Despise you 'cos you're filthy,  but love you 'cos you're home






The story of how The Nashville Teens evolved and developed across the years and the friends they made.


See also the FAMILY tree page of this website and the Discography in the MUSIC section



Formed in 1962, The Nashville Teens was an evolution of a local Weybridge band called The Cruisers, which included Mick Dunford, John Hawken, Pete Shannon (Harris) and Dave Maine. They were seeking a new vocalist but they over-achieved and managed to attract two lead singers; Arthur Sharp and Ray (Ramon) Phillips.  Arthur joined from a band called The Variation Six Skiffle Group and Ray from The Phoenix City Band.  Thus was born what is arguably the UKs first "Boy Band" with two lead singers who were good looking as well as good sounding.  The new name of the band was derived from the Everly Brothers song "Nashville Blues". 

The band served their "apprenticeship" in The Storyville Clubs of Cologne and Frankfurt in 1963 (where they worked with Terry Crowe on vocals) and in The Star Club in Hamburg. While in Hamburg they famously backed Jerry Lee Lewis on his seminal live recording "Jerry Lee Lewis Live In Hamburg".  They later backed Carl Perkins on his classic hit single "Big Bad Blues".  While in Germany they played alongside other up-and-coming acts like The Spencer Davis Group. The work was hard and the hours long. Performances effectively went on all night, and the boys then drove out to the coast to sleep on the beach all day - where they bonded with many of the other UK musicians who were playing the Hamburg club circuit. The Nashville Teens returned to appear at The Star Club fiftieth anniversary show in Hamburg in 2012.

Before becoming a professional musician Art Sharp had worked in the "Aerco" record store in Woking.  That gave him access to new American imports - and one of these was a 1960 import of John D Loudermilk songs, which included "Tobacco Road" - in a country music format. The Nashville Teens picked up this song, converted it to having a driving Old School R&B beat - and made it their own.  The band returned to the UK where they toured extensively and also provided backing to visiting artists - notable Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry before finding their own fame when a young singer named Mickie Most decided to move into "production management" - he took the band - who were managed by Don Arden - under his wing and had The Nashville Teens record their version of "Tobacco Road". When it was released in July 1964 it roared up the charts and became one of the most iconic recordings of the nineteen sixties.  Surprisingly the record didn't actually make it to Number One! But although it peaked at only number six in the New Musical Express charts, it remained in those charts for an impressive thirteen weeks.

The band have made many TV and film appearances.  They featured in Fred Goodes film "Pop Gear" (1964) along with The Beatles and others.  The Teens appeared on one of the very first "live performance" version of Ready Steady Go, and have also graced the TV screen in the Southbank Show, OTT, Saturday Superstore, Unforgettable and a live recording at the Dominion Theatre. Ray Phillips appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks in 2000.   The Teens were also recently represented on radio when Colin Pattenden - bass guitar - was interviewed by Keith Skues on Radio London in August 2001.  The radio station played "Tobacco Road", "Biggest Night Of her Life" and a rare 1972 Hungarian recording of Ray singing solo on "This Little Bird".


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There have been four main phases in the evolution of The Nashville Teens.

There were several changes of personnel before the band found fame. Mick Dunford and Dave Maine moved off to join a band called The Pentads, and after that to The PlebsMick was replaced by John Allen on bass guitar, and Dave as replaced initially by Roger Groome, then Peter Jones and finally Barry JenkinsRoger was to rejoin the band three years later, but by mid 1964 the iconic line up of Sharp, Phillips, Shannon, Allen and Jenkins was in place for the release of "Tobacco Road".  By the way, a full "Family Tree" of band members is available on the FAMILY link.

