It’s possibly a measure of the esteem Ian Gibbons was held in by fellow musicians that to my knowledge no one other than his family seemed to have called him Ian. He rejoiced (?) in the nicknames Stubz, Stubzie, Gibbo and even (I’m led to believe) Little legs!


Of course there may well be other more personal names available by which people reading this  know him?  In the Kinks though he was one of two diminutive people known collectively, and with great affection as the two little sods!   .


As far as I can remember, the first time I worked with him was with The Kinks in 1984  although possibly our musical paths crossed before that at The Dickens in Southend  with GB Blues Company. I do know he was in The English Assassin and that was when we wanted him for the gig with Phoenix, the offshoot of Argent. Stubz didn’t join us instead he threw his lot in with Ray and Dave.


A rock group on the road is like a large, unruly, bolshie sometimes argumentative and often mischievous family and touring with Stubz was a joy. He really was larger-than life, A decidedly cheerful chappie and nothing would faze him. We had a lot of innocent fun and even took a glass of wine together from time to time! At the first part of any tour we visited WH Smith at the airport to pick out books to keep us entertained. The idea was that we'd create a lending library and when we’d finished with a book we’d swap it for one somebody else had finished.  I remember we got through just about all of Ian Banks’ books on one American tour starting with ‘The Wasp Factory’ and moving through to ‘Espedair Street’.


Ian Gibbons, 18 July 1952 – 1 August 2019


Bob Henrit remembers his friend and bandmate

I don’t know whether Stubz invented this phrase ‘Mystery Meats’ but these were what us poor non-vegetarians ate at the gig when we were on the road. While the others enjoyed the meat-free option we toyed with the alternative. Mystery Meats described them to a T.  So pallid and unrecognisable it was difficult to ascertain which poor animal had been unwillingly involved in their preparation. It all looked the same and we had no idea what we were tucking into. Sometimes we’d switch our allegiances to the other side and eat veggie-which at least had some colour.  I didn’t discuss it with Stubz, but for me I didn’t feel I had the aggression for the gig if I didn’t eat meat..


As far as I’m concerned he was a founder member of what I called the  ‘Southend Musical Mafia’ which contained a great many talented musicians like Stubz who were born in sight of Southend Pier. It was from these guys that us lot from North London learned of his prowess. In time he played for Moonshine, the Feelgoods, Maggie Bell, the Love Affair, the Kursaal Flyers, the Nashville Teens, Samson, Ian Hunter, Suzie Quattro, Andy Scot, Chris Farlow, Roger Chapman and, rumour has it, Martha and the Vandellas to name but a few.


I was surprised to see in an Irish Newspaper’s Obituary for him exactly whom he’d played for.  Some of these bands I’d forgotten. But, in my humble opinion he really contributed a great deal with the ‘Kast Off Kinks’. Who’d have thought he’d one day sing Autumn Almanac?


Of course, Stubz was a tremendously capable musician otherwise he (and of course the rest of us) wouldn’t have been in The Kinks.

The Kinks 1986

That list of people he’d played with was pretty comprehensive. However, out of all those drummers he’d played with, only Mr Avory and I could say we’d played with him on what I always considered to be his tour de force: “Come Dancing”. He played it so well I’m not sure he actually needed the rest of us!


Another song which he made his own was “It” (I want it). This was as close to jazz as we got in The Kinks and could better be described as Jazz/Rock, or perhaps Rock/Jazz. It had 5/4 bars, feel changes and everything from the world of Progressive Rock. It certainly wasn’t to be undertaken lightly and was a piece which Ray wrote when we had  the ballet dancers with us on the road.


‘It’ (I want it) was a complicated piece which we all put a lot of work into although there was one song which tested our mettle even further; mainly because we didn’t do any preparatory work on it at all. We were playing in Cincinnati down by the Ohio River at something called ‘Regatta’. Things were going swimmingly and Ray decided that during the show would be as good a time as any to write a song about the gig.. “Regatta my arse” was the song in question and we all joined in without having any idea how the song went - or even where it was going.. As usual Stubz coped admirably . There was no ‘train wreck’ and I know there’s a bootleg of it out there somewhere, This was a song we’d never played before - neither to our knowledge had Ray!


