The Cimmerons were young teenagers who first appeared 29 July 1962 as an instrumental band before John Stewart came on board. They changed the band name to Johnny and The Copycats with John and Ian writing compositions. At the time, John had also been filling in as lead singer for Joe Mofat from another Buckie band called The Apaches in ’63 when they lost their vocalist. Albert Bonici’s LCB Agency would set up gigs for these bands and others, giving local talent the opportunity to share a bill with popular touring bands. https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-diamonds-apaches-and-jacobeats/
According to Bill Cameron, [Copycat’s bass guitarist], renaming the Copy Cats “My Dear Watson” resulted from picking the best name from manager, Albert Bonici’s short list of names when a record deal hinged on a name change when the record company insisted because they didn’t like the name. Mr. Bonici went to work refitting them with costumes and photo shoots to reboot their image as they approached the London market. A few year later, after the guys returned to Scotland at the end of their recording career and promoting their singles [1964-70], they performed together part-time as the Copy Cats, the name that remains a personal preference.
“Formed in Buckie, Banffshire, Scotland in December 1962, My Dear Watson were originally known as Johnny And The Copycats. As such they made their recording debut in with an effervescent version of the Coasters’ ‘I’m A Hog For You’ [February 1964 – NORCO Records LTD.] Under the guidance of local impresario Albert Bonici, the Beatles’ agent in Scotland, the Copy Cats – as they were later known – became a leading attraction along the Moray Firth coast. Eschewing residencies in either Glasgow or Edinburgh, the group moved to London in 1967. They changed their name to My Dear Watson and came under the wing of George Young and Harry Vanda of the Easybeats. The pair produced two My Dear Watson singles for Parlophone Records. The first, ‘The Shame Just Drained’, was a Vanda/Young original, whereas the second, ‘Stop! Stop! There I’ll Be’, was written by My Dear Watson leader Johnny Stewart in the style of the Easybeats. This pulsating release was an artistic triumph but commercial flop. My Dear Watson contributed to the Easybeats’ Vigil (1968) before leaving the UK to work in Europe. They resumed recording in 1970 with ‘Have You Seen Your Saviour?’, a beautiful song in the country rock vein of the Flying Burrito Brothers. In part because of a lack of promotion and airplay, the single was not a success and My Dear Watson disbanded after its release.” Also, the band’s only recorded album featuring songs written by John Stewart, was never released. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/my-dear-watson-mn0001010115/biography “Early in 1962, when Cliff Richard was top of the charts with The Young Ones, Iain Lyon, Rob Lawson, Ali Ewen and Bill Cameron got together wherever they could find anywhere with some heat and a 60 watt bulb. Armed with a 5 watt amplifier, two small speakers and a snare drum, they performed instrumentals as the Cimmarrons. John Stewart, from Portknockie, who knew a lot of song lyrics, came to the next practice and became the band’s lead singer. Another change was the name, taken from the “Watkins Copycat” echo unit. With the tradition of putting the singer’s name first, they became Johnny & the Copycats. Elgin promoter Albert Bonici gave the band regular bookings, one of which was the Longmore Hall, Keith, supporting a little known Liverpool group called the Beatles. But the “Love Me Do” boys were stuck in snow somewhere down south. The two groups, however, would appear together the following year, but in very different circumstances. During 1963 they supported Eden Kane and the Nashville Teens in the north-east. They came first in a national beat contest in Perth, going on to London for the finals, where the judges, Heinz, Bert Weedon, and Joe Brown awarded them 2nd place. They decided to take a chance and go full-time. The Cats played central Scotland in 1964, with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, the Ronettes, and the Hollies. In London their first record, I’m a Hog For You, appeared. Then came the “big” one, opening for the Beatles in the ABC, Edinburgh, and the Odeon, Glasgow. After opening the show for Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas at Aberdeen’s Capitol, came a month’s tour of England. 