MARLBOROUGH HALL1962 – 1968
Ricky Vallance, Pete Best, Heinz, Lulu, The Tornados, Johnny Kid & The Pirates, The Merseybeats, Screamin Lord Such, Screamin Jay Hawkins, Billy Fury
THE HISTORY OF MARLBOROUGH HALL
The present home of the YMCA in Halifax, which contains the Marlborough Hall, is a Grade II Listed Building situated just across Crossley Street from the Town Hall. It opened in 1857, as the Halifax Mechanics Institute. With its imposing impressive stone façade it remains today much as it was when it was built. Bradford Architects, Lockwood and Mawson created a design based on Italian Renaissance architecture and may have been influenced by the style of London developments which drew heavily on Italian palazzos. They had designed the Saltaire Institute and the Bradford Town Hall and were rightly proud of their work in Halifax when the building, costing £5492, opened on January 16, 1857. Over 600 people attended and had tea followed by a meeting in the Hall with the event reported in the Halifax Guardian on January 17, 1857. On January 22 the opening performance of Handel’s Messiah was held, on February 10 there was a lecture by William Makepeace Thackeray and later in the year on August 14, Sir Francis Crossley hosted a lunch to celebrate the opening of his Peoples Park. Since education and entertainment was part of the objectives of the Mechanics Institute, the building was designed to incorporate both these and the Marlborough Hall formed an impressive area for all types of entertainment. In 1850 before the Mechanic’s Institute moved to the new building it had been visited by Charles Dickens and membership at that time stood at 600 and included over 100 females. In 1859 the ticket office was constructed and a year later the Gallery was erected including ‘seats with backs’ to plans from Halifax architect, Mr. Horsfall.
The White Swan Hotel was built around the same time and both buildings compliment the Town Hall which John Crossley commissioned famous architect Sir Charles Barry to design in 1859. The YMCA hired rooms in the Mechanics Institute as early as 1867 and in 1896 a film was shown by Professor Wood which became the fore runner of The Gem Cinema, the first cinema in the town, opening in the building in 1917. It was run by Albert C. E. Greene who also ran the Palace in Sowerby Bridge and an Andrews organ was installed to provide music for the silent films. That lasted until 1932 when the cinema closed and the building was bought by Marmaduke Farrar who operated a club and dance academy as well as a furniture shop. During the years of the Second World War the building was a base for troops and a new floor was installed by the Army following its heavy usage as a drill hall.
The Halifax and District Young Men’s Christian Association formally took over the building in 1946 as their headquarters and have continued to operate from there ever since. Not only do I recall the great dances of the sixties, featuring local talent and the big names of the rock and roll and beat era, but also lunch time visits to play snooker with my mates. Since 1966 following the inauguration of ‘The Long March’ the hall has been used as the finishing point and the massage of tired, blistered feet following the 30 mile walk in aid of charity. Generations of people in the Calderdale area have used the building for leisure and entertainment purposes and it has been the subject of improvements and maintenance over the years, although it always seems to me to be in need of a bit more attention. There is a Conservation Management Plan currently in place compiled by Jessica Sutcliffe, Carl Carrington, Richard Wilson, Mary Watkins and Helen Bower. Thanks to Angus Henderson at the YMCA for being most helpful in tracing the history of the building and supplying the photographs.
RONNIE NICHOL – DANCE INSTRUCTOR & FIRST D. J. IN HALIFAX
After the YMCA took control of the Marlborough Hall they decided that the venue should be used to promote dances on Saturday nights for the good folks of Halifax to enjoy. Having no experience in organising and running the dances, they contacted local dance expert Ronnie Nichol. During the summer season towards the end of the forties, Ronnie had been working as M.C. at the Villa Marina Ballroom in Douglas, Isle of Man and he was seen as being the perfect man to provide the professional touch to the weekly dances. A very dapper little man with an Errol Flynn moustache, dressed in a tail coat and resplendent with a white bow tie, he really was able to cut a dash and give some much needed class to the Halifax Saturday night scene.
He arranged for local dance bands to play at the Marlborough and whilst the bands had their break, he would play the latest dance tunes and ‘pop’ records of the day on his 78rpm turntable, housed in a padded quilt fronted, home made record playing machine. The descriptive word ‘discotheque’ was not in the English language at the time, but really Ronnie was a pioneer in what is now a part of our musical culture and the Marlborough Hall was the first venue to host a D.J. in Halifax His duties as M.C. also included being the caller for the square dances that were becoming popular as well as leading off the Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, Palais Glide, Barn Dance, and Valeta. I have already expressed my views about the progressive barn dance and the least we say about the Gay Gordon’s the better.
The Saturday dances lasted for several years into the early fifties and Ronnie used his contacts to book the dance bands. Many of the musicians were ex-army bandsmen who saw the possibility of earning extra money by playing in a dance band with five or six other like minded chaps, particularly as the bands of the day featured a small brass section. Typical of the day is the line up featured on the photograph – Piano (Milford Priestley), Drums (Dorian Meal), Tenor Sax (Clifford Bottomley), Trombone (Don Woodhead), Trumpet (Johnny Oldfield) and Double Bass (Tommy Hamnett). Ronnie did the bookings and sorted out the money and in reality acted as the manager of the whole Saturday night experience. The first British Hit Parade was issued by the New Musical Express in November 1952 and it gives an example of the ‘pop’ tunes that were played at the Marlborough Hall, towards the end of the time when Ronnie Nichol was the darling disc jockey of Halifax. By 1956 the Saturday format had changed to 50-50 Whist Drive / Dancing to the Embassy Band with 3/6d being the admission charge. Competition from Aub Hirst at the Victoria Hall, Harry Nicholl and his Band at the Alexandra Hall and the advent of Pearl Paling at the Princess Ballroom saw the dance hall days at the Marlborough numbered. Ronnie was a survivor and became involved at the Alexandra Hall in the late fifties and from early in the sixties he was the ‘front man’ of the operation. He contacted booking agents to arrange the dance bands and groups, plus ensuring that there was a DJ in place to provide music when the break time between the customary two band sets took place. He knew all too well that continuity was the name of the game and that when people were not dancing unrest became a recipe for aggravation and trouble.
Whilst Ronnie was the foundation upon which the Saturday dance had been built at the Marlborough Hall, after he left, the place floundered like a ship without a sail, until eventually the YMCA dabbled in some spasmodic dancing promotions. The historical hall lay dormant most Saturdays but it would all change later when the seemingly unlikely lads, wrestler Shirley Crabtree and his brothers, ensured that the Marlborough was the place to be to have a good time on Saturday nights.
SHIRLEY CRABTREE – WRESTLER AND DANCE HALL ‘BIG DADDY’
Brothers Max and Shirley Crabtree were born in the Wilson Street area of Halifax and by the early sixties had been very successful on the wrestling circuit. Their other brother was Brian and between them they thought that it might be a good investment to get involved in promoting dances and concerts in their home town. There was a buoyant market for entertainment as the fifties ended and with the optimism of a new decade, they thought the time was right to venture out with their project. Max was the first to see the possibility when he was asked to work as a doorman/bouncer at the Alexandra Hall during the late fifties. His sharp business brain registered that all the takings on the door were in cash and the taxman would not know whether 50 or 500 had passed through into the dancehall on any one night. He saw all this in his trouble-shooter role and whilst he was only paid 15 shillings for doing the bouncing job he realised that the people running the dance were onto a real money spinner.
An advert in the Halifax Daily Courier and Guardian on Friday December 11, 1959 telling that the Marlborough Hall was available for hire was the boost that they needed. They were well connected in the entertainment world and felt they could attract some big names to perform as well as develop local talent. However, there were problems because the YMCA Pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ran until the end of January 1960 and existing bookings had to be honoured including the Asquith Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of ‘Rose Marie’ which would not finish until the end of April. Unable to wait, they initially promoted dances on Sunday nights at the Kings Hall in Belle Vue, Manchester and later on Saturdays at the Victoria Hall in Halifax. They then decided to open the ‘The Everlys’ club in premises at St. James’ Road, formerly occupied by Halifax Labour Party. The club took its name from the American singers Don and Phil Everly who they had meet along with promising young Southowram singer Phil Griffin. Phil was booked as the opening act at the clubs launch on Saturday May 7, 1960 along with local group the Teen Beats.
Shirley always acted as spokesman for the brothers and said that his aim was to give teenagers a good time and he wanted all youngsters – groups or individuals – who can sing or play an instrument to come and have a go. He was quoted as saying “If they are any good I’ll do my very best to see they get a chance. I’m in touch with all the top agents”. In fact it was reported that the Crabtree’s backer was none other than Paul Lincoln, owner of the famous 2 I’s Coffee Bar in Old Compton Street, London. Max confirmed to me that Paul Lincoln and his partner Ray Hunter were both wrestlers who saw the opportunity to provide a London venue for the ‘kids’ to play their music and escape from the music that their parents liked. Their coffee bar attracted Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele as well as becoming the centre of the skiffle craze, popularised by Lonnie Donegan. This was the place to where Phil Griffin hitch-hiked each weekend to perform and he had maintained the connection with the owner and the Crabtree brothers in Halifax.
Phil remembers that the wrestling manager of the Crabtree brothers was a guy called Norman Berry. Norman looked the part, with a huge moustache and big overcoat as he worked from an office above Liley’s pram shop in Commercial Street. Phil got the job of driving the wrestling ring around to venues ahead of the matches, travelling as far as Scotland and Stafford as well as a popular venue at Skipton Town Hall. To test out the new idea of promoting music dances they used these venues before (and after) opening in Halifax. The unreliability of some of the name groups proved to be a nightmare, so contingency plans were hatched to have standby local groups on call if the big name did not appear. Shirley’s intentions were very YMCA but unlike the charity, he was hoping for a profit from his ventures – and why not? He and his brother Max were often featured wrestling at the Victoria Hall, with the likes of local farmer John Allen, Bob Sweeney (later a Health Club owner in Halifax), and my own favourite, Billy Two Rivers. Their time was divided, but wrestling was becoming big business with TV exposure and Kent Walton giving the sport (or was it just entertainment) a better name. It was four months later, in September that ‘The Everlys’ closed and when it reopened it became ‘The Flamingo’. Max confirmed that the club had been bought by Ken Smith, who previously ran a jazz club and now felt it was time to give teenagers a chance to express themselves. The capacity of the club would remain at 250 and it opened under the new ownership on September 22, 1960. Just over a week later, on Saturday October 1, 1960 the YMCA presented ‘Marlboro Rock’ from 8.00 until 11.30pm and this was the format that the Crabtree brothers would adopt when they eventually took over promotions at the hall almost two years later.
The 1961 YMCA Pantomime was Jack and the Beanstalk followed in 1962 by Dick Whittington and his Cat and still wrestling was taking all the time that Shirley and his brothers had available. Then it happened! An advert in the Thursday newspaper confirming that there would be the first of weekly dances held at the Marlborough on Saturday June 2, 1962. Sharon Kristy and The Jaybirds were the first act of many that would appear at the Saturday dance. The adverts were zany, the names were confusing but in amongst some really quality artists were booked to appear. Early bookings featured Tony Sheridan plus The Big Three who were another Liverpool outfit to appear at the Marlborough. Pictures of stars were featured in the adverts, but the performers were sometimes either local or out of town groups. One particular advert amused Phil Griffin when he was billed as ‘Flip Griffin’ supporting Toni Kitten and The Cats, with a photograph of Georgie Fame underneath. When Toni Kitten appeared she was a girl singer looking nothing like the picture in the advert which had attracted the crowds of girls to the dance! Jive competitions on Wednesday were started and then in November 1962 Jackie Lynton was billed to appear with his backing group The Jurymen. He was a recording artist, but not really a star, with only three Piccadilly discs cut by the end of 1962. He did eventually release a dozen forty-fives but never made the charts although he was a 2 I’s Coffee Bar boy and was managed by Larry Parnes. He regularly appeared on the one-night package show circuit with the likes of Billy Fury, Terry Dene and John Leyton, who were all fast runners from the Larry Parnes stable who used Lynton as a support act.
Shirley Crabtree was born on November 14, 1937 and like the character in the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue it was a tough upbringing having a girl’s name. He was named after his father (who had a spell at Thrum Hall as a rugby player) and the name was the idea of his grandmother who got the idea from the Charlotte Bronte book Shirley. He could look after himself at school and as a teenager he became a lifeguard and took up bodybuilding before starting wrestling at the age of sixteen. The interest rubbed off and his brother Brian became a wrestling referee and his other brother Max, initially a wrestler, became one of the most powerful wrestling promoters in the history of the sport in Britain with his company Joint Promotions. The advertising experience that was used in the wrestling world was used to good effect at the Marlborough to promote the Saturday dance.
The success of their promotions at the Marlborough, not only provided a nice weekly cash flow of income for the brothers, but also had the added benefit of creating a safe environment for young people to enjoy themselves on a Saturday night. There was no alcohol on sale and only soft drinks and coffee were the readily available ‘drugs’ of the day. The doormen were local bodybuilders and whilst ‘pass-outs’ were allowed, anyone who had been to the town centre pubs and was suffering the effects of too much Ramsden’s or Whitaker’s best, bitter or mild, were not allowed back into the dance hall. They soon realised that some of the groups were not reliable and if they had a hit record, after being booked but before appearing, they would renege on contracts and accept bookings with more money. After it happened a couple of times the shrewd business brains of the brothers decided that an alternative was required. They were pals with Jimmy Savile and visited the Mecca Ballroom in Briggate, Leeds to see the twin turntable record machine used by the king of the dance halls. Returning to Halifax they contacted Arnold Williamson, an electrical wizard who had his own business in Pellon Lane and took him across to the Leeds Mecca to measure up and copy the design of Jimmy’s double deck music system. Arnold was a little grey haired old man but a skilled electronic engineer and it didn’t take him very long to build and complete a system that could be used at the Marlborough as back up for the groups. Max found good looking lads like Phil ‘Flip’ Griffin to spin the records and even if the group did not appear, there was a full evening’s musical entertainment on hand to keep the customers satisfied. Phil recalls that several times when bigger named bands did not arrive (broken down on the A1 was a regular excuse) he and a hastily booked local band would keep the customers satisfied.
