By K5OY, on the scene
Dublin, Northern Ireland — The CQ 20s are back! The rock trio recognized as the only music group devoted entirely to ham radio will be taking the stage Saturday at the Dew and Brew Pub on O’Connell Street.
The iconic trio was formed in 1966 by bassist/vocalist Drake Bruce, a twin who was inspired by Paul McCartney. Drake came to prominence when he wired a 3CX1500A7 into his Vox amplifier. The subsequent jump from 100 to 3000 watts output into eight 15” JBLs forever cemented his place in British rock history. Commenting on Drake’s sound quality, ex-Beatle McCartney noted, “I don’t think I’ve ever fancied anything like that.”
The CQs big break came when Drake added guitarist Derrick “Slow Fist” Hampton and drummer Ginger “Moon” Raker. Slow Fist remains unparalleled in his touch on the fret board, developing a single finger hammer on style that preceded Eddie Van Halen by 20 years. “Moon” Raker can still beat the snare at an incredible 300 times a minute. Some say he talks to the others with his drum beat alone.
The history of the CQ 20s is one of superstardom that was not to be. Regional hits did come. “Bounce Me Off The Moon” and “Tropo Through The Tulips,” while popular in their hometown of Ballyshannon, did not catch on in London. In a deep funk, Hampton got hooked on digital before it became popular. He eventually ended up as a roadie for Depeche Mode, a job he held for 25 years. Raker became addicted to what amateur radio operators call the 48 hour contest bug.
Forsaking all else, he would barricade himself in a ham shack from Friday till Sunday. The group had to, eventually, cancel all weekend shows and on weekdays, he was so racked out from his weekends that he had to be physically carried to and from his kit. His sad decline does have a happy ending,though. An 80 meter support net got him out of his room and back to numerous ham fests and club meetings where he still makes a lividng selling used equipment. Drake eventually settled back to his current home in County Donegal where successful experiments with a Klystron 5CX3000A/8966 in a Marshall stack prompted, not only a successful after-market power amp business, but this weekend’s reunion as well.
The original legend lives on Saturday at 1000 UTC. Tickets for the CQ 20s are £16.00 and available at the Dew and Brew on O’Connell just off Eden Quay and all O’Brien music outlets.