Beat girls of the ’60s

beatgirl

beat girls

To celebrate Winston Churchill’s birthday [30 November], a variety show was staged in Lossiemouth Town Hall in 1963. Beatles fans Muriel Murdoch, Elsie Henry, May Souter, and Frances Trantor mimed three Beatles songs for two consecutive nights. May said that the audience “went berserk with a deafening noise” as they watched the girls perform She Loves You and Twist and Shout. She commented that an elderly woman believing she saw the Beatles said: “good of the Liverpool lads to come to Lossiemouth”.  British beat music had come into it’s own and The Beatles were leading the charge…

TRS advert

 

TRS dance 1962

Copyright DJ Dills 2007

As was the case with most jazz bands in the UK, the TRS houseband featured several female vocalists through the 1960s  though the backup musicians were men. When Dusty Springfield sang ballads and folk songs with her brother at the Two Red Shoes Ballroom in 1961 and ’62, traditional jazz and “beat” music were already gaining popularity in the music industry though the BBC limited airplay catering to adult tastes. Fortunately, there was pirate radio besides Radio Luxembourg.

ball jazz

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Two Red Shoes houseband, Alyson Armstrong, Alex. Sutherland, and Albert Bonici [far right]

https://scotbeat.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/two-red-shoes-album-2/

Likewise, the emerging beat bands were predominantly male though there were a few girl groups as well as male/female bands on the go in the UK. http://www.readysteadygirls.eu/#/british-girls/4520782524 The New Jacobeats, The Modells and the Mckinley Sisters from Glasgow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Rhn6mx8s_k were amongst the popular groups in Scotland besides some of the soloist featured below.

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Leopards

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Dusty Springfield was controversial in some circles as she was openly gay besides playing to mixed audiences when touring in South Africa http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/11931105.1964_1988__pop_in_protest/

Albert Bonici managed various groups besides his boy bands. The Modells were one of the groups he promoted when beat bands dominated the charts.

Albert Bonici managed various groups besides his boy bands. The Modells were one of the groups he promoted whilst  beat boy bands dominated the charts.

Albert Bonici was sure the Modells would chart that he said “I’ll eat my hat if their first record doesn’t make the charts”.

Albert Bonici actively managed and promoted the Modelles looking after their needs on the road. They worked with other acts under his care including The Copycats…

Besides TV and radio spots, The Modelles performed regularly around the UK including the Palais featured in the Kinks, “Come Dancing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lgzc0axshc

The Modells go mod

The Kool Kats
The British had their answer to American girl groupsModells 3

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A popular jazz singer, Jeannie Lambe performed several times with the Alex. Sutherland sextet at the Two Red Shoes. Several female vocalists got a contract through Albert Bonici’s LCB Agency. It would provide the artist steady work and experience beyond the joy of it. Albert Bonici set up engagements and got his halls filled and financed his business whilst the acts often worked for a modest sum.

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Alyson Armstrong, recorded with the Two Red Shoes house bands and Terry Russell [vocalist on a Norco Records 7 inch] besides appearances on Aye Yours [Grampian Television 1964-5].

According to a newspaper journalist at the time, Alyson dated Rob Larson of the Copy Cats. “My mother, Alyson Sinclair (nee Armstrong)…met Rob Larson later, after the Two Red Shoes days, and they discussed the fact they’d been wrongly associated in this way. I think they found it amusing.” Rory Sinclair

Besides, Alyson, vocalist Eithne Alexander, was another popular vocalist in the north of Scotland, and went on tour with the Copy Cats [aka My Dear Watson] in Germany. She was among the acts managed/promoted by Albert Bonici.

 

alys pretty thingse alexander

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Beat girl bands were more of a novelty in the UK music scene though there were some who toured England and Scotland with receptive audiences.

When ’60s groups like the Ronettes and Supremes were getting radio play in the USA,  there were some girl groups on the go in the UK though boy bands continued to dominate the beat scene.

The north of Scotland became a tour destination under Albert Bonici’s plan that hired musicians for ten day tours in relatively small communities. Popular female vocalist who performed in the north of Scotland in the 1960s includes Lulu, Dusty Springfield, Sandy Shaw, Anita Harris, and Marianne Faithfull.

In 1965, The modelles were Vicki, Magi, and Franki. Lori Stevens [seated in front] worked with the group for three years before taking on a solo career.

 

Above: Shangra Las https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM9orBt3ZWY&list=PL407E816CAD591DE8

There were also dozens of female vocalists on the go doing gigs between London and Scotland besides many who were hired as house band vocalists. Albert Bonici took advantage of the available talent, hiring several young women to do long term gigs around the north of Scotland. His Two Red Shoes Ballroom [Elgin, Scotland] featured several talented vocalists who were backed by their popular house band through the 1960s. Singers below represent a variety of musical styles including pop, jazz, and folk…

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Above: Marianne Faithfull began as a folk singer who had a troubled time during her early career. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2420327/Marianne-Faithfull-Red-Army-rapists-aborted-baby-hate-sex. Interview: html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR1QaQWwYQA

Marianne Faithful was promoted as a teenager.

Whilst there were several popular British female vocalists including Dusty Springfield, Sandy Shaw, Lulu, and Marianne Faithfull , it was hard to get recognition unless fortunate enough to get airplay on BBC television or radio besides connections in London.

 

Love-in Feeling

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About

My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. In the early 1950s, Albert Bonici began promoting dances though it had been an ambition since his teenage years. When he and Henry Robertson co-organized a string of jazz dances in the north Scotland, they could not have predicted the enormous success of the venture. Albert Bonici became one of the most respected promoters in the UK having arranged a high volumn of music venues throughout the north of Scotland which delighted music lovers during the height of the jazz and beat music era. Whilst known for booking the Beatles at the beginning of their 1963 tours, Albert Bonici brought most of the top British acts to north-east Scotland besides working with Scottish musicians to boost their careers. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and also a tribute to a man with a vision who, with the help of his family and staff, created a happening that is still fondly remembered by those who attended dances and concerts. Albert A Bonici hosted many up and coming bands who went on to gain international acclaim for their contributions. Besides other local resources and interviews, SCOTBEAT presents exclusive photos, adverts, and documents from the A Bonici Archives [circa 1960s]. Unless otherwise agreed, materials are not to be used for financial gain and ask that you respect the terms below. Materials presented are not to be used for financial gain without consent. © 2014-2019 SCOTBEAT.wordpress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be copied, redistributed, broadcast or published in any form without crediting this blog and/or copyright websites mentioned. All correspondence, flyers, programs, and photos from the Bonici Archives are not to appear in print other than through the propietor of SCOTBEAT. Use of the site signifies your agreement to all of these terms without condition. Please reference https://scotbeat.wordpress.com when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

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Posted in 1960's pop music
2 comments on “Beat girls of the ’60s
  1. Rory Sinclair says:

    Just a tiny note:

    My mother, Alyson Sinclair (nee Armstrong) says the following is factually inaccurate:

    “Alyson Armstrong, who dated Copycat star Rob Larson as a teenager,”

    She says in fact she only met Rob Larson later, after the Two Red Shoes days, and they discussed the fact they’d been wrongly associated in this way. I think they found it amusing.

    • scotbeat says:

      Thank you Rory for correcting the inaccuracy. I am hoping to record the real history though it can be a bit tricky at times. I should have sited the news article who created the rumour but am glad that you caught it. cheers,David

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