Phase 2: 1964-1972
The mid sixties were a period of relative stability of the bands line-up.  They produced four more chart hits.  "Google Eye" - another John D Loudermilk number - achieved number ten in the NME charts just three months after "Tobacco Road".  Over Christmas 1964 the band found themselves stranded in New York. They had set off with a bunch of other UK Bands to join The British Invasion Tour - but Mickie Most was still learning his trade as a manager, and they found themselves stranded for weeks without work permits - and frustratingly unable to participate in the tour.  Despite the embargo they did manage a performance on the prestigious Murray The K's Show where they played alongside The Shangi-La's. The lads enjoyed taking it in turns to "play" the motorbike in the Shangi-La's then current hit, "The Leader of The Pack". During their enforced stay in New York the song "Find My Way Back Home" appealed to them - and was duly recorded - they thought with the sanction of their manager.  However, although this recording charted in March 1965 (number 34 in the NME charts) - it was the focus of a falling out with Mickie Most.  Indeed their next charting single in May 1965 - "This Little Bird" - only charted at number 38.  The record had to compete with another version of the same song by Marianne Faithfull, who made it to number 6 in the charts. Coincidentally Art Sharp, Ray Phillips and Marianne Faithfull had all known each other before any of them found fame. Art and Ray had occasionally attended gatherings at Braziers Park in Oxfordshire organised by Marianne's father, Major Robert Faithfull.  The band only had one further chart success, "The Hard Way" in 1966.
There were some minor personnel changes during the sixties. Around 1966 Neil Korner replaced Pete Shannon, and Roger Groome rejoined the band replacing Barry Jenkins who went to join the Animals. John Hawken left the band in 1968 to join Keith Relf (ex Yardbirds) in RenaissanceLenny Butcher joined in 1969 to replace Roger Groome, and that year there were a couple of personnel changes to the guitarist roles eventually settling with Len Tuckey and Roger Deane in those roles.
Throughout the remainder of the sixties The Nashville Teens suffered from many changes of production management - which really prevented the band from establishing a consistent style.  Among the bigger name producers they experienced were  Mickie Most, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Shel Tammy. The band continued to make records through the eighties and nineties, but remain committed to their first love, which is delivering live entertainment.

Phase 3: 1973-1984
in 1973 there were some tectonic changes when the band virtually wound up with Arthur Sharps decision to leave the band and go into "management". For the next ten years Ray Phillips kept the band afloat with a difficult mix of band members and occasional periods using "pick up" bands.  Periods of relative stability were afforded by the presence of Rob Pusey (drums) and Pete Agate (lead guitar).

Phase 4: 1984 to date.
The current era of The Nashville Teens started in 1984 when Dave Dee (of Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich fame) pulled together a concert at The Rainbow in aid of The Nordoff Robbins Fund - The line-up at the time comprised Ray Phillips (vocals), Spud Metcalf (drums), Simon Spratley (keyboards), Colin Pattenden (bass guitar) and Ian Campbell (lead guitar). this gave the band the kick start they needed to settle as a really coherent group.  With the exception of Ian Campbell - who has since been replaced by Ken Osborn;  the current line up was established and have been performing together ever since.


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The team dynamics of a touring band are complex, and result in many friendships which span years.

The Nashville Teens and The Spencer Davis Group were very close - not only from their joint early sixties experiences in Hamburg, but these two were just about the only two British bands to enjoy the bonding experience of regularly visiting the "iron curtain" countries during the late sixties and early seventies.  The iron curtain tours weren't profitable, in fact they often weren't paid at all - but were loads of fun. The communist culture had great difficulty understanding the role of a "roadie", so Pete Webber - the bands road manager - had to wave a tambourine about and pretend that he was a band member! Pete went on to be Dave Dees personal roadie and remains a close friend of the band. Consequently The Teens are still very popular there, especially in Hungary.   Ray Phillips has had independent chart successes in Hungary with "This Little Bird", which was a freedom anthem during the struggles against Russian occupation.  Ray has enjoyed success in Hungary with the song both as a single with The Teens and as a duet with Zalatnay SaroltaZalatnay - who is also known as "Cini", was a well known pop musician in Hungary who later went on to a very colourful career including being the first centre spread in the short lived Iron Curtain edition of Playboy Magazine! She also ran her own radio station, spent time in prison and is now a politician in Hungary. Ray rarely sings "This Little Bird" nowadays, he says that it reminds him too much of his late best mate Alan Williams from his army days. Among the rare exceptions he has made was a memorable capela rendition of the song in a church in the town of Pacs (Hungary) during the 2010 GastroBlues Festival

Some lasting friendships and close relationships grew up between the touring bands in the sixties.  The link between The Teens and The Animals was, and remains, strong. Barry Jenkins eventually moved from The Teens to join The Animals as their drummer, and Ray Phillips occasionally appears as a guest singer with the touring Animals & Friends.  The link with The Yardbirds was also strengthened over the years -and when the two bands appear together nowadays the dressing room is always full of anecdotes and good memories.  John Hawken - The Teens original pianist left to join Keith Relf of the Yardbirds when he formed Renaissance. but remains a visitor to the current Nashville Teens gigs whenever he visits the UK from his home in the USA. He usually manages to wangle a guest appearance, and in 2016 he actually played a whole ninety minute gig all the way through as a deputy for Simon Spratley !

It wouldnt be possible to record all friendships here, but if you scan through the various photograph albums on this website you will find, among others, Kingsize Taylor, Jackie Lynton, Cliff Bennett, and the late great Tony Sheridan.    


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last validation 02/10/2016