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extract from BRITISH BEAT 1960-1969
extract from a book by Terry Rawlings
Terry Rawlings has published an excellent book called
THEN, NOW, AND RARE BRITISH BEAT 1960-1969
The book is now out of print, but you may find it second hand. Reference is ISBN 0-7119-9094-8. It is must have reading for all of you who lived through, or are interested in, "the sixties".
Mr. Rawlings works alphabetically through all the major British bands of the sixties, and some minor - but fascinatingly connected bands. For each he provides a very brief biography of the band then and what they are doing now. The book also contains many contemporary photos, including the cover photo of the book itself - which features the Nashville Teens themselves.
We reproduce here (we have asked permission, but
haven't got it yet - so go out and buy the book to vindicate us !)
Terry's section on THE TEENS is as follows:
Proving that the Merseysiders didn't have the field to themselves in early Sixties Hamburg was Surrey septet The Nashville Teens. Formed in Weybridge during 1962 by singers Art Sharp and Ray Phillips the first line-up comprised Michael Dunford (guitar), John Hawken (piano), Pete Shannon (bass), and Roger Groom (drums).
Dunford and Groom left the following year, to be respectively replaced by John Allen and Barry Jenkins, for an extended period in Germany. While learning their trade there (with additional vocalist Terry Crow) the band played residencies at the famed Star Club and backed visiting US giant Jerry Lee Lewis. On their return to England in 1964 they repeated the experience with Chuck Berry and earned themselves a management contract with Don Arden and a recording deal with Decca. A debut single - a cover of John d Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" - was produced by Mickie Most and shot them to number six in August 1964. It also gave the Nashville Teens a foothold in America where it made the US Top 20 in October (they were assumed to be American because of the name). Another Loudermilk song "Google Eye" (an ode to a fish) was chosen as a follow up and gave them a second top tenner in November but it was to be their last with Most.
In 1965 a chance to broaden their American popularity was botched when a visa mix-up forced the band to abandon a US tour with The Zombies. A third single appropriately entitled "Find My way Back Home" was recorded while the band were stuck in New York but stalled at 34 in March. Decca were blamed for not supporting the group and neglecting them promotions-wise. Once home again they made an impressive appearance alongside The Animals in the beat movie Pop Gear and released a critically acclaimed (but poor selling) self-titled EP. "This Little Bird" (produce by Andrew Loog Oldham, which ironically lost out in chart favours to Marianne Faithfull), "I Know How It Feels To Be Loved" and "The Hard Way" (produced by Shel Talmy) were only minor hits. Groom rejoined the group in February '66 when Jenkins jumped at the opportunity to replace John Steel in The Animals. The Teens' chart profile began to ebb away from then on but luckily they could still fall back on their in-demand live reputation backing visiting American artists like Carl Perkins and Bo Diddley. In 1969 Hawken left to form Renaissance with ex-Yardbirds Keith Relf and Jim McCarty and later went on to form Third World War before joining The Strawbs. He left The Strawbs in 2010 and now fronts his own band in New Jersey, USA.
The occasional single continued to slip out unnoticed, including the Roy Wood song "Ella James", produced by its composer, and line-ups came and went right through the Seventies and even the Eighties. Art Sharp left in 1972 and went to work for Don Arden while Ray Phillips still fronts a version of the band today.
©Terry Rawlings 2002