Rock rolls on

HEAT, eine der besten Rock-Cover-Bands der Welt :-) ... mit dem schottischen Sänger Derek Hart, dem Urgestein des Rock'n'Roll Barney du Vree am Bass, Ralf Grabowski & Jan Brinkmann an den Gitarren und Marco Knichala (früher Mats Toralf) an den Drums.


Die alten Männer wollten es vor einigen Jahren noch einmal wissen! Gemeinsam mit Berufsmusiker Marco Knichala ging es wieder auf die Bretter, die die Welt bedeuten. Ein Konzert gemeinsam mit Barney's Band "Rockdepartment" fand am 13. August 2016 auf dem Motoballplatz in Pattensen statt.

Ralf Grabowski, Derek Hart, Mats Toralf, Jan Brinkmann, Barney Vree
Ralf Grabowski, Derek Hart, Mats Toralf, Jan Brinkmann, Barney Vree


Written by Derek Hart

"HEAT"(Rock Rolls On)

The Evolution of a Rock Band 


The “Rock-Roots” of HEAT stem back to the late fifties and stretches into the 21st Century. Over 50 years of musical experience, and many completely different backgrounds of the band members, turned HEAT into a popular local band in Hannover and the surrounding areas.


The group always tried to put something new into their music and stage show and audiences were very often surprised when the band played songs which other groups had never even thought about covering. This made HEAT somehow very interesting to many people, who would very often go to see them just to have al look what new things the band had to offer. .. There were, of course, many very good groups around at that time, and they were musically much further ahead, but they always played the same songs at their gigs and people began to lose interest. With HEAT, there was always a new surprise to see or hear.


The original Band got together in spring 1987. Derek Hart had founded his first band “Mr Fish” in 1980 and apart from practicing a lot, the band never ever played a gig. Derek had been performing as a solo artist in the “Piccolo” pub in Eich Straße (oak street) in Hannover since his debut in 1986.


Randolph Stein (Steinbeck) was also doing solo stuff there too and they both got to know each other very well. Barney Vree was a regular guest in the Piccolo and also got to know Derek and Randolph pretty well too.


During a conversation, it became apparent that Barney Vree used to play bass with a group in the 60's. His band “The original Surfers” managed to make 1 single (Hi Hi Hazel/She's my babe CCA 5027) and even did a tour of Holland. Randolph also admitted that he used to be a drummer with a jazz band. All six eyes started to light up, as the three realised that they had the basic ingredients to form a group.


No time was wasted and the three men drove to Holzminden to meet up with Barney's old guitarist Willi Ebel, who had generously offered his band's rehearsal room for an afternoon's trial. Using Derek's solo material as a base to work on, the “group” played quite a number of songs and really enjoyed themselves. The spark had been lit and there was no stopping them now. They even had a name!


On the 1st of August 1987 “The Hartbeats” (named after Derek) performed their first ever gig in front of the Piccolo and, despite the drizzle and neighbours complaining about the noise, they got over their stage fright and completed a couple of sets to everyone's (except the neighbour's) satisfaction. One member of the audience owned a pub and was so impressed, that he got the Hartbeats to pack their stuff and play in his pub that same evening. Two debuts in one day!


Unfortunately illness struck down Barney for a few months and the band had to wait for his recovery. In the meantime, Derek had been talking about the band to a workmate of his Roger Lewis. Roger Lewis had played with many groups beginning in 1959 with the “Aces” where Roger was too young to play in pubs. He has supported acts like The Who, Cream, The Walker brothers, Small faces, Rolling stones, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck and Georgie Fame. He also played in a group called “The Maze” in 1966. Two members of “The Maze”, Ian Paice and Rod Evans met Ritchie Blackmore in Hamburg and left to form Deep Purple. Derek knew that Roger played guitar and Derek invited him to come to the rehearsal room to try out a few songs together. Roger didn't think that the Hartbeats were anything special, until they started playing Rod Stewart's “I don't want to talk about it”. He suddenly realised that they were not just hammering away at songs, but they could soften things down and really get some feeling into the music. This he liked.


At the beginning of 1988, after a couple of months practise, the quartet gave their first performance in the “Papillon” in Laatzen under the name of “HEAT”. The name was never really discussed between the band members; someone just changed the name. Who knows who? Derek was a bit peeved that his name was no longer part of the group's, but what the hell “Rock rolls on”.


