The tour didn’t move far for the next show – the Gaumont in Worcester – and when Bill Wyman returned to the hotel, he found the same girl waiting for him. Their new van was stripped for souvenirs and for a time, the Stones were driving around with a number-plate that only said OMM.
Mickie Most said, “I used to go on second and do my eight minutes and then I would go into the audience and watch these great artists. Little Richard was completely different from his records because his act changed every night. He didn’t really have an act as such: he would go out and go berserk for half an hour.”
Little Richard said, “Mick Jagger used to sit at the side of the stage and watch my set. Every performance.”
Mick Jagger agreed, “I couldn’t believe the power of Little Richard on stage. He was amazing. Chuck Berry is my favourite, along with Bo, but nobody could beat Richard’s stage act. Little Richard is the originator and my first idol.”
Back to Mickie Most: “One night Richard asked if I would lend him a shirt. He went on stage and he took if off and it was torn to pieces by the fans. He asked me again the next night and I said no. I couldn’t afford to lose shirts like that”
The Rattles got by on very little. Herbert Hildebrand says, “We did a package tour of five weeks with the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, the Rolling Stones and Little Richard all over England and it was fantastic. The promoters said that they had no money for us and so we got £5 for the whole band, no hotel, nothing. We were four kids carrying our own equipment and we would open the second half with two songs, and every time the coach stopped in front of a hotel, we had to get out and look in a strange city for somewhere to stay, and it was very hard. Sometimes the bus would stop at a restaurant and we couldn’t go in as we had no money. Little Richard asked us to have a coffee with him and he gave us money. It was hard for us but it paid off and it was good learning for us.”
Dicky Tarrach, also from the Rattles, adds, “Most of us went travelled together in this very big bus. Every day Richard would say, ‘I am so beautiful today’ He had his own natural hair then, no wig, but he was very strange. He had to keep saying, ‘I was the best yesterday, I am the king of rock and roll.’ If he read a good review he would say, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ He closed the first half and we were on at the start of the second half and our contract was two songs, but if Little Richard went on too long, we could only do one song. There were a couple of nights where he was not so good and we got three songs.”
Little Richard was determined to be the main act on the bill. Keith Richards from his autobiography, Life: “Little Richard’s stage presentation was outrageous and brilliant. You never knew which way he was going to arrive. He had the band thumping out ‘Lucille’ for almost ten minutes, which is a long time to keep that riff going. The whole place blacked out, nothing to see but the Exit signs. And then he’d come out of the back of the theatre. Other times he’d run on stage and then disappear again and come back. He had a different intro almost every time. What you realised was that Richard had checked the theatre, talked to the lighting people – Where can I come from? Is there a doorway up there? – and figured how he could get the most effective intro possible: whether it’s bang, straight in or whether to let the riff roll for five minutes and then turn up from the loft. You’re not just playing a club where presentation means nothing and there’s no room to move.”
Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers also worked with Little Richard: “Little Richard was always crazy. I loved him but it’s like being on a show with Ken Dodd. You can’t tell them what to do and they can both go on forever.”
The tour had a good night at the Gaumont, Wolverhampton and then moved to the Gaumont, Derby, and Chas ‘Dr Rock’ White caught the show there “Don Arden was very keen to have publicity for the tour and I’d got myself an Irish press pass. Little Richard was the Supreme Commander. He was brilliant and even though Bo Diddley shone like a diamond he couldn’t match him. The Everlys were very good but they were intimidated by their co-stars. They were doing the songs far too fast.”
Rock adds, “I thought the Rolling Stones were awful but put that down to prejudice on my part and I might think differently if I could see that act again today. I thought British acts couldn’t sing R&B. On the other hand, the Flintstones did a decent job backing Little Richard and certainly I never heard Little Richard complain about them. Mickie Most was awful, laying on his back and singing ‘Sea Cruise’. I was enraged because he was so bad. It’s not just me saying that. People were throwing those hard, old pennies at him. I couldn’t tell you a thing about Julie Grant but I was impressed by Bob Bain. Before then, the compères were saying ‘Hello again, and now here’s Alma Cogan’ but Bob Bain was high octane stuff, whipping up the excitement.”
Richard had thrown away his cufflinks with his shirt and he asked Don Arden to lend him a pair for the second house. Arden slipped off his gold links and passed them to Richard. They went into the crowd with the shirt and Arden was furious.
Writing in Disc, Ken Jenour met Richard between houses. “After the most frenzied, fantastic act I’ve ever seen, Little Richard came off stage at Derby’s Gaumont Theatre last Friday and calmly told me, ‘I am planning to cut an LP called Little Richard Sings Soft Music. I know I’m real wild on stage and I just can’t help it, but I can sing real soft and sweet.’ Then to a tirade of screams and stamping feet, he stormed back on stage. And the whole frantic procedure started over again.”
