The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group

By Bill Harry  

Ringo sitting in with his very first group, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle GroupA skiffle group who formed in 1957 when Ritchie Starkey was working as an apprentice at H.Hunt & Sons. At the time he had no thoughts of taking up the drums as a career. He recalled, "I remember my mum saying a neighbour was in a band and why didn't I have a go. I thought it was a jazz group - I was mad on jazz. When it turned out to be a silver band, playing in the park and sticking to the marches and all that, I chucked it in. I lasted just one night." His stepfather bought him a drum kit for £10 in London and brought it back by train.

Ritchie got together with his friend Eddie Miles, who also worked for the firm. With three other band members from Hunts, the line-up was Eddie Miles (using the name Eddie Clayton because he felt it sounded better than his own name), guitar/vocals, Ritchie Starkey, drums; Roy Trafford, tea-chest bass; John Dougherty, washboard and Frank Walsh, guitar. They originally began playing during lunch breaks in the works canteen. Ritchie's grandfather then lent him £50 to put down as a deposit for a brand new kit.

The group made their debut at the Peel Street Labour Club and became resident there, also initially appearing at Wilson Hall, Garston. They also appeared at the Cavern on Tuesday July 31 and Wednesday December 4, 1957. Their 1958 Cavern appearances were on Wednesday January 29; Friday 7, Monday 10, Sunday 16 and Sunday 23 February and Saturday 8 and Friday 28 March. They also appeared at various skiffle contests taking place at such venues as St. Luke's Hall.

Their nearest approach to a group uniform consisted of shirts in the same colour as their bootlace ties. The group was also to enjoy a residency at the Boys' Club meetings at the Florence Institute in Dingle.

Ritchie's mother, Elsie, was to recall in Mersey Beat: "Ritchie joined the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group with Ed Miles, the boy who lived next door. Roy Trafford and Johnny Dougherty - they all worked together in the same place. Eddie used to take his guitar to work every day. He was a smashing fellow - if ever a lad should have got somewhere he should have. I believe he's with Hank Walters & His Dusty Road Ramblers."

The group disbanded because Eddie was getting married. Ritchie then went on to join the Darktown Skiffle Group. Interestingly enough, Eric Clapton used the alias Eddie Clayton when he guested on the 'Ringo' album.

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