The dances were a great success and the brothers packed the punters into the Hall in great numbers every Saturday. They introduced competitions for the patrons, including ‘Mr Muscle’ where they encouraged the boys to remove their shirts. By1964 Brian Rayner and his future wife Jean were regular Marlborough Hall dancers and the irony was that underneath Brian’s sombre suit, white shirt and tie, he had a Charles Atlas physique. Whilst all the seven stone weaklings were strutting their stuff 18 years old Brian looked on with the amusement of a future body building champion. In 1969 he was crowned Mr Yorkshire, won numerous competitions throughout his life including in 2005 the senior Mr Yorkshire title again to add to being the British, European and World Bodybuilding Champion. He still works in the fitness industry and along with his wife Jean they help run the Queens Squash Club gym in Savile Park. Max Crabtree always said that he and his brothers held the view that people wanted the extraordinary not the ordinary and if Brian had taken his shirt off they would have got it in abundance. Laughter and entertainment was the Crabtree motto and a couple of local regulars helped them with this aim, they were Phillip ‘Darkie’ Boylan and Alan ‘Manfred’ Ackroyd. Both of them loved to be the centre of attraction and ‘Manfred’ would often strip down to his underpants, have a toilet seat around his neck and being only small and wearing ‘pop bottle bottom’ glasses he really was a vision of culture. Darkie sold newspapers outside the White Horse pub to earn extra money above his wages as a demolition worker and most people rightly said that he was a ‘rum bugger’. He had thick black hair and a pugnacious personality and after work was always black as the fire back – mucky. There was a wrestling ring in the upstairs room of the Saddle Inn (now the Portman and Pickles) which was used by local wrestlers, the Crabtree boys included, and Darkie would often be there looking hard as he eye balled even the toughest wrestlers. Saturday was his night and he helped create the fun image that the promoters required. The Crabtrees were a team, with Brian Crabtree looking after the artists and the stage, Max working the door and security with Shirley as the figure head, doing the announcing and generally sorting out the needs of the customers in his larger than life way – particularly if the advertised band had not arrived.
Shirley later used his philanthropic hat in his negotiations with the Council to acquire the former Collinson’s Café, on the upper floors of a building at the top of Crown Street, over what is now the Dolcis shoe shop. It was to be converted into a club for teenagers. He sided with Alderman W. Higgins who had publicly said that not enough was being done for the youth of the town, and followed it up by saying that as the Marlborough Hall would be closed in April 1964, the town needed another hall to maintain three dancehalls for Saturday nights. In fact whilst Shirley opened his new club ‘Big Daddy’s’ on Sunday March 15, 1964, the Marlborough remained open, featuring Saturday dances promoted by the brothers until Saturday September 23, 1967, three and a half years longer than had been anticipated. The last advert featured a group called The Bird Hunters and offered as a forthcoming attraction The Pink Floyd, which never happened. The hall lay idle for six weeks before a new club called ‘Square One’ opened on Saturday November 18, 1967 with The Applejacks as the opening attraction. Live groups continued to be booked to maintain the previous formula for the first four months, but they were generally accompanied by a disc jockey from the DRM Company. Eventually it became all DJ based, not surprising really as David Mitchell from DRM was the promoter of the dances, in conjunction with the YMCA.
Big Daddy’s Club was opened by Leeds lad and Britain’s most famous D.J. – Jimmy Savile. Jimmy had wrestled and his proud boast was that he had lost his first 35 fights. The opening began with a procession from Harrison Road led by the Leeds City Pipe Band and Jimmy Savile, with blond hair, big cigar, mink slippers and a zebra coat, riding a white horse. The club which was on two floors did not hold a drinks licence and operated more like a traditional youth club. Saturday afternoons from 2.00 to 4.00 were for juniors followed by the regular dance, but later night sessions were also billed with midnight starts and 3.00am finish. The plans were to cater for all types of music with specific music nights including a Rhythm and Blues night in direct competition with the well established Plebeians Jazz Club, as well as every lunch time and every evening opening. The Plebeians only opened three nights and this was a declaration of war by the Crabtree brothers against their nearest rivals.
Despite such a grand opening the Big Daddy club only lasted around two and a half years before it closed and re-opened as The Scene. The original name was The New 2 + 2 Club and it was advertised as being fully licensed with drinks at normal pub prices. It opened on Saturday October 22, 1966 from 7.45 until 11.45pm with membership costing just 10/6d which included free admission for one week. The mod chart group The Pretty Things appeared on November 12 and then nothing. It opened again with a change of name, this time as The Scene and Shirley explained to the press “We are giving it a modern image. The old club was based on the Liverpool Sound and it has run its course. The trend is different now – modern dancing, modern atmosphere”. The new club, in the same premises, opened on Saturday December 10, 1966 just in time for the Christmas raves and the adverts stated there was no bar. The first star was Wayne Fontana on the Saturday before Christmas. The last advert for The Scene was in January 1967, but alongside that advert there were others in a familiar style for dancing again at the Marlborough. Long before there was any talk of changing the name Shirley had shrewdly applied to the Halifax Borough Licensing Magistrates for a club licence to serve alcohol. He applied in July 1966 and he had a good reputation for running all his dancehall functions in a strict, no nonsense manner and during his time at the Marlborough had developed a flawless image of ‘no trouble’. But at six foot six inches tall and weighing over three hundred and fifty pounds, you would not expect many people to give you trouble! After agreeing to comply with Fire Service regulations and brighten up the darker parts of the premises he was granted his licence.
The last advert for The Scene Club was for the weekend of January 14-15, 1967 and by March they felt that their run as Crown Street club owners was coming to an end. Increased competition from a new breed of music and dancing entertainment was hitting the numbers coming through the doors at town centre dancing venues. The town centre pub jukebox had been mild competition for the last year or so, but the advent of the mobile disco had arrived and compounded the problem for Shirley. At the forefront were the Halifax based DRM whose happy band of mobile disc jockeys (they included me later) were taking the music out to pubs and sporting clubs around the greater Calderdale region. In the town centre the Acapulco Club had opened, the Bulls Head installed flashing lights to supplement the juke box, and there was increasing newspaper coverage of a drugs scene in Halifax with the Plebeians Jazz Club in the Upper George Yard coming in for more than its fair share of criticism.
The Crabtree brothers began to circulate the fact that they were prepared to sell the lease of the club and this information soon found its way to Paul Mountain, the leading light at the Plebeians Jazz Club. John S. Wharton in his book ‘Plebs – The Halifax Jazz Club 1961 – 1968’ describes the meeting and the story behind the change of name to Clarence’s, which opened in December 1967.
Now that the flirtation with the music scene was over, Shirley, Max and Brian could concentrate on their respective careers in the world of wrestling. Shirley moved to Blackpool and carried on wrestling in his own name and was nicknamed ‘The Blond Adonis, ‘The Battling Guardsman’ and even ‘Mr Universe’. He won two titles with the British Wrestling Federation, retiring for many years before being persuaded to return by his brother Max who had concentrated on the wrestling promotion business. The start of ITV’s World of Sport hosted by Dickie Davis gave Shirley massive exposure and he took on the name Big Daddy. The name had initially been taken from the Tennessee Williams character, Big Daddy Pollitt, played by Burl Ives in the 1958 film Cat On A Hot Tin Roof – but which had more latterly been the name of his Halifax club. His wife Eunice made him the distinctive leotard, featuring a huge ‘D’, out of their chintz sofa, and even Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were said to be fans of the gentle giant. He was the subject of This Is Your Life on March 7, 1979 and took on the mantle of ‘The People’s Champion’ as the good guy fighting the evil forces of the likes of Mick McManus and Giant Haystacks. Tragedy struck in August 1987 when his trade mark final ‘belly splash’ was used on Mal ‘King Kong’ Kirk during a bout. Sadly for everybody, including Shirley, his opponent died and although Shirley was cleared at the coroner’s inquest he always blamed himself and retired soon after. Greg Dyke axed wrestling from ITV the next year and Shirley suffered a stroke in 1993 before he died in Halifax General Hospital on December 2, 1997, aged just 67.
As a footnote and away from the wrestling and night club scene more brotherly extravagances were to come after they decided to open a clothes shop in Westgate. It would be called ‘The In Crowd’ after the Dobie Gray record, and would stock all the mod gear that guys and gals would need to cut a dash on the dance floors of Halifax, preferable they would hope, at the Marlborough Hall or Big Daddy’s. The store was billed to be opened on Saturday May 15 1965 by Irish singer Donovan. He was known as the British Bob Dylan and beginning with him we look at the top fifty two Crabtree promotions during their time in Halifax.
DONOVAN – SUNSHINE SUPERMAN
Max Crabtree’s story of the day Donovan came to town is hilarious and deserves repeating in full: – “We were friendly with Warren Gold and some other guys on Carnaby Street in London who were doing a bomb with clothes and we went to a shop called Lord Johns. Shirley was a big name at the time and we decided we’d have a go selling the really mod gear. It was beautiful stuff, French cords for the fellows with velvet and mini skirts all the latest gear for the girls. We got a shop in Westgate opposite Jewson’s Gun Shop and did it up with great pictures and lighting and called it The In-Crowd. Just before the Beatles were famous we were offered them for £30 to appear at the Marlborough and we had all their pictures on the walls of the shop which, with the new carpets looked fantastic. We rang an agent in London to see who we could get and he said that in two weeks time Donovan was in Newcastle on the Friday and his booking for Saturday had been cancelled, so we could have him for £300 for the day. It was a chunk of money so we asked that he came early after lunch to stay at the White Swan Hotel and we wanted him to open the shop in the afternoon and then perform at Big Daddy’s at night. Deal done all sorted, so we had posters made and adverts put in the Courier and we were buzzing at the thought of it all so I thought that I should ring the Police and tell them that he might attract the crowds”.
“I told this policeman the full story on the phone but he was very abrupt and didn’t seem to want to know. On the day at about 1.00pm there were crowds of kids in the street, there must have been a thousand there. Well, the Police Inspector came down and asked what was going on and I told him that I’d rung but the Police Officer to whom I spoke didn’t want to know. We looked out of the club windows and Crown Street was solid with people waiting to see Donovan. It was a very hot day so we gave the copper a beer and he said that he wanted it all sorted and out of the way immediately. We left the club with a policeman and our eight security guys who were headed by Big Tony from Leeds who had spent all his adult life working on doors. He wasn’t a talker, he just cracked any trouble maker – and he enjoyed doing it! We went down the passage to the White Swan with the escort but as soon as the kids in the street saw us they knew that we were going for Donovan and started to follow us. It was like the Pied Piper of Hamlin and as we got towards the White Swan door, we saw their doorman in his uniform and top hat. All of a sudden he froze as he saw all these kids following us along the street. Inside the hotel were elderly ladies having tea and cakes and as the doorman started pulling on all the metal shutters they looked horrified”.
“We went up to the second floor and into Donovan’s room and there he was draped across the bed with that silly little hat on that made him look like a girl. His mate Gypsy Dave Miller was with him and we said we had to leave now on police advice to go to Big Daddy’s but when we got to the outside door it was heaving with people. We all went out behind Big Tony, who was 6’7” in his stocking feet but when he saw the size of the crowd, he grabbed Donovan and slung him over his shoulder. Well Donovan lost his cap and his shoes in the chaos as we pushed our way through the crowd back to the club. Inside the club the Police Inspector after he’d finished his drink, said that we had to get a car, bring it to the front door and get Donovan away from the area so that the crowds would disperse. I went for the car and two cops got me tight onto the pavement by the door as they bundled Donovan into the back. Well, there were kids on the bonnet who rolled off as we moved away and as we shot up Crown Street it was like a Wild West show. We got away and went to Savile Park where we waited for about ten minutes and then set off back to the town centre only to be flagged down by the police who told us to stop where we were”.
“Back at the shop our Brian was waiting for us to arrive and looked out of the window to see what the noise was all about. He saw an old chap with a walking stick stood at the Boothtown bus stop just outside the shop door. This bloke got pinned to the window by this hoard of kids who ran to the shop after we left the club, thinking that we were going there. Donovan wasn’t allowed to go back into town and so he never opened the shop despite us having paid such a big fee for his services, which was double and half again the normal fee we usually paid for entertainers. We increased the admission to the club by about 1/- for the evening performance but not enough kids paid the extra and so we made a big loss on the night. He put on a great show and because it was so hot we opened all the windows and even at 12.30am the street was full of hundreds of kids who wouldn’t pay the extra bob to come in and watch the show. It just shows how fickle a business it is and when it finished we were glad to be out, although overall it was an enjoyable period of my life. Really we were in at the wrong time! The right time was the Dance Band days, Saturday night 7.30 – 11.30pm, 500 to 600 dancers no admission after 9.30pm, sedate ten piece band all on low musicians rates, it was a quickstep, a foxtrot, a waltz; boy meets girl, courting and then married”.
The Crabtree brothers and Pearl Palin became pioneers in the introduction of the group based music scene to the town centre with the Alexandra Hall management jumping on the passing bandwagon a little later. Max surprisingly told me that neither he nor his brothers had ever met Pearl and whilst there was friendly rivalry in getting the best groups, it was never a personal issue in getting one over on the other. After the 19 weeks at the Victoria Hall with some well known performers it would be June 1962 with Dave Berry and the Cruisers who appeared at the Marlborough as the first ‘name’ booking. By June Pearl had seen Nelson Keene, Vince Eager and Johnny Gentle pass through her doors as her biggest names and for them both – more were to follow.
Top names at the Marlborough, like the Princess, would be interspersed with local groups and some groups who made it bigger later. A full list of performers is listed, but here are the top names that made their big Halifax impact at the Marlborough.
Norwich was the birthplace of Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity (born May 21, 1940) who gained fame by having the pre-Ringo Beatles, with Pete Best on drums, as his backing band when they performed at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg, Germany as Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers. Sadly it was not the Beatles, but a different backing group that supported him on Saturday August 18, 1962 when he appeared in Halifax. Billed as Tony Sheridan and the Sundowners this early Marlborough Hall concert must have been a rare homeland appearance, as he began his stint at the infamous Hamburg Star Club just less than three months earlier on May 12 fronting the Tony Sheridan Quartet, who were later renamed the Star Combo. The first recordings ever made by the Beatles were with Tony in June/July 1961 followed by others in April 1962 and interestingly they were all produced by German bandleader Bert Kaempfert for Polydor records.
THE FOUR JUST MEN
Formed in Huyton on Merseyside as Dee Fenton and the Silhouettes they changed their name to The Four Just Men in January 1963. The lead singer/guitarist was Dimitrious Christopholos (aka Dee Fenton) with Lawrence Arendes (aka Larry King) on drums, Peter Turner (bass/guitar) and the line up was completed by John Kelman on lead guitar. After appearing at the Marlborough on June 29, 1963 and the Princess on November 2, they recorded That’s My Baby the following year on Parlophone but were forced to change their name to Just Four Men after being sued by a group with their original name. The record was quickly withdrawn and re-issued under their new name. Original copies of the first issue are now worth over £50 and whilst two further singles followed they never registered a hit. Another name change to Wimple Winch in early 1966 saw a change of direction into the new musical cult of freakbeat with three singles issued on the Fontana label provoking a new following in their newly chosen genre of music. Under their latest name they appeared in Halifax at the Alexandra Hall twice in 1966 and once at the Princess Ballroom in 1967.