HEAT played many gigs in various places between 1988 and 1990. Randolph's unreliability caused unwanted stress for some members of the band and he was replaced on drums by Ralf Grabowski. Ralf had seen the band play a few times in Pattensen and he had stood in for Roger a few times, playing lead guitar at a few important gigs, when Roger couldn't be there. An all-round musical talent, Ralf brought a great deal of professionalism into HEAT and he also wanted the band to get a bit closer to the original songs they were covering. Roger, who liked the free and easy HEAT-translation of songs, did not really like getting too close to other peoples versions and, together with stress at work, he decided to quit the band and he told them he was leaving during a gig in Pattensen, where HEAT supported the 60s group “The Rattles”.


The initial shock was taken hard by the others, but they soon decided that they would not give up and they would look for a replacement lead guitarist. At the rehearsal room in the “Beatbox” the band tried a few different people. One of them, Eberhard Weber from “Justin Time” seemed to be a very good replacement and it looked like everything was cut and dried. However, Eberhard decided against it and the trio decided to go to the pub to drink off another let down.


That evening, there was an “open stage night” in the Nashville-Pub in Hannover, where anyone who wanted to, could get up and jam with other people for the fun of it. The three HEAT members watched a few people playing (always blues numbers, which seemed to be the only thing unacquainted musicians can play) before approaching the small balding drummer on the stage (Peter Weißbarth) and asking him if he knew this or that song. He knew quite a few songs and HEAT played a string of numbers much to the delight of the people there that night.


Afterwards, over a few beers, Peter was told that he was HEAT's new drummer and that practice was on Tuesday. He didn't have a chance to say “no”.


Peter was a professional drummer and his talent certainly shone on stage. After a tremendous drum solo, Barney called him “our Super Drummer” and he remained so for about eight months. Peter decided that HEAT was ok, but he needed a more professional band and decided to leave to join a number of different groups, as he was relying on the money as income (he couldn't survive long on HEAT's wages).


Once again the Trio were searching for another drummer and soon found him. Mathias Carstens (Mats Toralf) had auditioned with HEAT a long time ago to replace Randolph Stein, but Roger was not too happy with him, when Mathias thought Roger should play the “All right now” solo more like the original guitarist. Red flag to a bull! However, he came back and settled in nicely and played with HEAT as a support to “Fury in the Slaughterhouse” in front of the Opera-house in Hannover.


Very shortly after that, Ralf brought Jan Brinkmann along to the rehearsal room (now in Barney's attic) and introduced him to the other HEAT members. Jan was suddenly a new man in the HEAT- line up, and with Ralf and him doing the guitar work, Derek was left to concentrate more on his lead singer performance and the magic worked.


HEAT played together between 1991 and 2003 and this was the peak of the band's life. They became a very good, tight playing, rock cover band and performed songs from A –Z (Bryan Adams – ZZ-Top). They performed all over northern Germany and collected many thousands of Euros (Marks) for various charities. They were even Confident enough to perform some of their own songs and in 1992 the 5” maxi CD “Bridge to their Heart” was released and was highly praised. It got some radio air-play (reaching number 1 in the Tirol-charts!!!) and was even to be glimpsed on television.


All good things must come to an end and HEAT played their last gig at the old town festival in Pattensen in summer 2003. It was one of their best.


HEAT supported many famous and legendary bands: The Rattles, Chris Andrews, Jane, Billy-Mo Band, Middle of the Road, The Buddy Holly Musical-Band, Fury in the slaughterhouse and more ...


Derek Hart lives in Hannover and only plays on private occasions He still scribbles down the odd lyric or two now and again and his biggest ambition is to get all the songs he has written with Ralf onto one CD.


Barney Vree is now retired living near Hamburg and is still playing bass with a very tight Rockband, playing in the line of HEAT.


Randolph Steinbeck (R.I.P.) moved to southern Germany and little was known about his musical habits.


Roger Lewis suffered a couple of heart attacks and lives a quiet life of retirement in Hannover. He also managed to produce a CD “line by Line” (a mixture of his own music and cover-songs) in his home studio.


Ralf Grabowski lives and works in Springe and is still active in a number of different musical directions. He writes and produces music in his own studio and would like to get some cover-songs onto CD with Derek.


Peter Weißbarth lives in Recke and still lives from his drumming in top 40 bands.


Mathias Carstens left his wife and family to live and work in Thailand where he built his own house. It is not known if he still plays drums.


Jan Brinkmann lives and works in Hannover and played some years with the southern Rockband "Digger Barnes".