The music writer John Stafford saw the show with his girlfriend at the Gaumont Doncaster on October 12 and after the first house at 6.15pm, they went to the dressing room shared by Bo Diddley and Little Richard. Bo signed his autograph book and Little Richard said, “Hey, what about me? Have I upset you?” John explained that he already had Richard’s autograph. He showed it to him with his old address (1710 Virginia Road) and Richard signed it with his new address, now 3931 Manchester Place.
Richard asked if they were going to the second show but they might miss the last train. Richard ignored this, said that the second show was always better and assumed that they weren’t going because they didn’t have the money. He gave them £5 for tickets, but John didn’t take it as they wouldn’t be able to get back.
PART 4. ROAD RUNNERS
“If I can’t get to them, they ain’t to be gotten too. If you taste a piece of cake and it tastes petty good, you’re gonna want another piece.” (Bo Diddley, 1963)
“It started, man, on the first tour. Halfway through, things started to go crazy.” (Keith Richards interviewed for the ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ film, 2012)
On Sunday 13 October 1963, the Everly Brothers tour played the Odeon Cinema in London Road, Liverpool, and I went to the first house, fortunately making some notes at the time and keeping them.
The show began with the Flintstones doing ‘Last Night’ and then Mickie Most was given a ridiculous five songs – I was thinking, “Is this man ever going to finish?” There was ‘Kansas City’, ‘I’ll Never Get Over You’, ‘The Feminine Look’ (his best moment, for what it’s worth), ‘It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’ and ‘Johnny B. Goode’, which he played on his knees. It was a thankless task for Mickie Most as all the audience wanted him to shift so we could see the stars.
It may have five songs for Mickie Most but it was only three for the Rolling Stones, which seemed equally daft. They performed Chuck Berry’s ‘I’m Talkin’ ’Bout You’, ‘Come On’ and taking a chance in Liverpool, Lennon and McCartney’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. Considering they were rising stars, why did they only get eight minutes?
There was a long pounding introduction from the Flintstones and we all wondered where Little Richard was. He came screaming down the aisle singing ‘Lucille’ and he followed it with ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’, and ‘Rip It Up’, but really he could have been singing anything.
His showmanship was remarkable and at one stage he clenched the top of a chair with his teeth, held it aloft and then did a wild rockin’ dance around the front of the stage. He stripped to his underpants and put on a dressing-gown as he closed with ‘Hound Dog’. He had been on stage for over half an hour.
After the interval, the Rattles sang ‘Mashed Potatoes’, known in Liverpool via the Undertakers. It was a long way to come just to sing “Mashed potato, yeah”. Then Julie Grant did Tony Hatch’s ‘Count On Me’, another Lennon and McCartney song, ‘Bad To Me’, a decent ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and her new single, ‘Don’t Ever Let Me Down’.
Bo Diddley performed a brilliant ‘Bo Diddley’, followed by ‘Baby’ (my title at the time – don’t know what this was), ‘Road Runner’ (where the sound reverberated round the theatre – the highlight of the show for me) and finally ‘Hey, Bo Diddley’.
Hardly pausing for breath, the Everly Brothers sang ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, ‘Cathy’s Clown’, ‘Claudette’, ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’, ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘So Sad’, ‘Baby, What You Want Me To Do’ and ‘Be Bop A Lula’. The fast songs were way too fast but ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ and ‘So Sad’ were fine.
Also at the show was Andrew Doble: “The Everly Brothers were disappointing as they could easily have been much better, but Little Richard more than fulfilled my expectations. His suit was soon covered in sweat and he took it off and came back in a fluffy white bathrobe. It was all part of the show of course and I thought he was an absolutely great showman. Like Little Richard, Bo Diddley was exciting and had pizzazz but all the time I was wondering if the Duchess was his sister or his mistress. I saw the Rolling Stones and I thought they would never make it. They seemed limp compared to the others and I was deeply unimpressed. However, Mickie Most was the bottom of the bill by a very long way.”
Another view of the same show from the Liverpool crime writer, Ron Ellis: “The Everly Brothers were very efficient as though a Sgt Major had told them to get on with it and they had brushed their hair forward to give themselves a Beatle look. Little Richard was very good and still doing rock’n’roll and it had never occurred to me that he might be gay. Bo Diddley was great: he didn’t move very much but his body swung as he played and he had a weird looking guitar. Mickie Most was okay as he had a good personality and he moved about. I remember him more than the Flintstones and Julie Grant, who just stood still.”
