The Swinging Blue Jeans
Ennis lead guitar,
The Blue Jeans had been together since 1959, and Ray Ennis and Norman Kuhlke had played in the same skiffle group as early as 1957. As a beat group - originally called the Bluegenes - they had worked at the Star Club in Hamburg and had even tested for Joe Meek, England's leading record producer at the time. But it was not till the days of Beatlemania that they began to be nationally known. Their first two singles failed to make the charts, but under Jim Ireland's management they received a barrage of publicity through 1963.
They were sold as fashion leaders, popularising streamline leather jackets and - needless to say - smart blue jeans. They were also given exposure on a weekly Radio Luxembourg programme, 'Swingtime', sponsored by a firm of blue-jeans manufacturers; and in December, they were seen as a Liverpool beat group in the BBC TV series 'Z Cars'. Inevitably they only needed the right record to strike it rich, and they found it in Chan Romero's 'Hippy Hippy Shake'. Theirs was an excellent, straightforward version, and was an instant hit, only being kept from the No. 1 position by the Beatles' 'I want to hold your hand'.
They made the mistake of following it up with a number that was both too similar and too familiar - 'Good golly Miss Molly', but for their third single they successfully revived Betty Everett's 'You're no good', a beautiful song which took them to No. 3.
They continued to benefit from an efficient publicity machine which emphasised their leading position among Mersey groups, and appeared in the first English film using the new technique of Circlorama (in which the audience was completely surrounded by screens arranged in a circle - whatever happened to it?).
But the familiar problem of material dogged them, and in spite of competent records and stage performances, they lost their grip on the charts. Their 'commercial' singles lacked sufficient instant appeal, and their R & B orientated numbers were not uninhibited enough to satisfy the tastes of fans who had been recently introduced to groups like the Stones and the Animals. This was sadly demonstrated on the 1964 Chuck Berry tour, when the Blue Jeans, whose act was not at all bad, were regularly booed off stage, presumably because, unlike the Animals who were also on the bill, they were not'an R & B group'.
Terry Sylvester, formerly of the Escorts, joined the group in 1964.