The Treadmill Syncopaters in Aden


John McVey writes to say - 

I was most interested to see your website about trad. I was never in Cyprus, but while at Gaydon on Victors in 1963 I met corporal Ernie Rosquet [Rosko} who played guitar locally, and he persuaded me to buy a Soprano sax and learn to play it, as "you're always going on about them". John Westland heard Rosko practising while they were on armoury guard duty one night and took up the guitar. Rosko, now 65, plays in a little bar in Dinan, Brittany. Westy has his own folk band [turncoat] in Reading. 

Anyway, I practised like mad and got posted to Aden. Not being good enough to join any existing bands, I formed my own. Leader and trumpet was Sgt. Dick Murray from Aldershot, who'd had a band at Odiham in the late 50s, but the trombonist was killed on his motorbike and the band folded. The banjo player left the R.A.F. and went to live in New Orleans. My band was called "The Treadmill Syncopators", a reference to the local slang name for a bike, and a swipe at the rock bands who usually had the use of a car.

Pleb Bryant was on banjo, he was from Farnham, and I'm from Farnborough, so three of us were from the same area. We had a clarinettist who came from London, can't for the moment remember his name, and Dave Mountain was on tuba, he was by far the best musician in the group. A Hunter pilot played trombone for us a couple of times, and we had a drummer. I played a Hawkes XXth Century Alto sax, as my Hawkes soprano was in high pitch, and couldn't play in tune with the band.

Later on we had a new banjo player, and I played a Conn, big bore, now aka Chu Berry tenor sax. We did quite a few gigs around Aden, Maala and Kormaksar, usually Sergeants messes and the W.V.S., who use to agree a price [yes we got paid] but on the night would make a feeble excuse and pay us in pints of Tiger beer. I can remember looking down at the stage one night, head spinning, and seeing a forest of pint glasses round my feet. None of them was empty! 

So what of now? Well I'm planning yet another comeback, but this time on the bass sax. I also play the Breton bombard, am learning the Scottish pipes, and own soprano, alto,[2] c melody and bass saxes, etc etc. 

I'd love to hear from anyone who heard my band, I know we were not very good, but we did our best. Also, if anyone knows where the band members are now I'd like to know.

All the best. EX SAC John McVey aka "Shingles" at RAF Gaydon, and "Death" in Aden. I did my squarebashing at Bridgenorth with corporal Woods, tech training at Melksham, and Victor course [which I failed] with Sgt Featherstone, who was badly burned in a Lancaster in WW2. Since leaving the RAF, I've worked for Singer, Sperry, Rolls Royce, and did 20 years as a technology teacher after getting my B.A. in 1980.

Early this year I learned that Ron Rumbol was still playing trad clarinet, and I took my wife and son to hear him, somewhere near Heathrow. From a booklet Ron gave me, I discovered that the Tierra Buena was still playing in Coventry, and that Mac Randall, who's soprano sax playing inspired me to take up the instrument, was still playing at Southam. Brian,of the Tierra Buena was contacted and asked if he knew what became of Rosko. "He went back to Jersey, and runs the jazz festival". I soon after had a phone number, which looked strangely familiar. It turned out Roskoe lived in Brittany, only about 80 miles from me, and he plays every Friday night in a cafe in Dinan called "LE Bistro d,en Bas", and very good it is too.

Does anyone recall  "The Treadmill Syncopators"? We usually played at sergeants messes and WVS bars. Does anyone remember us? Where are the others?"

John McVey           


I was in the RAF at Odiham in the fifties and knew Dick Murray the trumpet player.I played clarinet with the band which was called the Gully Stompers. The trombone player who died was also called Dick I think.The tea chest bassist went on to be a proper bassist in Denmark.

I still play a bit of clarinet and in later years went many times to New Orleans. Does anyone have an Email address  for Dick Murray?

Kind regards Tim Myall.

If you can help, email with the subject "Treadmill Syncopaters Jazz"

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