Drawings by John Moss
& Rock Music of Greater Manchester
J Cramer & The Dakotas
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, (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.
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 was born on the 29th September 1981 in Bury, and
began her professional career by singing in an Abba tribute
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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