Carol and the Memories

By Carol Loftus (nee Whitfield)  

Carol LoftusIt was 21 December 1946, apparently the coldest winter for years, and I arrived in the world in Walton Hospital, Liverpool at 2.30 a.m.

The story goes that from the moment I started to talk I also started to sing. I was, it seems, very good at singing nursery rhymes and the dancing came by the time I reached the age of two – and I was on my way!

Needless to say my Dad (Tommy) was made up and did everything he could to encourage me. By the time I was five years old he had me tap dancing at Auntie Dorothy’s School of Dancing in Bedford Street. We did many shows during my five years there, including ones at the Gordon Smith Institute or the Sailors Home in Paradise Street, Liverpool.

It was about that time that my Dad, who was the pub manager at the Vine Hotel, Vine Street (not the one in town), was offered a new pub in a town in Cheshire called Ellesmere Port. I’d never heard of it and didn’t want to go there. I made such a fuss over it that my Mum and Dad relented, gave me a temporary reprieve, and let me live with my Nan in Bootle for a little while, only bringing me home after I’d been involved in a minor accident.

Over the following few years I carried on singing in various places such as O.A.P. clubs and Charity functions and I even joined the school choir. Christmas 1962 brought an end to my school days and I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was about that freedom at last!

My Dad was still planning what he called my Pop Star career and informed me that he had been talking to two pals at work who were thinking of starting a band. Before I knew what was happening I was out singing in clubs and pubs locally and then after joining the Mike Hughes Agency, performing further afield in Liverpool, Manchester and pretty much all around North Wales.

We did this for about four years and started to make quite a name for ourselves on the club circuit, but we were playing Country & Western music and I wanted to get into the Liverpool scene. So after a talk with my Dad he agreed to me taking an audition with a band from Liverpool called the Five Aces. They were looking for a girl singer to front their band. In the Sixties this was a very important requirement for bands wanting to play on American Army bases – and that was where I was heading.

My Mum and Dad must have had nerves of steel and I’m almost certain that, given the chance, they would have preferred to have me remain in Ellesmere Port.

So now it’s April 1966 and we have just arrived in a small town in Germany by the Babenhausen. It was here that we were going to live for the next three months. We were to play at the U.S. Army base in what was called the E.M. (Enlisted Men’s) Club. We played six nights a week and we got paid around £50. Our accommodation was the local café/bar, paid for by our agent back in the U.K.

As we were only required to play evenings, we had most days free and tried to mix as best we could with the locals in our age group. The boys found this quite easy but for myself, well, I had a few small problems with the local girls who didn’t like the fact that I was mixing with the GIs and generally being looked after by them.

We did notice one thing while in the club that would just not be allowed today – and that was segregation. We found Native Indians, Puerto Ricans, Negro’s and White soldiers all sat in their own areas and did not mix. This we found very difficult to accept and on more than one occasion found ourselves being drawn away from certain groups.

After six weeks at the army base we transferred to an Air Force base in Darmstadt. We played there for the remaining six weeks. Then, at the beginning of June, returned to Liverpool for the release of our record, which was to be on 6 June.

I arrived first for photo shoots and interviews. The band followed one week later as they had the van, etc to bring back. As for me, well, I came back in style – flying with Lufthansa.

Arriving back in the U.K. we were all made up to find that we were booked to play in the Cavern as part of the promo for the record. These arrangements, we understood, were made via CBS Records. After playing all the usual clubs in Liverpool we finally arrived at the Cavern on 31 July 1966.

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