1964 saw them turn eighteen, so now they could get German work permits and supported the Searchers in Cologne and Frankfurt later that year. Returning home for the summer, they appeared with Herman’s Hermits, Sandi Shaw, and Adam Faith and the Roulettes. In 1966, they supported the Mindbenders, the Moody Blues, and Cliff Bennet & the Rebel Rousers. At the Top Ten club, Hamburg, the Easybeats offered to record them in London. A deal was fixed, and the song Elusive Face, written by John, was released, followed by Stop, Stop, There I’ll Be, with their new name, My Dear Watson on the EMI Parlophone label. Meanwhile, in Scotland, My Dear Watson provided support to several popular bands as their manager, AA Bonici, continued to book fresh entertainment throughout Scotland. In 1969 John left the band, but continued to write many of their songs. In 1970, My Dear Watson were invited to DJM studios to record an LP and single. Also there was another young hopeful, Reg Dwight, who was invited to play keyboards and vocals on the single Have You Seen Your Saviour, and flip-side White Line Road. Young Reg would change his name to Elton John, record Your Song, and the rest, as they say, is history.” Elton John in Los Angeles [circa 1970] http://performingsongwriter.com/elton-john-american-debut-troubadour/
“In 1970, My Dear Watson were joined by Siggi Slater on keyboards, playing all over the country, including Elgin town hall with D.J. Emperor Rosko. On visits home they played support to the Alan Price Set, the Troggs, Manfred Mann, the Jack Bruce Band, Fleetwood Mac, and Status Quo. But the boys decided to call it a day on Saturday 2nd of September, 1972, playing their last official gig at the Fulmar club, RNAS Lossiemouth. Since then, the Copycats, with Lawrie Higgins on bass, have regularly played charity events around the north east of Scotland.” http://www.delgin.co.uk/cats/history.html http://www.copycats62.co.uk/
Before keyboardist Ziggy Slater began touring with My Dear Watson, the three remaining band members were making a go on their own though recently married Johnny Stewart was still writing material and sang with My Dear Watson at the DJM studio besides a little help from studio musician, Elton John.
“After the sessions, the band went back to Scotland where John Stewart had written a song that was a strong candidate for the successful single that they were looking for. The title was ‘Have You Seen Your Saviour’, and the eventual B side was ‘White Line Road’. They went back to DJM to record the song and Elton was once again on hand to play the piano exactly as before. The following month, on 12 March 1970, My Dear Watson went into Trident Studios to record the vocals for the single and B side. ‘Elton came with us, and we all agreed that we would do a vocal harmony for the B side which included Elton. His vocals were overwhelming. It made us realize how bad we were at singing. He sang with such power.'” Tin Pan Alley: The Rise of Elton John [by Keith Hayward]
Make This Day Last: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PYuuCjEAJ8 B-side of their 2nd single “Stop Stop There I’ll Be”, released October 1968. The band were previously known as Johnny & The Copycats
Start Thinking About Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTSIFfAZp_g
Have You Seen Your Savior https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8uqHZNH1sw&w=560&h=315]
Iain Lyon – lead guitar
Bill Cameron – bass
Rob Lawson – drums
Albert, who was a very shrewd businessman, became their manager and publicist and arranged for their first single to be released through his own label ‘Norco’ (Scotland’s first indie label) in 1964. ‘I’m A Hog For You Baby’ was a cover of a ‘Coasters’ song while the B side ‘I Can Never See You’ was written by Ian Lyon and 1000 copies were sold. They toured the UK extensively and supported many acts such as The Hollies, and Johnny Kidd & The Pirates who was a favorite with the band.
Besides UK fans the Copycats are fondly remembered in Deutchland:
“I would very appreciate to have a chance to get in touch with the Copycats to find out what they are doing today and if the still playing music. I met them in 1969 in Germany, Frankfurt Area. I bought the winered Gibson 335 custom made from Iain. Once our band Hurricans played together in Heppenheim, Germany. The Coopycats influenced me and our band so much. We played a lot of songs that we heard from them. I never saw a Bass-player who could play lefthanded too on Beatles songs -this is still unbelievable to me.” Manfred Peter
“Danke für viele schöne Stunden in den Sixties in Dornheim” Herbert Friedmann
Friends page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnnyandtheCopycats/
A: I’m A Hog For You B: I Can Never See You Norco UK [Olympic Sound Studio/London for Norco Records February 1964] A: Angela B: I’ll Never Regret You Cornet Koln, Germany 1966A: Start Thinking About Me B: The Pain Of Love Cornet International Germany 1968
A: I’ll See You In My Dreams B: Love Is Great, Love Is Grand Decca USA
My Dear Watson [Copycats]
A: The Shame Just Drained B: Elusive Face Parlophone Netherlands 1968 [UK 5 April 1969]
A: Stop Stop There I’ll Be B: Make This Day Last Parlophone UK 18 Oct 1968
A: Have You Seen Your Saviour B: White Line Road DJM UK [with Elton John] 1970
Notes: Bill Cameron owns a rough cut of 12 unreleased recordings that included Elton John with My Dear Watson circa 1970. Also, the band was recorded on tour in Germany.