Manchester Bands Were More Than a Match for Merseybeat

by | Dec 4, 2017 | Music

Liverpool may have been famous for its Merseybeat, but it was more than matched by the Manchester Beat! iNostalgia remembers homegrown bands and celebrated visitors to the city in the Swinging Sixties.

While Merseybeat was at the height of its fame in spring 1965, three Manchester groups were notching up a remarkable treble for the city in the American hit parade.

They recorded three consecutive Number Ones in the Billboard Hot 100 – ahead of the Beatles, the Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers or any other Merseyside group.

Leading the way were Freddie and the Dreamers with I’m Telling You Now, followed by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders with Game of Love and Herman’s Hermits with Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.

Manchester had its share of other top bands too. Barclay James Harvest and the Hollies enjoyed huge success, along with a singing family from Chorlton-cum-Hardy who later became 1970s supergroup the Bee Gees.

Not only that, lead singer of Sixties sensations The Monkees – Davy Jones – was born in Openshaw, Manchester.

Although five of the six original members of Freddie and the Dreamers were also Manchester born and bred, the band were often portrayed as part of the Merseybeat sound.

Freddie and the Dreamers holding umbrellas at a swimming pool

Taking the sun in Singapore – Freddie and the Dreamers, March 1965

The Dreamers feature prominently in our photo of the 1964 Ready Steady Go Mod Ball at the Empire Pool, Wembley. It’s almost a Who’s Who of the Sixties recording scene. Freddie Garrity is half way along the front row, a little way up from the Rolling Stones!

Look carefully and you’ll also see Cilla Black, Kenny Lynch, Manfred Mann, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, the Searchers and Kathy Kirby. The comperes for the event were Cathy McGowan and Keith Fordyce.

The Ready Steady Go Mod Ball at Wembley Empire Pool

Familiar faces of the 1960s at the Ready Steady Go Mod Ball, April 1964

Freddie and the Dreamers carefully rehearsed all their manic moves on stage, including Garrity’s trademark leaps and flailing arms and legs. Our photo from May 1965 shows the 5ft 3in frontman jumping for joy after scoring a bullseye on a nearby dartboard.

Freddie Garrity leaping in the air.

Freddie Garrity practises his trademark stage leap, May 1965

The Dreamers had a lot to celebrate by mid-1965 as the band had enjoyed a whirlwind three years.  As well as making Number One in the USA, the band also had UK hits with You Were Made for Me, I Understand and a cover version of James Ray’s hit If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody.

In March 1964 they rounded off an appearance at the London Palladium with a party at the President Hotel in Russell Square, London. Crowding around the Dreamers’ cake, complete with icing models of the group, were band members Derek Quinn, Roy Crewdson, Freddie Garrity, Bernie Dwyer and Pete Birrell.

Freddie and the Dreamers pictured with a cake

Celebrating an appearance at the London Palladium with a Dreamers’ cake, March 1964

The group’s fame took them on a world tour in 1965. In March they’d swapped their Manchester umbrellas for sunshades in a Singapore hotel pool.

While the Dreamers were taking it easy on the other side of the world, the Hollies were appearing on Doddy’s Music Box at the ABC Studios in Manchester with another memorable Liverpool export – Ken Dodd. Our picture shows the band with stand-in drummer Tony Mansfield.

The Hollies pictured with their stand-in drummer Tony Mansfield

The Hollies on Doddy’s Music Box, March 1967

A young-looking Herman’s Hermits posed for press photos before appearing on the TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars at the Alpha Studios in Birmingham in late 1964. Their first single I’m into Something Good was on its way to Number One in the UK charts.

Pictured are, from left, Derek ‘Lek’ Leckenby, Barry Whitwam, Keith Hopwood, Peter Noone and Karl Green.

Manchester pop group Hermans Hermits

Herman’s Hermits before the TV show Thank Your Lucky Stars, September 1964

Finally in our 1960s line-up, it’s back to the Merseybeat and some of Liverpool’s most frequent visitors to Manchester – the Searchers, Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Pop group The Searchers

Merseybeat band the Searchers, January 1964

Cilla was in the city in November 1965 to film The Music of Lennon and McCartney at Granada studios. The 50-minute TV special consisted of Beatles’ songs sung by other artists including Lulu, Marianne Faithful, Peter and Gordon and even Peter Sellers. Cilla sang It’s For You.

Cilla Black on the set of "The Music of Lennon and McCartney"

Cilla Black recording a Beatles’ TV special in Manchester, November 1965

Gerry Marsden was at Manchester Airport in July 1964 to film a scene for the movie Ferry Cross the Mersey. The plot involved the group’s instruments being taken there by mistake.

Gerry Marsden at Manchester Airport

Gerry Marsden at Manchester Airport, July 1964

Many more memorable images of the past can be found in Clive Hardy’s brilliant new book Around Manchester in the 1970s. the book is abailable to purchase from our online store.