The Hy-Tones

By Stan Johnson  

The Original Hy-tones at Holyoake Hall, August 1958I was born in Dinas Lane, Huyton on November 2 1939 and went to Dovecot Secondary Modern in Grant Road. I had a friend who worked at Cronton Colliery and often saw him passing the cottage and thought that he was very brave to be doing that kind of work. As a result I made some inquiries and was accepted by the National Coal Board as a trainee at the Mining College in St. Helens and at a disused colliery at Old Boston. During training we went on regular visits to working mines in and around St. Helens. I was fascinated by it all and when I finished the course successfully I chose Sutton Manor Colliery as the place to work. I still have the NCB Certificate stating that I am qualified to work below ground as a miner.

Looking at the certificate it states that I started training on March 14 1955 and completed it on July 1 1955. I then worked at Sutton Manor until the end of 1960. My main aim while working for the NBC was to become part of the Mines Rescue Service. At my age at that time I always felt devastated when a mining disaster occurred or when miners were trapped underground. Miners were like brothers, even more so than any of the Armed Forces.

I was influenced by my elder brother Johnny Johnson, who used to play the clubs a few years earlier, but he was at sea when I formed the group in 1957. The original five members who formed the Hy-Tones were friends and we all used to go to the Locarno in West Derby Road.

A business card by Stan's brother Jimmy JohnsonThe Hy-Tones was formed and began rehearsing in the autumn of 1957 in my Dad's launderette in Dinas Lane, Huyton. It was called the Huyton Laundromat and we rehearsed in the empty main building before any of the machines were installed. I would say that it was roughly about 45 to 50 feet long and 35 feet wide. The reason it was empty for so long was that my Dad ran out of money to buy all the washing and drying machines, but it was an ideal place for us to practice in. It all seemed to echo off the walls and concrete floor. The acoustics from the building were great.

After a while it all started to come together. I remember one night my Step-Mother was knocking on the door (we all thought that she had come to tell us to 'Turn it down a bit!' as parents do), but she was pointing to the bottom of the path. When we looked there was a gang of teenagers jiving in the lane, so we went down to see them, they all said that we sounded great. Wow! Our first fans! I wonder where they are now and if they can still remember us? The building is still there and next door is my Dad's little cottage, which is nearly 200 years old, it used to be a Farmhouse when Huyton was all farmland.

It took us about two or three months of hard practice before we thought we were good enough to go out and play, so we did a few auditions and once the group's name got around, we started to get some bookings, so I guess that we must have sounded okay otherwise we wouldn't have got any gigs - and at all the places that we played we always got a good reception.

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