WEE WILLIE HARRIS
It was no surprise when Wee Willie turned up at the Saturday dance at the Marlborough because he was very much a 2 I’s Coffee Bar discovery, with the Lincoln – Crabtree wrestling connection responsible for his appearance in Halifax on August 24, 1963. I had never seen anybody with coloured hair and whilst Willie had been on TV in 6.5 Special out telly was black and white so the shocking pink hair was lost on me along with the candy striped baggy suit, neon brothel creeper shoes and the polka-dot bow tie the size of an elephants ear. He played a pumping piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis as he belted out mainly American cover versions of songs like Bobby Rydell’s Wild One and the Robins (later the Coasters) Riot In Cell Block No. 9 which was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller of Jailhouse Rock fame. His own composition Rockin’ At The 2 I’s was also featured and it was issued as his debut single on a 78 and 45rpm by Decca in 1957. His most valuable release now is the EP Rocking With Wee Willie which is asking over £125 in mint condition. Search the attic now! I didn’t meet Willie until a later visit to town for a concert at the Victoria Theatre with Vince Eager, but he impressed me as a charming little man who had spent a lifetime in rock and roll giving his fans pleasure with not only his music, but also with that unchanging lob sided grin that he always wore, however he was feeling.
Hit makers from Stoke was a slight exaggeration in the billing as advertised in the newspaper but their first single That’s What I Want did spend four weeks in the Charts in August 1963 reaching the dizzy heights of number 43. The boys’ first visit to town was on September 16, 1963 whilst the record was still in the charts and they were a popular attraction with their brand of R&B, the debut single having been written by Carter-Lewis. The line up featured Danny Davis (who had previously had five solo singles released from 1960 – 62) along with Bryn Martin (lead guitar), Chris Renshaw (rhythm), Kenny Sharratt (bass) and Barry Sargent (drums). Their popularity amongst the Halifax crowd saw them return to the Marlborough three more times in 1964 and once at Big Daddy’s in 1965.
THE OVERLANDERS – MICHELLE
The Overlanders were very much a folk based trio formed in 1963 and made one of their earliest performances on September 21, 1963 at the Marlborough Hall on a bill that included the Ryles Brothers and Gay Saxon. The group appearing in Halifax consisted of Paul Arnold Friswell (piano/guitar), Peter Bartholomew (guitar), and Laurie Mason on vocals, guitar and harmonica. They recorded 12 singles for Pye but it was their tenth one that took them to the top of the charts with a cover version of the Lennon- McCartney song Michelle which hit the top for three weeks at the end of January 1966. The record was produced by Tony Hatch and featured two additional group members, David Walsh (drums) and Terry Widlake (bass) who were also used by the trio to fatten their sound in the studio and on stage as and when required.
Supported by Lance Harvey and The Kingpins this show on October 16, 1963 was the one and only Halifax appearance by Julie Grant. She charted on two occasions during 1963 but had been prolific in her output of singles on the Pye label since Somebody Tell Him in 1962. Her cover of the Drifters Up On The Roof was her first chart hit (but it was outsold by Kenny Lynch’s version) which she followed up with Count On Me peaking at number 24 in 1963 to achieve her highest position in the charts. A good looking dark haired beauty with the fore-runner of a full bee hive hairdo she wowed the Marlborough lads but was unable to sustain her early momentum with her output of singles and she was dropped by Pye at the end of 1965 following her prophetic release Stop backed with When The Lovin’ Ends.
FARON’S FLAMINGOS – DO YOU LOVE ME
The week after Julie Grant it was Liverpool band Faron’s Flamingos who brought an early taste of Merseybeat to the dancehall. Faron was Bill Roughley who in addition to being the vocalist also played the bass with the rest of the band on that October night being Paddy Chambers (guitar/vocals), Nicky Crouch (guitar/vocals) and Trevor Morais on drums. This had been the line-up since the beginning of the year but it was almost the end of the road because in November, just a few weeks after the Halifax gig, the band split up. Faron and Paddy joined Johnny Hutchinson in the Big Three, Nicky was added to the Mojos and drummer Trevor later found success in the Peddlers. Faron’s Flamingos were a pivotal group in the development of the Mersey sound and were undoubtedly good, but became frustrated with the support from their record company Oriole which lead to them splitting just as Merseymania was breaking out. Their release of Do You Love Me in 1963 was recorded before Brian Poole and The Tremeloes. In my opinion it was far superior but, whilst the southern group hit number one, the Liverpool lads totally missed out. That was most probably down to the Decca A and R men working harder that their counterparts at Oriole but it signalled the beginning of the end for Faron and his Flamingos because after releasing the follow up Shake Sherry which also failed to chart, they disbanded.
ROSEMARY ANN COTTNAM – KIM ROBERTS – LIVE IT UP
‘Meet Rosemary Cottnam. She’s slim, 17 – and perhaps the next unknown to hit the song charts’. That was how the Halifax Courier introduced the potential of this Halifax girl to its readership. Rosemary Ann Cottnam was born on April 11, 1945 and she was living with her parents at 37, York Crescent, King Cross, Halifax, when she announced on Valentines Day 1963 that she was going to London. She went on Saturday February 21 to sign a recording contract with Joe Meek and would probably adopt the name of Kim Rayner. The next report on April 27 was that she was to sing a number written specially for her by Joe Meek in the film musical Live It Up to be made at Pinewood Studios, and the song would be her first record release. On December 7, 1963 probably because she had returned home for Christmas, she appeared at the Marlborough Hall at a dance promoted by Shirley Crabtree and his brothers under her film and recording name of Kim Roberts. Tornadoes drummer Clem Cattini remembered her in an interview we did and said “She was a very nice girl and I remember working with her at Holloway Road with Joe Meek. She was a good singer and only the other day I was listening to some unreleased tapes of her. There’s lots of stuff that is definitely there that isn’t released because of ownership problems. It’s sad really”.
As one of Joe Meek’s girls, Kim recorded about two dozen tracks for the maestro recording engineer during 1963 and 1964. A local hairdresser, she had begun her singing career with the local Halifax group the Johnny Rainbow Trio, and got her break when the Tornadoes guitarist Heinz Burt saw her perform and recommended her to Joe Meek. Heinz, along with other artists stayed at the family guest house catering for sports and show business clientele in Halifax that was run by Rosemary’s parents Molly and Tommy Cottnam in King Cross. Her dad, Tommy was a professional boxer and Rosemary was the couple’s only child. Throughout 1963 she rehearsed and recorded with Joe and he succeeded in getting her a cameo role in the film Live It Up featuring Heinz, Steve Marriott and starring David Hemmings, with the hope that a recording contract would follow. The movie was shown in her home town at the Odeon Cinema for the week commencing December 29, 1963 as the second feature to the latest Norman Wisdom comedy film A Stitch In Time. She appeared in the movie singing Joe’s composition For Loving Me This Way looking really cool dressed in a black leotard and strutting her funky stuff, but the song was not promoted and found its way onto the flip side of I’ll Prove It. The big promotion opportunity to plug the record was lost and whoever was responsible for this error of judgement should have been shot! Perhaps it was Joe himself?
I’ll Prove It was released on Decca in January 1964 where she was backed by the Outlaws – with Ritchie Blackmore on guitar (later of Deep Purple) and bass player Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave. It was apparently intended to be the answer record to Brian Poole and The Tremeloes Do You Love Me which was also released on Decca in September 1963 and topped the charts for three weeks from October 10, before being replaced with the classic You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Kim undertook a rigorous promotion tour to plug her record but it failed to chart and with her disappointment went the chance of a follow up single, an album and her recording career. Early in 1964 in addition to singing she tried her hand at being a model and her work for a London fashion store involved a photo-shoot with Coronation Street actor Philip Lowrie, who played the character of Elsie Tanner’s son, Dennis in the well loved cult soap opera. During this time she toured to promote her record and she told her parents that there was another film opportunity with Futurist Films that was being considered. A spell singing in Germany followed, thanks to the help of Screamin’ Lord Sutch. She then moved on to doing one-night stands and did record around a dozen tracks for Joe Meek at RGM, none of which were released until two of them Love Can’t Wait and Mr Right, were included on the 1997 CD Joe Meek’s Girls. Meek was England’s premier independent record producer with many massive hits being created in his studio in Holloway Road, London including Johnny Remember Me by John Leyton, the wonderful Telstar by the Tornadoes and Mike Berry’s Tribute To Buddy Holly. His life came to a tragic end on February 3, 1967 (the eighth anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death) when he was involved in a bizarre shooting incident, first shooting his landlady and then turning the gun on himself. It followed several years of mental instability, rumours of blackmail about his homosexuality and his paranoia about his recording work as the hits dried up after his last major success with the Honeycombs Have I The Right in 1964.
After her release from Joe Meek and RGM in 1965, Rosemary returned to Germany to perform before getting her own TV show in South Africa and doing a successful tour of the Middle East. In 1970 she joined the pop-folk trio, the Settlers until in 1973 when she became a backing singer for Gilbert O’ Sullivan. Into the eighties she fronted two blues-rock bands, Rusty and the Renegades and later the all girl band, Lighthouse, before working as a studio session singer and backing her old friend Lord Sutch on his more lucrative engagements. Her two sons survived her following her death from heart problems on July 22, 2000 at the young age of just 55. I am grateful to her mother Molly for telling me her story and allowing her treasured photographs to be used in this book.
CARTER-LEWIS AND THE SOUTHERNERS
Christmas Eve 1963 was a carnival atmosphere with the festive decorations adding to the usual good-time feel of the Marlborough Hall when Carter-Lewis and the boys came to town for their one and only appearance. Formed in Birmingham in the early sixties by John Carter and Ken Lewis they hit Tin Pan Alley in 1961 and by the time they came to Halifax the group also contained Lincolnshire lads Perry Ford and Jimmy Page. Several other famous faces performed as the Southerners which included guitarists Lorne Green and even ‘Big’ Jim Sullivan for a while. The group name had been being derived from Southern Music the publishing company. They initially recorded for Piccadilly but also issued singles on both the Ember and Oriole labels without any chart success. The Ember singles Two Timing Baby and Tell Me were produced by Joe Meek featuring Albert Lee on guitar and Chas Hodge (from Chas and Dave) on bass which makes them highly collectable today and worth over £40.00 in mint condition. Carter and Lewis began as songwriters with several radio broadcasts on Easy Beat and Saturday Club to their credit and reverted back to their routes when the bubble burst. After the band failed in 1964 they formed the Ivy League with Perry Ford and in 1967 created the Flowerpot Men which earned a number 4 hit on Let’s Go To San Francisco. By this time they were concentrating on song writing, arranging and producing as well as performing as session players in the studio environment. Their days on the road were well and truly over.
MIKE SHERIDAN & THE NIGHT RIDERS
During 1963 Birmingham lads Mike Sheridan (vocals) Davie Pritchard (lead guitar), Greg Masters (bass) and drummer Roger Spencer were basking in the spotlight as one of the second city’s top groups. They issued two Columbia singles Tell Me Whatcha Gonna Do and Please Mr. Postman. Although neither of them charted they formed the foundation stepping stones upon which guitarist Roy Wood, who joined the group early in 1964, stood before becoming a founding member of The Move in February 1966 and the leading Glam-Rock band Wizzard in 1972. He was one of the five who appeared at the Marlborough at the end of March 1964 and again in February 1965. Later that year the band name was changed to Mike Sheridan’s Lot with the issue of another Columbia single called Take My Hand with the vocals arranged by Roy Wood under the group’s new name. Their last Halifax appearance was at the Alex on November 18, 1965 and in 1966 not only did Wood join The Move, but the former Night Riders joined Jeff Lynn in the Idle Race. By 1968 Rick Price and Mike Sheridan, who worked as a duo for a while, came up with Sight and Sound which included former Rockin’ Berries vocalist Geoff Turton and Joe Valentine. Once more Halifax witnessed the evolution of journeymen musicians into big name stars whose names are etched on the walls of the pop halls of fame.
Brummie accents had abounded two weeks before Scouse band the Dennisons arrived at the hallowed hall on April 11, 1964. In August 1963 their first record for Decca ‘Be My Girl’ made the top fifty in the charts and they announced from the stage that their new recording Walking The Dog backed with You Don’t Know What Love Is would be released within a week or two. It made the top forty towards the end of May 1964 but proved to be the popular band’s final chart appearance as their final release Nobody Like My Baby / Lucy was a total miss. Originally a Shadows inspired semi-pro band in Liverpool they adjusted with the times and moved their sound towards black R&B influences, demonstrated by their cover of the Rufus Thomas classic and they even toured with Ben E. King who wrote the ‘b’ side of that single. The band featured vocalist Eddie Parry, Steve McLaren (lead guitar), Ray Scragg (rhythm), Terry Carson (bass) with drummer Clive Hornby who later found more fame and fortune in the Yorkshire Television production of ‘Emmerdale Farm’ where he played the likable character Jack Sugden. They were back at the Marlborough in March 1965 with a new vocalist in Colin Aryeety and Terry Carson had joined on bass to replace Allan Willis but their days were numbered and it was their last show in Halifax before they folded completely in 1966. The lead guitarist did not go on to manage the England football team!
This Manchester band loved Halifax and Halifax was in love with them. They did not disappoint and were quite prolific with eight appearances spread over all four dancing venues between August 1964 and September 1966. Whilst they were the first to record the Graham Gouldman song I’m Alive which achieved fame for the Hollies later, they were unashamedly an R&B band in the Rolling Stones mode. They only had two Parlophone single releases their second one being a classy Andrew Oldham / Keith Richards number called I’d Much Rather Be With the Boys. Over the period they underwent several personnel changes with the more notable ones being that lead guitarist Frank Renshaw later backed Wayne Fontana with Mick Abrahams and Clive Bunker moving onto Jethro Tull. Vocalist Paul Young will be remembered for being involved in a top five hit with Sad Café when Every Day Hurts made number three in 1979.
The name of the band was suggested by Lucille Hewitt of Coronation Street fame. She was the current girlfriend of Mike Cohen who owned a clothes shop called ‘The Toggery’. His shop became the centre for musicians in the Manchester area, much as Bradley’s Music Shop in Halifax did for our local groups. Graham Nash from The Hollies was one of many who bought their stage clothes at ‘The Toggery’. The good name of the shop spread farther a-field with even the Beatles and the Rolling Stones becoming customers.
