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The Three Apostles / Nick Buckle obituary

The Three Apostles (self-released debut album)

Evangelical rock, blues and funk, this is southern (coast) boogie made by a Bournemouth-based trio that clearly know their Soul music inside and out. 

Grounded by the fatback drums of Robbie Buckle and the intuitive, economical percussive grooves of his older relative Nick, singer/guitarist Andy Wilkinson is given the space he needs to conjure the licks, spits, rattles and hums that make six strings sound like ten – imagine Jack White and Dan Auerbach channelling Steve Cropper, Jimmy Page, Leo Nocentilli (The Meters), Frank Sampredo (Crazy Horse) and Duane Allman. 

When you add his strangled vocal – two parts George Clinton to one part Nick Cave, a pinch of Prince and maybe just a dash of Sean Ryder with a bull horn – and this is one tasty concoction.

The absence of a bass guitar gives these songs an edge that even the Impressions-istic bass bump of I Spy cannot rein in. It means songs like the swampy Voodoo Shakedown and the greasy gumbo of (I’ll Be) Anything You Want teeter on the brink of imploding and blowing a black hole in the blues – all the more remarkable when you realise there is digital technology at play in the mix as well. Sparse, elegant and as tasty as a long slug of JD after a hard day in the saddle, The Three Apostles are following their instincts and preaching their message as only they know how. 

I suggest you listen up. Now.

Nick Buckle: July 26, 1949 – January 13, 2013

(Unedited version of the obituary report published in the Daily Echo on January 29, 2013)

One of the best-known faces on the local live music scene, Nick Buckle passed away suddenly last week.

Family members recall him drumming from a very young age, setting up the cushions at home and playing them with his mum’s knitting needles, his sister Sally on tennis racquet.

Nick’s musical partner of more than 40 years, Tim Holt recalls meeting him in a dingy room above The Pembroke Arms in Bournemouth in 1972. Bonding over a shared passion for Soul music and American bands such as Little Feat and Steely Dan, before long they had moved into a shared house where Nick met his future wife Linda. (Tim also met his spouse-to-be there – Nick’s sister Sally.) By 1974 they had formed their first band Skydog.

“It was named after Wilson Pickett’s nickname for Duane Allman, but we soon changed it to the Freshly Layed Band,” says Tim. “In those days the Badger Bars was the place to play in Bournemouth and we regularly packed it out, one night charging only 10p on the door we took £40!”

It was also where their met the likes of bass guitarist Richard ‘The Funk’ Furter with whom Nick formed a long-term partnership that was rightly recognised as the tightest rhythm section in town. Nick was also co-opted by the house band at Arny’s Shack recording studio run by producer Tony Arnold.

“I have always said that the appeal of Nick’s playing was what he left out – an old cliché I know, but none truer in Nick’s case.”

More than a thousand people attended Freshly Layed’s farewell gig in 1979 at Bournemouth Town Hall, just a few months after they had reached the finals of the Melody Maker talent show at the Roundhouse in London judged by Bob Geldof, John Martyn and Justin Hayward.

Regrouping as The Outsiders, Nick and Tim with Richard Furter and Tris Stevens, played the local circuit for two years before parting company. Nick then joined Ronnie Mayor’s Biz International, playing on the 1982 single Stay True, which evolved into Après Ski. By 1985 Nick was ready to go back to his Soul roots and rejoined Tim. One rehearsal at Holdenhurst Village Hall and The Agency was formed.

“Amazingly it worked and has done for the last 28 years,” says Tim. “It’s an incredible achievement.”

Nick was now on percussion with Melvin Carter on drums, Richard Furter on bass, singer Sandy Murray, the horn section of Martin Bradford, Graham Millman and Dave Hutton on horns and Bob Pendry and Tim on guitars. Sandy left to go on his travels in 1991 and was replaced by Andy Wilkinson. Bob left soon after and Mike Wheatley joined on baritone sax with Tim’s younger brother Simon joining the ranks on trombone “once sufficient hair loss made him eligible!”

Nick went back behind a full drum kit in the horn-free side project, The Secret Agency, with Tim, Andy and Richard; and, only last year, joined his son Robbie in The Three Apostles with singer Andy.

“Nick’s sense of humour was razor sharp – he had the ability to bring the whole band to a stop on occasion. We were always joking together,” says Tim.

Outside of music Nick was a keen fisherman and ran the successful Wimborne-based engineering company, Robet (CORR) CNC Milling.

“Nick had a profound love of nature – not many people understand crows like Nick did, he was fascinated by them. He was also very particular about how he dressed. He was a 1960s Mod and had more shoes than Imelda Marcos!

“He was a true craftsman and his place of work was more like a four star hotel than an engineering works. He was the same in his work as he was in all things – if it was worth doing, it was worth doing it well.

“We would talk for hours about film and music. I will miss that a lot.”

He is survived by Linda, his loving wife of 33 years, and their children Lisbeth and Robbie.

“Their loss must be unbearable,” says Tim. “I can only get comfort by telling myself that I wouldn’t have missed a day of it. As for the band, we will always remain brothers in arms. As friends, it is we who are the lucky ones for having known him.”