The Remo Four: The Early Years

By Bill Harry  

The Remo Quartet, May 1959Harry Prytherch, a former drummer with the Remo Four has, in recent years, been presenting a 'Mersey Beat Story' in the north west of England, narrated by himself.

Harry's grandmother had a small dancehall in Liverpool which featured a dance band each Friday and Saturday evening. Harry used to sit by the stage and watch the drummer - which soon gave him the aspiration of owning his own drums.

At the age of 14 he had a local paper round and received 6d per week. He then saved up £1.10s to buy his grandfather's old drum kit.

He listened to Tommy Steele, Little Richard, Bill Haley and Elvis and watched 'The 6.5 Special', 'Oh, Boy!' and other TV rock shows of the time.

Harry also used to play football for the Fairfield Boys Club and they had a record hop on Saturdays.

One Saturday night a couple of lads brought their guitars along and played live music.

The following week Harry took along his drum/cymbal and they had a group. One of the lads told him he knew someone who played guitar and had a mate who played bass.

This saw the birth of the Remo Quartet in 1958. They began practicing in someone's attic and the line-up and personnel from 1958-1962 comprised Keith Stokes on vocals and guitar, Don Andrew on vocals and bass guitar, Colin Manley on lead guitar and Harry on drums and vocals.

They performed mainly vocal harmony numbers such as 'Little Darlin'', 'Lollipop', 'Poor Little Fool' and 'Teenager In Love.'

The group played at social clubs, weddings, parties, pensioners clubs - and the only transport they had was the corporation bus (which meant storing the drums under the stairs).

On occasion, when they had missed the bus, they had to walk, with Harry carrying the drum kit on his back and under his arms.

Local Promoters
A Liverpool promoter, the late Charlie McBain, booked them for Wilson Hall. Other gigs followed with Wally Hill booking them at Holyoake Hall and Blair Hall, Brian Kelly hiring them to appear at Litherland Town Hall and Dave Foreshaw putting them into St. Luke's Hall, Crosby.

Since the group were now earning between £4.50 and £6 per gig, they decided to get a van and a driver and went to Frank Hessy's music store to order a full Fender line-up with the latest Ajax drum kit. Dressed in their new suits, they placed a sign on their van which stated: 'Never has so much been owed to so many by so few.'

No.3 Group
They changed their name to the Remo Four in 1960 and the following year were voted No.3 in the Mersey Beat poll.

The group began to cultivate a large following and Paul McCartney has been quoted as saying that on his nights off he would go down to the Cavern to watch the Remo Four.

Most of their bookings were done on the night they played - they took their diary with them and would fill in the dates with the promoter.

During 1961 and 1962 they were playing for six nights a week, doubling up on Fridays and Saturdays - in addition to playing lunchtime sessions at the Cavern.

Favourites
Their own favourite groups at the time were the Swinging Bluejeans, the Dennisons, Dale Roberts & the Jaywalkers and Howie Casey & the Seniors. Harry adds: "I think the biggest mistake the Remo Four made was to become a backing group for other singers such as Johnny Sandon, Cilla Black and Tommy Quickly.

"They were a great instrumental group with good harmonies and a smart stage show. They should have made the charts in their own right without becoming someone's backing band."

Harry also remembers being on bills with the Beatles on between 30 and 40 occasions.

"We played with the Beatles at Chester on the night that John Lennon got married and he wasn't in a happy mood. We'd put one or two numbers in our repertoire that the Beatles played and John wasn't amused. He came up on stage and asked us were we going to play any more numbers that they did, whereby one of our members chased him off the stage. "It was okay afterwards, it was all smoothed out in the dressing room."

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