Ron went backstage for a feature for Record Mirror. He found Bo Diddley adlibbing ‘Doin’ The Monkey At School’ with Jerome on maracas and local musicians, the Chants and Derry Wilkie adding the backing. Little Richard was praising Jackie Wilson who now had his old band, the Upsetters. Richard loved Jerry Lee Lewis and he knew who Billy Fury was. He thought Solomon Burke was going to be big.
On the other hand, Bob Dylan’s future biographer, Michael Gray, speaks in the Everly Brothers’ defence: “I admired the Everly Brothers as there were one of the few 50s acts who dared to sing different versions of their hits on stage. I could see that Don was the one with the charisma but he was also the wayward and unpredictable one and not to be relied upon. Phil was watching him very closely – Phil was the managerial type, the worrier.”
Backstage, the Rolling Stones were in turmoil. When Brian Jones wanted to stay in a better hotel, the other Stones learnt that Brian was receiving an extra £5 a week for being the leader of the group. From that night in Liverpool, it was all over for Brian as the leader of the Rolling Stones.
Herbert Hildebrand of the Rattles reminisced, “It was surprising to come to Liverpool. We were children of the war and Germany had been badly bombed. We had lost the war, but when we came to Liverpool, it looked like England had lost the war because it was all dirty and far below the standard of Hamburg. It was a little disappointing too as a lot of people shouted ‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘Nazis, go home’ to us. It was not easy sometimes, but the girls were okay. We played for the girls and not the guys. (Laughs)”
There was no show for the tour the following day and both the Rolling Stones and the Rattles thought they would attend a lunchtime session at Cavern. The scheduled act, the Merseybeats had missed a connection to Liverpool and would be arriving late. The club’s owner Ray McFall had called the local band, the Escorts and they were there for the start. When the Rattles came into the club, the Escorts invited them to do a couple of songs and then the Merseybeats completed the lunchtime session.
By then the Rolling Stones had arrived and they all had a drink after the show. Michael Gray recalls, “I didn’t see the Beatles at the Cavern but I did bump into Mick Jagger. This freckly, gingery youth was standing around giving out autographs and I said, ‘Who are you?’ He said, ‘Mick Jagger. Who are you?’ and I said, ‘Michael Gray’ (Laughs).”
The Rolling Stones agreed to play the Cavern on a free day in December and they did an evening gig that night at the Majestic Ballroom, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire. The tour had another free day on October 15. The Stones played Blackpool with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and Heinz. It was a memorable gig for Kidd as his pirate boots were stolen.
The following night the touring party reassembled at the Odeon in Manchester. They had to compete with Wee Willie Harris who was appearing at the Devonshire Sporting Club in his “last week before world tour”.
When checking on the tour in the regional papers, I came across the bizarre story of Sidney Smith’s music shop in Miles Platting, Manchester. This shop had never been opened its doors in the last 20 years, so its stock, which passers-by could see through the window, was still of 1943 vintage. The owner of the shop was now 86 and had moved to a care home in Blackpool. What was going to happen to it?
After Manchester, the tour moved to the Odeon Glasgow. Jerry Dawson of Melody Maker saw Little Richard there: “Little Richard is on stage, his face bathed in perspiration. He sings. He jumps and dances. The roar from the teenage audience becomes louder. He removes his jacket, shirt and tie. When he comes off stage, he has a toweling robe around his naked torso and he says, ‘Well, I made them happy, didn’t I?’” He tells Dawson that he has been studying theology and that he is planning a dramatic presentation of his life along gospel lines.
Writing to Record Mirror, Ian McAllister said, “I would like to protest strongly at the time allocated to Bo Diddley on his current tour. In Glasgow, Bo was allowed to sing three numbers. It seems ridiculous that Diddley, who is tops in his field, should be allowed less time than Julie Grant, the Rolling Stones and Mickie Most, whose name I regret to use in the same sentence as Bo Diddley’s. After all, Diddley was given star billing along with the Everly Brothers and Little Richard, who were both given substantial spots, and it seems only fair that Diddley should have been given likewise.”
When Mickie Most was in Glasgow, he told the audience that he had had seven Number 1 in South Africa. A heckler shouted, “Why don’t you go back there?” Meanwhile, Phil Everly had been out shopping, buying an Inverness cape and planning to add some sleeves.
