From Bumblies To Cryin’ Shames

By George Robinson  

We started making a name for ourselves around Liverpool, gaining a residency at the Rumblin' Tum in Hardman Street. Neil English, the owner, was very 'hip' and into Blues and Jazz. He helped us a great deal, allowing us to practice at the club, and he brought great records for us to learn from.

I saw Neal recently at the Albert Dock, he has a clothes shop there.

We were also getting to be pretty good musicians. The year was 1964. The line-up was George Robinson, bass; John Bennett, guitar; Phil Roberts, keyboards; Charlie Gallagher, drums; Joey Kneen, vocals.

I believe we were one of the best on Merseyside at that time, we had a huge following, despite the fact that Bob Wooler kept us out of the Cavern.

Other groups at the time were the Roadrunners, Kruzads, Them Grimbles, Hideaways and the Clayton Squares. Billy Kinsley was also back on Merseyside with the Kinsleys.

They were the competition and they were all very good, although I think we all lacked the experience of the earlier groups.

Chris Curtis, for instance, recently amazed me with his comments regarding the technicalities for the Crickets music. He understood it.

Rory was still around at the time, but I think he knew he had missed his chance. We all liked Rory and got on really well. I still think about him.

The next major event for us was Charlie Crane joining the band. Charlie had been around for a while with various bands, when he joined us we were complete. Joey was a good rocker, but Charlie could sing ballads - together they were excellent.

Norman Eastwood was managing the group at this time. He did well considering he was only dabbling part time. He eventually quit work as a printer at Liverpool Letterpress and became our road manager.

We played at the Sink, Iron Door, Orrell Park Ballroom, St Luke's, Heaven and Hell and the Grave, all the popular venues, sometimes two a night. The money was pathetic but I remember the times with fondness.

I had heard about Joe Meek and got his phone number from the London phone book - it was as simple as that.

He was very pleasant on the phone and we talked for a while. When I went to London I went alone, called in, and did a demo (I played guitar and sang 'Bright Lights, Big City'). The others would not come, I think it was Easter and they all had plans. Meek's advice was "get a group and come back." I did. A few weeks later I went with Joey, and the others followed on a few days later. Meek was as good as his word, and we recorded a number of songs.

Meek was ecstatic at our arrangement of 'Please Stay' and agreed to record it. Decca subsequently informed us that in their opinion the record would be a big hit. This led to changes within the band. It was decided by Meek that we should replace John Bennett with Richie Routledge, the guitarist with Liverpool based Aztecs. Richie was only sixteen , yet he fitted in well, and handled the success like a veteran.

We had to work on presentatoon. It was also decided that the name Bumblies was dodgy, due to the fact that Michael Bentine had copyrighted the name. After much thought we became the Cryin' Shames. We chose the name simply because it could be abbreviated to 'Shames', like 'Stones', who we also admired.

When 'Please Stay' was released, it sailed into the charts. Brian Epstein invited us to the Adelphi Hotel and made us an offer of management, but due to disagreements concerning Brian Harvey of Music Echo who had designs on managing us, we turned this offer down.

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