Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas
|BiIlyJ. Kramer (William Ashton)
Mike Maxfield lead guitar
Robin Macdonald rhythm guitar (switched to bass August'64)
RayJones bass guitar (left August'64)
Tony Mansfield drums
Mick Green rhythm guitar (joined August'64)
Billy J. Kramer, who like Gerry Marsden made his living working for British Railways, and originally played guitar in a group during the skiffle boom of the late Fifties, was lead singer of a Liverpool group called the Coasters when Brian Epstein saw them perform in 1963. He didn't like the group, but he liked Billy, and having signed him to an exclusive contract, placed him in front of the leading Manchester group The Dakotas and had him record a new Lennon-McCartney composition 'Do you want to know a secret?'.
straightforward singing suited the song well, and it quickly became the
third No. 1 with Liverpool connections, confirming the arrival of
Merseybeat as a nationwide craze - the Dakotas' non-Liverpudlian origins
were not stressed. (The Coasters, incidentally, carried on in the 'Pool
as backing group forthe boy singer Chick Graham.)
Four more reasonably big hits followed, the most successful being 'Little Children' by the American song writers Mort Shuman and John Leslie McFarland, which gave Billy J. Kramer his second million-seller (March 1964). After that the group seemed to lose its grip on the public. Billy was essentially an unexciting singer, especially in live performance, and his record success:,depended on strong material.
The group were unable to write hit songs themselves, and they only made the Top Twenty once after the summer of 1964 (with a Burt Bacharach song 'Trains and Boats and Planes'). Kramer himself failed to establish an image, and attempts to make a come-back have not been widely successful in terms of the charts, although he still plays the variety-club circuit.
Billy J. Kramer