COUNTRY FEVER (1968-1970)

"The iconic line-up"

Jon Derek, Pete Oakman, Albert Lee and Jed Kelly




  JON DEREK (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar) 1968-1974

PAT DONALDSON (Bass Guitar) 1968

PETE OAKMAN (Bass Guitar/Vocals) 1968-1971

IAN HEWITT (Bass Guitar) 1972

ROD CLARK (Bass Guitar) 1972-1974

ALBERT LEE (Lead Guitar/Vocals) 1968-1970

ROGER DEAN (Lead Guitar) 1970-1971

BRIAN WOODS (Lead Guitar) 1972

ADRIAN LEGG (Lead Guitar) 1972-1973

GRAHAM WALKER (Lead Guitar) 1973-1974

*GERRY HOGAN (Pedal Steel Guitar) 1968-1974 

*RAY KEDGE (Pedal Steel Guitar) 1973-1974 

JED KELLY (Drums) 1968-1971

DAVE CAWSE (Drums) 1972

MALCOLM HAMERSTON (Drums) 1973-1974


*Occasional member



Pat Donaldson (Left) with Country Fever in 1968

Jon Derek and Albert Lee formed Country Fever in the summer of 1968. Jon, Albert and drummer, Jed Kelly were the only surviving members of 'The Jon Derek Group' - a skeleton band primarily put together on the back of 'Jamie, Jon and Jerry' so as to honour any outstanding bookings and, to act as 'backing band' to Irish singer, Clodagh Rodgers. They acquired 'Zoot Money' bass player Pat Donaldson for a short period to complete the line-up. The name 'Country Fever' was taken from a 1967 album release by Ricky Nelson. 


Rose Maddox (Left) and Jody Miller (Right)

Soon after their formation in 1968, they undertook two short tours with American artists, Rose Maddox (Sing A Little Song Of Heartache) in August and, Jody Miller (Queen of the House) in September. 

The Jody Miller tour included a BBC Radio show in which Country Fever appeared in their own right and, backed Miss Miller.


Country Meets Folk - introduced by Wally Whyton was broadcast on Radio 1.


Bass player, Pete Oakman (far left), formerly of 'Joe Brown and The Bruvvers', joined Country Fever in the latter part of 1968, after Pat Donaldson left to join 'Sandy Denny and Fotheringay'.


In October 1968, Country Fever embarked on a 21-date tour with the legendary American star, Guy Mitchell (Singing The Blues). However, the tour had to be cut short due to Guy Mitchell's poor health.


In the latter part of 1968, Country Fever recorded a rushed, low-budget album for the Rediffusion label 'Mountain Music Jamboree'. Jon's cover of 'Ring of Fire' along with Albert Lee's 'Dang Me' and instumental 'Country Fever' are among the only highlights on an album that was recorded and produced in less than a day. 


Following a few recent appearances on the BBC Radio 'live' show 'Country Meets Folk' backing other artists - the newly formed 'Country Fever' appeared in their own right on December 21, 1968 from the Playhouse Theatre in Charing Cross, London alongside folk artists, Ralph McTell (Streets Of London) and surprise guest Gordon Giltrap. Coincidently, it was also Albert Lee's birthday and the band members sang Happy Birthday to him 'live' on air.


Throughout the coming months, Country Fever became one of the most professional and respected bands on the circuit. In addition to being regularly heard on various 'live' radio broadcasts, they also appeared weekly at a number of venues in the London area which were owned by 'Griffin Catering' and run by Charles Williams. His promise was to stage a different country music act every night of the week. The two biggest and most popular venues were the 'Nashville Room' in West Kensington and 'The Clarendon' in Hammersmith. 


Due to illness, Jon Derek was unable to appear with the band when they were asked to support American country singer, Faron Young on a one-off appearance at USAF South Ruislip in September 1969. Friend and former band member, Jamie Gunn took his place.


In October 1969, Country Fever signed a recording contract with the first British country music record label Lucky Records and a personal management agreement with Gordon Smith. Their first single 'Mental Revenge', taken from the band's forthcoming album 'Listen To The Country Fever', was soon released. 


Both Nat Stuckey and Connie Smith were backed by Country Fever

Due to their expertise in backing top American acts, Country Fever + part-time member, Gerry Hogan on steel guitar (who would join the band on bigger shows/tours and radio broadcasts) were booked to join the Country Stars In Concert tour, organised by record company RCA. Country Fever were the only non-RCA recording artists on the tour which comprised of; Chet AtkinsBobby BareConnie SmithNat StuckeySkeeter DavisGeorge Hamilton IV and British band, The Hillsiders. The tour commenced on October 31, 1969. With five dates in the UK, including London's Royal Albert Hall and, twelve European cities - Country Fever appeared in their own right and also backed both Connie Smith and Nat Stuckey throughout the tour. Country Fever also performed with Bobby Bare, George Hamilton and The Hillsiders at a pre-tour press gathering/peformance at the 'Nashville Room' in West Kensington, London. 

