W THE BEAT GOES ON WITH SIX­TIES GOLDEN STARS

Martin Hutchin­son talks to Billy Kins­ley, of the Mersey­beats, in ad­vance of a Six­ties Gold tour

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - YOUR WEEKEND -

in­ter is al­most upon us, and the lead-up to the end of the year is re­plete with great tours. One of them is the an­nual Six­ties Gold tour. It fea­tures five of the decade’s best: Her­man’s Her­mits, the Mersey­beats, Mar­malade, Wayne Fon­tana and the Mind­ben­ders, and Steve El­lis’ Love Af­fair.

“The au­di­ences are fan­tas­tic,” says Billy Kins­ley of the Mersey­beats. “It’s the same the whole coun­try over, and they don’t seem to be di­min­ish­ing over the years.”

Billy is one of two founder mem­bers (along with Tony Crane) of the Mersey­beats.

“Sadly, there aren’t all that many Six­ties bands still in ex­is­tence who still have orig­i­nal mem­bers,” he said.

For the statis­tic-con­scious among us, Her­man’s Her­mits still have orig­i­nal drum­mer Barry “the Bean” Whit­wam; ob­vi­ously there’s Wayne Fon­tana and Steve El­lis, and Sandy New­man, of Mar­malade, joined them in 1975.

The hits will come thick and fast with Her­man’s Her­mits play­ing There’s A Kind Of Hush, I’m Into Some­thing Good, Sil­hou­ettes and My Sen­ti­men­tal Friend.

Steve El­lis’ Love Af­fair will per­form Rain­bow Val­ley, Bring­ing On Back The Good Times and of course Ev­er­last­ing Love.

Mar­malade’s hits in­clude Re­flec­tions Of My Life, Cousin Nor­man and ObLa-Di, Ob-La-Da.

And Wayne Fon­tana, with his lat­est line-up of Mind­ben­ders, will be ex­tolling the virtues of Pamela Pamela, say­ing Um Um Um Um and will enjoy A Groovy Kind Of Love.

Wayne also has the kind of pat­ter that would be the envy of any stand-up comic with his sto­ries about life in the pop world.

Match­ing him for sto­ries is the ev­ersmil­ing Billy Kins­ley who, along with the rest of the Mersey­beats, will be Wishin’ And Hopin’. They will also per­form their other smash hits, such as I Think Of You and Sor­row.

Billy is one of the friendli­est and en­thu­si­as­tic mu­si­cians I have come across. He spoke to me from his

Liver­pool home, and we chat­ted about his ca­reer.

The band formed at the be­gin­ning of the Six­ties at a boys’ club in Liver­pool.

“I was in a boys’ club on Shiel Road do­ing sports and such like, and I sug­gested to my mates, ‘why don’t we get a band to­gether?’

“We built a stage, and me and Dave Elias – who was a bet­ter gui­tarist them me – started suss­ing peo­ple out. On one of th­ese suss­ing-out ses­sions I walked into the bil­liard room and met Tony Crane.

“I then be­came the bassist as I was the youngest and the oth­ers had been play­ing gui­tar longer than me.

“We re­hearsed and got a drum­mer. “But the very first gig we did, Tony didn’t want to do it as he thought we weren’t ready. It was the very first time that girls had been let into the boys’ club, and Tony ac­tu­ally came with his girl­friend, and en­joyed it.”

The band had a dif­fer­ent name in those days.

“We were called the Mav­er­icks after the TV show and it was a good name at the time, but Cav­ern Club DJ Bob Wooler said the name was ‘too coun­try’ and said we should change it.”

And here we come to what could ar­guably be termed al­most like “cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship”.

“There was a news­pa­per at the time called The Mersey Beat and Bob took us to see the editor and sug­gested that we would be called the Mersey­beats and would he be OK with it.”

Billy laughs. “Well, he’d seen us play and said he’d be hon­oured.”

The band had a string of hits from 1963 to 1965, but dis­as­ter struck in ’66.

“At the time we had Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp (The Who) as our man­agers, and we were hav­ing a few prob­lems with John and Aaron,” he said.

“Kit and Chris said we couldn’t carry on with John and Aaron, so why don’t me and Tony get an­other back­ing band and just sing.

“I was at school with John and he was a friend, so we came to an agree­ment; they would con­tinue as The Mersey­beats and me and Tony would be­come The Merseys.

“To be hon­est, they weren’t that in­ter­ested and broke up not long after, while we went on to have the hit with Sor­row.

“But Tony and I split after a few years.”

Billy and Tony re­formed The Mersey­beats in 1993 and have toured con­stantly since.

One of the high­lights of Billy’s ca­reer stems from the very early days.

“We must have ap­peared on the same bill as the Bea­tles more than any­body else, and even though we toured with ev­ery­body the Bea­tles were spe­cial.”

“Fun­nily enough the Bea­tles used to let us go on stage after them.

“Now the last act is usu­ally top of the bill so on first thought you’d think it was a great hon­our, but it isn’t al­ways what it seems.

“In those days all the pubs would close at 10pm or 10.30pm and peo­ple would tend to leave early to catch ‘last orders’ and then get the last bus home. The Bea­tles nat­u­rally didn’t want to play to an al­most empty hall as peo­ple left, so they’d let us go on in­stead.”

Billy says the great­est achieve­ment in his ca­reer is “last­ing a long time, still en­joy­ing it and work­ing with great bands”.

“We’ve worked with ev­ery­one on the bill in the past, and strangely, most of them have had num­ber ones, but we haven’t,” he said.

Six­ties Gold will be ap­pear­ing at The Mu­sic Hall, Aberdeen, to­mor­row, Fri­day Novem­ber 8.

Clas­sic num­bers will be flow­ing thick and fast from bands in­clud­ing Her­man’s Her­mits

GO­ING STRONG: The Mersey­beats

Mar­malade’s hits in­clude Re­flec­tions Of My Life and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

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