In Liverpool during October 1959 local skiffle group the Quarry Men quit playing the Casbah Club in West Derby, Merseyside after seven straight big city Saturday nights and Pete Best saw his opportunity to put a group together and fill the gap. They were called the Blackjacks and performed all the staple rock ‘n’ roll American classics at the club until August 1960. During that eleven month period the Quarry Men had become Johnny and the Moondogs, the Beatals (spelt with an ‘a’) and since May 1960 were trading as the Silver Beatles with the drum-less line up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and bass player Stuart Sutcliffe. Impressed by Pete Best’s drumming on a visit to the Casbah they invited him to join them as the band first traded as the Beatles in August 1960. Pete had just left school and his joining the group coincided with the Hamburg invitations, which saw the Beatles play 48 straight nights at the Intra-Bruno Koschmider alehouse, followed by 58 nights at the Kaiserkeller. Stuart remained in Hamburg but later, on returning to Liverpool the leather clad foursome exploded onto the rapidly expanding local scene and invited the Blackjacks bass player Chas Newby to fill the gap until Christmas.
Pete was a Beatle, arguably the best looking one at that, until August 1962 when after two years dedicated service he was fired on the eve of their first recording session by the new manager Brian Epstein. The full story is too long to tell here but Ringo Starr was hired as his replacement in the Beatles and Pete Best was left to find his own way in the world. After a year as Lee Curtis and The All-Stars, The Original All-Stars and Pete Best’s Original All-Stars they settled on the name of the Pete Best Four which comprised of Frank Bowen (lead), Wayne Bickerton (bass) and Tony Waddington (rhythm/lead) – the latter two eventually becoming the producers of the Rubettes. This led to a Decca recording contract and the 1964 single I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door which was a complete chart failure but in 1965 there were tapes engineered by Joe Meek that still remain unreleased. Their first Halifax gig at the Marlborough on December 5, 1964 earned them a repeat booking at the Alexandra Hall in March 1965 as The Pete Best Combo. Under that name they left the UK to tour Germany and they also undertook a six month tour of the USA. They released half a dozen singles between 1965 and 1966, together with a cleverly titled album in 1965 on the Mr Maestro label called Best Of The Beatles, which would certainly contravene the Trade Descriptions Act today. Pete Best retired from the business in 1968 but eventually struck some gold when early Beatle tracks featuring his drumming were unearthed on the 1995 release The Beatles’ Anthology 1 CD set which became a multi-million dollar seller.
SCREAMING LORD SUTCH (PART TWO)
It was almost three years since David Sutch had appeared at the Victoria Hall and he was rebooked to strut his stuff at the Marlborough Hall by the Crabtree brothers on Saturday February 20, 1965. On the first occasion he was supported by the Avengers and this time Sammy King and The Voltairs were to be the support band and act as cover in case there was any problem with the headline star. No worries on that score as the good Lord Sutch was well committed to performing in Halifax and had already got his digs booked for the night at the home of Mollie Cottnam. She was the mother of Kim Roberts, a Joe Meek recording artist and very good friend of the aforesaid Mr Sutch. Mollie recalled that her daughter brought David home on many occasions to stay the night and afforded the same hospitality to another fellow Meek stable-mate, Heinz Burt, whenever he was appearing in the town or close by.
Kim featured in the film Just for Fun in the spring of 1963 which in addition to being a vehicle to give exposure to the featured pop stars it also had a flimsy plot about a group of teenagers forming a political party. This may well have given Sutch the idea of entering politics and just a few months after his second Halifax concert he took on Prime Minister Harold Wilson at his constituency in Huyton near Liverpool. For the May 1965 general election he registered as the ‘National Independent Teenage Party’ with his manifesto including cat licenses, no tax on motorbikes and preserving the Cavern Club as a national shrine. He polled 585 votes but more importantly it maintained his profile in the public eye with everyone having an opinion about him. Loony Lord Sutch was discussed in depth and from crack-pot to genius was the widespread view of the general public, but to Mollie Cottnam he was a lovely warm hearted man who thought the world of her daughter. Just how close they were is still a subject of speculation but many believe that Kim may well have been the love of his life.
When his mother Annie Sutch died in 1995 and swapped one Lord for another, son David delayed the funeral until Kim had returned from holiday and following the death of David Sutch in 1999 Kim was invited to the first anniversary graveside gathering on Friday June 16, 2000. She later sang along with other former associates and Savages band members and it was announced that she was to marry Jack Irving of The Savages. She only lived six more days and in the Guardian obituary Alan Clayson wrote that her death was ‘the latest amongst a number of comparatively early deaths amongst entertainers whose recording careers began at Joe Meek’s RGM studio.’
Meek shot himself on February 3, 1967, the anniversary of his all-time-hero Buddy Holly’s death but it was said that he had over 3000 tapes of un-issued Joe Meek production recordings stored in tea chests. On the anniversary of Meek’s death in 1999 a protest was held in London’s Holloway Road to try and get the owner of the tapes, Cliff Cooper, to release them. A photograph was taken at the Lord Nelson pub after the protest and featured seven people including Heinz (who died of a stroke in April 2000), Kim Roberts (died June 2000) and David Sutch. Two other Joe Meek associates, Geoff Goddard and Tornadoes guitarist Alan Caddy both died in 2000.
David Sutch hung himself from the banisters of his house at 10, Parkfield Road, South Harrow, London on Wednesday June 16, 1999. The leader of The Monster Raving Loony Party was gone and after his death Kim Roberts had written ‘Sleep well, Dave, your demons are gone’. He had a Halifax connection to the end with fond memories of him still being nurtured by Mollie Cottnam who may well have become the mother-in-law to the first wild man of British rock and roll, a relationship that Annie Sutch would have welcomed.
LULU AND THE LOVERS – SHOUT
It was a dream come true for the Crabtree Brothers to acquire a booking for Lulu and The Lovers on February 27, 1965 so soon after Shout had hit the number seven position in the British hit parade after debuting on May 14, 1964. In all it had been on the charts for thirteen weeks during summer of that year. The next Decca single Here Comes the Night was not as successful as it was only on the charts for one week in the fiftieth position. Her third single issued shortly after her one and only Halifax appearance at the Marlborough Hall was Leave A Little Love which shot to number five. Eventually, after six more top ten records (including a re-recording of Shout in 1986), she reached number one for the very first (and only time to date) with Relight My Fire for two weeks commencing October 9, 1983. Her March 2000 single of Where The Poor Boys Dance was in my opinion the perfect ‘pop’ record despite it only reaching number 24 in the charts.
She followed Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages from the previous week and The Dennisons would in turn follow her to the Marlborough Hall. Lulu appeared on that cold February Saturday night after Jimmy Savile, the night before, had presented the prize for best local group in the Halifax Round Table ‘Top Of The Groups’ contest. For the cost of the 6/- admission (30 pence) the Halifax public were treated to a performance from Lulu that was so dynamic and full of movement that it left even the fittest amongst the sell out crowd absolutely exhausted. Her introduction by Shirley Crabtree was, as usual, full of the great showmanship that he perfected over his years in his wrestling career. His classic Marlborough introduction was, “Ladies and Gentleman please give a massive Halifax welcome for the one and only, the top entertainer at great expense that we have brought here tonight. The one, the only, the Great Unwashed!” He slurred the words ‘the great unwashed’ which became his trademark introduction to all the acts that appeared at the Hall. He regarded them all as being from a modern idiom and far removed from his working class upbringing. In reality, most were working class success stories.
Providing the lighting and sound balance for the evening were David Mitchell and Andrew Hardy from DRM Discotheques. It was Andrew who was assigned to look after Lulu and be stationed at the dressing room door to ensure that only ‘respectable people’ got to meet the star of the show. He recalls how Lulu’s hair (bright orange) on the night attracted the most comments and female fans who were allowed through to the dressing rooms asked what products she used to get the colour. There were no questions about her music but it was her dress, looks and movements on stage that prompted the most questions.
She was born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie on November 3, 1948 at Lennox Castle in Lennoxtown on the outskirts of Glasgow and sang from an early age. She loved the music of Ray Charles, Soloman Burke, Sam Cooke and The Drifters and joined up with a band named The Gleneagles at a club called the Lindella in the centre of Glasgow. The group were all older than Lulu and featured Jimmy Dewar (rhythm), Ross Nelson (lead), Dave Mullin (drums) and Tommy Tierney (bass). They were later joined by Lulu’s first boyfriend, Alec Bell, who was hired as a singer to complete the band which later became The Lovers. Shout was originally an American hit for the Isley Brothers but it became Lulu’s first record and it was a rare case of the cover version becoming the ‘definitive’ version of the song. It certainly proved to be the showstopper on her performance at the Marlborough and again when she visited town for a solo concert at the Victoria Theatre on November 8, 1989.
THE HONEYCOMBS – HAVE I THE RIGHT?
From beehives to honeycombs was not a difficult step for hairdressing friends Martin Murray and Ann ‘Honey’ Lantree when they formed a band that had no change in personnel throughout their full rollercoaster ride during the beat music era. They were originally called The Sherabons and in addition to Martin on lead guitar and Honey on drums the bouncy five piece combo had her brother John (bass), Alan Ward (keyboards) and Denis Dalziel (known as Dennis D’ell) as the vocalist and customary harmonica player. A change of name to highlight the fact that the drummer was a female, and a good looking one at that, was sheer inspiration by the band’s new management team of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley who were respected songwriters on the London music scene. The record deal with Pye was sorted (after EMI turned them down) and it came down to Joe Meek to produce the first record Have I The Right? written by Ken and Alan and it soared to the top of the charts on August 27, 1964 and stayed there for two weeks. Tony Blackburn championed the song on his pirate show on Radio Caroline highlighting the novelty of a girl drummer who hit the skins like Dave Clark had done on Bits And Pieces and the hit was made. Follow up singles dented the top forty but foreign tours and the lack of a good follow up proved to be their undoing with That’s The Way being their last chart success at number 12 in the autumn of 1965. Their only Halifax appearance was at the Marlborough on March 27, 1965 when they played to a packed dancehall who responded to the beat with stamping feet and a good time was had by all in the hall. The band ended its days on the cabaret circuit and regular appearances on revival tours were guaranteed until Dennis Dalziel died in 2005. Have I The Right? still remains in radio parlance, an all time golden oldie classic from the British beat era.
BERN ELLIOTT & THE FENMEN – MONEY
Money (That’s What I Want) is probably most famously associated with the Beatles (recorded by them in seven takes on July 18, 1963 and issued on their second LP With The Beatles). The song was originally from the pre-Fab four days when it was issued on the American Tamla Motown label by vocalist Barrett Strong in 1960. The version by Bern Elliott and his boys unashamedly copied from the Beatles LP track hit, but they charted in late November 1963 and it was rarely off the radio in the Christmas period, during an eleven week stay as a top pop record. Bern’s band were formed in Erith, Kent in 1961 and after a long stint in the Hamburg club scene in Germany they signed to Decca in 1963 with Money becoming their debut single. The follow up New Orleans made the top thirty but after that there was no success for the next three singles after which Decca dropped them from the label. The group split and Bern enlisted another band called The Klan to be his backing group but The Fenmen stuck together – they were Eric Wilmer (bass/vocals), Alan Judge (lead guitar), Wally Allen (vocals) and drummer John Povey. They made Rag Doll for Decca in 1964 and after one more single for the label they moved to CBS for two more 1966 releases, before Wally Allen and John Povey joined the Pretty Things in 1968. In their original form The Fenmen gave one Halifax show on April 17, 1965 but the last two came back as the Pretty Things in 1966.
TOMMY QUICKLY and THE REMO FOUR – IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THAT
Everybody thought that it must be two Merseybeat groups performing a double header on the same night and it really pulled in a full capacity crowd to the Marlborough on April 24, 1965. It was in the build up for the Donovan weekend at the Big Daddy’s club in three weeks time. Both were Liverpool Cavern kids with Tommy Quickly along with the Remo Four, having appeared in Bradford on the opening night of the Beatles tour on October 9, 1964. In reality Tommy had replaced Johnny Sandon as the lead singer of the band in December 1963 following his signing to the Brian Epstein roster. Epstein released half a dozen highly promoted singles on the Piccadilly / Pye labels during 1963 and 1964 without gaining the chart success that he wanted for Tommy, as well as pushing two Remo Four single releases. Tommy Quickly was dynamite on stage with a great personality and whilst he brought the house down wherever he performed and it seemed very surprising that he was never going to attain the heights of popularity that he clearly deserved. He surfaced again at the Alex with the band The Time Box in 1966 and that was the last we saw of him. The Remo Four were Phil Rogers (rhythm guitar), Colin Manley (lead/vocals), Don Andrew (bass) and drummer Roy Dyke. Roy was later joined in the Remo Four by Tony Ashton and together they formed Ashton Gardner and Dyke to do the Resurrection Shuffle in 1971.
THE MERSEYBEATS – I THINK OF YOU
May Day 1965 and the Merseybeats were at the Marlborough for the Saturday dance. They were the second of three consecutive Liverpool groups to be on show in the lead up to ‘D’ for Donovan day. They took their name long before the whole Liverpool group explosion used the word as a collective noun and began life as the Mavericks with Tony Crane (guitar) Dave Ellis (rhythm), Billy Kinsley (bass) and Frank Sloan (drums). As the Mavericks they dressed Country and Western despite not being from Preston, with silly frilly shirts, leather waistcoats, bolero jackets and stacks of jewellery which greatly appealed to the girls and to the A&R man at Fontana, Chris Parmeinter, who signed them to the label. With over 200 Cavern appearances to their name their first single It’s Love That Really Counts reached the bottom end of the top thirty and set them on the road to success. They sang all their hits at the Marlborough but the showstopper was the wonderful I Think Of You which as the group’s biggest hit at number five in 1964, represented a wonderful song, harmonically delivered and not a dry eye in the house. Fantastic! Wishin’ And Hopin’, Don’t Turn Around and their latest hit Last Night were all performed, as well as staple dancehall beat numbers to keep the capacity crowd on the floor throughout their spots. It was almost the end of the line for the group with just two more singles before a name and personnel (just Tony and Billy) change to the The Merseys and saw Sorrow peak at number 4 in May 1966. The cabaret circuit beckoned and even today Tony still performs under the name of The Merseybeats with his latest appearance being at the Victoria Theatre in March 2007 alongside The Searchers, The Dakotas, John Walker and Wayne Fontana with the Solid Silver Sixties Tour.
