'I'm No Beau Brummel'
Says Billy J
By Bill Harry
Mersey Beat: August 13 1964
No one can deny that Billy J. Kramer is a very smartly dressed young entertainer, but Billy doesn't feel too comfortable about the numerous publications that refer to him as a 'trend-setter' as far as fashion is concerned.
"I'm a singer not a fashion designer," he told us. "I think a lot about clothes - but all young people today do.
"I've done nothing in the fashion world, I've set no trends," he continued. "I don't have one particular tailor - I have different ones, and I don't leave everything to their
judgment. I dress how I feel. "However, I do like to take advice about clothes."
Asked if he had any tips on future styles for men, he said: "It's very hard to say. There are so many different styles that you never know what's going to catch on."
Could he imagine men wearing suits in bright reds and yellows? "No, I don't think men will wear clothes like that," said Billy, who prefers browns,
grays and dark blues. "apart from different cloths, different checks, men's suits will stay the same."
Does Billy have any film plans, since Nems' other major artists - the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers and Cilla Black - have furthered their careers in that direction? "You'll have to ask Brian," he said. "I'll make one before long because I do want to appear in a film, of course, but I have a lot of overseas tours in the near future and there are already numerous 'pop' films being made at the moment.
"When the time comes I'd like to be able to give my opinion of the script and not be forced to do what I don't want to do."
When Billy was in Liverpool, with him he brought along new Dakota guitarist Mick Green, who had just completed his first week with the group.
"The past week has been great," said 21-years-old Mick, a former member of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates. Mick had been a Pirate for two and a half years and told us: "Robin McDonald phoned me up to ask if I'd join the group. I talked it over with Johnny, who told me it would be all right for me to leave.
"I rehearsed with the group on a Monday and Tuesday and then began playing with them in public. They have a cleaner sort of sound than I've been used to and I've found they have different arrangements to numbers I've been playing for years. I use a different amp now, as well.
"There's a language barrier in the group - I find I need an interpreter," he said.
"It's a laugh, really," said Billy. "We've all got different accents in the group, with Liverpudlians, Stockportonians - and now a Londoner.
"We've worked with Mick before and liked his guitar playing, that's why we asked him to join us. He's changed the whole style and sound of the group." When asked about his songwriting, Billy said: "I've tried writing a few songs, but haven't been satisfied with them. But now I intend writing with Mick. We were just doodling with songs in the dressing room and Mick suggested that we get down to it seriously - so when we're in Aberdeen we're going to try and write a few numbers."
Discussing his recent American trip, Billy told us: "It was fabulous in the States - a knockout. We went to Texas, Cleveland and New York, appeared on two Ed Sullivan shows and lots of radio shows.
"The interviews over there are marvelous, you talk for hours. In Cleveland they gave us each an English sports car to drive to the radio station. When we arrived we just walked in and the D.J., who was on the air, said: 'Billy J. Kramer and the
Dakotas have just walked in' - it was so informal! "The disc jockey asked us to have a talk and it was so easy to do - I was on the air for 35 minutes and it just seemed as if only five minutes had passed."
Billy has also recently returned from a trip to Sweden. At one open-air venue there were 70,000 people waiting for the group - but as it was pouring with rain the boys couldn't go on stage. But the crowd waited for four hours in the downpour, using sugar bags to keep the rain off them. When the group eventually started their performance the audience raved so much that the police had to be called in."
We asked him if he would like to appear on 'Juke Box Jury'. '"Definitely not," said Billy, "I don't like criticising other people.
"For instance, the Rolling Stones were asked to give their opinion on Elvis - and it's a very difficult thing for an artist to do. I don't think 'pop' artists should be on a panel to
criticize other pop artists."
Billy no longer has Roger Stinton with him. His new road manager is Robin Tanner, a Liverpudlian. Robin told us: "Billy and I used to live in the same street. I've known him for a very long time. It's great to be with him - he's a very easy person to get on with."
Robin told us that, not counting the air travel to American and Sweden, the group have
traveled 10,000 miles by road in the past eight weeks. Billy, who is off to Hawaii for a short holiday prior to his Australian tour, said that he'd like to give a special message to Mersey Beat readers.
"Although the Liverpool groups travel all round the world they still think of all their fans in their hometown. All the groups are sorry they can't appear in Liverpool more often, but they have a lot of commitments and travel all over the place.
"But I still love Liverpool more than anywhere and come back at every opportunity.
"Liverpool has made all these groups - and I'd like to say 'all the best' to the kids in Widnes; at the Plaza, St Helens; the Cavern, the Majestic and all the places where I used to play regularly."