Bryan Yorke

After the Swinging Hangmen had disbanded, I decided to go as a Agent for groups and can remember the first group I did the bookings for, it was a group from Rawtenstall called the Pagans.

Not too clear but I think they were a 5 piece who was managed by the mother of the lead singer Geoff Lord,
she had a clothes shop on Bank Street, Rawtenstall and the group practiced above the shop. They were a good average 60s beat group, who where probably at their best performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or the lighter stuff of the day.

I remember we entered them in a freebie competition at the Burnley Locarno (Mecca) where they had this weekly knock-out competition, to result in winning the final and securing a recording contract with Phillips. The
Pagans won that competition above lots of other competitive groups at that time. The manager fixed it that they won by hiring 3 motorcoaches and filled them with young voters from the Rawtenstall area, this meant a
guaranteed 150 votes in front of everyone else. They won OK, but I am still waiting for that contract!!!

I remember a group who also entered this competition and came second in that same competition called the Raging Storms – a local band from Burnley – they where the group that should have won it, they were strong and tight and really good on the R&B stuff (these days they call it freakbeat).

I was later to become their agent and found them plenty of work without problem. I used to put them on in the Manchester areas and one day Alan Arnison asked me if he could take over the group has he could offer them loads of prestige work. I regretted it at that time, but at the same time could not hold them back, if he could put them in the right places that was to me far more important.

A very prestigious venue at that time was The Nelson Imperial Ballroom (Nelson Imp), this was owned by Bob Caine and managed by Derek Greenwood (the father of one of my best mates), here the cream of acts including the Rolling Stones where regular top billers – I was given the opportunities many time to put the odd support band in there – there was usually about 3 or 4 bands on the bill on Saturday evenings. I believe it got ravished by fire and was never rebuilt.

Just down the road from me was another great venue called the Astoria Ballroom, in Rawtenstall. This was owned and managed by John Myerscough who then got his header bands from a agent in Southport called Lewis Buckley, and the support bands John booked himself.

Regular top of the billers where The Who & Yardbirds (whom I bet played there at least once every 4-6 weeks)
and there where many others like Sounds Incorporated, Honeycombs, Rockin Berries, Small Faces, Unit 4 plus 2, Brian Auguer, Merseybeats, Maurauders, and lots lots more – but he never got the Beatles or the Stones.

Support bands included: Wynder K Frog (Mick Weaver) – never away from the place- Darwen Nr. Blackburn, Avalons (Colne), Warriors (Accrington and Jon Anderson of Yes fame – and the drummer of this band went on to play with Bob Dylan), The Electones (Blackburn), The Dappers (Accrington), The Swinging Hangmen
(Haslingden). Occasionally John would let me put the odd support band in.

The Astoria sadly was knocked down to make way for a close by dual carriageway, although there now a beautiful little park area on that very spot where Clapton and Page and many others got their trade together (the park and plaque is quite close to the now Asda Supermarket store.

John Myerscough went living in Southport where I believe he bought out Lewis Buckley Entertainments, that very agency that supplied his header names in the earlier days, And he carried on that Agency.

They were great days with folk and blues artiste also, putting blues acts on at the Manor House-Thornton In Craven, Nr. Barnoldswick and also at the Blue Scene Folk Club held at Nelson Nr. Burnley – Harry Boardman did loads of gigs for me, also Harry Ogden (who would often do a double with Harry B at the same gig), Gary & Very Aspey, and there was a brilliant guy which Ian Hamilton sent me one day and I’m sure he was called Mike Stevens – what a perfermer this guy was – would love to hear if he made it

Sometimes I would be stuck for folk acts and all I had to do was ring up Harry Boardman at Middleton and he would suggest somebody or fix somebody up for me. Victor Brox’s Blues Train did several gigs at the time including some University one nighters.

Langley Labour Club, Martindale Crescent, Middleton used to run star nights on a Thursday and I got the job of supplying the named acts and we would get Dave Berry & The Cruisers (who just came from over the hill at Sheffield), Ivans Meads (Sins of a Family), etc.

I do clearly remember booking the Bo Street Runners who had a top ten single out at that time and I think
I got them from Harold Davidson Agency in London. We signed contracts for this band and arranged bandcall for 7pm, and the Concert Secretary of the Club rang meat 8pm – where’s this “bl..dy group? Anyway little do’s and big do’s they eventually arrived at the gig at 9pm. They where immediately dismissed and told in no uncertain terms to bugger off!!

It apparently turned out that they where only part time and had jobs during the day and did not in fact set off from London until about 5.30pm. Can you imagine now knowing that I was responsible for bringing up to Lancashire that great Mick Fleetwood (eventually Fleetwood Mac) who never got to play because they were sent packing.

I used to book some great bands, some I would get from Ian Hamilton whom I used to deal with when he worked with Danny Betesh (Kennedy Street) and also again when he went on his own later. One fabulous group springs to mind, and they where Frankenstein’s Monsters who doubled on the second spot as Roy
Stuart & The Sheffields. I also think I got Ivans Meads from Ian.

Another great band I used several times was the Chosen Few who eventually changed their name because I think another band had the same name, so they changed it to the Hush and I believe eventually went on to make a record.

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