Neemoi 'Speedy' Acquaye (percussion)

Percussionist Neeomi Acquaye played with several bands in the beginning of the British boom. He was born in Ghana, Africa on June 7, 1931, but went to live in England in 1947. He earned his living as a fire eater and a dancer, as well as actor, before starting playing music as a pro. He started playing with Tubby Hayes, and later, Ronnie Scott. Next band to join was a famous one, The Blue Flames, commanded by Georgie Fame. He joined them in May 1962:

Soon after, the guitarist left, and John McLaughlin (later to become a jazz guitar maestro) arrived. In July 1962, they expand their lineup with a 2nd sax player: In October 1962, Tex Makins leaves, and we have a new lineup: In April 1963, John McLaughlin leaves to join Graham Bond, and they carry on without a guitarist. The time for a recording contract had arrived. They were scheduled to record a live album, but Speedy couldn't play as he was arrested. After the problems are solved, Speedy rejoins the band in October 1963. The lineup had suffered some other changes and Tex Makins returns to the band: For a while, Red Reece became ill, and he was replaced by Tommy Frost and Roy Mills. Another occasional band member was trumpet player Eddie Thornton.

This lineup released their 2nd album, Fame at last, in 1964. But more changes happened in the band in April 1964:

Jimmy Nicol was later famous for being the drummer who played with The Beatles in that Australian tour when Ringo couldn't make it. When Nicol left the band, a great musician arrives, Phil Seaman. A great loss for the band was Mick Eve who left them in July 1964. During the period he was in the band, some singers had made the odd gig with the band, although they weren't official members: John Hodgkinson (later to reappear as J.W. Hodgkinson in the superb band If), Ronnie Jones, Paul Williams or Geno Washington were some that would come down and do a number or two with the band. But Seaman wasn't able to play all of the time, so Micky Waller was brought to play when Seaman wasn't available. Waller (and Seaman) left in September 1964. Another different lineup in October 1964, marking the reunion with an old friend, Colin Green (who was the original guitarist in the band). A new musician is added in November 1964, sax player Glenn Hughes. And another musician adds in March 1965, old mate Eddie Thornton: But in December 1965, it starts the beginning of the end. Tex Makins and Bill Eyden leave, and a young luminary arrives, mighty Mitch Mitchell: They released a 3rd album, Sweet things. But in July 1966, Speedy leaves the band (they called it a day 4 months later). It was the end of an era...

Almos immediately, Speedy joined another mythical outfit: The Night-Timers, fronted by superb singer Herbie Goins. Speedy appears in their EP with the songs 'The incredible Miss Brown / Coming home to you / Nº 1 in your heart / Cruisin'', as he can be spotted in the EP cover (image available below), that was released in November 1966:

He also appears in their album from 1967, Number 1 in your heart. But, after a while, he left the band and started playing in sessions. By the way, this album has been reissued a couple of times, under different titles: Soul, soul, soul or also as Soultime!, including the whole album, some singles and some live track.

Ginger Baker's Airforce was a megaband, formed after Blind Faith demise. Originally conceived as a one-off association, it finally went through almost two years, with changing lineups. Speedy joined around 1970. I don't know if there were more lineups with Speedy, but the one I have in a BeatClub appearance is :

Aliki Ashman (vocals)
Diane Stewart (vocals)
Colin Gibson (bass)
Kenny Craddock (keyboards, guitar, vocals)
Steve Gregory (sax, flute)
Bud Beadle (sax)
Graham Bond (sax, keyboards)
Speedy Acquaye (percussion)
Ginger Baker (drums)
They recorded a new album, Ginger Baker's Air Force 2, although 3 songs still feature musicians from previous lineup (Denny Laine, Harold McNair, and Ric Grech).

In 1998, it has been released a 2CD, Do what you like, comprising the whole two Airforce albums, plus an outtake from 2nd album, plus several songs from Ginger Baker's album Stratavarious (featuring Bobby Tench under the pseudonym Bobby Gass).

One of the sessions deserve a bit of explanation. In 1979, Wings released a new album, Back to the egg, which I love. It includes two track with the Rockestra, an all-star lineup assembled by Paul McCartney. Be ready... this is the lineup:

And I haven't been able to find more info about Speedy, apart from the fact that he sadly died on September 15, 1993. Any help with info will be very appreciated.

Albums by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames:

Albums by Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers: Albums by Ginger Baker's Airforce: Some studio sessions:
Related links:

Thanks section

Special thanks to: Nick Rossi, for info and corrections on Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames lineups, as well as for info on Speedy's recordings with Herbie Goins & The Nightimers; Johann Haidenbauer, for info on Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers, as well as the EP scan.

Thanks to: Alan ?, for info on Speedy's obituary.

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Page created by Miguel Terol on: 29/September/2000. First published on: 16/April/2003. Last modified on: 19/April/2003.
(This page is part of The Musicians' Olympus)