The initial 1960 line up of the Searchers who performed at the Odeon featured founder member Tony Jackson on bass, Mike Pender and John McNally on guitar and drummer Chris Curtis with all four of them singing those delicious harmony vocals. With the exception of falsetto vocalist Tony, all the others were school friends and perhaps that’s why he felt a bit left out as he announced in 1964 that he wished to leave to form his own group. Behind him he left his vocals and bass on hit records of the quality of Sweets For My Sweet, Sugar And Spice, Needles And Pins and the groups recently recorded future number one (their third chart topper) Don’t Throw Your Love Away. Mike Pender took over the lead vocals with Frank Allen (from Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers) joining on bass. The Searchers hits continued without Tony and with his new group The Vibrators he played the Marlborough Hall on May 8, 1965. It was his only Halifax appearance since leaving the Searchers and whilst all his records in his solo name are today highly collectable none of them became hits. He moved from Pye to CBS for four singles in 1966 and in late ’65 he traded as a soloist and as the Tony Jackson Group. He died aged 63, in August 2003 from cirrhosis of the liver and chronic arthritis which he had been bravely fighting for quite a while.
SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS – I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
On the wet Wednesday night of March 17, 1965 the Crabtree brothers actually booked and brought an American artist to perform in Halifax. They had previously used spoof names and publicity purporting that acts were from New York or Las Vegas but this was the real deal when Screamin’ Jay Hawkins performed at Big Daddy’s Club in the Wednesday Night Spectacular. Tickets were 4/- but the show was only advertised from the Friday before and in consequence the attendance was not that great. Jay was not that well known to British audiences and his name may also have confused some people in it’s similarity to Screaming Lord Sutch, who had already appeared in town a few years earlier. His appearance at Big Daddy’s passed me by but I was delighted to see that another booking of the madcap entertainer, with the surprisingly good voice, had been booked by the Crabtree brothers for their Marlborough Hall venue ten weeks later.
Saturday May 29, 1965 was an unusual night to say the least at the Marlborough. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was born Jalacy Hawkins in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18, 1929 and just three weeks short of his thirty-sixth birthday he set the crowd alight at the Saturday dance. Not quite literally, but almost, as he made flames shoot from his fingertips whilst belting out the tune on his sax. His act involved flash powder, bangs and crashes along with ’Henry’ his trademark cigarette smoking skull. He had begun a 23 date month long tour of England on February 2 at Wallington Town Hall. It concluded on February 28 in Birmingham at the Marquee and the whole nation was in shock at the madcap antics of Jay. After the tour finished he extended his stay in England and undertook further dates in March, April and May. His show was powerhouse as he rushed around the Hall in a totally unpredictable manner using a multitude of effects and props to give his brand of music a flamboyant delivery. The music was rocking rhythm and blues with his vocals sung in everything from a power ballad style to wild screaming rock and roll and he was backed by a highly accomplished band called the Blues Set. Jay played piano as well as sax and in addition to his signature tune of I Put A Spell On You he sang, amongst others, highly credible versions of Little Bitty Pretty One, The Whammy and the Jerry Lee Lewis hit song What’d I Say, written by Ray Charles. He possessed a good baritone voice despite yelling his brand of voodoo rock ‘n’ roll which, along with his high-energy performance, created an unforgettable experience.
After the tour ended Jay appeared on the TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars (March 6) and after completing his contract he stayed in London with his wife Ginny to record an album at the Decca studio. Don Arden who had promoted the tour arranged the dates for the Crabtree brothers following recommendations from the London connections of Paul Lincoln. The Marlborough Hall was his last appearance in England during 1965 and he flew home to America on June 5 after being involved in an altercation with Don Arden during which Jay began oiling his gun! Not surprisingly that was the end of his association with Arden and England until his next tour in April 1966 which was promoted by Roy Tempest with backing by Herbie Goins & The Night-Timers. He never returned to Halifax but we were left with the experience of seeing one of the true wild men of rock and roll at the peak of his performing career in two performances that were not acknowledged in any previous publication. They do however form an important part of the highly varied rocking musical history of Halifax.
Just before these Wallasey boys arrived in Halifax on June 19, 1965 they had celebrated their latest release with an old Drifters song called If You Don’t Come Back. Although it hadn’t made the top fifty in the charts it was a very good record and was a song that Elvis would later record. Their earlier brace of Pye singles both failed to chart but Just A Little Bit (Elvis also covered this Rosco Gordon original) had been a very good record and crept into the charts at number 49. They were calling themselves the ‘Takers for their latest release and had the gimmick of driving to their bookings in a hearse. The five piece line-up in Halifax was drummer Bugs Pemberton, Brian Jones (sax), Chris Houston and Geoff Nugent (guitars) and comparative newcomer Jackie Lomax on bass. It was Jackie who provided the third bizarre Elvis connection with the group, when he recorded How The Web Was Woven for George Harrison on the new Apple label. It was another song that Elvis subsequently recorded at a session in Nashville in June 1970.
Lead guitarist Jerry Wilcox, drummer Tony Hinchcliffe, Mickey Eyre on rhythm guitar and the splendidly named bass player William Walter Edward ‘Bonney’ Oliver were the backing group to Shane Fenton. They became an attraction in their own right with two great Shadow style singles – The Mexican and The Breeze And I which both reached the UK top fifty. It was the Wakes Holiday Week Saturday (July 10, 1965) before they brought their brand of instrumentals to the Marlborough and whilst the attendance was down on previous weeks due to a mass exodus to the coasts they were not directly blamed for the losses. However the reason that they never appeared in the town again was because the new generation of the beat boom rendered groups of their calibre as ‘old hat’ and so for them and their contemporaries the moment had gone.
Amongst many similar bands who changed their names after getting the initial start, the Nomads quickly became the Mojos. Other similarities for these Liverpool lads was that they had played the Star Club in Hamburg and after winning a song writing contest had secured a Decca recording deal. At the second attempt it provided them with a hit record as Everything’s Alright burst into the top ten during the spring of 1964 and two follow-up singles in the same year just dented the top thirty. Nicky Crouch had just joined from Faron’s Flamingos in time for the hit having replaced guitarist Adrian Wilkinson, but the rest of the group were the same as from The Nomads days. The original line up was singer Stu James, Terry O’Toole on piano, Keith Karlson on bass and drummer John Konrad. It was February 17, 1965 when they first played in Halifax for the Crabtree brothers Saturday dance at Big Daddy’s club. They were a very busy group and a repeat booking was made for July 31 at the Marlborough Hall which proves that, in the words of Muddy Waters, you have to get your Mojos working.
NASHVILLE TEENS – TOBBACO ROAD
It was the norm to have a group as a quartet or on occasions a quintet, but the Nashville Teens were a septet. These Surrey boys from Weybridge had served an apprenticeship at the Star Club in Hamburg and famously backed Jerry Lee Lewis at the notorious venue. On their return to England in 1964 they picked up Don Arden as their manager, got a recording deal at Decca with the added bonus of being produced by Mickie Most. The John D. Loudermilk original song Tobacco Road was the result and it smoked into the top five in August, even making the American top twenty a couple of months later. Google Eye was another Loudermilk song produced by Most (his last for them) and it became the follow up and also just made the top ten. It was almost a year later when they arrived for their only Halifax appearance at the Marlborough Saturday dance on August 21, 1965. They were billed as having ‘just returned from the USA’ where they had toured with The Zombies. The golden boys who played in town were John Allen (guitar), Barry Jenkins (drums); John Hawken (piano), Pete Shannon (bass) and the two vocalists were Art Sharp and Ray Phillips. By this time none of them were in their teens and had probably never been to Nashville, but with Andrew Loog Oldham in charge of production, their latest single This Little Bird had just left the charts. Their days as a top twenty chart force were over despite recording seven more Decca singles which were issued up to 1968.
HEINZ – JUST LIKE EDDIE
Initially it was the London connection of Paul Lincoln with the Crabtree brothers which ensured that a steady stream of London talent descended upon the Crabtree venues in the town. Following her success in the south, and in particular with Joe Meek, young Halifax singer Kim Roberts was also influential in ensuring that her closest friend in the Meek circles were attracted to Halifax. Her friendships with David Sutch and Heinz ensured that whenever the pair worked in the North she would try and join the trip as they all stayed with her mum Mollie, at the family house in Halifax. Mollie spoke to me fondly of the times when after working in Halifax they stayed over on the Saturday night, had a wonderful home cooked traditional Sunday lunch which naturally included Yorkshire puddings, before moving on in the afternoon to another venue, or back to London.
Heinz Burt was born in Germany on July 24, 1942 and failed his first audition with Joe Meek for the position of bass guitarist in the Outlaws. His charismatic personality impressed Meek and he was offered a position in his group, the Tornadoes. With his blond hair and square jawed good looks he became ‘the face’ of the band who basked in the glory of their British and American number one instrumental Telstar in 1962. The success was not repeated with any follow up single and Heinz left the band to concentrate on a solo career in January 1963. His first top five hit came when Just Like Eddie (which included Jimmy Page on guitar) initially charted in August 1963, but eventually stormed up the charts where it spent an amazing fifteen weeks. It is more remarkable when you consider that a certain Liverpool group had just released She Loves You and the pop world would be changed forever. It was openly said that during his period of being the ‘live in lover’ of Joe Meek, that the creative producer looked after the discernable inadequacies in the voice of Heinz, by engineering other voices and sound effects to hide the flaws. Follow up singles are always the problem and even the creative genius and grooming of Joe Meek, who was undoubtedly in love with him, could not weave the magic again for Heinz. His next four single releases throughout 1964 and 1965 only barely scratched the surface of the charts.
With his band the Wild Boys Heinz toured extensively with Halifax venues consistently featuring on his itinerary. The Wild Boys featured future Deep Purple star Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Broad (drums), Brian Woods (bass) and Burr Bailey on keyboards/organ. His first show in town was at the Marlborough (with the Wildmen) on January 30, 1965 and he repeated his visit there on August 28, followed by two Alexandra Hall performances on January 29 and April 2, 1966 and the next year it was the Alex again for two more shows. By the end of 1964 Heinz had become distanced from homosexual Meek, after announcing that he was in love with a woman. Was she a Halifax girl? I guess we’ll never know for sure as they each married other people and although they had a special lifetime friendship, their secrets have gone to their graves. Heinz left the music industry almost penniless and although he returned on the oldies circuit in the late seventies he was diagnosed in 1990 with Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). He died following several years confined to a wheelchair at Southampton General Hospital on April 7, 2000 at the age of 57.
This ecclesiastical group were prolific players in the town during the dancehall days as either Rev. Black & The Rocking Vicars, or just the Rocking Vicars, and they always put on a terrific show. The Crabtree bothers loved their brand of humour and music which represented the extra-ordinary and was what they were looking for as promoters of a dance hall. From their first Marlborough gig on December 11, 1965 they were back at regular intervals appearing no less than six times in the next eighteen months. The Alexandra Hall took over the baton after the Crabtree dances ceased and they added four more shows during 1968 to make a total of ten Halifax appearances. They were from Blackpool with all the bookings done through an agent in Manchester for the four piece outfit. The four were originally singer Harry Feeney, Ian Holdbrook (guitar/harmonica), Steven ‘Vickers’ Morris (bass) and Ciggy Shaw on drums. They recorded a covered Neil Sedaka’s I Go Ape which didn’t sell very well and Decca gave them the boot, but CBS issued two singles in 1966 I’m Alright(modelled on The Who’s The Kids Are Alright and Dandy (a cover of the Kinks song) and that was their recording days over. They were a great show band and their strength was enhanced when Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilminster joined, but they disbanded at the end of ’68 with Lemmy going on to Sam Gopal, Hawkwind and eventually hitting the big time as the Lemmy in Motorhead.
TWINKLE – TERRY
Terry had died in the motorbike crash on Twinkle’s debut death disc at the end of 1964, but despite being banned by the BBC (always a good career move!) it had accelerated to number 4 in the charts on the cusp of the year. Her follow up Golden Lights just missed the top twenty when it stalled at number 21 (it had a new lease of life when it was covered by the Smiths in 1986), but life was good for this young lady as she arrived in Halifax for the September 11, 1965 concert at the Marlborough Hall. She had just turned 19 on July 15 having been born in Surbiton, Surrey in 1947 and christened Lynn Annette Ripley. Her great talent was that she wrote the songs and Dick Rowe spotted her potential in signing her to Decca records with producer/arranger Phil Coulter in charge of her recording sessions. ‘Terry’ was similar to the Shangi-Las Leader Of The Pack but Twinkle’s vocals were not quite strong enough to sustain a performing career and although she continued to issue singles up until 1969 she never charted again. Although she released I’m A Believer in 1982 she remains in the ‘one hit wonder’ category but she did marry the guy in the ‘All because the lady loves Milk Tray’ TV commercial and many a Halifax girl would have like to see him burst through her bedroom window with a twinkle in his eye.
THE PEDDLERS – BIRTH
This was a strange booking for the Crabtree organisation, as the Peddlers were not only incorrectly billed, but also musically a million miles away from the noise that their Saturday crowd loved. Jazz flavoured R&B would have been better suited to the Plebeians club than the most swinging dance hall in town but it attracted a reasonable attendance as the night of September 25, 1965. The show also represented the homecoming of local boy Alan Brearey from Reins Road, Rastrick who rejoiced in his stage name of Tab Martin, the bass playing vocalist of the group. The other two members of the trio were Trevor Morais, former Liverpool beat band drummer with Rory Storm and Faron’s Flamingos and Roy Phillips who had been in the Tornadoes and the Saints with our local boy. They had three chart hits; the first was on Philips with Let The Sunshine In which gained position 50 on January 7, 1965. It was ten releases later, and a change of label to CBS, before Birth made number 17 towards the end of 1969 with their final success being Girlie at 34 in February 1970. More on Tab in the special feature on the local boys made good.
MIKE BERRY – TRIBUTE TO BUDDY HOLLY
If you think that Mike Berry was another ‘one hit wonder’ for his most famous recording of Tribute To Buddy Holly you’d be wrong. It was his first hit (number 24 in 1961) but the follow up Don’t You Think It’s Time actually made it to number 6 and he had another top ten hit in 1980 with The Sunshine Of Your Smile. Three other singles were also featured in British record charts, as he arrived at the Marlborough with his backing group The Innocents on October 23, 1965. He was following an amazing month of dances that had featured Peter Jay, Tommy Bruce along with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. Joe Meek produced Mike’s early releases when he was backed by the Outlaws, but his new band was beginning to attract attention as one of the hottest groups around and set out to prove it from the Marlborough stage. Letter Of Love, Who Will It Be and Talk were all delivered to perfection and the Innocents Stick With Me Baby and their first single Stepping Stones all went down well with the appreciative Halifax crowd. The Innocents were originally a Manchester group but became the backing band to the stars as they worked with most of the ‘big’ names of the era These including John Leyton, Gene Vincent and even Johnny Burnett. They were David Brown (bass), Colin Griffin (guitar/sax), Don Broom (drums) and Billy Kuy was the lead guitarist. Brown and Giffen later formed The End which also played in Halifax.
