Tremeloes rocking and rolling back the years
It will be a trip down Memory Lane for anyone who remembers the 1960s when Brian Poole and the Tremeloes’ 40th anniversary reunion tour reaches our region. The lead singer told KEIRON PIM why they’ve got back together after all these years.
Brian Poole and the Tremeloes scored a string of gold discs back in the days when you had to sell a million copies to get one. They toured the world four times and had several top five hits, making them one of the most popular bands of the 1960s.
But when you ask the singer about the most memorable moments of his long career in showbusiness, the answer is very simple.
“My highlights? I've got two: first of all, going to number one for the first time with Do You Love Me? We were in Liverpool at Lime Street station, and remember there were no mobile phones then. If you didn't phone your office you didn't get the news. I bought a newspaper and saw we were number one!
“And the second one was when my daughters Karen and Shelly had their first massive hit with Alisha's Attic. Seeing them splashed all over the record shops, that made their dad pretty proud. And I'm even prouder now because they have written big songs for people like Kylie Minogue, Will Young, Sugababes, Atomic Kitten and Janet Jackson.”
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The Tremeloes' extended family have proved to be unusually productive - as well as Brian's daughters' success, bassist Len 'Chip' Hawkes' son Chesney had a big hit with The One and Only in 1991, and guitarist Alan Blakley's daughters Claudie and Kirsten are an actress and a singer respectively.
But now the focus is returning to the older generation, as Brian and the Tremeloes have reunited to go on tour for the first time in 40 years. They play at Cromer on Saturday and Lowestoft on October 12.
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“We call it a 60s show because you have to be in your 60s to do it!” he laughs. “The audience goes from one end of the age spectrum to the other, with people of our age and young people as well. Our records do still play on the radio quite a lot.”
Brian is now 64 and lives in Buckinghamshire, but the band's story started in his home county of Essex in the mid-1950s, when he was at Park Modern Secondary School in Barking. He and his friend, Alan Blakley, had acoustic guitars and a repertoire of Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers songs, and soon enlisted Alan Howard on bass. From playing at parties they got to know Dave Munden, a drummer. While studying for their O-levels they would practise together almost every night in a classroom at school. They soon settled on a name: The Tremilos, a misspelled reference to the tremolo effect on guitar amplifiers.
The band became renowned for its Buddy Holly and the Crickets cover versions - Brian even adopted the Texan rock'n'roller's trademark thick-rimmed glasses - and played at cinemas during the intervals between films and travelled the circuit of American military camps. Brian, Dave and Alan were given work by Decca Records, singing backing vocals on hit records for artists such as Tommy Steele, Delbert McClinton and Jimmy Savile.
So it wasn't surprising that an audition with Decca on New Year's Day of 1962 resulted in their being signed to the label, which then altered the name to The Tremeloes. The only surprise, with hindsight, was that they beat a Liverpool band to the contract - namely The Beatles. It has gone down in pop music history as a gaffe on Decca's part, but Brian recently made his feelings clear.
“It wasn't a mistake at that time because when we signed for Decca we had the biggest fan club in Britain,” he said. “The Beatles had been out in Germany and nobody had heard of them.
“At those auditions we did two covers of American songs and the Beatles did the same. It's not as if they went there and played Please, Please Me. So nobody could foresee that they would go on to become the most successful writers in history. Decca didn't know it and neither did anyone else.
“We toured with The Beatles three times and we knocked She Loves You off the number one spot with Do You Love Me? We had a very successful career of our own.”
However, Brian left the band in 1966 because, he explains, “I thought we had done everything we could do. Four world tours, and to be honest you get a bit fed up.”
They had already racked up Top 10 singles with Twist and Shout, Candy Man, Someone Someone, Three Bells and I Want Candy, and that number one with Do You Love Me? After he left, the Tremeloes continued to see success with Here Comes My Baby, Even the Bad Times are Good, and the song most readily associated with the group, Silence is Golden, which reached number one in 1967.
The live show promises to include all the hits and features all the surviving original members, missing only Blakley, who died of cancer in 1996. Brian explains that the reunion came about in the wake of the Asian tsunami of Boxing Day 2004.
“Pete [Langford] from the Barron Knights phoned me and said 'Brian, do you fancy doing something for the tsunami appeal?'
“I said I would love to. I asked if they were going to back me on a couple of songs. He said 'No, I've got a better idea, I'm going to phone the Tremeloes and see if they would do it'.
“We went on as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, and after that various offers came up. This tour is the icing on the cake really.”
Brian Poole and the Tremeloes play at Pavilion Theatre on Cromer pier on September 30 and the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft, on October 12. Tickets for Cromer cost £15 and the show starts at 8pm; call 01263 512495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Tickets for Lowestoft cost £16.50 or £15.50 for concessions and the show starts at 8pm; call 01502 533200 or email email@example.com