Looking Old

ELDER MUSIC: Coattails of the Beatles

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PeterTibbles75x75This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.

The Beatles

This is one for the baby boomers, that great lump of humanity who were always at my back all the way through school and university pushing me onward. It meant that throughout my education we were always in a construction site as the powers that be prepared all those new buildings needed to house the hordes following.

Sorry boomers, I just had to get that off my chest. I really love you all (literally in some cases over the years).

Anyway, this is the music of those British artists who followed in the wake of The Beatles. I’m excluding the serious ones who went on to forge a career separate from that of their famous predecessor – The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals and so on.

The obvious place to start is with The Beatles’ fellow Liverpudlians, GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS.

Gerry & The Pacemakers

They didn’t actually come in the wake of the fabs in their own country as they actually preceded them on the charts. All of us outside Britain, though, didn’t notice them until The Beatles hit big.

They did a lot of the same things – played the clubs in Hamburg, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, were managed by Brian Epstein, had George Martin as their record producer. In fact, they beat the fab four to number one (several times).

Also, after initially recording covers, they started writing their own material some of which was also recorded by other artists. They called it a day as a group in 1966. Here are the lads with How Do You Do It?

♫ Gerry & the Pacemakers - How Do You Do It?

MANFRED MANN might nearly have made the exclusions but I'm putting them in because I can.

Manfred Mann

They were possibly the most interesting of the groups we have today. They eventually launched into all sorts of territories – blues, fusion, jazz as well as rock & roll and R&B. Manfred himself started as a jazz muso, so it’s not surprising.

I saw them at the Fillmore somewhat later when they had got very weird indeed. They didn't play any of their early hits, one of the best of which was Pretty Flamingo. They recorded that one when they still had their fine lead singer, Paul Jones.

♫ Manfred Mann - Pretty Flamingo

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller are best known to us all as PETER & GORDON.

Peter & Gordon

Peter was the actress Jane Asher's brother. She was Paul McCartney's main squeeze at the time and he presented the group with a Lennon/McCartney song (that the fabs hadn't recorded) which became a huge hit for them.

Anyone who has lasted this far into the column will know the song I'm talking about, A World Without Love.

♫ Peter & Gordon - A World Without Love

Here is a band that seemed to have been a lot bigger in America than they were in their native country or here in Australia, HERMAN’S HERMITS.

Herman's Hermits

The lead singer of the Hermits, Peter Noone, said that they had a couple of musicians in the group who had perfect pitch so that whenever they played live they were always in tune, unlike some others at the time.

I've recently seen footage of them from back then and I can report that this is correct.

He also said that they probably chose the wrong name because with a name like that they really couldn't be taken seriously as musicians even though they were fine players; no one would believe them if they tried to emulate the Stones or the Animals.

Anyway, they were a bunch of fine pop musicians and there is No Milk Today.

♫ Herman's Hermits - No Milk Today

Like The Beatles, THE SEARCHERS started as a skiffle group in Liverpool.

The Searchers

They took their name from the John Wayne western that seems to be in a lot of critics’ best films ever, but I think is complete rubbish.

In their early days, The Searchers had a considerable turn-over of members of the band. Actually, not just the early days; even when they became successful members came and went. I won’t dwell further on them. In spite of that they had several hits.

Here they are with a cover of the Jackie DeShannon song, Needles and Pins.

♫ The Searchers - Needles and Pins

Another duo who, to my ears at the time and even now, sound indistinguishable from Peter & Gordon. These are Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, known to most of us as CHAD & JEREMY.

Chad & Jeremy

Like Herman’s Hermits, C & J were much bigger in America than their home country where they really only had one hit, Yesterday's Gone.

They became something of a fixture on TV in America and appeared on quite a number of programs. They were even going to be stars of a sit-com but Chad became seriously ill. Fortunately, he eventually recovered but the program was shelved and replaced by The Monkees. This is Yesterday's Gone.

♫ Chad & Jeremy - Yesterday's Gone

THE HONEYCOMBS were rather unusual in this milieu as they had a female drummer, rather unheard of at that time.

The Honeycombs

The band had the good fortune of meeting the songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley early in their career and this pair wrote most of their hits. Not just theirs, but many others as well (including a couple for Elvis). They also managed the group.

The Honeycombs were considerably more successful in countries like Japan, Sweden and Australia than they were in their home country where they had only one hit, Have I The Right.

♫ The Honeycombs - Have I The Right

There was something about FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS that made me want to throw the TV out the window whenever I saw them. It was probably Freddie Garrity doing his stupid leg exercises whenever they played. Actually, the whole band did that.

Freddie & the Dreamers

Anyway, if you only listened to them, they were quite a decent pop band and didn’t take themselves seriously which is certainly a point in their favor as far as I’m concerned.There’s really nothing much more to be said about them, except here’s I'm Telling You Now.

♫ Freddie & the Dreamers - I'm Telling You Now

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP had the advantage of having the very young, but already very talented and musically mature, Steve Winwood on keyboards and as lead singer. He went on to fame (and I hope, fortune) in Traffic, Blind Faith, various solo projects, other bands with Eric Clapton and backing musician to many others.

The group also featured Steve’s brother Muff (or Mervyn to his folks) and Spencer Davis of course. Pete York made up the complement.

The Spencer Davis Group

They were a huge influence on bands from the next couple of decades and their songs have been covered by many artists. I could have chosen any of their songs (they possibly could have been in the exclusion category) but I settled on Gimme Some Lovin'.

♫ The Spencer Davis Group - Gimme Some Lovin'

I’ll end with THE FORTUNES who had only one song that impinged on my consciousness, but what a great one it was.

The Fortunes

Hmm, that photo has a bit of resonance with a certain Beatles’ album cover, however, The Fortunes preceded them by several years on that score. I guess if the groups wandered out on to Abbey Road they were confronted by this pedestrian crossing. Of course, I’m not even sure that’s the same one.

Anyway, The Fortunes were from Birmingham, a city that produced at least as many groups at the time as Liverpool did. Here they are with the song I really like, You've Got Your Troubles.

♫ The Fortunes - You've Got Your Troubles

I didn’t know whether to include The Hollies or not, whether they fitted into this category or into my exclusions. In the end, I had enough songs without them so they didn’t make the grade. Similarly, The Zombies missed out even though they really deserved to be present.


Really enjoyed listening to this line-up! It sort of squeezed my attic in odd ways as I was preteen when these songs left their little musical hats forever on my memory banks. I'm going to have a Manfred Mann 'You Tube' retrospective this morning to extend the pleasurable trip. Thanks!

Demonstrates just how influential the Beatles really were ... and still are. Do you know the Nutopians? Worth checking out if you're a Lennon fan.

What a trip, sent a link to my younger sisters too. Thanks.

Yes she was anorexic--but Karen Carpenter was a great, lone, female drummer!

Love your column!

Thanks Peter for "Coattails of the Beatles" Enjoyed listening to your selection and suggest you add at least three other major bands: The Dave Clark Five eg "Glad All Over" =The Hollies eg "Bus Stop" =The Troggs eg "Wild Thing" These bands and many others are well represented on Youtube. As with the Stones and Beatles some of their early work was big here in England but barely made the top 100 in the States until they caught on...

The Searchers was NOT rubbish.

Each to his own opinion.

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