By Bill Harry
A truly exceptional guitarist, Colin was born in Liverpool on April 16 1942. Together with Don Andrew he formed the Remo Quartet in 1958. Colin was on lead guitar and vocals, Don on bass and vocals, Keith Stokes on guitar and vocals and Harry Prytherch on drums. They changed the name to the Remo Four.
Colin said, "At the time we were very influenced by an Italian chap called Marino Marini who had appeared at the London Palladium - that's where the name came from - we thought Remo sounded like it ought to be in Italy."
As a musician his personal influences included Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, Barney Kessel, the Ventures, Les Montgomery and Albert Lee.
Colin attended Liverpool Institute grammar school along with both Paul McCartney and George Harrison. He got together with them in empty classrooms to play Chet Atkins numbers.
In the autumn of 1964 the Remo Four toured with the Beatles, Mary Wells and Tommy Quickly. During one of the numbers Colin used to borrow John Lennon's Rickenbacker.
The Remo Four spent a great deal of time working in Hamburg, almost three years. Colin was to comment, "Yet all I saw of the place was the Star Club, the Hotel Pacific, the adjoining streets and various watering holes.
"Although we had experience of Beatlemania on the 1964 tour, and a lot of other crazy things that happened during the 1960s, NOTHING comes close to the madness of the time spent in Germany. My perfect night out would still be spent in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg with lots of mates and loads of ale."
The group appeared regularly on the German TV 'Beat Club' and the line-up at one time featured Tony Ashton and Roy Dyke. The Remo Four returned to England during 1967 and spent time backing artists such as Billy Fury, Billy J. Kramer and Clodagh Rogers before disbanding in 1970. For a time they were managed by Brian Epstein who wished them to become a backing group to some of his artists, although they had originally turned down the offer of becoming Billy J. Kramer's backing outfit.
In 1968 George Harrison produced the Remo recording tracks for his 'Wonderwall' soundtrack album. During these sessions he recorded the Remo performing 'In the First Place', a number penned by Colin and Tony Ashton. George even played on the number, although it wasn't released at the time. In fact, the number was finally issued as a CD single over 30 years later in January 1999.
When the Remo broke up, Colin became a backing musician with seasons at the London Palladium with Engelbert Humperdinck and Freddie Starr.
He was to say, "After the group broke up I spent around a year with the London Palladium Orchestra before moving on to work for Moss Empires and various orchestras around the country.
"In 1975, an old friend from Liverpool, Freddie Starr, noticed me in the orchestra at a show he was working on and I ended up backing him for a couple of years until I joined the Swinging Bluejeans in 1977."
Colin was with the Bluejeans for 25 years until his tragic death from cancer on 9 April 1999.
At the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool on 1 June 1999 there was a special tribute event in his honour called 'A Concert for Colin.' An indication of the respect in which he was held was indicated when all 1,700 seats sold out within four hours. A CD of the concert was released on 25 September 2000.
The four-hour event was MC'd Billy Butler who introduced the Remo Four, comprising Don Andrew, Dave Williams, Harry Prytherch, Mike Byrne, Don's son Paul and Colin's son John. They performed four numbers. Vince Earl & the Attractions followed, then Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket, Herman's Hermits, Marmalade, Dave Dee and Chip Hawkes. The Swinging Bluejeans closed the first half and Colin's daughter Julie joined them on stage for their last number. The second half featured the Merseybeats, Peter Sarstedt and the Searchers.