|Tony Crane lead guitar
Aaron Williams rhythm guitar
Billy Kinsley bass guitar
John Banks drums
The Merseybeats specialised in slow, sultry numbers, often with a Latin feel, for their singles, although they could rock with the best of them. They never had a huge hit, but they had a strong individual identity and an effective stage presence: they sported frilly shirts, bolero jackets, and a mass of rings on their fingers, and provoked a hysterical reaction from their girl fans.
Their first record, 'It's love that really counts', an old Shirelles song, with a romantic message and style, didn't enter the charts, but it sold over 100,000 copies over a longish period. Their second, a Peter Lee Stirling composition in the same vein, was given a boost by the Beatles on 'Juke Box Jury', made the Top Ten, and established the Merseybeats as a best-selling act. But like so many groups who find sudden popular success, they had their internal problems: Billy Kinsley, who had played with Tony Crane in the Mavericks and had formed the Merseybeats with him, suddenly walked out at the height of their fame (February 1964). He was replaced on bass by Bob Garner for a few weeks, and then by 'Gus' Gustavson of the Big Three. They continued to make interesting and unusual singles, produced by Jack Baverstock, for two years; most of them sold well but not spectacularly, and the personnel again went through some changes. Billy Kinsley returned, and in January 1966 a more fundamental split took place: Aaron Williams left the music business, and Gustavson and Banks signed to Parlophone as Johnny and John, putting out a single 'Bumperto Bumper' (June 1966) which did nothing.
unexpected happened: Tony and Billy carried on as a duo,
shortening their name to the Merseys and bringing in a backing
group with the wonderful name of the Fruit-Eating Bears (one of
the first to use two drummers). Now managed by Kit Lambert and Chris
Stamp, they achieved their greatest success ever: the hysterical
receptions began again, and the new group's first single 'Sorrow'
became their biggest hit. Memory of this song was kept alive by the
Beatles, who for some reason quoted a line from it during the fade-out
of George Harrison's 'It's all too much' (from the'Yellow
Submarine' film), and it has been revived by David Bowie.