Malcolm Clarke and the Cresters

Photo-Cast 1963

The Cresters were a popular band in throughout the UK [represented by Jack Fallon at Cana Variety London] and hired by Albert Bonici for various gigs in Scotland.

cresters gigs



Live at Copper Beach with The Cresters:

I Just Don’t Understand [1964]

“They played the Bonici circuit over a period of several years; initially they were formed as a backing band for Mike Sagar, and were briefly called ‘the Tennesseans’ before settling on the Cresters name.  With Mike Sagar, they had a hit single called ‘Deep Feelings’, which was written by Mike and guitarist Richard Harding.  Following an illness which affected his throat, Mike was advised to stop singing by his doctor, who feared that if he carried on, he could permanently damage his throat so rhythm guitarist Malcolm Clarke took over as the band’s main vocalist.  They were then known as Malcolm Clarke and the Cresters – Malcolm was actually a really gifted singer.  The personnel of the band settled down at this time – apart from Malcolm, they had guitarist Richard Harding, his brother John on bass and Johnny Casson on drums.

They did, as most bands did at that time, a number of Beatles songs, and a selection of hits of the day, but in addition to that, they did lots of things of a more musically advanced nature.  Richard Harding was, and is to this day, a truly world class guitarist, by far the best on the UK scene at that time and was heavily featured in the band, who did many instrumental numbers from lots of different sources, such as the Dave Brubeck tune ‘Take Five’, several jazz tunes, and some very intricate things such as ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’.  Malcolm Clarke sang songs from such sources as Roy Orbison, Mel Torme and others.  Johnny Casson also featured some comedy routines as part of the Cresters performances.  All of this, plus their own original material, made them stand out from the crowd, and they had a large following in the North East – many of the musicians in local bands in particular idolised them, they were way above the standard you would expect, and when they played at the Boots, the stage was usually surrounded by lots of the local musicians.  In addition to the Boots, they regularly played at such venues as the Victoria in Forres, the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen, the Ballerina in Nairn, Cullen Town Hall, and venues in Inverness, Grantown-on-Spey, Thurso, and of course the Fulmar Club in Lossiemouth.  Their trips up north were eagerly awaited.

Malcolm Clarke sadly died in the late sixties of cancer, and the band continued as a three piece, with the Harding brothers sharing the vocals.  Over the next few years, their visits to the North became fewer, as they found themselves much in demand in the cabaret scene in the north of England.  In addition, they were hired as backing band for Tammy Wynette – they played a TV series with her on BBC, and became her backing band on all her European tours for a while after that.  On Wynette’s recommendation, they were also featured accompanists for several other visiting Americans from the country music scene, such as George Hamilton IV, and various others.  Johnny Casson’s comedy routines became a larger part of the act when they played the cabaret circuit, and Richard Harding also become involved in running his recording studio and also in writing film music.  The Cresters continued as a band into the 80s, by which time all three remaining members had other interests running parallel to the band;  Casson had a successful comedy career, including many tv appearances, and still makes occasional appearances to this day.  John Harding became a solo artist and was picking up lots of work when sadly he was stricken down with MS and has been an invalid ever since.

Richard Harding ran his recording studio as a business, and did lots of work for the BBC in this capacity; he also recorded some well know artists.  After a few years of doing this and working with a wide range of people such as Tom Jones and Oasis, he began hankering after performing again, and joined a band called Dillinger – which featured his old friend Mike Sagar as vocalist, now recovered from the serious throat ailment which kept him out of the Cresters.  Dillinger had a large following on the country music scene and Harding played with them for several years.  Also, the pair of them were asked to perform at a rock’n’roll revival show in Bradford, so armed with a bassist and drummer, they appeared as ‘the Cresters’ a number of times; the pair of them still occasionally perform together, doing mainly rock’n’roll songs with a smattering of instrumentals featuring Harding’s expert guitar work.

The Harding brothers, Johnny Casson and Mike Sagar are all in their 70s now;  I’m in fairly regular contact with Richard, with whom I’ve maintained a friendship since about 1966, and through him I hear news of the others.

I recall seeing many successful bands brought to the North by Albert – the Who, the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Yardbirds, the Cream, the Animals – the list goes on.  It was a great time to be young in Elgin, we had more ‘name’ bands in our part of the world than many bigger towns and cities throughout the country, it was a kind of ‘golden age’ almost.” Neil Munro (NSM on the Manchester Music Archive)

Deep Feeling:  You Know:

Cresters from Leeds – Scotland groups “want to copy”


The Cresters

The Cresters

The Cresters

The Cresters of Inverness, Scotland

The Cresters

The Cresters – Beatles song

The Cresters

The Cresters visit Elgin, Scotland


My research began in 2007 as a visitor to the north of Scotland. With a fascination for the beat music era that took place throughout the UK, my research investigates the late '50s through early 1970s. Relying on interviews, the Albert Bonici archives, and other resources, I continue to gather materials to tell the story of a special time in music in the mid 20th century. Scottish promoter, Albert Bonici, brought many of the top beat music acts to Scotland which delighted music lovers during the early days of the beat music era. SCOTBEAT was created to share a bit of history about the BEAT years in Scotland and remembers the contributions of promoter, Albert Bonici, 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. 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 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 when sharing materials found here as the site is continuously updated to present the subject matter accurately and as a historical resource. Thank you.

Posted in 1960's pop music
One comment on “Malcolm Clarke and the Cresters
  1. Cy Pirie says:

    Glad you told me about your blog, which I have looked at today whilst checking email at Buckie Library, and there is so much ‘quality’ reporting here…..
    I am back in the land of my ‘birth’, Portknockie, having been brought up in Fife, where the music scene 1963 through was as rich as The Red Shoes……On the back of skiffle a lot of amateur/semi pro groups sprung up and could be seen in various ‘wee’ like Kelty Band Hall to ‘biggie’ places like Dunfermline’s Kinema Ballroom. I’ll pop in at a future date and read this excellent blog in more detail….all the best for now.
    Cy ‘Aye Afloat’

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