“During the walkabout we’d done a bit of shopping. That was when I noticed that John, if he wanted something, wasn’t averse to taking it and putting it in his pocket. He said to me, ‘This is the way I go shopping. It’s a lot cheaper.’ So I started laughing, ‘Fine, OK.’
On this particular one he dipped for some underpants or something like that. He also dipped a harmonica.
“Now a lot of people have asked if that was the harmonica which, a couple of years afterwards, he used on ‘Love Me Do.’ I wouldn’t be able to put my hand on my heart and say it was, because you’re talking about August 1960 and ‘Love Me Do’ came to fruition in April 1962, when we were playing at the Star club.
“But John used it – he was the music for the rest of the trip. Once he got his harmonica, he sat there playing and we were singing the songs and laughing and joking and Allan was singing in his tenor voice. Spirits were high.”
When Allan showed me the photo many years below, I pointed out the caption to the memorial which stated ‘Their name liveth forevermore’ and said that added a uniqueness to the picture. I then took him to Keystone Press who agreed to act as photo agent for it, so it is not available commercially to the public, although it can be found in many books and magazines.
Incidentally, many years after the incident of the stolen harmonica, a reporter set out to trace the actual shop where John had stolen the instrument – and then gave the proprietor the money for it!)
One of the original drummers in the Mersey's backing band (later called The Fruit Eating Bears) was Vance Masters who drummed for the Crescendos (later known as The 5 AM Event), a Canadian band who lived and played in Liverpool from late 1965 to early 1967. Vance left the 5 AM Event to go to London after being spotted by Stamp and Lambert and invited to be in the Merseys' backing group with members of the Masterminds. He only lasted a couple of weeks with the Merseys. During his time away from the 5 AM Event, Pete Clarke, ex-the Escorts, filled in for him.
(The Merseys with the Fruit Eating Bears had a relatively short existence, mainly throughout 1966 and, following their ‘Sorrow’ hit, released ‘So Sad About Us’, a number specially written for them by Pete Townshend. The Fruit Eating Bears initially comprised Joey Molland (guitar), Chris Findley (keyboards), George Cassidy (bass), Kenny Goodlass and Kenny Munday (drums).
There was a later line-up with Joey Molland, Terry McCusker and Mushy Cooper).
I'm George (Dale) Roberts' granddaughter, Rachael. Just thought I'd say how great it is to see my
granddad's musical history on the web! I’m really proud of him and this way I have something to look back on from time to time. Thanks!!
(Dear Rachel, I do hope eventually to include a full history of your grandfather’s musical career on the site.)
Hi Bill, after quite a few years playing bass with a variety of groups in Liverpool and London, I drifted away from the music business completely for about 30 years. Now, in late mid-life crisis, and living in the south of England, I've found my way back and recently started playing again. Prompted by the renewed interest, and wondering what on earth happened to the people I had so much fun with back in 60's Liverpool.
I decided to seek out some of the ghosts via the bottomless pit of the 'Google' search engine. Well, here we are, and there you still are - 'Mersey Beat'. I should have known, of all things, you'd still be there plugging away! Congratulations, and thank you for giving us a common point of reference to the most brilliant time in British (Liverpool) music history.
For your information (and eternal boredom): My musical career began as a cellist in the South Wales Youth Orchestra but, with the advent of skiffle and rock 'n' roll, and a family move to the Wirral, I dumped the classics in favour of a bass guitar and the Liverpool circuit with Johnny Rocco and the Jets. That then progressed to become Steve Day and the Drifters (I read your article on Steve, whose name incidentally was Rod PONT, not Punt, as you had stated, with great sadness, following his passing) and thence to the Rainchecks, and the Chet Atkins-style guitar wizardry of Barry Ezra.
Having then had the in-between pleasure of being part of Rory Storm's 'Iron Door' lunchtime group, the Wild Ones (Rory, Johnny Guitar, Ringo, Phil Kenzie on sax, myself on bass, someone called Paul McCartney on piano), I then joined Derry Wilkie as bass player with the Others, after the Seniors had split and his short stint with the Pressmen had soured. (This note is prompted by the fact that I have just read your article about Derry having passed away in 2001, and I sit here with a tear in my eye remembering the self-styled 'smoked Irishman' who we loved dearly, argued with so vigorously, and had such a ball working with around the UK and in Germany so many years ago). Forgive my senior nostalgic moment, but I just wanted to assure you that those days of the Mersey Sound, and 'Mersey Beat', remain a very special part of the lives of people who were 'there'. We won't forget - in fact we might even come back some time.
Saw the Real Thing on Friday and popped Eddie Amoo’s name into Google out of curiosity and came across this site .It brought back fantastic memories as I was a big Chants fan in the early sixties and knew the group quite well. Like many people I spent a lot of time at the Ankrah’s house in Upper Parliament Street. I still see Eddie from time to time and he always reminds me that he still has the Motown compilation LP I bought him (American import from NEMS) for his 21st birthday I also bought Alan Harding the wallet mentioned in an article in Mersey Beat back in 1963. He said it was unlucky and I remember crying when I read it!!
I am retiring in eight weeks and was starting to feel old but this site has brought back my seventeen year old self with happy memories of writing letters to Mersey Beat saying the Chants were underrated and hoping 1964 might be the year of the vocal group!!!
(Dear Maureen, The Chants also borrowed my Motown albums – and wore them out! Most of the Chants recordings are now available on CD, details in the April news section of the Mersey Beat site.
Here are a couple of some previously unpublished photos I took of the Joey and Eddie Ankrah).