Albert Lee and Jon Derek pictured with Connie Smith - Gothenburg, Sweden (Nov 1969)

In December 1969, Country Fever embarked on an extensive tour of the UK and Ireland with Country Music Hall of Fame star, Hank Locklin (Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On, Please Help Me I'm Falling).

Country Fever at Newcastle City Hall - The Hank Locklin Tour (1969) Jon Derek, Albert Lee and Gerry Hogan


In 1970, Lucky Records released an album entitled 'Listen To The Country Fever'. It originally sold for 19/11 (19 shillings and 11 pence in old money)! This album produced twelve tracks including two singles 'Mental Revenge' and 'Come and Stay With Me'. Lead vocals were shared between Jon Derek and Albert Lee - with some really tight three-part harmonies also featuring Pete Oakman. The album was a best seller and even to this day is recognised as one of the most iconic British country music albums of its era.  

Listen To The Country Fever

In February 1970, Country Fever received a 'Certificate of Merit' for their outstanding contributions to British Country Music from the 'CMA of Great Britain'. They were also voted 'Best Group' by the 'British Country Music Association'. The media reported that Country Fever achieved more progress in the year of 1969 than any other British country music band.


Country Fever with Roger Dean (2nd from left) (1970)

Former John Mayall Bluesbreakers' guitarist, Roger Dean joined Country Fever in March 1970 replacing Albert Lee who left to join 'Heads, Hands and Feet'. Albert Lee's reason for leaving was that he became disillusioned with the stagnant British country music scene and having to perform the same old Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash covers night in, night out.


Country Fever backing Don Gibson (Left) and Charlie Walker (Right) at Wembley (1970)

On March 28, 1970 - Country Fever appeared at the second 'International Festival of Country Music' at Wembley Arena promoted by, Mervyn Conn. Before a 12,000 capacity audience, the band appeared in their own right and  also backed American acts, Don Gibson (Sea Of Heartbreak), Charlie Walker (Pick Me Up On Your Way Down), Willard Pierce and Durward Erwin. New lead guitarist Roger Dean was joined by his predecessor Albert Lee on stage. Other members of Country Fever - Jon, Pete, Jed and Gerry Hogan + Tom Parker on piano made up an ensemble that was dubbed by the press as, "Surely Britain's million dollar line-up"


Two days after the festival, Jon Derek, Jerry Hogan and Albert Lee of Country Fever (augmented by another band's bass player and drummer) backed Don Gibson again at the 'Nashville Room' in London's west Kensington. Also appearing was Loretta Lynn and her band. The show was recorded and was the main feature on BBC Radio 2's 'Country Style' programme. 


Jon Derek and Pete Oakman with Hank Locklin

After touring the UK with Hank Locklin once again in April 1970, Country Fever finally fulfilled a very successful 12-day tour of the North East of England in May 1970 - one in which they had to cancel twice before, so that they could tour with Mr Locklin.


A New Dimension

Following massive sales of their first album, the highly acclaimed - 'Listen To The Country Fever' the group's second album 'A New Dimension' was released in September 1970. It received rave reviews from the music industry's press journals including, Melody Maker, New Musical Express and Record Mirror.


In September 1970, the legendary Slim Whitman (Rose Marie) returned to the UK to perform for the first time in 14 years. Promoter Mervyn Conn organised a short tour which included dates at the 'Liverpool Empire', London's 'Hammersmith Apollo' and the 'Sunderland Empire'. Country Fever were included on these three dates. In addition to having their own spot on the show, Country Fever also backed Slim.


On January 1, 1971 - Country Fever appeared on an episode of George Hamilton IV's BBC TV show. They also backed British singer, Ethna Campbell (The Old Rugged Cross) who appeared on the same episode.


Country Fever members Jed Kelly, Jon Derek and Pete Oakman seen pictured with Charley Pride (1971)

In February 1971, US singing sensation Charley Pride, who by this time had already scored 13 top 10 hits in the US country singles chart including 6 No.1's, made a short promotional visit to the UK in association with the BBC and his record label 'RCA Records'. Unable to bring his own band with him, Country Fever were asked to back him on a BBC Radio broadcast.


In March 1971, Country Fever toured for the first of many times with American country/rockabilly artist, Marvin Rainwater (Whole Lotta Woman, Gonna Find Me A Bluebird) on an extensive tour of the UK, Ireland and Europe. Marvin returned to England again later that year to do some shows with the band - this time at Irish ballrooms and US Air Force bases. They also recorded an album together recorded at Orange Studios in London 'Marvin Rainwater Gets Country Fever' which was released on the 'Phillips' label the following year. This album was then re-released three years later on 'Emerald Records' and retitled 'New Country Sounds'.