More Joe Meek boys hit town the week after Mike Berry when The Checkmates performed, but it was a different line up to the original Emile Ford backing group of the late fifties and early sixties. The new band had a recording contract on Parlophone after having Joe Meek produce their last three Decca releases. None of them had charted and their fortunes didn’t change, with none of their subsequent singles achieved hit status. The four group members were Barry Reeves (drums), George Ford (bass) – who both went on to Ferris Wheel, Dave Sweetnam (baritone sax) and Alan Hawkshaw on keyboards. I met Alan at the Victoria Theatre when he later performed with the Shadows, around the time of the ‘Hits Right Up Your Street’ album, in the eighties.
BILLIE DAVIES – TELL HIM
Entrepreneur Robert Stigwood was responsible for discovering the unknown Carol Hedges and converting her into a blue-eyed soul singing sensation. Well not quite, but he did bring her to prominence in 1962 on the Mike Sarne record Will I What? but it was the following year that her cover version of the Exciters Tell Him blasted her into the top ten. The follow up He’s The One made the top 40 but with the exception of a 1968 minor hit with I Want You To Be My Baby that was it in terms of chart success for black haired beauty Billie. She had a romantic involvement with Jet Harris which the media publicised after she was involved in a car crash with him, but she concentrated on the foreign markets for her singing and became popular in Spain where she still has a big following. The promoters ensured that 1965 was the year of the girl singers at the Marlborough, with Lulu, Honey Lantree, Twinkle and now Billie Davies on November 20, ensuring that the boys were not disappointed as they were entertained by this bevy of beauties.
APPLEJACKS – TELL ME WHEN
The Marlborough boys were treated to more delights of another female performer, when the Applejacks hit town for the Saturday dance on November 27, 1965. Bass player Megan Davies was firmly in the spotlight having publicly overshadowed the boys in the band. The group also featured guitarists Phillip Cash and Martin Baggott, spectacled drummer Gerry Freeman, Don Gould on keyboards and vocalist Al Jackson. The only reason for the press focus was that she was a girl. She was working in what was predominantly a man’s world, with TV and radio not only focusing on her contribution to the group’s sound but also as a side-product she contributed maximum publicity for the band’s first Decca single Tell Me When. It rocketed to number 7 in the spring of 1964 and remained on the charts for three months. The follow up Like Dreamers Do, a Lennon and McCartney song, was top twenty but after the third release of 1964 Three Little Words which stuttered to number 23, it was all over. The Applejacks were another band with two previous names, The Crestas and The Jaguars and they hailed from Solihull. The group made the grade as a national chart act before falling down the well shaft of obscurity, but they were still chasing the dream when they performed in Halifax in 1965. With four Decca singles issued that year they performed their set with good showmanship and kept the dance floor full with their listenable light weight brand of mid-sixties music. A further show at the Alex in June 1966 cemented their reputation for quality entertainment in the town. With the exception of their album now being worth upwards of £120 in perfect condition (strange they never issued the customary extended play) their singles do not command big money but they do perfectly represent that mid-sixties era of core beat music.
As Adam Faith’s backing group these Hertfordshire lads, the Roulettes, not only appeared on most of his releases in the early sixties but also released an output of singles in their own name. None were commercially successful but they proved to be a popular attraction for their Halifax gigs, the first of which was on at the Marlborough on December 4, 1965. The band were together with only one change in personnel until their demise in 1967 and that change was enforced when original bass player John Rodgers was killed in a car crash in 1964. He was replaced with John ‘Mod’ Regan who joined Russ Ballard and Pete Salt on guitar and Bob Henrit on drums and they collectively maintained the group until the end, when Bob and Russ joined the Concrete And Clay hit making group, Unit Four Plus Two.
If identity is everything with the name of the group then the Koobas were not aware of the problem. They were formed as a super-group quartet in Liverpool during 1962 with guitarists Stu Leatherwood and Roy Morris joining bassman Keith Ellis and drummer Tony O’Riley, all of whom had played in either The Midnighters or The Thunderbeats. They originally called themselves the Kubas and after being signed by Brian Epstein NEMS company, they appeared in the film Ferry Cross The Mersey as well as supporting the Beatles on their final tour of the UK in December 1965, by which time their name had been settled as the Koobas. Their first time at the Marlborough was Christmas Eve 1965 shortly after finishing the Beatle tour contract. They were welcomed back on April Fool’s Day 1967 but were by then no strangers to the town, having played at the Princess Ballroom in 1964 on two occasions under two different name spellings of their original name.
This Birmingham band was formed by Steve Gibbons in 1962 and strutted their stuff around the second city as The Dominettes. Whatever possessed them to choose this awful new name is not known, but Steve on guitar and vocals was supported by Bob Burnett (guitar), John Gordon (keyboards), Jim Holden (drums) and John Hustwayte was daddy cool on bass. Their first Halifax gig was New Years Eve, 1965 after they had already cut two singles for Pye Wake Up My Mind and It’s Alright but their most famous single, a version of the Ray Davies song End Of The Season was their first release in 1966. In 1967 they switched to CBS and finally to MGM. There they released the great single I See The Light which was well ahead of its time as a progressive rock track with a definite psychedelic hint which fans hoped was pointing the direction of the way ahead. But that was it – the Uglys were no more and the leader formed his own Steve Gibbons Band and achieved a very strong following with his specific brand of music in the seventies.
MIGIL FIVE – MOCKINGBIRD HILL
As the New Year dawned across Halifax, the Uglys packed their equipment into their van and headed south for Birmingham, as another group headed North from London to herald World Cup winning year into the Marlborough Hall. The Migil Five had famously taken over the residency at the Tottenham Royal Ballroom in the wake of the Dave Clark Five, as they began to edge towards mainstream pop from their love of jazz. Initially they were a quartet but on the suggestion of jazz trumpeter Kenny Ball, they added Alan Watson on saxophone and became the Migil Five. The other four were Gilbert Lucas (piano), Red Lambert (guitar), Lenny Blanche (bass) and drummer vocalist Mike Felix. Their first Pye single Maybe (as the Migil Four) was a flop but they hit the big time in 1964 with the follow up which was a revival of the Ronald Ronalde song Mockingbird Hill. The record was on the button with the new ska style, tinged with bluebeat, but played by jazz musicians in a mix that stormed the pop charts all the way into the top ten. The new sound couldn’t be repeated and the follow up Near You only made number 31 and despite four more Pye singles between 1964 and 1966 they were unable to repeat the climb up the chart hill again. It was another strange booking similar in risk to the earlier Peddlers gig, but because of the chart success and there was a new year filled with optimism, the dance was a sell out success. It was the group’s only visit to Halifax and by 1967 they had turned full circle back to the jazz roots from whence they came before later becoming cabaret circuit stalwarts.
SOUNDS INCORPORATED – WILLIAM TELL
Two top forty singles in 1964 were the backbone of the fame of this instrumental outfit and although neither The Spartans nor Spanish Harlem made it above number thirty, the band had a very good professional reputation. They were more band than group, toured extensively and even backed Gene Vincent on his UK dates, as well as artists from the Epstein stable of the calibre of Cilla Black. They must have thought of Halifax as a ‘bit small town’, having opened for the Beatles at their concert at the sell-out New York Shea Stadium, or perhaps they thought that they were being booked to appear at our Shay Stadium Another Beatle connection is the fact that the horn section of the band played on Good Morning Sunshine on the Sergeant Pepper album. It was Elvis’ thirty-first birthday when they came to the Marlborough on January 8, 1966 for the Saturday dance, as headliners in their own right and the advert listed their world wide appearances. Strangely they had never been to town before as members of package tours, as their type of spot always seemed to fall to either Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers or Red Price with a touring band, comprising of hastily thrown together quality musicians. Sounds Incorporated was undoubtedly also a quality band and the regular initial six pieces of the outfit were drummer Tony Newman (later replaced by Terry Fogg), Wes Hunter (bass), Alan Holmes (sax/flute), Barrie Cameron (keyboards), Griff West (tenor sax) and John Gilliard, (known as John St. John) was the ace guitarist. By 1967 they had shortened their name to Sounds Inc. and eventually they moved into session work and stopped touring. Tony Newman drummed for the Jeff Beck Group and David Bowie but early in the seventies most of the band settled in Queensland, Australia.
THE SILKIE – YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY
It was more folk-rock at the Marlborough on February 12, 1966, when the four former Hull University students made the short trip to town on the back of their chart success with ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’. Not only written by Lennon and McCartney but also produced by them for the band on the Fontana label. It became a top thirty hit and also got an American release, but during 1966 they released two more chart attempts which both failed and although they recorded a full album of Bob Dylan songs to popular acclaim, they were never to repeat their initial success. The acoustic band that backed female vocalist Sylvia Tatler was Mike Ramsden (vocals/guitar), Ivor Aylesbury (guitar) and Kevin Cunningham on bass. There was an obvious dancehall omission by not having a drummer to drive the beat!
CLARENCE ‘FROGMAN’ HENRY – BUT I DO
It was four years since his first British tour when he supported Bobby Vee and Tony Orlando during February 1962, but the ‘Frogman’ was in great voice at the Marlborough Hall on March 12, 1966. He ‘double dated’ for promoter Mervyn Conn on that Saturday night appearing at the Cavern in Accrington as well as being booked by the Crabtree brothers for his show in Halifax, which involved a high speed car journey across the Pennines after he had taken his final bow in Accrington. He sang for about an hour, featuring the rhythm and blues classics Hi-Heel Sneakers, Kansas City and his own trademark song Ain’t Got No Home. The rockers were treated to a medley of rock ‘n’ roll songs that included Little Richard’s Jenny Jenny and Long Tall Sally along with the Jerry Lee Lewis classic Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On but his real strength was in the slower numbers. He sat down at the piano for the great Fats Domino song Blueberry Hill and his own Lonely Street, You Always Hurt The One You Love and, my own favourite But I Do which had made number 3 in our charts and number 4 in America in 1961. The hour passed very quickly and he thanked the Halifax audience for giving him a great night before he was whisked away and gone. The DJ found him a hard act to follow as the records were spun until the usual 11.30pm finish.
The ‘Frogman’ was born in Louisiana on March 19, 1937 and settled in New Orleans where he became part of the Crescent City R&B scene, working with most of the seasoned New Orleans musicians. In the early part of this tour he had not played piano and the reviews were not great, but at the Marlborough his toy frog was there on top of the piano and he displayed his full vocal range right down to the low croak that had earned him is nickname. A week later he celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday on the tour in Manchester at the Twisted Wheel. The full list of the tour dates is as follows:-
MARCH – 1966
|5.||Stepney||New All Star|
|14.||Edmonton||Cook’s Ferry Inn|
CLIFF BENNETT & THE REBEL ROUSERS
It was 1961 when Cliff Bennett, who in my humble opinion was one of the most competent R&B vocalists on the scene, formed his Rebel Rousers. They took their name from the Duane Eddy 1958 hit record, although their looks were anything but rebellious as they wore matching stage uniforms and a collar and tie. A record deal saw Joe Meek produce their early Parlophone sides, but a 1962 residency at the Star Club in Hamburg introduced the band to Brian Epstein who then became their manager and added them to his NEMs stable of artists. By the time they came to the Marlborough on March 26, 1966, for their only Halifax booking, there had been a few comings and goings in the band due mainly to the fact that Cliff Bennett was a strict disciplinarian and would not tolerate any outlandish behaviour. The recently arrived Chas Hodge on bass (who later found fame as one half of the Chas and Dave duo) along with John Golden on trumpet gave added bite to the sound of the rest of the boys who were Mike Burt (drums), Moss Groves and Sid Phillips on sax with Cliff as the vocalist and Roy Young on piano. It was the same Roy Young who had played the pumping piano as support for Cliff Richard at the Odeon on the very first package tour to visit Halifax in 1959. He was something of a hero in that he became a talent spotter for the Star Club in Hamburg, as well as being credited with his suggestion to Adam Faith about the creation of his sound with the pronunciation of the word ‘baby’ on his early records. Mid sixty-six almost saw the group fold, but the Beatles came to the rescue with a track from their Revolver album that Paul McCartney produced for the band called Got To Get You Into My Life. It was released in August 1966 and winged its way to number 6 in the charts, bettering both the previous chart singles of the band in the two preceding years. By 1967, with R&B and Soul music being overtaken in popularity by psychedelic and long haired hippie sounds, the group had a fall out and whilst Bennett was away on solo promotion work in Germany the mutiny was completed when the Rebel Rousers became the Roy Young Band.
THE SHE TRINITY
Billed as the ‘all American girl group, from New York’ with their latest record He Fought The Law and The Law Won the Marlborough Hall recorded the first ever all female group to play in the town. We had already had drummer Honey Lantree with the Honeycombs, vocalist Sylva Tatler with The Silkie and Megan Davies on bass with the Applejacks, as well as female solo singers, but four girls in one group was the unique line up of the She Trinity. They actually came from Canada but a little thing like that was not an issue for the Crabtree promotion department, as Shelly Gillespie, Sue Kirkby, Robin Yorke and Pauline Monroe arrived to play at the Saturday dance on June 4, 1966. They made four singles for Columbia and one for President between 1966 and 1969 and also featured Beryl Marsden amongst their number in the early days of their time together, but she joined Shotgun Express in 1966 and did not play with She Trinity at the Marlborough.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer, John ‘Mitch’ Mitchell began life with the Riot Squad who were managed by Larry Page and featured Mike Martin (bass) Ron Ryan (guitar) Bob Evans (sax), Mark Stevens (organ) and singer Graham Bonney. They came to Halifax via the Crabtree’s London connection where they all worked as session musicians and were represented by the Alexander-Swan Agency Limited. They released Any Time on the Pye label in 1965 which was the first of seven singles for the company that all sunk without trace but which are today worth upwards of £25. The reason that they are collectable is the fact that Joe Meek was involved with their production, but Mitchell had left before then, first to join Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames and then in October 1966 he joined the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He famously backed the singer at the ill-fated gig at the Troutbeck Hotel in Ilkley, and no doubt was in the Jimi Hendrix entourage who had fish and chips at the Harry Ramsden restaurant after the police stopped the Ilkley show.
