The Fourmost
By Bill Harry  

The FourmostBrian (Owie) O Hara and Joey Bower originally teamed up as the Two Jays at the age of thirteen, performing for a season at the Isle of Man. They were joined by Billy Hatton and Brian Redman and in September 1959 called themselves the Four Jays. Owie played lead, Billy was on bass, Joey on guitar and Brian on drums. The three guitarists also vocalized.

The group had a rock/jazz/comedy act, but each member was pursuing a career and initially decided to remain semi-pro. Joey turned down an offer to join Jan Ralfini’s Band at the Locarno, Billy turned down the opportunity of backing his friend Billy Fury, Owie refused the offer of joining a television group and Brian a position with the Nat Allen Band.

As the Four Jays, their Cavern appearances with the Beatles in 1961 took place on Wednesday 26 July, Wednesday 18 October, Wednesday 15 November and Wednesday 13 December. Appearances in 1962 were on Wednesday 24 January, Thursday 5 April, Saturday 9 June, Sunday 15 July and Wednesday 20 October. They also appeared as special guests on a Beatles Fan Club night on Thursday 5 April 1962 and on a bill with the Beatles at the Tower Ballroom on Thursday 21 June 1962.

By mid-1962 an argument resulted in Joey leaving the group and Mike Millward, former member of Bob Evans & the Five Shillings replaced him. Redman left the group for three months to play in Hamburg on the assurance that his position with the group was safe, but on his return Owie told him they’d decided to keep his replacement, Dave Lovelady.

Later that year the group changed its name to the Four Mosts, having learning that a southern group called the Four Jays was managed by London impresario Lou Prager. Under their new name they appeared with the Beatles in 1962 on Sunday 21 October, Sunday 25 November, Sunday 9 December, Wednesday 12 December and Sunday 16 December. Their 1963 Cavern appearances with the Beatles as the Fourmost (their name slightly altered once again) were on Wednesday 23 January, Sunday 3 February and Friday 12 April.

By the time Brian Epstein signed them on 30 June 1963, their line-up had changed to Mike Millward, Billy Hatton, Brian O’Hara and Dave Lovelady.

According to Dave, they were the second group that Brian approached and asked to turn professional. They turned him down, preferring to remain semi-professional. He made them a management offer three times and it was only after Gerry & the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer had their initial chart hits that they decided to sign with NEMS.

The quartet appeared on many other Merseyside gigs with the Beatles. As the Four Jays they were billed on the Operation Big Beat 3 at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton on Friday 29 June 1962 and the Little Richard/Beatles Tower concert on Friday October 12 1962.

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