The visit to Newcastle for two shows at the Odeon proved to be hugely significant. John Steel was the drummer with the Newcastle band, the Alan Price Rhythm And Blues Combo, which had played its first gig with the five members who became the Animals n September 1963. Their drummer, John Steel, says “We went to the first house but we had a gig at the Club-A-Go-Go that night. We saw Little Richard but I preferred him in 1962 when he had Billy Preston with him on Hammond organ who was sensational. We desperately wanted to see Bo Diddley and also check out this new band, the Rolling Stones, but we couldn’t stay for the whole show as we had to go to work. We had a block booking for all five of us and our roadie/manager too and so there were six of us in a row and we stayed until the Everlys came on and then we all stood up and walked out. A lot of people knew us and it must have looked like a terrible insult to the Everly Brothers. We couldn’t help it.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. “That night we were doing our songs and some of the Stones and the Duchess and Jerome had come into the club. It was like party night as everyone was enjoying themselves. Jerome started playing with us and that was good fun. Eric wrote a song ‘The Story Of Bo Diddley’ he gilded the lily a bit and by saying that Bo Diddley had walked into the club and said. ‘What the hell is that?’ to us. But Bo Diddley never came to the club: that is an urban legend. I met a guy who insisted that Bo Diddley had jammed with us and I said, ‘He didn’t jam with us, he wasn’t there’ and he replied, ‘Hey look, I was there.” (Laughs)”
Mickie Most was very impressed by Alan Price’s combo and wanted to record them, which he did with a change of name to the Animals. To complete the evening, the Stones took some girls back to the Station Hotel to party, but the hotel had a strict policy about liaisons in their bedrooms and wouldn’t let the girls in.
From time to time, some of the Stones stayed in Bo Diddley’s hotel room. He would tell them, “You’re gonna outlast the Beatles because you play like black dudes. That ‘yeah yeah yeah’ jive of the Beatles is going to fall apart any minute.” When in London, the Stones took Bo to R&B club, The Scene in Piccadilly, which had Guy Stevens, the founder of Sue Records, as its resident DJ. Unlike Chuck Berry who would never think of jamming without being paid, Bo sat in with the house band on a couple of occasions.
On the recommendation of the Rolling Stones, the Animals also played the Scene and after meeting Mickie Most and Peter Grant at another of their haunts, Eel Pie Island, they started to record for Mickie Most. Don Arden became their agent and he said, “I’m going to take one group this year and make them giants. And you’re going to be it.”
The next night, October 19, was at the Odeon Bradford. Bradford is not a city that you would associate with Mods, but they turned out that night to support the Stones. In the hotel bar, Jerome met a party from the Bradford Food Fair. He was given a big badge to say he represented a butter firm, which he then wore with pride.
Keith Richards wrote in his autobiography, Life: “The sense of space, the size of the audience, the whole scale was breathtaking. We were probably disastrously horrible in some of those shows, but by then there was a buzz going on. The audience was louder than we were, which certainly helped.”
At the Gaumont Hanley, Brian Jones picked up a girl and the Stones took her back to London in the van. When they reached London, he no longer wanted her and Bill Wyman put her on a train the next day. Meanwhile, Charlie Watts had instigated some drumming sessions with Ernie Cox from the Flintstones, Jim Gordon from the Everlys band and Barry Jenkins who had joined Bo Diddley.
After a day off, the tour resumed at the Gaumont Sheffield and Don Everly went round antique shops looking for swords. This matched Phil who had already bought some duelling swords. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, the tour could have had some unique publicity.
The show at the Gaumont was reviewed by Sheffield Star. They thought Bo Diddley was best and noted that the Everlys hadn’t played an encore. The reviewer said, “I think they’ve made their money and just don’t need to sing anymore.” The newspaper’s supplement Top Stars Special noted that the Everlys were distant and old-fashioned and thought that they were heading for retirement.
Rather more compassionately, a NME reader Ann Smith wrote, “The Everly Brothers are not difficult to approach. We met them on the steps of the hotel, and although a man with them said that they couldn’t sign autographs, Phil told us to come up. Don’s wife was there and their baby Stacy held by Don. We talked for a few minutes and they signed autographs. How many other pop stars would have done that after a show?” Well, certainly not Brian and Bill who would have got down to business. Bill Wyman has revealed that he and Brian Jones chatted up twin girls and they took amyl nitrate while making love.
It was off to the Odeon Nottingham on October 23 and the next night it was the Odeon Birmingham. In a party of ten friends from Rugby, Stuart Colman saw the show in Birmingham. He says, “Mickie Most was not to be taken seriously and few people took any notice of him. The Rolling Stones wore matching dog-tooth jackets and performed on a small riser which was wheeled on and off with their equipment and all of them clinging onto it. Bo Diddley with the Duchess and Jerome were superb. He had a bank of Gibson amps, complete with angled supports that pointed the speakers up into the circle. Little Richard was totally mad and stole the show. He put everything he’d got into his act which was pure rock’n’roll all the way. This made it very difficult for the Everly Brothers. They began with their hits in ultra-fast form which didn’t sit at all well. It wasn’t until they sang ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’ that they began to win the crowd over.” On the way back to the car park, they bumped into Keith Richards and Charlie Watts who were chatting up two Mod girls in a doorway. They spent some time discussing who had what by Chuck Berry on London-American.
