top of page

The Maltese 'Brummie'

There are countless Maltese artists who made a name for themselves abroad. This is the story of one of them.

Born on 1 December 1944, Charlie Grima's life has been a testament to his passion for music and his unwavering spirit. From his early beginnings in Paola, Malta, to his current residence in Kent, England, Grima's journey has been filled with remarkable experiences.

At the age of ten, Grima's family made the life-changing decision to immigrate to England, settling in Birmingham, where Charlie attended catholic schools until the age of 15. His first encounter with a drum kit occurred unexpectedly when he attended a Toni Martell & The Interns gig, whose drummer, Duke, failed to show up. Grima was asked to step in. He was asked to join permanently when eventually Duke decided to leave the band.

In pursuit of his passion, Grima purchased his first drum kit for £80, paying for it over a year. He continued his musical journey with various bands such as The Villains, with whom he did his first tour abroad (Germany), Combined Action, Organised Chaos, The Block and Hannibal.

During his time with Combined Action, a young and relatively unknown Robert Plant auditioned to sing with the band.

In 1968, Grima took a job as a stagehand and scene shifter at the Alexandra Theatre. His dedication to music and performance remained unwavering, leading him to join The Wellington Kitch Jump Band, later renamed as The Cedar Set. The band toured extensively, including a notable month-long performance at the Hirshen Hotel in Zurich.

The year 1969 marked a milestone for Grima when his band, The Ghost, released a single titled "When You're Dead / Indian Maid" on Gemini Records. They followed this with a now rare and collectable full-length album, titled "When You're Dead” in 1970. The band initially adopted the name Holy Ghost, which was later shortened to avoid negative publicity. A second single was released in 1970, but Shirley Kent left the band soon after with the remaining members changing the name of the band to Resurrection which was short lived, splitting with no further releases.

Grima joined another band from Birmingham, Mongrel with whom he released ‘Get Your Teeth Into This’ in 1970. During his time in Birmingham, Grima found himself crossing paths with the cream of the city’s best musicians from Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest.

In 1972, Grima took on a new endeavor by joining Roy Wood's Wizzard. His first gig with the band was the Rock 'N' Roll Festival at Wembley Stadium. On the bill at Wembley was Bo Diddley who later recorded an album titled ‘The London Sessions’ with Wizzard as the backing band. Charlie stayed with Wizzard for three years featuring on all three Wizzard albums:

  • Wizzard Brew released March 1973 on Harvest

  • Introducing Eddy and the Falcons (1974) on Warner Bros.

  • Main Street which was recorded in 1975 but released in 2000 on Edsel Records

He joined The Old Horn’s Band before Wizzard’s demise. The Old Horn’s Band played a mixture of jazz and blues. Years later The Old Horn’s Band would reunite for a onetime benefit concert.

His introduction to the theatre world happened in 1972 when Charlie auditioned, as a drummer, for the re-casting of David Hare’s rock musical ‘Teeth ‘N’ Smiles’* in London from where an opportunity rose to play in another play…this time in Hong Kong. Throughout the late '70s and early '80s, Grima immersed himself in acting and drumming on stage, participating in plays like "The Fordsyke Saga" and securing roles in television shows and commercials.

© Martin Kinch

In the '80s, Grima showcased his versatility by playing percussion and congas in various pubs. It was at this time that he started playing in pubs playing piano and singing, ultimately landing a few spots on the Variety Night Show. During the same period he went on tour in Germany with the Jive Aces, standing in temporarily for their keyboard player who was visiting Australia.

Charlie acted the part of a market trader in episode 20 from the 5th season of The Bill in 1989, while in the 90’s Charlie played the supporting actor in shows like "The Bill" and movies such as "Chaplin," "Henry V," "Frankenstein” (starring Robert De Niro) and “Blue Ice” (which was produced by Michael Cain, who also starred in it).

When not in theatre Charlie could be found playing in various pubs and clubs together with Bob Brady.

Charlie Grima drumming with The Lewis Project at Festival Fair 2015

He first came back to Malta since 1955 in 1973 for his honeymoon and again in 2013.

In 1988, Grima faced a health setback when he suffered a mild heart attack. In response, he was advised to take things easier. During his recovery, Grima found solace in teaching drumming to blind and partially sighted children. He dedicated 15 years to this meaningful endeavour, sharing his love for music and empowering these young individuals.

After undergoing a triple heart operation a decade ago, Grima made the decision to retire.

Charlie Grima's story is a testament to the power of pursuing one's passion and embracing the opportunities that come along the way. From his humble beginnings in Paola to his notable contributions to the music and entertainment industry, Grima's journey encapsulates a life dedicated to artistry and perseverance.

Charlie Grima’s life can be read in his autobiography published in 2015 by Mirag Publications.

*First performed in London in 1975, Teeth 'n' Smiles is a musical play written by English playwright, screenwriter and director David Hare (b. 1947). The play is set around the performances of a failing rock band at the May Ball on the night of 9 June 1969 at Jesus College, Cambridge.

The Fosdyke Saga was a British comic strip by cartoonist Bill Tidy, published in the Daily Mirror newspaper from March 1971 - February 1985 later adapted as a TV series , a radio serial by the BBC and a stage play.

182 views0 comments


bottom of page