Country Fever won 'Top UK Country Group' at the 'Billboard International Country Music Association Awards'. Jon Derek collected the award at the pre-Wembley Festival dinner/dance held at the 'Royal Garden Hotel' Kensington, London on April 9, 1971. He was photographed with other winners including, Loretta Lynn (Top US Female Artist), George Hamilton IV (Top US Male Artist) and Tompall and The Glaser Brothers (Top US Group).

Jon Derek with Country Fever's top group award


Jon Derek returned to the Decca Records studio in West Hampstead with Country Fever to record a single 'The Moth And The Flame' which was released in April 1971. 

Randy Boone

The same month, Country Fever toured England and Ireland with American actor and country singer, Randy Boone (The Virginian, Cimarron Strip). 


Albert Lee sat in with Country Fever for two weeks in July 1971. He also appeared with the band on BBC Radio's 'Country Meets Folk' playing mandolin. Also joining Country Fever and Albert Lee in the second week was Chas Hodges on fiddle and Keith Nelson on banjo.


Towards the end of 1971, a dispute between members of Country Fever and their record producer Gordon Smith in relation to artist royalty statements from record sales not being submitted to the Performing Rights Society, caused a low morale within the group and eventually lead to a formal break-up. In order to fulfil forthcoming engagements, Jon Derek temporarily acquired bandmembers from 'Jamie's People' to form a temporary 'Country Fever'. 


The new line-up (Jon Derek, Ian Hewitt, Brian Woods and Dave Cawse) appeared at the fourth 'International Festival of Country Music' staged at Wembley Arena in April 1972. In addition to their own spot on the festival, they also backed Del Reeves, Bill Anderson, Anne Murray, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty at the pre-festival dinner/dance.


Jon Derek on guitar stood behind Anne Murray (Left) and Del Reeves (Right) borrowing Jon's Gibson Jumbo guitar
Bill Anderson (Left) also using Jon's guitar and Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty (Right) backed by Country Fever
Country Fever appearing in their own right at the International Festival of Country Music - Wembley Arena (1972)

Later that month, Country Fever toured with American country/rocker, Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls Of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On)They supported him on all 16 UK dates (which included a performance at the London Palladium) and one of the European dates - 'The Olympia' in Paris. Extra dates were added after the tour advertisements had gone to press - Southampton, Stoke, Walthamstow and Slough.

Jerry Lee Lewis pictured at the London Palladium

When the loan period of using the services of band members Ian Hewitt, Brian Woods and Dave Cawse ended in mid-1972, Jon, who it was often said had the knack of forming good bands, put together a whole new look Country Fever consisting of lead guitarist Adrian Legg, bass player Rod Clark and drummer Malcolm Hamerston.   

Hank Locklin with drummer Malcolm Hamerston and Jon Derek

Hank Locklin returned in July 1972 - backed by Country Fever, they toured the UK and Ireland.


In October 1972, Country Fever teamed up with George Hamilton IV (Abilene, Canadian Pacific) once again for what would be at the time, the biggest country music tour ever in the UK - 'Up Country'. Also on the bill were, The Stoneman Family. Country Fever appeared in their own right and also backed George IV throughout the 21-date tour. At the Royal Albert Hall (October 26), they were joined by special guest, Sammi Smith (Help Me Make It Through The Night).


Country Fever pictured backing George Hamilton IV on his 'Up Country' UK tour in 1972

In February 1973, Country Fever toured again with Marvin Rainwater (photo below) and in April, they made their third appearance at the 'International Festival of Country Music' and also backed George Hamilton IV on the show.

Jon Derek on the Marvin Rainwater tour in 1973
Graham Walker (Far Right) joined Country Fever in 1973

Lead guitarist Adrian Legg left the band in mid-1973 and was replaced by Graham Walker.


Country Fever toured with American artist, Jeanne Pruett (Satin Sheets) the same year and with the well known British country music duo, Miki and Griff (A Little Bitty Tear) the following year.

Jon Derek (Far Left) and Country Fever on tour with Jeanne Pruett in 1973

In 1974, Country Fever took part in a show recorded 'live' at the 'New Montrose Club' in Liverpool which also featured British country music acts; Terry Edwards, Phil Brady and Suzanne Harris. 

The World of Country Music Vol.6 - Featuring Jon Derek & Country Fever

Country Fever's three tracks on the album were; 'The Race Is On', 'Kentucky Woman' and 'Behind Closed Doors'. Jon Derek also compered the entire show. 'The World Of Country Music Vol.6' was released on the Decca Records label. 


By the autumn of 1974, the cooperative 'Country Fever' (1968-1974) was disbanded. Having achieved so much with the band, Jon felt the time was right to go it alone and forge a solo career.