Keith said how well they were getting on with Bo Diddley and his entourage. Back in the States, Jerome had been paid $50 a week to keep Jimmy Reed sober on the road, but Jerome had spent the money on booze for himself. On one occasion they were landing at Chicago on a DC 3 and when the door opened, Jerome stepped out before the portable staircase had been put in place and fell flat on to the tarmac.
The tour had a party in Birmingham for both the Duchess and Bill Wyman where they played Jimmy Reed records and the coach driver ate a glass for a bet. The Rolling Stones’ numberplate had completely disappeared.
Julie Grant says, “The Rattles didn’t speak much English but they were very handsome and very sweet. The Everlys were doing their songs very fast, not danceable at all. I loved them though as their harmonies were so perfect. I would like standing in the wings, soaking it all up. Towards the middle of the tour, everybody knew who the Stones were. The audiences really wanted them. I would be announced and I would hear people chanting, “We want the Stones”. And nobody wanted poor Mickie Most who was on first. They wanted the Stones.”
At the Gaumont, Taunton on 25 October, the police had to control Little Richard who had stripped off while singing ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ to ensure that he didn’t give them the Full Monty, but this distraction could have been set up by Richard.
By now the Everlys must have known they were losing their grip. Keith Richards wrote, “We were getting bigger and bigger. We were opening the second half of the show and the kids were rocking. That was pissing the Everly Brothers off because they’re top of the bill. They had a job holding down the top spot after three weeks. By then our impudence had built up to a point where we knew what was going to happen. There was a new wind blowing.”
At the Gaumont Bournemouth on October 26, a local reviewer Dave Birmingham commented, “The Everlys were more than brilliant. Yobbos jeered and booed but eventually even these were quietened. Their backing group was brilliant beyond words. As the show ended, they were cheered and clapped and the audience yelled for more.” Again, to each his own: maybe the Evs had got it together that night.
After appearing at the Gaumont Salisbury, the Stones narrowly escaped serious injury. Their van spun out of control as Ian Stewart drove under a railway bridge in an S-bend as they were leaving town. The van ricocheted off the bridge wall but stayed upright.
On October 28, most of the tour party played the East Ham Granada, but not the Everly Brothers. This had been the site of such a traumatic gig in October 1962 that maybe they thought they would be tempting fate. As Bo Diddley was playing a club date at the Oasis in Manchester, Little Richard could perform for as long as he liked.
The touring party was all together for the Gaumount in Southampton on October 29 and Odeon St Albans the following night. Herts Advertiser said, “The Stones whipped up a storm with top rate versions of ‘Memphis Tennessee’ and ‘Come On’.”
The month was rounded off at the Lewisham Odeon, which was the Rattles’ last night as they had a November residency at the Star-Club in Hamburg. Dicky Tarrach said, “We loved touring with Little Richard and we would tell our audiences about it and then play ‘Lucille’.”
The touring party started November at the Rochester Odeon in Kent, the same day that the Rolling Stones’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was released. The review in Disc said, “This Lennon and McCarney song is a raucous, belting beater which is chanted at flat-out pace. The guitar sounds good and earthy, and the whole production has an exciting on-the-spot quality. There is a bluesy piano on ‘Stoned’ from Ian Stewart.”
There’s a bright note when the tour came to the Gaumont, Ipswich. There are wonderful pictures of Little Richard and the Everly Brothers surrounded by schoolchildren and signing autographes. The Everlys were photographed with the Cockney hitmaker, Tommy Bruce who didn’t look happy about it.
The final show was back in London at the famed Hammersmith Odeon on November 3. Here the Stones received their best reception of the tour but paper cups were thrown at the Everlys. But the Stones weren’t to everyone’s satisfaction. Writing to the New Musical Express, J. Worley commented, “Having seen the Stones at the Odeon, Hammersmith, I can only say that their so-called R&B sounds as anaemic as they look and it is deplorable that they should dare to perform with artists of the calibre of Bo Diddley and Little Richard.”
Little Richard was on terrific form, despite a throat infection, an underpowered microphone and instructions not to go into the audience. He told an attendant who was restraining a fan, “Hey, leave him alone” and the audience loved this. During his five song set (‘Lucille’, ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’’, ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Keep-A Knockin’’) Richard did 14 leaps into air and concluded with a jump from the piano.