HEDGEHOPPERS ANONYMOUS – IT’S GOOD NEWS WEEK
August 13, 1966 was the day the RAF came to town in the form of the Jonathan King produced group, Hedgehoppers Anonymous. As The Trendsetters formed in 1963 at RAF Leighton Buzzard they caught the ear of the now disgraced King who wrote and produced the 1965 semi-protest song It’s Good News Week. With the song they reached for the sky, scoring a top five Decca single, but all five of the follow up releases didn’t hit the target of the charts. Of the original five founder members only vocalist Mick Tinsley, lead guitarist John Stewart and the guitarist with the cowboy’s name, Alan Ladd, remained with the band when they came to the Marlborough Hall. They became a six piece in mid-sixty six with Keith Jackson and Tom Fox both playing bass and Glen Martin on drums. They disbanded by the end of 1966 remaining in the pop annals as a true one hit wonder. It’s worth noting that guitarist Jimmy Page played on It’s Good News Week and that local guitarist Ian Atkinson became a member of the re-formed group after the original boys had gone.
FORTUNES – HERE IT COMES AGAIN
The Fortunes had two stabs at stardom with the first one being over twelve months in the sixties on the Decca label whilst the other was a six month spell on Capitol records beginning in September 1971. They came to the Marlborough on Christmas Eve 1966 towards the end of their first chart period having had You’ve Got Your Trouble and Here It Comes Again as their two biggest singles. The first one was deprived of the number one spot by the Beatles song Help in the summer of 1965. Their follow up went top five in the same year as they spent 28 weeks on the charts in total, with This Golden Ring being the third single to chart. It made number 15 in the spring of 1966 but as their next three Decca singles missed the charts they probably thought that it was all over. It is now, was not the answer as they stormed back with two more top ten hits in the seventies Freedom Come, Freedom Go and Storm In A Teacup. The group arrived at the Marlborough for the Christmas carnival dance to find the hall decked out for the festive season to give added atmosphere for the regular Saturday night crowd. New vocalist Scotsman Shel MacRae had replaced Glen Dale from the original line up, which still featured Andy Brown (drums), Barry Pritchard (guitar), Rod Allen (bass) and keyboard player David Carr. They did all their hits and featured their latest single Is It Really Worth Your While? showcasing their new vocalist. The song had not charted in the autumn which must have left manager Reg Calvert with quite a headache. Worse pain was to follow as Calvert was later shot dead in a dispute over the ownership of the UK pirate radio station Radio City and the irony was that the Fortunes 1964 song Caroline had been adopted by rival station, Radio Caroline as it’s theme tune.
PINKERTON’S COLOURS – MIRROR MIRROR
With each group member wearing a different pastel shade of suit the boys really did cut a dash on the Marlborough stage on New Years Eve 1966. They had dropped their original name of Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours in favour of the shorter name. Originally from Rugby, Warwickshire and called The Liberators, they had been taken under the wing of the ill-fated Fortunes manager Reg Calvert. Their Decca single Mirror Mirror had stormed the top ten in the spring of the year but the follow up Don’t Stop Loving Me Baby spent just one week on the charts at number 50 on April 21, 1966. They ended a great year at the Saturday night dance, with not only England winning the World Cup during the year, but also the attraction of numerous top quality groups and performers to the Marlborough stage. It was also a tragic year for the ‘Colours’ as their manager died, but the change of name, dropping ‘Assorted’ was a positive step and they continued to use the shortened name until their eventual demise in 1968. The line up at the Marlborough was drummer Dave Holland, guitarists Tom Long and Tony Newman (who had written Mirror Mirror), Steve Jones played lead guitar, with Samuel ‘Pinkerton’ Kemp on autoharp/vocals and bass player Ian Coleman completed the line up having taken over from founder member, Barrie Bernard. Ian Coleman was actually Stuart Coleman and he was with the band as they evolved into Flying Machine who tasted success in the USA with a top five single Smile A Little Smile For Me in 1969. Flying Machine appeared at the Thrum Hall pop festival in 1970 and Stuart Coleman became a DJ on BBC Radio London in the late seventies. He presented Echoes, a great rock ‘n’ roll show before moving into production with his successes include Shakin’ Stevens. He later moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue his production skills and he also became an expert journalist on rock and roll music with many CD sleeve notes to his credit as well as a regular column in the Now Dig This magazine.
CRYIN’ SHAMES – WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT?
The short ride across the Pennines from Liverpool on March 25, 1967 to the Marlborough would be easy for the band by contrast to the frequently travelled, difficult pre-motorway journey to London to do recordings for Joe Meek. It was at the Holloway Road studio that their Decca sides were produced by Meek and indeed it was his involvement that ensures the value of those original singles is maintained as highly collectable. They had been to town before with performances at Big Daddy’s on February 26, 1966. The band started out in their home town as The Bumblies with dual lead vocalists Paul Crane and Joey Keen supported by George Robinson (bass), Ritchie Routledge (lead guitar), Phil Roberts (organ) and drummer Charlie Gallagher. By the time they started recording in 1966 the Liverpool beat boom was fading, but with their brand of R&B featuring in-your-face vocals, a remarkable fuzzy, somewhat wobbly organ and Meek’s techniques of recording, they sounded distinctly like American garage bands at their best. Ahead of the time would best describe their brooding brand of bop with the snarling singers on their debut single Please Stay backed with What’s New Pussycat? charting in the spring of 1966 at number 26. Paul Crane later joined Gary Walker and The Rain with this Halifax gig representing one of the last ones performed by the band, whose mentor Joe Meek had shot himself on February 3, 1967, just seven weeks before their farewell Halifax concert.
THEM – HERE COMES THE NIGHT
Elton John said Saturday night’s alright for fighting – but it was never true at Big Daddy’s, with the tons of wrestler and bouncer muscle on show as a visible deterrent to trouble. Them were supported on Saturday October 16, 1965 for their only Halifax show by The Blues Set which for a cost of 5/- for non-stop dancing from 7.30pm to 2.00am represented the usual excellent value for money that was the trademark of the Crabtree brothers dancing organisation. Van Morrison had formed the band in 1963 before getting a Decca recording contract from Dick Rowe in the summer of 1964 (Rowe had missed spotting the talent of the Beatles when they auditioned for Decca). Shortly after the January ’65 release of Baby Please Don’t Go, Them were at number 10 ten in the charts and the follow up Here Comes The Night (originally recorded by Lulu) was unlucky not to top the charts as it stalled at number two behind the Beatles Ticket To Ride which stayed at the top for three weeks. Despite issuing four more singles for Decca, none of which charted, they remained a cult influence with Gloria the ‘b’ side of their first chart single, becoming an anthem in garage-punk music although it originally represented one of the best examples of sixties home grown R&B. The Belfast band fronted by Morrison changed their line-up on a regular basis but the band that played in Halifax, in addition to Morrison, were Alan Henderson (bass), Jim Armstrong (guitar), Ray Elliot (piano/sax) and drummer John Wilson. Of course it was the sax, harmonica and vocals of Van Morrison that carried the band, who had just released their album Them Again in September, but by June 1966 they had completely split. A reformed American version of Them began in Los Angeles with singer Ken McDowell but it was the longevity of Van Morrison as a solo performer and his classic songs like Brown Eyed Girl that stood the test of time. To see a musical legend at the peak of his group career in Halifax for five shillings did truly represent good value for money.
ALAN PRICE SET – DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL
After leaving the Animals in 1965, Alan Price set about building another career with the help of a trusted band of five musicians who performed together until 1968. It was then that Georgie Fame teamed up with the ex-Animal and they recorded as Fame And Price together. The band which came to Big Daddy’s on Sunday November 21, 1965 for one of their earliest performances, comprised of trumpeter John Walters (who later became a highly respected BBC Radio producer for his work on the John Peel Show), two sax and flute men in Steve Gregory and Clive Burrows along with drummer Ray Mills and bass guitarist Ray Slade. The keyboards and vocals of Alan Price gave the band a distinctive sound and they had just released their first Decca 45 of Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird) which Elvis would later record as one of the songs in the Memphis sessions that launched his comeback with tracks like Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto. Alan Price was a talented songwriter (you will recall his song The House That Jack Built about a mental institution) but most of his later successes were with cover versions of other peoples songs including Randy Newman’s Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear and Sonny Rollin’s Don’t Stop The Carnival. Price had been to Halifax before as part of the Animals but this was his last appearance in the town. He had two later spells with the revamped Animals in 1975 and 1983 but once Eric Burdon had gone their sound to me was never the same.
THE PRETTY THINGS – ROSALYN
The 2 + 2 Club was a failure in every which way, except one. The demise of Big Daddy’s in July 1966 made way for the new fully licensed drinking club with extended hours enabling it to remain open until 2.00am. It was on Saturday November 12, 1966 that Halifax was treated to the only appearance of The Pretty Things when, for just 6/- you could enjoy the band with an exclusive over-18 crowd and a fully licensed bar. The group first charted with Rosalyn in 1964 but the follow up Don’t Bring Me Down was their biggest hit (number 10) followed by Honey I Need (number 13). World Cup year started well for them with Midnight To Six Man being the first of three chart entries but by the end of the year the chart days were over for this Kent based R&B band. Their objective was to be the scruffiest, dirtiest, most outrageous band in the land and this image was ultimately their downfall. They even surpassed the Rolling Stones in these stakes, but too many changes in personnel, despite Phil May remaining as vocalist, led to a lack of continuity and as the fan base diminished so did the sales. The saving grace was their influence, along with The Yardbirds, on a great many US garage bands from the mid to late sixties. They also, after moving from the Fontana label to Columbia in 1967, released credible psychedelic singles and the first ever ‘concept’ album called S. F. Sorrow.
JIMMY POWELL (and THE FIVE DIMENSIONS)
Christmas Eve 1966 was the Saturday dance that attracted a sell out crowd to the Crown Street premises of the former Big Daddy’s club with the attraction of Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions. After the teen club attraction of Big Daddy’s closed its doors on July 2, 1966, the venue re-opened seven weeks later as the 2 + 2 Club on August 23 with The Pretty Things. They were the only ‘name’ act to appear. The attraction was that the premises were now fully licensed for the sale of alcohol, but another change of name, this time to The Scene, was designed to attract the former teenagers and convert them into adult drinkers. Wayne Fontana was the opening attraction the week before Christmas followed by St. Louis Union and now Jimmy Powell and his band were the icing on the Christmas promotion cake. In October 1963 it was Jimmy Powell who was acknowledged as being the one who launched Brumbeat as a threat to Merseybeat with his debut 1962 Decca single Sugar Babe – Parts One and Two. His quality R&B soul filled vocals and tough performing style earned him a contract as a replacement for the Rolling Stones at the London Crawdaddy Club, with a young Rod Stewart briefly joining the Five Dimensions on harmonica. The original group split in 1965, but various backing bands were used with the Dimensions name to support their leader on subsequent gigs. Although Jimmy Powell never hit the charts he is greatly acknowledged as being a founding father of the Midland group style that would later produce The Moody Blues, The Ugly’s, The Rockin’ Berries and The Move.
THE END OF THE LINE
The closure of the Crown Street premises on Sunday January 15, 1967 after a performance by the Roll Movement signalled the end for the Crabtree brothers of their independent arm. Although they continued to promote dances at the Marlborough Hall until September 23, 1967 it really was the beginning of the end. After Easter their were no more big names at the Marlborough as the brothers just allowed the dances to tick-over with the more well known names of the second division groups entertaining the dwindling number of dancers. They introduced the DJ as the star turn and even billed DJ’s as support for bands with forgettable names :- The Daffodil Eaters, The Purple Pipeline, the Uptown Downtown Sound and the last band to feature on the Marlborough stage, The Bird Hunters.
It was a sad end to an era of wonderful enthusiasm, creative advertising, quality bands and most importantly nights out that were far from ordinary. The Crabtree promotions created a unique dancing environment and Max Crabtree hit the nail on the head when he told me that they wanted to create an extra-ordinary experience that people would remember and return to the dancehall for more. Repeat business from satisfied customers was the aim and it was fully achieved by these three remarkable brothers who ensured that the small town Saturday night in Halifax will be remembered for ever. It was all good vibrations for the boys in the bands and also for the punters who paid their hard earned cash to purchase something that today money cannot buy – solid gold memories of the times of their lives.
