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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Popular & Rock Music of Greater Manchester


Billy J Cramer & The Dakotas

Mike Maxfiled, the Dakotas

The Dakotas were a Manchester formed British beat band of the early 1960s who were popular on both sides of the Atlantic. The band formed in Manchester in 1960, and within a year they were successfully touring the northern club circuit. They included Mike Maxfield (guitar), Robin McDonald (guitar), Ray Jones (bass), Tony Mansfield (drums) and later Mick Green (as a replacement for Mike Maxfield). Their growing reputation attracted the attention of Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, who invited them to back Billy J Kramer at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. The band's first single, "Do You Want To Know A Secret" , (by John Lennon) was an immediate hit and went into number two position in the UK record charts. Apart from backing Kramer, they soon released two instrumental recordings on the Parlophone record label - "The Cruel Sea" and later, "Bad To Me", both of which went immediately into the top thirty in the UK charts.
The first Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas album, "Listen" , was at position number eleven by the end of 1963. But it was in 1964 that they achieved their first UK number one single with "Little Children" , which also made substantial inroads into the American Top Ten and became perhaps the song with which they are best remembered. This song also firmly established a growing new American fan club and US tours followed.
However, in 1965, their song "When You Walk In The Room" was in direct competition with a version by The Searchers, whose version reached number one position. Later that year they released the successful "Trains And Boats And Planes" , but in 1966, Mike Maxfield the group and was replaced by Mick Green. Thereafter their fortunes seem to have waned, and when in 1968 Billy J Kramer went on to pursue a solo career without the band, The Dakotas were effectively finished. The band was resurrected in 1989 (with Tony Mansfield and Mike Green from the original band), and is still based in Manchester.

Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders

Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders

(Born 1945)
Wayne Fontana, (real name Glyn Geoffrey Ellis), was born on 28th October 1945 in Manchester. Before embarking on his music career, he trained as a telephone engineer in Manchester. It is said that he adopted his stage name in homage to Elvis Presley's drummer D J Fontana. Wayne was an accomplished rhythm and blues singer and soon had a sizeable following of female admirers and fans. Wayne was the lead singer with local group, The Jets. Their debut audition was to take place at the Oasis Club in Manchester, though the band apparently failed to turn up and Wayne was left to audition solo, having hastily enlisted the services of other musicians already there and spontaneously calling this motley crew "Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders". Despite the fact that Wayne was still only in his teens, the audition so impressed Jack Baverstock of Fontana Records that he gave them a two year recording contract on the spot.
The group line-up included Wayne Fontana (vocals), Eric Stewart (guitar), Bob Lang (bass), and Ric Rothwell (drums). Their most successful song was "The Game of Love" and none of their other music ever managed to attract the kind of public approbation that this song did. While failing to reach number one position in the UK record charts, it did achieve that position in the USA.
The group's first record hit was in 1963 with "Hello Josephine" . After the success of "The Game of Love" several minor hits followed, including "Just A Little Bit Late" and "She Needs Love" .
In 1965, Wayne married one of his young fans, left the group and set out on a solo career with a few hits like "Come On Home" and "Pamela, Pamela" , though he never managed to repeat his former successes and retired from the music industry in the early 1970s. Meantime, The Mindbenders (now without Wayne Fontana) had a brief success in America with "Groovy Kind Of Love" , and in the UK with "Ashes to Ashes" . The Mindbenders finally broke up in 1968.
Despite many years in obscurity, Fontana came out of retirement in the late 1980s and had made occasional live appearances and performances, tours and on the club circuits.

The Purple Gang

Joe Beard, the Purple Gang

The Purple Gang, in some ways were more a folk 'jug' band than anything else, but found themselves thrust to the forefront of so-called 'psychedelic' music after the release of their single "Granny Takes A Trip" . The Purple Gang's rather quirky style found great favour in London and they were soon signed by Joe Boyd to Transatlantic Records.
The band had actually been formed in the early 1960s by a group of students at Stockport College of Art and included Peter Walker, or Lucifer as he liked to be known (vocals/kazoo), Ank Langley (jug), Deejay Robinson (harmonica/mandolin), Geoff Bourjer (washboard/piano) and James Joe Beard (guitar), who was essentially the main force and manager of the band. Upon the release of "Granny Takes A Trip" they had the dubious honour of by being banned by BBC Radio One, which seems to have bestowed instant cult status on them. It was this song that effectively became the anthem of the "swinging" London underground, though in the event it was to be their only real success or claim to fame. Despite their ban, the highly respected Radio One DJ, John Peel, made futile attempts to support and back them.
Follow-up failures and continued radio bans invariably led to a split up, shortly after the release of "The Purple Gang Strikes" , their only album. The band drifted apart but reformed in 1989, when founder Joe Beard recreated the band with new members and new material.
Still without wide or popular recording success, the band (with many new members) are still making music. Their website can be found at www.thepurplegang.co.uk.

