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Musical history

You are in: Leeds > History > Musical history > Leeds' Musical Heritage: 1960s

Paul & Barry Ryan

Paul & Barry Ryan

Leeds' Musical Heritage: 1960s

Tracking back through Leeds' musical past, we profile four acts who made an impact on the fast-changing pop world of the time.

The Cresters:

The Cresters were originally put together as backing band for singer Mike Sagar. The trio comprised brothers Richard and John Harding on guitar and bass respectively, and Johnny Casson on drums, and were active right through to the 1980s. At various points they were known as Malcolm Clark & The Cresters as well as The Crestas.

The Cresters

The Cresters

Probably the highlight of their career was as tour support for The Beatles in 1963. Guitarist Richard Harding built up a reputation for his guitar playing, and in an era when most aspiring musicians could barely afford the most basic equipment, Richard was able to make use of his dad's music shop and regularly took to the stage with his beloved Gretsch White Falcon, which cost £700 at the time - 18 months wages for most people in the early 1960s! 

The band signed to HMV and recorded a couple of singles in 1960/61 with Mike Sagar, followed by a fallow period which was broken by two further singles on the label in 1964, of which "I Just Don't Understand" is the most memorable. The following year saw a one-off release for Fontana Records but after that, like so many beat bands, they moved onto the cabaret circuit.

Drummer, Johnnie Casson is now a successful comedian with TV appearances under his belt, while Richard Harding is currently a member of country band, Dillinger.

The Cherokees:

Despite recording five singles between 1964 and 1966, very little has been written about The Cherokees. They were a five piece beat band from Leeds featuring John Kirby on vocals, Terry Stokes on lead guitar, rhythm guitarist Dave Bower, Mike Sweeney on bass and drummer Jim Green.

Like so many British bands in the early-to-mid 1960s, they made several trips to Hamburg to play punishing schedules in clubs like the Star Club in the city's notorious St Pauli district.

The Cherokees

The Cherokees

After just one single on Decca they moved to Columbia where they scored their only chart hit - "Seven Daffodils" in late 1964 - which reached number 33 in the charts, and might have gone higher if it wasn't for a rival version by better known Liverpool band, The Mojos. The Cherokees sold more copies of their version but as happened frequently at that time, more than one version of a song was released simultaneously, diluting sales.

Despite this initial success and the fact that they had talented young maverick producer and songwriter, Mickie Most looking after them, the band were unable to cement their place in the charts with any of their three further singles for the label. Even an appearance in film comedy "You Must Be Joking!" led nowhere and they are probably best remembered for one of their b-sides, "Dig A Little Deeper".

Later in the decade they changed their name to New York Public Library and had some success with a cover of The Rascals' "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore". They released further singles on MCA in 1968, including a cover of The Doors' "Love Me Two Times" and called it a day in 1975.

The Outer Limits:

The closest Leeds ever got to freakbeat, The Outer Limits' roots were in a 1950s skiffle outfit called Three G's Plus One featuring Jeff Christie on guitar, Stan Drogie on drums and rhythm guitarist Gerry Layton and sax player and bassist, Rod Brooks. Later on they mutated into the Tremmers, playing a lot of Ventures and Shadows-style instrumentals and employing a couple of singers whenever they were required to do vocal material.

The Outer Limits

The Outer Limits

Brooks was replaced by Paul Cardus who was himself replaced by Gerry Smith as the band became The Outer Limits. Their first release was a song called "When The Work Is Thru" on a RAG Week charity record before Jeff's dad came up trumps as his contacts led to a single for Deram - "Just One More Chance" - which became a favourite on the Northern Soul scene for a while because of its blue-eyed soul feel.

A second single on Instant (an offshoot of Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate Records), had a more fey, English psychedelic sound but both singles failed to dent the charts. However, these days all three Outer Limits 7"s are highly prized by record collectors.

November 1967 saw them on one of the last package tours so prevalent in the early part of the decade, featuring Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Move, The Nice, Amen Corner and Irish Hendrix-protegés, Eire Apparent.

Success eluded them however and gradually the group fell apart. Steve Isherwood had replaced Gerry Layton before the November '67 tour and by the end in 1969, Jeff Christie was the only original member left. Their demise was documented in a Yorkshire TV documentary suitably-called "Death Of A Pop Group" - ironically giving them the kind of exposure they'd been after for years! Jeff Christie didn't have to wait too much longer for chart success, as his new group Christie had several hit singles in the early 1970s.

Paul & Barry Ryan:

The Ryan brothers were identical twins, the sons of a popular singer of the Fifties, Marion Ryan. Their stepfather Harold Davison worked in the business as well and his contacts got the twins a recording contract with Decca.

The brothers racked up a number of pop-oriented hits between 1965 and 1967 (their first three singles going Top Twenty) - they'd been were groomed for stardom right from the start. Top designers ensured their photogenic looks were seen in all the pop papers but the heavy workload had an effect on Paul who suffered a near-nervous breakdown.

Paul & Barry Ryan

Paul & Barry Ryan

The pair decided to rejig their working relationship as the strain took hold, hits became harder and harder to manufacture and the brothers felt trapped on the cabaret circuit - which they hated. Paul now concentrated on songwriting as Barry went solo and signed to MGM. The single "Eloise" was promoted with the help of one of the first full videos - it was an epic, dramatic song and was a massive hit all over the world, selling 3 million copies in the process despite being five and a half minutes long -  a rarity on the pop charts.

This new arrangement seemed to have solved the brothers' problems as Barry had several further hits. The subsequent album, 'Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan' gave fans more of the same dramatic, orchestrated pop and received positive reviews and has become something of a cult favourite in a similar way to Scott Walker and Glen Campbell records of that time. Further hit singles and albums followed in the early 1970s but Ryan had grown tired of the game and disappeared from the scene along with his brother. Sadly the brothers were parted in 1992 as Paul Ryan succumbed to cancer at the age of 44.

** Do you remember seeing any of these acts in Leeds? Or can you think of other Leeds musicians and singers from the 1960s who have been unjustly forgotten...

Your comments:

I remember a guy who styled himself Prince Dave Khan and the Warriors of Pan?? He was the son of a circus strongman, and when I met him, he lived in a caravan on the car park of a Hunslet pub!!!!! He was a tall good looking guy, with a fair voice. This was around 1960/61. I often wondered what became of him?
Dave Wilkins

I can think of at least one other group, they were called The Amazing Friendly Apple and had one single on Decca released in February 1969, with "Water Woman" on the A side and "Magician" on the B side. The group was formed in 1967 and the members were:
Peter Waddington-Lead Vocals and Harmonica
Barry Mills-Organ, Harpsichord Guitar Vocals
Art Lindon-Saxophone, Flute
Alan Scott-Bass Vocals
John Barnfather-Percussion

last updated: 12/06/2009 at 13:38
created: 20/08/2008

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