The Hi-Cats

(cont.)
 

The group continued to play chart covers, learning the latest songs every week, and only playing a few of the raunchy songs that groups such as the Beatles, the Big Three and Derry & the Seniors were playing. After all, our heroes were the Shadows.

Danny Havoc left because of personal problems, so our new front man was John Dempsey, and we became 'Johnny Templer & the Hi-Cats.' John's influence made the group a lot more dynamic, both in its sound and choice of material, introducing vocal harmony to all songs. The group became very busy and toured extensively in the North West - but little did we know that storm clouds were heading our way!

There had always been an uneasy tension between Vic, who more or less ran the group, and John, who had his own ideas about how things should run. Inevitably this came to a head leading to Vic being replaced by Roy Wood (Jay), a brilliant lead guitarist who appeared with us for some months until his sad death by suicide.

Advertisement for Danny Havoc & the SecretsAuditioning for a new lead guitarist started with rehearsals in the old Prices Bakery (Brian's Dad was the manager!) - enter Stan Smith, with no guitar or amplifier, just a promise that he was getting one tomorrow - he did and the rest is history. Johnny Templar & the Hi-Cats were once again complete. Drummer Brian decided to get a proper job, so he left to be replaced by Mal Theory, whose Dad had a radio shop in Blessington Road, Anfield. Around this time Bill Harry's Mersey Beat newspaper held a Top 20 poll and we just scraped in at Number 20.

It was at this point that Barbara Harrison started to make appearances with the group, which would lead to her singing on a regular basis, being billed as 'Johnny Templar & the Hi-Cats with Barbara', and this certainly added a new dimension to the stage show and increased the popularity of the group.

At this time the Beatles had just completed their first month at the Star Club in Germany and in an attempt top find more Liverpool talent, auditions were set up at the Rialto Ballroom in Toxteth - and virtually all the Liverpool groups attended. The auditions were supervised by 'Big Gus' who became the go-between and negotiator with the groups. Johnny Templar & the Hi-Cats performed their three songs and were approached by Gus, offering us the same money as the Beatles to go to Germany - wow! Everyone was keen to go, except Aussie, who had doubts about it, which only resulted in us being offered even more money - making us potentially the highest paid group.

Sadly, it wasn't to be, we couldn't find anyone to stand in for Aussie at such short notice. Who knows what would have happened if we'd gone to Germany. Would we have had the success that some of the groups who went there did? We'll never know!

In the ensuing arguments, Aussie decided to leave the group, re-joining Vic with his new group the Secrets. Johnny Templer & the Hi-Cats carried on for some time before calling it a day, although they would re-form as 'The Borderliners', a four piece group with great harmonies and a driving sound.

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