THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
725) The Merseybeats — “Don’t Turn Around”
This delightful Mersey ballad reached #13 in the UK in ’64 but is pretty unknown in the U.S. Richie Unterberger calls “much of the [their] best stuff [including “Don’t Turn Around”] among the better unknown (in the U.S., anyway) Merseybeat.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/i-think-of-you-the-complete-recordings-mw0000661178)
Vernon Joynson note that “[t]hey had a softer image than most of the Merseybeat bands, sporting frilly shirts, bolero jackets and lots of rings on their fingers. They were masters of the tearjerking ballad and this, plus their good looks and fancy clothes, guaranteed them a strong female following.” (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited) The Merseybeats’ website agrees, saying that they “adopted their own distinctive style of fashion . . . . [that] saw them credited as the ‘Best Looking Group’ dressed in tight fitting suits with bolero jackets and frilly shirts, their outfits complete with high heeled zip boots provoked hysteria from their female fans. ” (https://www.themerseybeats.co.uk/)
Mark Deming gives us some history:
One of the strongest and more versatile groups to emerge from the Merseyside beat music scene in the 1960s . . . . [they] excelled at ballads while also playing energetic rock & roll and rhythm & blues with equal skill, and [their] harmonies were a standout regardless of the tempo. Unlike their friends the Beatles, the Merseybeats never enjoyed success in the United States, but they had their share of hits in England . . . . The[y] began in Liverpool, England in 1961, when fifteen-year-old Tony Crane was introduced to fourteen-year-old Billy Kinsley by a mutual friend. They shared a love of beat music, and . . . they quickly discovered they could do Everly-Brothers-style harmonies with ease. Eager to form a group, Kinsley learned to play bass guitar . . . . First dubbing themselves the Mavericks and then the Pacifics, they caught the attention of Bob Wooler, the booking agent at . . . the Cavern Club. Wooler liked the band but didn’t care for the name . . . [and took] it upon himself to change their name to the Merseybeats, after the local music paper Mersey Beat. . . . [T]hey became one of the most popular groups in the area, often playing alongside the Beatles, who befriended the younger band . . . . In June of 1963, the Merseybeats laned a record deal with Fontana Records, and their debut single, “It’s Love That Really Counts[” hit] Number 24 on the British Pop chart. Their second disc, “I Think of You,” was plugged by their old pals the Beatles on the pop music show Juke Box Jury, and . . . it ma[d]e the Top Five in February 1964. . . . [I]n 1965, Fontana’s American branch issued “I Think Of You” in the United States, their first Stateside release. The label flew the band to the United States for a brief East Coast promotional tour, but none of their American releases clicked . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-merseybeats-mn0000477494
Bill Harry notes that the Merseybeats made one of the most questionable ever Beatles-related business decisions (not made by the Beatles themselves) when they fired Brian Epstein out of jealousy for not buying them suits like he did the Beatles:
At the beginning of 1963 they became the third group to be signed by Brian Epstein, in the wake of The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers, but their association was short-lived as they had a dispute with him and left after only a few months. The dispute was a trivial matter, as Kinsley recalls: “We left him because he didn’t buy us suits. He bought The Beatles suits and we were jealous.” Naturally, they were later to regret that decision.https://sixtiescity.net/Mbeat/mbfilms113.htm
Oh, and Tony Crane notes that:
The Beatles were still close friends of ours and they were such nice people. It’s like when people used to say to me that John Lennon was a terrible person. He was the nicest person I’d ever met in my life. . . . Some people are supposed to be very nice but they have two faces, and John Lennon just said it as it was . . . .(https://the-shortlisted.co.uk/the-merseybeats-tony-crane-interview/)
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