Complete list of performances, 1962 – 1968
|02/06/1962||Sat||Sharon Kristy & The Jaybirds|
|09/06/1962||Sat||The Fabulous Strangers|
|16/06/1962||Sat||Rod Stevens & The Phantoms|
|23/06/1962||Sat||Dave Berry & The Cruisers|
|30/06/1962||Sat||Mal Rider & The Spirits|
|07/07/1962||Sat||Kirk Sheldon & The Atlantics|
|14/07/1962||Sat||Closed – Wakes Week Holiday|
|21/07/1962||Sat||Vince Lee with The Thunderbirds|
|28/07/1962||Sat||Toni Kitten & The Cats|
|04/08/1962||Sat||DJ ‘Flip’ Griffin|
|11/08/1962||Sat||Pierce Rogers & The Overlanders|
|18/08/1962||Sat||Tony Sheridan & The Sundowners|
|25/08/1962||Sat||Clint Dallas & The Madmen|
|01/09/1962||Sat||Wee Willie Davis & The Swamp Rats|
|08/09/1962||Sat||Tracy Martin & The Big Beat Men|
|10/09/1962||Mon||Big Twister & The Tearaways|
|15/09/1962||Sat||Eric Lee & The Four Aces|
|26/09/1962||Wed||Twist Competition – Final|
|29/09/1962||Sat||Pat Volley & The Giros|
|06/10/1962||Sat||Johnnie April and the Flying Condors|
|20/10/1962||Sat||Paul Keene & The Echos|
|27/10/1962||Sat||Derek Rivers / The Big Three|
|03/11/1962||Sat||G Man and the Blue Cats|
|10/11/1962||Sat||Jackie Lynton & The Jurymen|
|17/11/1962||Sat||Denny and the Witchdoctors|
|24/11/1962||Sat||Eric Lee & The Four Aces|
|01/12/1962||Sat||“Lee Watts/Gary “”Indian”” Landis/The Rebels”|
|08/12/1962||Sat||Denny and the Witchdoctors|
|15/12/1962||Sat||Johnny Hawk & The Silverbirds|
|22/12/1962||Sat||Big Twister & The Tearaways|
|24/12/1962||Mon||Johnny Cannon & The Evening Boys|
|26/12/1962||Wed||Johnnie April & The Escorts|
|29/12/1962||Sat||Tom Bones / The Tulsa Boys|
|31/12/1962||Mon||Johnnie Silver & The Thunderbirds|
|05/01/1963||Sat||Gee South / Pearl Johnson / The Blue Kats|
|12 – 19 Jan||Wk||YMCA Pantomime – Sleeping Beauty|
|26/01/1963||Sat||Lance Fortune / Rockin’ Henry and The Jurymen|
|02/02/1963||Sat||Ed. Jimmie Martin / The Sabres / A Rockin’ Ball|
|09/02/1963||Sat||Denny & The Witchdoctors|
|16/02/1963||Sat||Gary Levin / Pee Wee Jones / The Travellers|
|23/02/1963||Sat||Closed – Dance at St. James Street with Leroy Saba and the Crestas. Also Sunday with Denny and the Witchdoctors.|
|09/03/1963||Sat||Lance Fortune / Rockin’ Henry / Eddie Gorden and The Jurymen|
|16/03/1963||Sat||“Toni “”Bewitching”” Eaves / J.B.Stetson / The Evesdroppers”|
|23/03/1963||Sat||Lee Martin / Mal Guitar and the Travellers|
|30/03/1963||Sat||The Nashville Men|
|06/04/1963||Sat||The Planets / Johnnie Monroe / Bob Bennett|
|13/04/1963||Sat||Jackie Lynton & The Jurymen|
|20/04/1963||Sat||Danny Storm / Mini Max Sax / Stonewall Al Caunce|
|26/04/1963||Fri||The Brooks Brothers / The Rhythm & Blues Quartet / Dino & The Travellers / The Pennine Jazz Men|
|27/04/1963||Sat||Tommy Bruce & The Bruisers|
|10/05/1963||Sat||Comrade X / The Men Of Mystery|
|17/05/1963||Sat||The Voltaires with Sammy King|
|24/05/1963||Sat||Ray Kennon Combo|
|30/05/1963||Thu||Peter Jay & Jaywalkers (replaced Shane Fenton & The Fentones)|
|31/05/1963||Fri||Johnny Kidd and the Pirates / Paul Stevens and the Javelins|
|01/06/1963||Sat||Lee Darratt and the Escorts|
|08/06/1963||Sat||Gene Myrers & The Night Riders|
|15/06/1963||Sat||Mad Maurice & The Jack Mules|
|21/06/1963||Fri||The Moontrekkers / The Big beat Echoes|
|22/06/1963||Sat||Tommy Bruce & The Bruisers|
|27/06/1963||Thu||Rebel – Beats|
|29/06/1963||Sat||The Four Just Men|
|06/07/1963||Sat||Lance Fortune / Rocking Henry|
|13/07/1963||Sat||Johnny Storm & The Stormriders|
|20/07/1963||Sat||“””Twisting”” Vince Everett & The Black Orchids”|
|27/07/1963||Sat||Terry King & The Saints|
|03/08/1963||Sat||Huckleberry & The Hound Callers|
|10/08/1963||Sat||Dean Green & The Wildcats|
|24/08/1963||Sat||Wee Willie Harris with the Cavemen|
|31/08/1963||Sat||Gary Rogers & The Vampires|
|07/09/1963||Sat||Lance Harvie and the Kingpins|
|14/09/1963||Sat||Sammy King and The Voltaires|
|16/09/1963||Mon||The Marauders / Danny Davis / Bry Martin|
|21/09/1963||Sat||Overlanders / Ryles Brothers / Gay Saxon|
|05/10/1963||Sat||Bobby Christian / The Avalons|
|12/10/1963||Sat||Tony Kaye and the Outriders|
|26/10/1963||Sat||The Voltaires with Sammy King|
|02/11/1963||Sat||The Peppermint Men|
|09/10/1963||Sat||Mike Sagar & The Tornadoes|
|16/10/1963||Sat||Julie Grant / Lance Harvey & The Kingpins|
|30/10/1963||Sat||Kingpin Danny Lane|
|07/12/1963||Sat||The Cheynes / Eddie Langdon / Kim Roberts|
|14/12/1963||Sat||Frank Kelly and the Hunters|
|21/12/1963||Sat||Huckleberries with Tony Kay|
|24/12/1963||Tue||Carter Lewis & The Southerners|
|26/12/1963||Thu||The Peppermint Men (am) / John River Boys (pm)|
|28/12/1963||Sat||Robb Storm & The Whispers|
|04/01/1964||Sat||Bridgette & The Rhet Stoller Boys|
|11/01/1964||Sat||Danny Storm / The Checkmates|
|18-25 Jan||Wk||YMCA Pantomime – Cinderella|
|01/02/1964||Sat||The Hayseeds / Rockin’ Henry|
|08/02/1964||Sat||Lance Harvey & The Kingpins|
|22/02/1964||Sat||Steve Francis & The Low Lifes|
|29/02/1964||Sat||The Hoggery Toggery R&B Group|
|07/03/1964||Sat||Mal Ryder and The Spirits|
|14/03/1964||Sat||Ray Anton & The Peppermint Men|
|21/03/1964||Sat||Paul Stevens & The Emperors of Rhythm|
|28/03/1964||Sat||Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders|
|18/04/1964||Sat||Ray Anton & The Peppermint Men|
|02/05/1964||Sat||Kris Ryan & The Questions|
|09/05/1964||Sat||The Lime Boys|
|16/05/1964||Sat||Ian Crawford & The Boomerangs|
|23/05/1964||Sat||Lance Harvey & The Kingpins|
|06/06/1964||Sat||Danny Davies / Ricky Forde / The Tenesseans|
|13/06/1964||Sat||Doctor Phil Feelgood / Mr. A.P. O’Shea / The Knockout feelgoods|
|03/07/1964||Fri||YMCA Celebration Dance – Moontrekkers|
|04/07/1964||Sat||Sean Campbell & The Mysterys|
|25/07/1964||Sat||Danny Davies / Ricky Forde / The Tenesseans|
|01/08/1964||Sat||Carl mann / Wild ‘Jim’ Butters / The Warthogs|
|08/08/1964||Sat||Danny Davies / Ricky Forde / The Tenessens|
|29/08/1964||Sat||Danny Davies /Ricky Forde ? The Tennesseans|
|05/09/1964||Sat||The Quare Fellas|
|26/09/1964||Sat||The Quare Fellas|
|01/11/1964||Sat||The Quare Fellas|
|07/11/1964||Sat||Danny Davis / Ricky Forde / The Tennesseans|
|14/11/1964||Sat||Carl Mann & The Candymen|
|21/11/1964||Sat||Ricky Valance and the Devil’s Keys|
|28/11/1964||Sat||The Pineapple Chunks|
|05/12/1964||Sat||Pete Best with The Pete Best Four|
|12/12/1964||Sat||Count Dracula Five|
|26/12/1964||Sat||Night Owls (am) / The Rockin’ Heartaches (pm)|
|09/01/1965||Sat||The Rockin’ Robins|
|15 – 23 Jan||Wk||YMCA Pantomime – Aladdin|
|30/01/1965||Sat||Heinz & The Wildmen|
|06/02/1965||Sat||The Big Three|
|09/02/1965||Tue||“Halifax Round Table “”Top Of the Groups”” contest”|
|13/02/1965||Sat||Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders|
|16/02/1965||Tue||“Halifax Round Table “”Top Of the Groups”” contest – Heat Two”|
|20/02/1965||Sat||Screamin’ Lord Sutch & The Savages Sammy King & The Voltaires|
|26/02/1965||Fri||“Halifax Round Table “”Top Of The Groups”” contest – Final.(with Jimmy Savile)”|
|27/02/1965||Sat||Lulu & The Lovers|
|20/03/1965||Sat||Simon Scott & The Leroys|
|03/04/1965||Sat||Johnny Kidd & The Pirates|
|16/04/1965||Fri||A Man Dies’ Moontrekkers Drama|
|17/04/1965||Sat||Bern Elliott & The Fenmen|
|21/04/1965||Wed||A Man Dies’ Moontrekkers Drama|
|24/04/1965||Sat||Tommy Quickley / The Remo Four|
|08/05/1965||Sat||Ex-Searcher Tony Jackson|
|15/05/1965||Sat||NO SHOW – Donovan Promotion at Big Daddy’s and ‘The In- Crowd’ Shop|
|29/05/1965||Sat||Screamin’ Jay Hawkins / The Blues Set R&B Group|
|05/06/1965||Sat||Eden Kane / The Downbeats|
|26/06/1965||Sat||Jess Conrad / The Revelles|
|17/07/1965||Sat||Frankenstein & The Monsters|
|24/07/1965||Sat||Swinging Blue Jeans|
|07/08/1965||Sat||Bo Street Runners|
|14/08/1965||Sat||The Mark Leeman Five|
|21/08/1965||Sat||The Nashville Teens|
|28/08/1965||Sat||Heinz with The Wild Boys|
|04/09/1965||Sat||The Famous Rockin’ Vicars|
|14/09/1965||Tue||The Moontrekkers / The Talismen|
|18/09/1965||Sat||Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers|
|01/10/1965||Fri||Dino & The Travellers/ The Four Embers / Broadway Beats / Four Saints & A Sinner|
|09/10/1965||Sat||Tommy Bruce & The Bruisers|
|16/10/1965||Sat||Johnny Kidd & The Pirates|
|23/10/1965||Sat||Mike Berry with The Innocents|
|06/11/1965||Sat||Eden Kane with The Downbeats|
|13/11/1965||Sat||Robb Storm & The Whispers|
|20/11/1965||Sat||Billie Davies with Platform Six|
|11/12/1965||Sat||The Reverened Black & The Rocking Vicars|
|26/12/1965||Sun||The All Stars|
|01.01.66||Sat||The Magil Five|
|15.01.66||Sat||The Ying Tongs|
|22.01.66||Sat||Mockin’ Birds with Graham Gouldman|
|29.01.66||Sat||The Rockin’ Vicars|
|05.03.66||Rev. Black & The Rockin’ Vicars|
|12.03.66||Sat||Clarence (Frogman) Henry|
|26.03.66||Sat||Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers|
|02.04.66||Sat||The Hillbillies / The Muscle Man -Tony Holland|
|09.04.66||Sat||Graham Gouldman – The Mockingbirds|
|16.04.66||Sat||Robb Storme & The Whispers|
|30.04.66||Sat||Rev. Black & The Rockin’ Vicars|
|07.05.66||Sat||The Steamboat Four|
|21.05.66||Sat||Eden Kane & The Downbeats|
|28.05.66||Sat||The Go-Jo Girls / The Scrubbers|
|04.06.66||Sat||The She Trinity|
|18.06.66||Sat||Tom Thumb & The 4 Fingers|
|28.06.66||Tue||Moontrekkers Farewell Dance|
|09.07.66||Sat||The Howling Dogs with ‘Manfred’|
|30.07.66||Sat||Rev. Black & The Rockin’ Vicars|
|06.08.66||Sat||The Gass / Alan ‘Mr Showbusiness’ Manfred|
|09.08.66||Tue||YMCA Beat Group Contest – The Forgers / The Dominoes Rhythm Group|
|16.08.66||Tue||YMCA Beat Group Contest – The Talismen / Noisettes|
|23.08.66||Tue||YMCA Beat Group Contest – The Misfits / My Generation|
|27.08.66||Sat||Ricky Wayne / Julians Morals Rockers|
|30.08.66||Tue||YMCA Beat Group Contest – The Roosters/Johnny Starr & The Units|
|03.09.66||Sat||Samuel Pepy’s Gang|
|06.09.66||Tue||YMCA Beat Group Contest Final – The Sinners / The Jinx / Dominoes|
|01.10.66||Sat||“The “”Shufflin”” Hillibillys”|
|15.10.66||Sat||The Lonely Ones|
|29.10.66||Sat||Gary Jones With Our Young Ones|
|04.11.66||Fri||YMCA ‘Dance of the Year’ – The Misfits / The Dominoes / Dino & The Travellers / The Tony Graham 2|
|26.11.66||Sat||The Crumpet Lads|
|03.12.66||Sat||Seven Tall Men|
|10.012.66||Sat||John Harvey’s Men|
|26.12.66||Mon||Eric Haydocks Rockhouse (am) / The Missing Links (pm)|
|07.01.67||Sat||Neil Christian with The Crusadors|
|13.01.67||Fri||YMCA – The Lucky 13 Carnival Ball|
|14.01.67||Sat||The Mooney Gang|
|21-28.01.67||Wk||YMCA Panto – Mother Goose|
|04.02.67||Sat||Billy Fury & The Gamblers|
|13-18.03.67||Wk||YMCA – The Gondoliers|
|15.04.67||Sat||The Inner Circle|
|22.04.67||Sat||Half A Dozen|
|29.04.67||Sat||The Rockin’ Machine|
|19.05.67||Fri||Long March Celebration Dance – The Symbols + DJ’s|
|17.06.67||Sat||Dr. Syns Weirdies|
|01.07.67||Sat||This Generation / Manfred ‘Freak Out’ Allen|
|08.07.67||Sat||No Band – Dance to DJ|
|15.07.67||Sat||No Band – Dance to DJ|
|29.07.67||Sat||Earl Dukes Kings|
|01.08.67||Tue||The Symbols + 2 ‘DRM’ DJ’s **|
|05.08.67||Sat||Uptown Dountown Sound|
|08.08.67||Tue||The Panthas / The Decades + DJ **|
|12.08.67||Sat||Hippie’s Sugar Town|
|15.08.67||Tue||The Symbols / Fact & Fiction / Buick Five + DJ **|
|22.08.67||Tue||The Talismen & Ann / The Cougars + Top DJ **|
|26.08.67||Sat||The Daffodil Eaters|
|29.08.67||Tue||The Symbols & The Mirage + DJ **|
|02.09.67||Sat||The Purple Pipeline|
|05.09.67||Tue||The Four Embers and Julie / The Reaction **|
|09.09.67||Sat||The Psyce Dahlia|
|16.09.67||Sat||The Flowers Of The Night|
|23.09.67||Sat||The Bird Hunters (The Last Crabree Brothers promotion for a Saturday dance at the Marlborough Hall)|
|20.10.67||Fri||Loyds Bank / The Talismen & Ann|
|18.11.67||Sat||Square One Opens – The Applejacks|
|25.11.67||Sat||The Bread & Butter Band|
|09.12.67||Sat||Ragin’ Storm / Jimmy Savile|
|16.12.67||Sat||The Privelege + DJ|
|23.12.67||Sat||The New Midnite Train|
|30.12.67||Sat||The Inner Mind|
|06.01.68||Sat||Roger Boom’s Hammer|
|13.01.68||Sat||The Rain / Alice In Wonderland|
|20.01.68||Sat||Travellers Express + Dave The Rave|
|27.01.-03.02.68||Wk||YMCA – Panto Jack & The Beanstalk|
|02.03.68||Sat||Big City Soul Band|
|11 -16.03.68||Sat||YMCA Operatic Soc. – Gypsy Love|
|13.04.68||Sat||Two DJ’s on the Music Machine|
|30.05.68||Thu||Long March Celebration Dance – Jude Brown|