The Chants (cont.)

Eddie AmooEddie Amoo recalls, “They went ‘apeshit’ when we started to sing. I can still see George and John racing up to the stage with their mouths stuffed with hot dogs or whatever. The invitation to make our Cavern debut was given as soon as we finished ‘A Thousand Stars’ for them. They insisted we perform that very night. Everything happened completely spontaneously from that point.

“The Beatles themselves offered to back us when we told them we’d never worked with a band before. We then rehearsed four songs with them and then we ran home to tell all and sundry that we had ‘made it’!”

“When Brian Epstein arrived at the Cavern that night he refused to allow the Beatles to back us, but they collectively persuaded him to change his mind – and when he heard us he invited us to appear on many subsequent appearances with them.”

On that Cavern debut, the Chants, backed by the Beatles, performed ‘Duke Of Earl’, ‘A Thousand Stars’, ‘16 Candles’ and ‘Come Go With Me’ before an enraptured audience, their set lasting approximately 20 minutes.

Local MP Bessie Braddock took an interest in the group as they were from her Liverpool district, the Exchange ward, and she arranged for them to be the only other Liverpool group present at the Beatles’ civic reception at Liverpool Town Hall.

Despite his initial frustration at the Beatles’ agreeing to back the Chants against his wishes, Epstein took over the management of the group early in 1963, but only for a short time, and without any formal signing. The group found him ineffectual as a manager and he agreed to release them. They then signed with Manchester agent Ted Ross, who arranged a recording deal with Pye Records. However, they were later to consider they had committed “professional suicide” by signing with Ross, although they were grateful for what he tried to do for them.

On the special all-Beatles edition of the TV show ‘Juke Box Jury’, the first record played to them was the Chants’ ‘I Could Write A Book’, which they voted a hit – but it became a miss, despite their positive comments.

Nat SmedaThe Chants debut disc, ‘I Don’t Care’, flipside ‘Come Go With Me’, was released on 17 September 1963. Their second, ‘I Could Write A Book’, flipside ‘A Thousand Stars’, was released on 1 January 1964. Their third was ‘She’s Mine’, flipside ‘Then I’ll Be Home’, in June 1964, and their final release for Pye was ‘Sweet Was The Wine’, flipside ‘One Star’ on 11 September 1964.

Eddie Amoo wrote ‘One Star’, credited to Stanley Houseman, as a tribute to Stanley House, where they’d made their first appearance. Stanley House was a social meeting place in the Toxteth area where young met old and black met white to drink, dance and play football, table tennis, snooker and generally mix together.

Commenting on their period with Pye Records, Eddie comments, “They had no idea what to do with a black doo wop group; they just had no idea.”

The group never found record success, despite further releases with Fontana, Page One, Decca and RCA and strong singles such as ‘Man Without A Face’.

After they disbanded in 1975, Joey and Edmund Ankrah joined another group and enjoyed a degree of success on the television show ‘New Faces’. Eddie Amoo formed a Liverpool soul group, The Real Thing, with his brother Chris and finally found UK chart success in June 1976 with ‘You To Me Are Everything’ which topped the charts, it also reached No. 5 on its re-release in April 1986.

The Real Thing were still active at the close of 1999 with Eddie commenting “We have seen our flagship song recorded by Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire and Courtney Pine, one of our leading sax players. ‘Can You Feel The Force’ was probably our biggest seller in terms of sales and is still being covered and sampled all over the world. We also have two songs in the all-time top 100 of the Guinness Book of Records.

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