1957 - 1958
with Helen Shapiro,
Peter Douglas – the authorised biography
by Monsieur Bill Lomas
Peter was the youngest of three brothers. John, the eldest, had already left St Edwards when we arrived, but David, the other brother, was still at school and three years ahead of us. Although I still exchange Christmas cards with John, I don't know much about him. He was a confirmed cycle tourist and spent his holidays cycling on the Continent. Like Peter, David had some musical talent and was at one time a member of the band of the Church of St Theresa. In the early 1960s, after military service with the Marines, David left for Australia
Their mother was Irish and from County Meath. Their father was Scottish, as the family name implies.
It was during a family holiday to Ireland in 1946 or 1947 that Peter acquired his first mouth organ. He then progressed to the harmonica and seemed to have a natural ability to play any musical instrument. He could knock out a tune on a piano from an early age and played trombone and drums in the church band. I don't recall when he started playing guitar, but this instrument became his favourite and after his national service in the army as 23593797 Private Douglas P with The Loyal Regiment, during which time he served in Germany and saw active service in Malaya, he joined forces with a Bob Buckle, who, as far as I know, is still known and still plays on Merseyside, when he is not at his Florida residence.
At the end of the 1950s or in the early sixties, an amateur folk group called The Leesiders had been formed by Peter Hayes, also an OE and one of our original 100, Joan Davis and Bob Buckle. Peter Hayes and Joan Davis left the group and Peter joined forces with Bob Buckle. The two, still under the name, The Leesiders turned professional in 1965 and had a base in Birkenhead, where they entertained at least weekly before a large audience. They played the clubs around Liverpool and further afield. At the time, a favourite hangout after a 'gig' for such club entertainers was a coffee bar/club in Slater Street called the Jacaranda. The Beatles frequented this establishment, as is testified by Bernard Huby in a newspaper article that appeared in his local newspaper in Australia and which appears on the Spiresgate web sites. In this article, he describes his one and only meeting with the Beatles when he taxied them from the Jacaranda to a club venue in Birkenhead. The Leesiders and the Beatles were casual acquaintances in those days and both groups progressed to playing at clubs in and around Hamburg, although they never appeared in the same place at the same time. Then, the Beatles were 'discovered' and the group took off under the direction of Brian Epstein.
As can be seen from the three newspaper cuttings from the mid to late sixties, The Leesiders were quite successful, appearing in over four hundred television and radio broadcasts. Inevitably, as happens with most groups, The Leesiders split up and Peter and his partner continued with their individual careers. In the mid seventies, Peter met a Swedish girl, Lisbeth, while playing in a Scottish holiday resort, married her and set up home in Boras, Sweden. I remember visiting them and their baby daughter Mary in 1982.
Peter is still in Sweden. During the thirty odd years that he has lived in Sweden, he continued to entertain with his guitar and to teach English to adults. Now retired, he still entertains and passes the summer months every year entertaining and organising entertainment at a Swedish island holiday resort in the Baltic. Sailing is his preferred leisure activity.
Bill Lomas, France, December 2006