Merseymail
By Mersey Beat readers  

Editor's Notes: I receive a considerable amount of e-mails via the Mersey Beat site and make a great effort to reply personally to as many as I can. For some reason, a large number of answers bounce back to me as a number of the e-mail addresses of senders don’t seem to be the correct ones. Also, at one time, due to a glitch on my computer, a number of e-mails were lost, so I apologise if you haven’t received a reply. Also, a number of e-mail enquiries ask for information I can’t provide, but I hope to research and find answers to their queries in the future. However, I am unable to assess prices for records and memorabilia. In the meantime, I thought readers might be interested in my answers to some of the e-mails I do receive via the site:

Rita Martelli in 1964Rita Martelli
I was around when Liverpool was in its musical heyday. I LIVED in the Cavern - knew all the groups - second home was the Blue Angel. I am now a (very) mature student at Liverpool Uni and one of my modules has been The History Of Popular Music. I am now in my final year of a six year Flexible Degree - I graduate this summer and can't wait. My final module is going to be a 5000 word Project on the 'forgotten' black musicians who were around at the time of the Mersey Sound. 

I have interviewed Joe Ankrah, Sugar Deen, Eddie Amoo (my cousin) and hope to speak to Nat Smeda (married to another cousin!) I have just printed off your page about the Chants - I wrote about them when I submitted a piece to Phil Thompson for his book 'The Best Of Cellars' and there is a pic of me and them in that. 

The reason for this email is that I have just read your page on Derry. We all grew up in Liverpool 8 and went to the same schools. He was a fabulous person. I remember meeting him while I was on holiday in Rimini (1966 or 67). I was sitting outside this bar and saw these four black guys walking up the street - unusual at that time - and the next minute one of them screamed, I screamed and we ran towards each other laughing our heads off. He was playing a gig that night in a club called 'L'Altro Mondo'. He was another who I thought really deserved recognition for his music.

My Best memory of him, though, for which I was eternally grateful, was that I had tried and tried to join the Blue Angel and always got knocked back until one night I bumped into Derry and he asked me what was wrong. When I told him, he said 'Come with me!' and promptly signed us in and that was that! From then on I practically lived there.

I was upset when Derry died. I went to his funeral and was very disappointed that there weren't a lot more people from the music scene there. I think you could have counted them on one hand. I suppose they were working - or whatever. But he was certainly a character who will probably always be remembered when speaking of the Mersey Sound. Anyway, note to Bill and Virginia Harry - if you have any snippets with regard to the black musicians of the time, any help would be appreciated! 

(Derry Wilkie, along with the Chants and Steve Aldo were among my favourite performers and all should have had greater success than they did. Derry and I were writing a book together called ‘Black Scouse,’ but we never got around to finishing it and unfortunately the audio tapes were lost during an office move.

Steve Aldo was a particular good singer and I’m sad that he didn’t fulfill the promise his talent indicated. He was born Edward Alban Jean-Pierre Bedford, and originally began singing at the age of 13 in The Backyard Kids at the Pavilion, Lodge Lane. When he was 14 he sang at Holyoake Hall and on holiday in the Isle of Man he sang with the Ivy Benson Band. Later he appeared occasionally with Howie Casey & the Seniors, before moving to Cardiff to become a ladies’ hairdresser. He worked at Raymonde’s (Mr. Teasy Weasy) in London, and then went to sea for a year. He returned to Liverpool and fronted the Challengers, then moved to Germany and sang occasionally with the Dominoes. On his return to Liverpool he joined the Nocturnes for a short while, before becoming a member of the Griff-Parry Five.

At one time Spencer Lloyd Mason managed him and he made his recording debut with’ Can I Get A Witness’ in December 1964. He later recorded for Parlophone.

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