Jet Harris - Early Life and Career With The Shadows

Early Life and Career With The Shadows

Harris, the only child of Bill and Winifred Harris, was born Terence Harris at Honeypot Lane, Kingsbury, North London, England. His prowess as a sprinter at Dudden Hill secondary modern school earned him the nickname Jet. Although he learned to play clarinet as a teenager, he made his own four-string double bass to play in a jazz group and later graduated to a professionally made double bass. In 1958, while playing jazz with drummer Tony Crombie and his group the Rockets, Crombie got a Framus bass guitar for Harris, making him one of the first British exponents of the instrument. He subsequently was given by Cliff Richard the first Fender Bass (red) guitar in the UK in 1960 soon after Hank Marvin received his Fender Stratocaster (red) guitar. Both instruments were used in The Young Ones film while The Shadows played 'The Savage' (showing the famous Shadows' walk) to an invited audience of teenagers.

He played in several groups including the Vipers Skiffle Group and the Most Brothers before, in 1959, joining Cliff Richard's backing group the Drifters, who later changed their name to The Shadows at Harris's suggestion. In 1959, after the neck of his Framus was terminally damaged in a dressing room accident, he was presented by the importers with a Fender Precision Bass, one of the first to come to Britain from the United States.

Harris also contributed vocally, adding backup harmonies and occasional lead vocals. He had a trademark scream used in the Shadows' "Feeling Fine" and Cliff Richard's "Do You Wanna Dance?"

In Mike Read's book The Story of the Shadows Harris lays the blame for the start of his depression and related alcohol addiction with Carol Costa, whom he married in 1959. She, the first of Harris’s four wives, had an affair with Cliff Richard, and remains the only woman known definitively to have slept with Richard.

In 1962, he left the Shadows following disagreements (documented in The Story of The Shadows, written by the group with Mike Read). He had been forced to resign (i.e. a constructive dismissal) after Bruce Welch made an off-hand remark about his wife's ongoing affair with Richard. He had never been given time off from the Shadows during 1959-62 to facilitate a reconciliation with his wife and/or deal with his depression and alcoholism.

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