The Hi-Cats


Singer Barbara HarrisonIn hindsight and after discussions with David (Lord) Sutch, who explained the Tony Sheridan and Beatles relationship and how he influenced and encouraged their understanding of harmony, which along with the long hours of performing at the Star Club would either mould a group together or make it split up.

Just after the Beatles recorded 'Love Me Do' and before the record was released, they appeared at the Club, Conway Street, Birkenhead - and Johnny Templer & the Hi-Cats were on the same show. Once the Beatles had performed 'Love Me Do' it was obvious to all of us that they had crossed the amateur/pro barrier, they had that 'big' sound, a certain precision and tightness that other groups did not have at that time. We supported the Beatles on many subsequent shows (Floral Hall etc) until they ultimately left Liverpool.

I have fond memories of touring with Shane Fenton, Sounds Incorporated - to name but a few!

Tony's Notes: 

The names adopted by myself, Tony Gaskell (Tony Tarson), Aussie Brown (Johnny Sanchez), Brian Cochen (Chick) were just stage names to brighten up our dull sounding real names.

I went on to the Borderliners, Hartford West (with Aussie), Screaming Lord Sutch's Savages and I still play today with my country rock trio Bojangles.

Aussie Brown went on to play with the Secrets, The Country Four (and Country Five) and still plays today with Hartford West.

Vic Grace formed the Secrets and various other groups before opening Flame Music in Southport. He then toured Europe before returning and settling in London. He died about seven years ago.

Brian Cochen left the group for proper paid work and was replaced by Mal Theory, who still plays today.

Brother Roy, our driver, went to college and also got a proper job.

In the early days Bob Wooler lived in Garston and he was a good friend to all of us and we would often meet him on our travels.

Johnny Templer (John Dempsey) went on to form the Borderliners with Mike Dempsey and Frank Stewart.

Interestingly, it would be possible to put Johny Templar & the Hi-Cats back together with the original line-up of: Johnny Templar, Stan Smith, Aussie Brown, myself and Mal Theory. Who would want to do a daft thing like that!

Editor's Notes: I went to the Colomendy camp myself when I was at St Vincent's school. Our parents gave the teacher all our pocket money to be doled out to us over the two week period, but he ran off with both our money and a female teacher! The quarters were in huge barracks and Lauren & Hardy films were shown. One of the activities was to walk up a nearby mountain. I tried it, but had to give up because of excruciating pain in my calves - it turned out that I had flat feet!

HP refers to Hire Purchase - the introduction of 'buy now, pay later' arose in the late 1950s. 

Wally Hill and his wife were active local promoters in those days. 

Vic Grace phoned me when he moved to London and wanted to see me about discussing his story, but he never rang back. He died of liver cancer.

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