Today, we experience “musicians” (notice the quotations) who write their own songs, play their own instruments and produce their own material. Some have total control over the entire process, some just “sample” , but I digress again. However, writing, playing and producing your own stuff was not always the case. So in the early 1960’s when a group of four LIVERPOOL lads made records where they actually played their own instruments, wrote most of their own songs,….Hey,that was unique.

When THE BEATLES hit our shores we started to hear about The MERSEY BEAT.  The Mersey is the river running through LIVERPOOL which is a port city in Western England. From that quaint little city a group of four lads became highly famous after charting their first UK single in late 62.Soon the “talent scouts” hovered.

These 4 lads as well as other Brits were influenced by American music, specifically the stylings of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Richard, Eddie Cochrane, Buddy Holly,John Lee Hooker, Smokey Robinson, and a host of others. Emulating their American heroes they formed groups named THE ROLLING STONES,THE YARDBIRDS, THE ANIMALS,THE KINKS, THE WHO, THE PRETTY THINGS, THE DAVE CLARK FIVE.

THE ROLLING STONES formed in 1962 and according to legend BRIAN JONES named the band after seeing the song title ROLLING STONE on a MUDDY WATERS album. Originally this band played Chicago styled blues influenced by Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Howlin’ Wolf (check out The Rocking Chair lp to see where the Stones earliest guitar licks came from) and Bo Diddley. Through their incarnations, today THE ROLLING STONES have taken the moniker of THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND. I venture to say they are correct.

Formerly known as THE BLUES SOUND this band changed their name in 1963 to a reference of Charlie “YARDBIRD” Parker. The YARDBIRDS followed THE ROLLING STONES residency at CRAWDADDY CLUB, a prestigious London gig where their repertoire drew from the Chicago blues of HOWLIN’ WOLF, MUDDY WATERS, SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON, ELMORE JAMES AND BO DIDDLEY. Their sets included: GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL, GOT LOVE IF YOU WANT IT, I’M A MAN. and SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING. Their first album, a must to have (FIVE LIVE YARDBIRDS) was recorded LIVE after touring and backing up SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON (II).

THE ANIMALS began in 1962  as THE ALAN PRICE RHYTHM AND BLUES COMBO covering songs by JIMMY REED, JOHN LEE HOOKER (Boom Boom) and NINA SIMONE(Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood).

THE DAVE CLARK 5 formed in 1957,had the privilege and  the pressure of being the second  BRITISH INVASION group to appear on Ed Sullivan after the Beatles. Their single GLAD ALL OVER  was #6 (US) in April 64. Funny how this ensemble was more popular in the US than their homeland. Their distinction for me was they prominently displayed a saxophone.

GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS, another Liverpudlian group, became the second act signed by Beatles manager BRIAN EPSTEIN. These lads were produced by George Martin which is probably a reason they had 3 consecutive #1 records with their first 3 UK outings (late 62)…”How Do You Do It?“, “I Like It” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone  (in UK 1963/ US 64) and finally with FERRY CROSS THE MERSEY (US early  65).

Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas, Billy the lead singer was a handsome dude also managed by Brian Epstein and with George Martin they produced DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET (Beatles tune) to # 2 in UK. They followed that success up with additional LENNON/McCARTNEY tunes gaining gold records (UK) and  appearances on US TV.

The Searchers were a skiffle band primarily doing  remakes of American music: THE DRIFTERS (61) “Sweets For My Sweet”, JACKIE DeSHANNON’S “Needles and Pins” (charted US March 64), a fav of mine “When You Walk In The Room” and THE CLOVERS’ “Love Potion #9”.

The KinKs formed in 64 were very briefly part of  THE BRITISH Invasion. Their exposure on our shores was curtailed by an American touring ban issued in 1965. Yet, their early material as well as their subsequent recordings are amazing. ….I could write for days on this band so I’ll save it for a later date. GOD BLESS THE KINKS.

The ZOMBIES like many other British invasion groups, were sent to The United States to tour behind their new hit single “She’s Not There”. Among their early US gigs was the Murray the K’s Christmas Shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theater, where the band played seven performances a day. On January 12, 1965 the band made its first in- person appearance on US television on the very first episode of NBC’s HULLABALOO. They played “She’s Not There” and their latest single “Tell Her No”. Recently, I had  the pleasure of seeing The Zombies during the 50th anniversary “Odessey and Oracle” tour. Trust me folks this is no oldies band as these guys are for real. After performing O and O as promised the band played some new stuff. One song in particular entitled “New York”  touch on their experience at the Brooklyn Fox as well naming the American heroes that influenced their sound.

New York

I walked into the Brooklyn Fox

That snowy Christmas Day

And Patty and the Blue Bells

Simply stole my heart away

She took me to Aretha Franklin

Showed me so much soul

And helped us join the party

With our English Rock and Roll

And I came to love you New York

Your energy your honesty every time

City of a million dreams

You gave one up to me

New York

Now I played so many times

Since nineteen sixty four

In cities all across the land

From shore to distant shore

And I loved the way the people

Always opened up their hearts

But I never will forget the things

The magic world I still embrace

The place I never could replace

That gave us such a start

And I’ve come to love you New York

Your energy your honesty every time

City of a million dreams

You gave one up to me

New York



The Beatles’ Decca audition saw them run through some 15 songs, all of which were recorded on tape for the benefit of A&R man, Dick Rowe. The audition set is worth looking at, since it reveals the type of material the group were performing, as well as their reticence when it came to pushing their own original songs:

• Like Dreamers Do (Lennon-McCartney)

•Money (That’s What I Want)

•Till There Was You

•The Sheik Of Araby

•To Know Her Is To Love Her

•Take Good Care Of My Baby

•Memphis Tennessee

•Sure To Fall (In Love With You)

Hello Little Girl (Lennon-McCartney)

•Three Cool Cats

•Crying, Waiting, Hoping

Love Of The Loved (Lennon-McCartney)

•September In The Rain

•Besame Mucho


See you next time….Chapter11-The Blues In Britain 1960-1966 . Comments?