On the journey home from Hammersmith, the coach driver Fred Spurling crashed into a minibus and then into a shop and he was killed. The Daily Mirror headline said, “Girl Pop Singers In Death Crash”. In the coach at the time was 17-year-old Julie Grant with her mother and another female singer, Jackie Frisco, who married Gene Vincent. The drummer, 19-year-old Barry Jenkins, who was about to join the Nashville Teens, had head injuries but they were all okay.
Was the Everly Brothers tour profitable? Michael Winner’s comments in The Sunday Times on 6 May 2012 are over the top but doubtless come from conversations with the Don himself. “Don Arden’s show was on the road when he decided that he didn’t need the Everly Brothers who were the costliest act of the bill. He got people to go to the gig and boo and shout, ‘Go back to America’, and other nastier things. So the Everly Brothers said, ‘They don’t like us here’ and quit.”
At other times, Don Arden said that the tour did not make a profit. “I finished up losing two or three grand but at least the tour had the appearance of success which is almost as important as the real thing.”
PART 5 – THE PRICE OF LOVE
Don Everly (singing)
“Woke up this morning in the empty, cold and draughty Buffalo Hall,
You must be Blind Boy Pete for booking us in here at all.”
Phil Everly: “Best song you’ve written in a year.”
(The Everly Brothers in 1964 in Ken Duncum’s play, Blue Sky Boys)
Over the last four months, I’ve told the story of the Everly Brothers – Little Richard – Bo Diddley – Rolling Stones UK tour of autumn 1963 with Julie Grant, Mickie Most and the Flintstones. But what happened next? Did all live happy Everly after? No way, this is not a fairy story.
Don Everly flew home straight after the last show as his wife Venetia wanted to get home fast as she did not feel well. Phil stayed behind to help their guitarist Joey Paige who recorded a single for Decca on November 8. Joey Paige played on the next Don Arden tour with Duane Eddy and the Shirelles tour and was given a solo spot. Joey followed the tour with a week at the Manchester Cabaret Club and the single produced by Phil Everly, ‘Can You Tell Me What Love Is’ and ‘I’m Afraid’ was released but didn’t sell.
The Everly Brothers looked back fondly on the tour. Phil Everly has said, “That was quite a tour and we had a good time. Little Richard was the showstopper.” But they realised that changes were coming. As Phil said at the time, “It’s very exciting and good for the business but we’re feeling the draught.” Despite some magnificent records, the Everly Brothers never made the US Top 30 after 1962 and symbolically that last hit single was called, ‘That’s Old Fashioned’.
All too often, the Everly Brothers took the easy option. Their records were nearly always good because they used top musicians and had superb harmonies but they lacked excitement. In 1964 they released Jimmy Reed’s ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’ as a single, a shrewd choice well in keeping with the R&B sounds of the day, but UK record-buyers preferred to buy records from the local boys. The Beatles though and other bands were frequently citing them as an influence. Their best single from 1964 was their soaring fairground ballad, ‘The Ferris Wheel’, which made the Hollies’ ‘On A Carousel’ sound wimpish by comparison.
In1965 they returned to the UK Top 10 with ‘The Price Of Love’, followed by a splendid revival ‘Love Is Strange’, a song that owed something to Bo Diddley, possibly even its authorship. The B-side was even better; their own song, ‘Man With Money’, a tough story of a street kid who wants to make good. It’s as uncompromising as the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and, unsurprisingly, it became a key song in the Who’s set.
While in the UK in 1963, the Everlys said they were impressed by current British songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, Gordon Mills (‘I’ll Never Get Over You’) and Jerry Lordan. Although they were to record an album, Two Yanks In London (1966), with most of the songs written by the Hollies, they could have pursued this vein and perhaps got some more hit songs.
Following their friendship on the UK tour, Terry Slater of the Flintstones worked with the band and often wrote with Don and Phil. The songwriting credits for ‘Bowling Green’ (1967) are Terry Slater and Phil’s wife, Jackie Ertel. Terry has his name on ‘Lord Of The Manor’ (1968), although I suspect Don Everly had something to do with it. Terry wrote ‘Mabel’s Room’ with Phil. The Everlys cut some great tracks in the late 60s – ‘Empty Boxes’ (like Simon and Garfunkel) and ‘I’m On My Way Back Home Again’ (with some of the Byrds) – but they didn’t sell.
In 1968 the Everlys made their much heralded album, Roots (1968), in which they want back to their early years from childhood recordings with their parents. There were some wonderful tracks including ‘Sing Me Back Home’, ‘Shady Grove’ and a dynamic ‘T For Texas’. It’s a great album, though it could have been longer, and like Johnny Cash at Folsom and San Quentin, they should have followed it with a TV documentary.