As the headmaster himself once said, “Stubbs could play whatever he chucked at him.


Stubzie sat not very far away from me on the stage and every now and then I’d look across and he’d have that angelic look on his face. You know the one where butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth!


And he certainly knew how to rock.

Ian with the Kast Off Kinks

I know that in his youth he was once a champion accordionist and I distinctly remember him playing one in Konk Studios - possibly on ‘“To the bone”. I was also surprised to discover somewhere recently that he also played guitar. I never once saw him playing one, not in 35 years!

I did hear him play drums though because while Mick was singing “Dedicated follower of fashion” with the Kast Offs, Stubz would play the drums.


As a further measure of Gibbo’s musical prowess and his sixth sense about where it was going,  Los Kinkos were playing in Wisconsin at an open-air gig where Harry Houdini came from and as I left my hotel room a news piece flashed along the bottom of the screen telling the world that Conway Twitty had died. I mentioned this in the dressing room which, as usual at a gig in a field, was a Winnebago, and everybody commiserated. We got on stage and were going through the set until Ray turned round and strummed a chord while showing everybody its shape before singing:  “People see us everywhere”, than another chord for ”they think you really care” and so on. Until we arrived at: “I know it’s only make be-lieve” whereupon Stubz played the eight sets of triplets and we were into the song. By the time we got to the next section the huge audience was illuminated by their lighters, We may individually have played this song before, but certainly not with the Kinks - not even at a sound check.


Something which did come out of a sound check though was the shuffle version of “You really got me”. Sound checks always begin with drums, then the bass joins in and we’ll play a feel together while the Front of house guy does his thing. This day to ring the changes it was a shuffle we were playing and Stubz came up to do his bit and check the keyboards, as usual. However on a whim he started playing a ‘dotted eighth’ version of “YRGM” within our shuffle and it sounded rather good. Ray liked it and I’m pretty sure we played that particular version of it that same night. I can’t say it was accepted by the punters though. Quite rightly they like their favourite rock songs to be left exactly as they remembered them - thank you very much.

Kast Off Kinks line-up including Ian, Bob, Jim Rodford and Dave Clarke

As I said, nothing fazed our hero, not even the vagaries of air travel. To illustrate, we had just finished a tour on the left hand side of America and were heading to New York to take the ‘big silver bird’ back to the bosoms of our families. We sat on the tarmac waiting to take off for Kennedy and all of a sudden nothing happened. The brakes were jammed on. Some time later y they managed to release them and we took off but because we’d missed our slot, we were diverted to La Guardia. Now the only thing those two airports have in common is that they’re both in New York. For obvious reasons they’re not exactly next door to one another. Transatlantic flights only leave from Kennedy and we had to get there in time for ours. We arrived just in time to see our plane clawing its way into the blue sky.


British airways took over and offered me, Midget and Stubz various alternative routes to get home, including staying overnight at the airport and taking Concorde home when it arrived from London first thing the next day. I’m pretty sure Nobby Dalton had instigated a system during his tenure with The Kinks some time before, of wanting to get home as soon as possible for a pint down the pub. This arguably ridiculous tradition had somehow been carried on. So when we were offered another route leaving not much later with a pint at the end of it, we immediately jumped at it. It wasn’t ‘till we sat on the 747  ready to go that we heard: welcome to flight (think of a number) direct to Zurich! When we arrived in Switzerland they eventually put us on a plane to Frankfurt where we waited five hours for a flight to London! Stubzie wasn’t at all perturbed by what had occurred and I suspect may even have enjoyed the whole ‘Hurry up and wait experience! .


He was a truly engaging chap was Gibbo, always up and he really, really liked a good laugh - and he had great hair!


So long young man we’ll miss you. Knowing you was a real pleasure.


Some of the things I’ve written about here are events which I would normally have called my wingman Dr James Rodford for a second opinion on. Now though, as William Shakespeare said four hundred years before Keith Moon did. “ Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.   I certainly haven't taken that licence here and this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but….


RIP Stubzie Gibbons                                                                                                                           © Bob Henrit 2019


Photographs courtesy of  Brigitte Jeffs, KinksMedia, Olga Ruocco, Susan Cockerill

Bob and Ian