Joe Flannery Recalls

By Mike Brocken  

Music historian Mike Brocken undertook a series of interviews with Joe Flannery in preparation for a book on Joe’s life. Joe was one of the numerous important cogs in the development of the Mersey sound along with various other personalities whose stories have not been given the telling they deserve, people such as Ray McFall, Ted Knibbs, Brian Kelly, Jim Turner, Spencer Lloyd Mason, Jim Ireland, Mona Best, Les Ackerley, Vic Anton, etc.

Joe with Paul and LindaWhen Joe Flannery came to manage his brother Peter’s (Lee Curtis) various bands in 1961 his previous experiences as a temporary replacement vocalist with the Joe Loss Band came in very handy. Not only from a personal point of view in that he was able to deal with agents, venue managers and ‘sharks’ with a reasonable amount of alacrity, but also because he became something of a ‘guru’ for the young people who came around to see his partner Kenny and himself at his apartment in Gardner Road in the Tuebrook area of Liverpool:

“I often thought that I was being miscast in the role of a music pedagogue; after all, despite my local solo career, I was only on the road with Loss for twelve months”.
However, Joe continued to relate anecdotes about his experiences of the music business, if so asked. Before too long, he was holding court to myriad young musicians and would-be rock ‘n’ roll singers, usually after Peter [Lee] had informed them of his brother’s exploits with Loss and around the various flea pits, pubs and clubs in the Liverpool area. Flannery felt that the kids needed to know who could be trusted and who could not:

“Although I was always as diplomatic as I could possibly be, I felt it only right to warn them off some of the more rogue-ish small-time operators in Liverpool. Many groups were already smarting after having suffered, financially, at the hands of ‘Battle of the Band’ merchants and I felt a degree of responsibility towards them”.
It was a good point well made for Liverpool was awash with ‘entrepreneurs’ attempting to do an Alan Sytner or a Jim Ireland. Who would pay? Who would try to argue their way out of paying? Who had P.A. equipment? Which band tried to pinch yours? Which halls had dressing rooms? Which just had toilets?

“As for the Detours (his brothers group), we were still ploughing our way through our list of Catholic Parochial Clubs and were less reliant on local promoters than many. The Catholic Church was also, by and large, a very good payer!”
Early in 1961 the names Lennon and McCartney started to drop into conversations at band meetings. Joe had never previously heard of them, but learned that these two belonged to a rather nebulous outfit that had been around the Liverpool area for a few years previously - mostly without a drummer. He had heard that they were ‘as thick as thieves’, and had recently returned from a short season in Hamburg a changed band (“why Hamburg?” Joe had initially asked). Joe remembers one member of the Detours informing him:
“Of all the people I never expected to make a decent sound, it was Lennon’s lot”

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