But the Everlys were disintegrating on stage. The Everly Brothers Show (1970) is intriguing. It contains beautiful harmonies but it is wholly uninspired. They have little interest in the songs and Don’s goading “baby brother Phil” the whole time, even referring to him playing with rubber ducks in the bath. Did he want Phil to punch him?
By 1973, Don and Phil had separate managers and were only meeting on stage. They were in their mid-30s and were singing about schooldays. One night Don had had enough. He smashed his guitar on stage (shades of the Who?) and announced, “The Everly Brothers died 10 years ago.”
Ten years later the Everly Brothers chose London and the Royal Albert Hall for their reunion, largely negotiated by Terry Slater. They still had their personal differences but they worked with an excellent band and they made two good albums, EB 1984 and Born Yesterday (1985) and the weaker Some Hearts (1988). Their best moment was when they recorded folk songs acoustically for the BBC series, Bringing It All Back Home (1991). Their final recording was ‘Cold’, for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down The Wind (1998). Now they are in retirement, although it is possible that something special could motivate them. Is Rick Rubin available? Not that anything is likely to happen: Don Everly is even ignoring fans on the street so it is a sad end to a great partnership.
Both Don and Phil made some fine solo albums – Don usually on a country kick and Phil more mainstream. Joey Paige maintained his friendship with Phil and wrote for his Living Alone album in 1979. Terry Slater became a record company executive and managed the Norwegian band, A-Ha, who had such success in the 1980s.
Venetia Stevenson divorced Don Everly in 1970 and never remarried. Her mother became known in the soap, General Hospital (1963) and her father directed Mary Poppins (1964). She and Don and had two daughters. Stacey and Erin, and a son, Edan. As a result, Don and Venetia are the former parents-in-law of Axl Rose. Venetia became a script reader for Burt Reynolds’ production company.
Following the 1963 tour, Joey Paige and Bill Wyman remained good friends. When the Stones were in Los Angeles in 1965, Bill produced a single for him called ‘Cause I’m In Love With You’, written by Sonny Bono, on the Tollie label. The 45 began with Bill saying, “Hello, I’m Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, and I’ve just produced my good friend Joey Paige, and I hope you like it!” The Stone’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham was furious that Bill was endorsing a product without his permission.
The Everlys’ guitarist Don Peake joined Ray Charles’ orchestra. Their drummer Jim Gordon remained with them until 1966 and became known for session work. He plays on Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’. Jim Gordon was part of Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour and played for both Derek and the Dominoes (co-writing ‘Layla’) and Delaney and Bonnie. Unfortunately he became addicted to drugs and, in 1984, he murdered his mother while hallucinating and is still imprisoned.
The father of Phil Everly’s UK girlfriend, Lord Lambton wanted to be both a Lord and a MP: he renounced his title but he still wanted to be addressed as Lord Lambton as a courtesy. In 1973, his career fell apart when he was caught with prostitutes. He said all the arguing over his title meant that he had put his energies into other things – gardening and debauchery. His daughter, Lucinda, became a noted commentator on architectural matters.
Little Richard went straight from Don Arden’s Everly Brothers tour in 1963 to another one featuring Little Richard, Duane Eddy, the Shirelles, the Flintstones, Mickie Most and the Roofraisers with Ray Cameron as the compère. Little Richard only appeared for a few dates as he apparently injured his ankle and had to return home for medical treatment. I say “apparently” because he sailed home, a bizarre decision for someone in pain.
Back in Los Angeles, Little Richard returned to his religious studies and was preaching to the public. Don Everly went into a supermarket and found Little Richard preaching there. His Granada concert with the Shirelles was screened in 1964 and was billed, erroneously, as his farewell performance.
Little Richard declared, “England is going to be one of the first places I will visit in passing on the word of God.” Only it wasn’t. Spurred on by his UK success, Richard started recording for Vee-Jay and even told the American audiences how well he had been doing in the UK on his version of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’. Promoting his single, ‘Bama Lama Bama Loo’, he said, “I have decided to return to the record scene because I found so much of my music being turned into hits by other acts.”
For a while, a young Jimi Hendrix was in his band, but Richard never explored the depths of his own talent. His utterly soulful single, ‘I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (But It’s Got Me)’ is on a par with ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’ and yet he never did anything like that again.
The 1963 tour had been very good for Bo Diddley – he had done what he had set out to do. He had a Top 40 single with ‘Pretty Thing’ and within a year he had four UK Top 20 albums – amazing! The albums were Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger, Bo Diddley Rides Again and Bo Diddley’s Beach Party.
