The Dawn

It was a St Thomas' Hospital New Year's Eve Ball, the one that heralded 1967, that provided the setting for the first ever performance of Instant Sunshine.
The cabaret that had been booked for this prestigious event (Miki and Griff) had pulled out at the last minute due to illness and a replacement had to be found. Someone, and we don't know who it is to this day, suggested that the producer of the 1966 Hospital Christmas Show (David), together with the star of the show (Alan) and one of the song writers (Peter), should knock something up for the cabaret spot to fill the gap and keep the revellers happy.
And so it was that, in those hazy days between Christmas and New Year's Eve, the three founder members of Instant Sunshine - David and Alan, medical students reluctantly giving up time from their studies, and Peter, a postgraduate student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was learning to spell schistosomiasis - got together to create their first cabaret.
This late night entertainment, as far as memory can recall, was performed after midnight, when cabaret audiences' critical faculties are not at their best but their response is usually generous and giving. There was a spoof opening number written by Peter ("We're here to bring you sunshine") and a number of songs from recent Hospital Christmas shows plus some sketches, one of which involved a mock striptease and balloons.

Fortunately the cabaret wowed the crowd even though no one could remember much about it the next day. Nevertheless it was enough to dazzle the three vulnerable young men and to send them in the search of the glamour, the lights and the razzmatazz of Showbiz.
Over forty years later these vulnerable and slightly less young men are still searching. Several things have changed since that first show. After six years Miles Kington, a talented and often quite tolerant bass player, and brilliant humourist, joined the team. After eight years the balloon sketch was dropped and after 26 years Miles left London (and Instant Sunshine) to seek fulfilment in the West Country and take the waters in Bath. Luckily another bass player was waiting in the wings and Tom Barlow, also a vulnerable young man, joined the group as part of a youth opportunities programme.

More years passed, and eventually Tom too left the band, having built up a considerable following among Instant Sunshine fans (his groupies were the ones without walking sticks or Zimmer frames). And the original three - Peter, David and Alan - soldiered resolutely on - and are still doing so - displaying magnificent stamina and fortitude in their quest for the lost chord in their thirteen bar blues.

Publicity picture for our first LP(1968)

Peter, Alan and David waiting at a bus stop (the umbrella became our trademark).

This record was named Instant Sunshine Live at Tiddy Dols - a restaurant in Mayfair where we sang for many years. Bill Martin and Phil Coulter the famous song writing team ("Puppet on a string", "Congratulations") saw us performing there and in no time had set up the whole recording session with Page One Records and had Dave Gold arranging the songs for a big backing band. The bar bill at Tiddy Dols would have blown too big a hole in the budget, so we recorded the tracks in a proper studio instead - with restaurant noises dubbed over. The sleeve design for the LP was by Hogarth, which sadly dates it a bit. A 45rpm single was issued at the same time featuring the songs "Here we go again" and "Methylated". The single was played on national radio and we felt at the time quite famous but soon realised we were not quite famous enough. Some people did recognise us in the street but they were invariably close family.

Instant Sunshine

Album Sleeve

Here is a picture of the album sleeve. Note the inset shot of (from L to R) Alan, David and Peter.

Incidentally, the Page One LP and accompanying single are now much sought-after collectors' items.

On the strength of this brilliant recording deal we begain planning our world tour. After five years poring over bus maps and train schedules someone told us the problem was the lack of a decent bass line in our performances. So in 1973 we asked David's old Oxford pal Miles Kington if he'd like to join us. It worked like magic and two years later we were on our way with our first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Poster for our first Edinburgh Festival Fringe show in 1975

Peter, David and Alan with bass player Miles Kington (centre bottom) and rather stony-faced backing group.
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Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 14th July 2024

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Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry Saturday 5th August 2023

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Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry on Thursday 9th February 2023

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Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 20th August 2022

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Instant Sunshine at the Pheasantry 2nd September 2021

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Keep Singing

>>  26 :: Feb :: 2020
Instant Sunshine Concert on Saturday 29th February at Donhead St Andrew