Suzanne Shaw

Suzanne Shaw - HearSay

(Born 1981)
Suzanne Shaw was born on the 29th September 1981 in Bury, and began her professional career by singing in an Abba tribute band.
Her big chance came when in late 2001 the ITV show called "Popstars" , gave an opportunity for contestants to become part of a newly formed pop band. Suzanne attended the auditions and successfully made it through several elimination rounds. She was chosen as one of the five finalists and became one of the members of "Hear'Say" , as the band became known. Other members were Noel Sullivan, Myleene Klass, Suzanne Shaw, Danny Foster and Kym Marsh.
She made many appearances with the band in TV and live performance venues, including in 2002 "Hear'Say: A New Chapter in Full", "The Hear'Say Story", "Hear'Say It's Saturday!" and the "Royal Variety Performance" for television in 2001. Hear'Say were also awarded Record of the Year in that year. Alleged disagreements between the female members and other problems brought the band's professional life to an abrupt end by the end of 2002, and Suzanne attempted a solo career, and found limited success in July 2003 with a leading role in the remake of the "Summer Holiday" musical in London's West End, and later in a UK tour of the show. Also in the summer of 2003 she began a relationship with her co-star Darren Day. Subsequently the relationship ended. In 2009 she joined the cast ITV's long-running soap opera "Emmerdale".

Kym Marsh

(AKA Kym Ryder)

Kym Marsh - HearSay

(Born 1976)
Born Kimberly Gail Marsh on the 13th June 1976 in Whiston near St Helens, Merseyside, Kym had been singing seriously since the age of 14. By the age of 11 she was performing Whitney Houston songs and by 13 had released a record called "One Kiss" , produced by a Liverpool record publishing company.
Like Suzanne Shaw (above), her big chance came when ITV created its talent show, "Popstars" , and Kym was selected as one of the five final members to form the new band, "Hear'Say" in late 2001.
Hear'Say , (and Kym) found immediate musical success with the release of songs like "Pure and Simple" and "The Way to Your Love " both of which were record-breaking smash hits in the UK.
However, the band's fortunes were short-lived and Kym's solo ambitions, alleged animosity between herself and Myleene Klass and commitments to her two small children created professional conflicts within the band. The release of her solo album, "Standing Tall" was met with great acclaim and further encouraged her to break away from the group and to try to make it on her own.
In late 2002 the group broke up. Kym went on to release two more singles, "Cry" and "Sentimental" . They were also great successes and did well in the British music charts and gave her promotion on television shows like BBC's "Top of the Pops" . The prospects for a successful professional musical career look positive.
Her move to act in ' Coronation Street' saw her firmly established and regularly voted one of TV's sexiest soap stars.

St Louis Union

St Louis Union came to the forefront of public attention when they won a 'Melodymaker' Magazine Beat Contest in 1965, and as a result managed to secure a recording contract with Decca Records. They had a very brief active life in the British pop music scene and included band members Tony Cassiday (vocals), Keith Miller (guitar), Alex Kirby (tenor, saxophone), John Nichols (bass), Dave Webb (drums) and David Tomlinson (organ). After some success with a cover version of the Beatles' song "Girl" , they failed to make any inroads with subsequent music; Both "Behind The Door" and "East Side Story" , failed to get into the Top Forty, and the band soon failed and disappeared into relative obscurity thereafter, though still making music and performances at small venues around the country before disbanding in 1967.

The Magic Lanterns

The Magic Lanterns, who had been previously known as 'The Sabres' (who had also included Kevin Godley and Lol Creme), were a little known Manchester-formed band of the late 1960s who achieved very modest and short lived successes with their soft rock music. The band included Jimmy Bilsbury (vocals), Peter Shoesmith (guitar), Ian Moncur (bass) and Allan Wilson (drums). They first came to public attention after Mike Collier, a local nightclub DJ and compere, introduced them to his own music publisher. Guided and organised by Collier, the group recorded the single "Excuse Me Baby" (by Wayne Artie), and it was this record that led to CBS offering them a record contract. "Excuse Me Baby" did relatively well in the record charts, as did later songs like "Rumpelstilskin", "Knight In Rusty Armour" and "Auntie Grizelda" . Few other of their pieces thereafter achieved any success either and despite developing a more popular and then fashionable 'psychedelic' musical style, commercial success eluded them. Their music was consistently popular on the continent of Europe but UK successes were few and far between. Fortunes improved momentarily when, in 1969, Steve Rowland and Albert Hammond joined the group, and the band produced its only American hit, "Shame Shame" . Later that year Ian Moncur, Peter Shoesmith and Allan Wilson split from the group. Despite this, the band continued on for short time, but broke up while in Hamburg in late 1969.

 

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Copyright © John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom - all rights reserved.
This page last updated 17 Jan 12.