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West Suffolk band The Ketas who performed alongside Sir Elton John, Pink Floyd and Status Quo reunite after 61 years



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The surviving members of a band who once performed with the likes of Pink Floyd and Sir Elton John have reunited – more than 60 years after their debut.

The Ketas - also known as Nelson’s Column - were formed in 1961 by a group of musicians from the Elmswell area, near Bury St Edmunds.

John Footer and Brian Snell played percussion, keyboard player Cliff Barker wrote lyrics and music, John Snell played tenor saxophone, flute and guitar, and Roger Lambourne played lead and bass guitar.

John Footer (percussion), Brian Snell (percussion), Geoff Cunnington (management), Roger Lambourne (lead and bass guitars, vocals), Cliff Barker (keyboards, vocals, songwriter, composer) and John Snell (tenor sax, flute, guitar and vocals).
John Footer (percussion), Brian Snell (percussion), Geoff Cunnington (management), Roger Lambourne (lead and bass guitars, vocals), Cliff Barker (keyboards, vocals, songwriter, composer) and John Snell (tenor sax, flute, guitar and vocals).

Geoff Cunnington managed the band, with Cliff, Roger and John Snell also providing vocals.

On May 29, they met up for a reunion at John Snell’s Bury home.

The host said of the event: “The good thing about the band is we had some good relationships. Hence, when the reunion comes up, they come from far and wide to join in.

The band in the 1960s
The band in the 1960s

“We’ve got people as far away as Wirral, Plymouth and Bristol. They came all that distance - we had a really good band going.

“It was good getting everybody back together.”

During the 1960s and 1970s, the group toured extensively, with shows in East Anglia, London and Lincolnshire attended by thousands.

Over this period, the Ketas supported a number of big-name acts, including Pink Floyd, Status Quo and the Barron Knights.

They once played alongside Sir Elton John, at the time a little-known keyboardist in Long John Baldry’s band.

Although the Ketas had no consistent sound, their music was strongly influenced by American soul.

In 1966, the band was involved in a serious traffic accident on their way to a performance in Fakenham.

While several members were severely injured, the group stayed together, and they were ultimately able to go semi-professional over the following decade.

At one stage, they were playing gigs five nights a week.

John Snell recalled how the band often struggled to balance these commitments with their day jobs.

He said: “I worked at a bacon factory. I’d be home at 5 o’clock, and had to get up for a 6 o’clock shift.

“You can imagine there were many burnt pork pies and sausage rolls.”

Unlike the bands they performed with, the Ketas never produced a major record.

However, they had a strong local following.