When Cilla Black on Melody Maker’s Blind Date, she was played ‘Bo Diddley Is A Lover’, she said, “I can’t quite name the singer – wait – Bo Diddley. This is absolutely great stuff. A definite hit. He’s the king of this stuff. I love it.” Not too coherent but maybe a light-bulb had gone off in her head – “Blind Date, now what can I do with that?”
In 1963 the Rolling Stones received £1,275 between them for 60 shows in 30 nights. That works out at £21 a show before expenses or £4 a musician. Bill Wyman thought it well worthwhile, saying, “It was the tour that knocked us into shape” and the Rolling Stones would never work as cheaply again. However, Mick Jagger was in trouble with the Kent Education Committee. He was meant to be studying at the London School of Economics and he was given an ultimatum – give up the group and return to your studies or leave. He left.
After their social visit in October 1963, the Rolling Stones played the Cavern the following month and Mick Jagger said, shortly afterwards, “We’ve been to the Cavern before, but this was the first time we’ve played there. It was a great session and the place was packed. They turned several hundred away at the door. We did a 45 minute spot and was it hot. We almost sweated away. Still it was great and they have asked us to go back again, so they must have liked us.”
The Rolling Stones had a hit single with a Crickets’ B-side, ‘Not Fade Away’ with Mick Jagger, like Jerome Green, on maracas. Bo Diddley told me, “I thought the Rolling Stones had ripped me off when I first heard ‘Not Fade Away’ because that song was just like one of mine. I didn’t find out until sometime later that it was a Buddy Holly song. I wish I’d heard his version while he was alive. I’d have told that dude something.”
Bo Diddley had enjoyed touring with the Flintstones but he felt that they had no direction. He gave them an instrumental ‘Safari’ which came out in 1964. This was released under the name of the Fabulous Flintstones. They backed Little Richard on subsequent dates and disbanded later that year.
The Rattles returned to the UK in 1964 and had a successful week at the Cavern. Dicky Tarrach from the Rattles recalls, “The girls loved our German accent on (sings) ‘There is a rose in Spanish Harlem’. We couldn’t get the ‘r’ right and the girls would scream. All the girls were after the band. We asked why and some girl said, ‘We want to sleep with a Nazi as maybe it is different from an English guy.’ The German Ziegfried, is he bigger or not? It was a nice experience, okay? We were kept pretty busy. (Laughs)”
Don Arden loved his gangster image, becoming known as the Al Capone of Pop and having success with ELO and Black Sabbath. His daughter Sharon Osbourne has many of his traits –and worse, even sending her excrement to those who have crossed her.
The record producer Mickie Most asked Don Arden to assist Mike Jeffrey with the Animals. Arden brought them to London and established them at the Scene club. Arden became their agent and arranged their tours in America. Most’s first record with them, ‘Baby, Let Me Take You Home’, was a Top 30 hit and then came “The House Of The Rising Sun”.
John Steel, the drummer with the Animals, tells us, “We were Geordie lads off to the States, and Don Arden like the other agents had come through the Marty Wilde and Adam Faith tours which were based on American show business principles. Everybody was meticulously suited and booted, especially to go on television, and that was still their mindset. We were taken to the tailors in Soho for matching suits for America. We got several suits each. We didn’t feel comfortable but Don Arden and Peter Grant insisted that was the way in America if you wanted to get on. We couldn’t be on The Ed Sullivan Show and look like Geordie roughnecks.”
By 1964 Arden’s assistant, Peter Grant managed the Nashville Teens and She Trinity. He shared offices with Mickie Most at 155 Oxford Street and they set up RAK Records together. RAK became very successful and Mickie Most became a celebrity through the TV talent show, New Faces. Little Richard was a guest on Mickie Most’s This Is Your Life.
In 1966, Peter Grant resolved the Yardbirds’ finances and watched them become Led Zeppelin. He developed a no-nonsense approach in that he and the group would keep as much of the money as possible, and he established them as an albums band (no singles) that was rarely filmed, thus making each concert a special event. In the documentary film The Song Remains The Same (1976), Grant is seen attacking bootleggers and poster sellers and there is also a shot of his house at the beginning – he was doing all right. Peter Grant became an important and influential rock group manager, warmer and more good natured than Don Arden but fully aware of how to create a menacing impression.
In 1980 Led Zeppelin’s drummer John Bonham died after down 40 vodkas in a drinking session and then Peter Grant had to contend with his own marital problems, diabetic complications and cocaine addiction. After an Everly Brothers concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Phil Everly presented Peter Grant with a silver cane and said, “This man made it all possible. Without his efforts musicians had no careers. He was the first to make sure that the artist came first and that we got paid properly.” Although that claim can be discounted by just saying “Brian Epstein”, he was an important figure in the music industry. Peter Grant died in 1995, aged 60, and there deserves to be a film about his life.