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BB & Co is a group of five highly experienced, accomplished, like-minded musicians with long performing histories in Perth, interstate/overseas who just wanted to do a bunch of ‘better, more enjoyable material’ together which would appeal to a broad audience base. 

The band comprises Bill Blissett (Keyboards & Vocals), Ivan Kellehear (Guitars), Jim Awram (Bass), Mike Arkins (Drums), and Paul Fitton (Guitars).

Bill Blissett

Originally from London UK, Bill started playing bass in the 1960s with a local band, then switched to keyboards and joined then-popular London band “Blues by Five”. Signing with Decca records they released a version of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom Boom” and several other songs which all entered the British Charts. They toured the UK and overseas with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, The Hollies, Spencer Davis & Steve Winwood, and many more.

In the late 60s Bill came to Australia and settled in Melbourne. He joined a well-known local band there called Compact who had a few local hits and appeared on TV music shows frequently. Then he came to Perth and joined the “Troupadores” a well-loved showband throughout Australia. They toured tirelessly and performed a number of times in Singapore, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia.

After the demise of the ‘Troups’, Bill went to work in the record industry for 10 years first for Festival Records then for CBS Records in Brisbane. On his return to Perth he got back into playing again - first with a reformed “Troupadores”, then “Powershift” featuring Michael Vdelli, Ric Whittle and Gerard Maunick with whom he recorded a live CD which sold very well in Perth. Jeff St. John was Bill’s next project. Jeff came to live in Perth and formed a new band called The Embers. They released an album which took off and they toured Germany. Unfortunately, Jeff’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire from full-time live performing.

Bill then went on to playing with many local (mostly blues-based) bands in Perth, toured to Singapore with Dave Hole and played several tours with Eugene Hideaway Bridges. Bill joined a local blues boogie band ‘On the level’ with Dave Gillam and recorded 3 CDs. He is constantly in demand as a keyboard player/vocalist for pick=up bands and special events. Now he has his own band and is looking forward to performing a wide range of favourite blues, gospel and blues-rock music.

Ivan Kellehear

Ivan has been a lover of music from a very early age, starting with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Freddy King, Muddy Waters, and Chubby Checker, moving through Stevie Ray Vaughn, ZZ Top, Eric Clapton, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, then later with Gov’t Mule, Bad Company, Pink Floyd, and basically anything with soul and feel. 

He started playing guitar at 16 and played in rock and metal bands during the '80s in both WA and Sydney. A highlight of those early days was performing at Bindoon Rock in 1987, singing for Destiny. Ivan then spent several years away from the music scene, during which time he lost a leg, became a pirate, started a family and got married. However, his passion for music was rekindled during rehabilitation, when a group of mates chipped in and bought him a guitar. Reuniting with old mate Gazman Campbell, Ivan joined in on a few gigs with The Sceptical Assassins, including a late night set at Westdale Rock. Soon afterwards, he met Paul Fitton, and their shared love of blues and blues rock, bad jokes, and a sarcastic sense of humour, forged a strong friendship, which lead to the evolution of BB & Co.

Jim Awram

Jim started playing just before he turned 16. His career has been mainly Perth-based with excursions throughout the State and the rest of Australia, as well as South East Asia.

Jim's musical influences are extensive, which reflects in the many styles of bands and artists he's performed with – for example: Mainstream pop/rock with 'Capri' 'Al Fonzarelli and the Joy Boys' 'Pulse' 'Cyclone Tracee'; Harder Rock/Blues/Progressive with 'The Happy Sinners', 'Resonance Project', 'Jac Dolton Band', 'Lady Zeppelin' and 'Graham Greene Band'; Blues/Boogie with 'Mark Vine' and, for many years, 'On the Level'; Funk with 'Saxafunk' 'Emjay'; Latin/Rock with 'The Australian Santana Experience'; and Folk with 'Paul White' and 'Pink and White Bridge'.

There have also been many freelance and backing performances for local, national and international artists… but now he's VERY happy to have settled into "BB & Co".

