could repeat on here but I will not to protect the guilty.
No party would be complete without some Cat Scratch Fever antics in the car park and the tip toeing of feet walking into the wrong rooms at night time but what happens in Wolverhampton stays in Wolverhampton, boozers.
More laughs and giggles were shared over the breakfast table as stories of the night unfolded. Reports were coming in of Reuben Archer's neighbours being awoken early at 5.00am by the milkman only to find it was Archer returning home with the clanking of a thousand bottles.
I never knew so much could fun be had at a Novotel. As Krusher Joule would say himself, it was Rock Hard, Rock Heavy, Rock Animal.