I had the privilege of talking to Tony Crane, the original founder member of the group during the week and admitted straight away that I hadn´t even been born when they formed, instead growing up with the Bay City Rollers and Osmonds - but he didn´t hold that against me!
|Where it all started.....|
When the group first formed they were a 4 piece but by the 70´s, with the emergence of technology they added keyboards and became a 5 piece. Billy left the band for a while at the beginning of the 70´s and formed his own band, Liverpool Express and they were a huge hit in South America but then he came back to The Merseybeats.
Tony plays lead guitar in the group and I asked if he was always musical - as a child he played trumpet in the school band after hearing Eddie Calvert, who was often referred to as "the man with the golden trumpet". So how comes he ended up playing the guitar I bet you´re wondering, like I was. Well, Tony had 6 sisters and they took him to the cinema to watch Elvis in "Love me Tender" and when he saw the legions of women attracted to him and his guitar he decided he´d have a go and away went the trumpet! The group will be bringing 4 guitars with them to Benidorm Palace for their show - obviously not travelling on Ryanair then!
So of all the hits that the band had what are his favourites - each hold a special memory for Tony. The 1966 hit "Sorrow" they first recorded at the Beatles Abbey Road studio and George Harrison loved it so much that he used part of the lyrics at the end of "Yellow Submarine". David Bowie picked it as his all time favourite song and did a tribute version of it as did Status Quo. Sorrow was probably the most successful but Tony´s personal favourite is "Don´t Turn Around". In 1964 "I think of You" stayed in the charts for nearly a year and became the groups biggest selling song despite it only reaching No 3 in the charts - but that was most probably because The Beatles had the No 1 and 2 positions at the same time!
The group still tour to this day and every year endeavour to do a 50 day tour around the UK, often with other bands such as The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Wayne Fontana. Last year they also toured abroad, travelling to Finland, Denmark and Germany whilst next year they are off to the USA. They played on the QE2´s last sailing to Dubai and have done all the big cruise ships to exotic places such as Kuala Lumpur and the Seychelles. In the 90´s Tony even opened up his own club down in Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol , calling it Mersey Beat and for about 4 years commuted back and forth around his band commitments, but it proved too much and so he sold it.
|At Benidorm Palace|
But then maybe the fact that Tony and Christine are very good and dear friends from their days back in the Wirral,where Tony still lives may have something to do with it too! It is a fantastic opportunity to see and hear some true 60´s legends, which regardless of age I am sure you will have heard of as so many artistes have done their own covers of the classics.