Mike Arkins

Mike is a Belfast Boy who migrated to Perth in late 1990s. In the early days, Mike started playing Motown and Jimi Hendrix in Belfast clubs in mid-'60s. progressing to Cabaret bands backing all the local artists was a major musical learning curve. Late 60’s early 70’s brought experience in the Irish Showband scene, playing in Halls all over Ireland. The Showband scene soon moved to 4-piece horn sections playing Chicago/Blood Sweat & Tears material. Late 70’s saw a return to Cabaret playing with members of the Witnesses Showband who were once resident in Las Vegas and friends with Elvis Presley.

The '80s brought a major step up in experience with Mike joining forces with ex members of Van Morrison’s ‘THEM’. This band was probably the biggest Blues/West Coast Rock outfit in Ireland at that time. The early '90s progressed into the Jim Daly Blues Band, probably the only authentic Chicago Style Blues Band in Ireland. The Jim Daly Band were regulars at the Cork Jazz Festival. The remainder of the '90s saw Mike return to soul music with a memorable live Dust Hagan Band CD. 

The move to Perth involved a temporary hiatus in Mike's playing career as his 'day job' took precedence. However, his drumming passion was soon reignited with several stints in Country Bands playing the Boot Skootin’ clubs around Perth.

Mike considers his influences to be too many to mention, but the standouts are Buddy Rich (meeting Buddy in NewYork 1974 was unforgettable), Mitch Mitchell, Ian Paice, Kenny Clare and Bobby Elliot. He has appeared with Van Morrison and Georgie Fame, on TV shows with Chris De Burg and the Jim Daly Blues Band, toured Ireland with Carey Bell (harp player with Muddy Waters) and in concert backings for jazz trombonist George Chisholm, English jazz clarinetist Monty Sunshine and blues great ‘Little Willy Littlefield’.

Right now, Mike enjoys playing with like-minded muso’s whose musical influences complement his own eclectic career.

Paul Fitton

Paul began learning guitar at age 11 in the UK. Six months later (disliking his guitar teacher and what he was trying to teach) he realised he had a good ‘ear’ and decided he could learn more on his own by listening to the music he really liked. He joined his first band at 12 with his best friend from primary school, Alan Forman (drums), and began gigging in public not long after turning 13. The band played top 40 covers of the time and whatever ‘rock’ stuff they could sneak in relatively unnoticed in front of the UK ‘clubland’ punters. Paul continued with that for seven years before leaving for Australia at 21.

In those early years, he found a bunch of influential players from whom he 'stole' musical & sonic ideas, licks, etc. The obvious: Clapton, Page & Beck, David Gilmour, Rory Gallagher, Pete Townsend, Joe Walsh, Frank Zappa, Freddie, Albert and BB King, Buddy Guy, Alvin Lee, Ritchie Blackmore and Stevie Ray Vaughan were the most important ones, but there were many others too numerous to mention. 

Paul joined his first Perth band in 1979 and continued with various outfits doing similar venues (and corporate work), gradually improving the quality of the material and the bands/people he played with for 12 or more years. It was during this period that he first met his long-time “BFF”, confidante and amazing vocalist Rose Carleo; in a little country band they’d both prefer to forget. In the early '90s Paul joined “Cool Change” – his first ‘rock’ band with two female vocalists and three-piece backing including great friend Mark Charman. This was immediately followed by five to six years with The Mersey Allstars – a British '60s comedy-styled ‘showband’ – the most successful band he'd been in to date.

The new millennium brought new challenges with a failed attempt to re-create the ‘Merseys’ and yet another tavern/corporate band ‘Rewind’ with old friend Dave Woodhall, Paul Watson, Debbie Gamble and Debbie’s replacement – Rose Carleo, after which followed a hiatus of five years before joining Too Easy (a three-piece rock outfit) for a short time and most recently On The Level with Dave Gillam, Bill Blissett, Jim Awram and Ian ‘Bones’ Ironside, with whom Paul finally got to play some good, rocking blues AND got paid for doing it.

Throughout Paul's varied career, he never lost his love for the blues and its many and varied formats. Now – with BB & Co - he's finally getting to do what he loves in a form and with a bunch of guys with whom he just loves to perform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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