Further changes took place with Kath, Malcolm and Martin leaving. This left the 5 piece, Cliff and the Shadows based band, to continue which they did until mid 1963. They played in and around Rochdale and Oldham but even had auditions at the ABC studios in Manchester and the Yew Tree, also in Manchester.
One of the highlights of this time was a gig organised with 3 other Rochdale bands on 26 April 1963 at the Fire Station Hall in Rochdale called ‘Rockabeat ‘63’. The other bands were Johnny D and the Deacons, Dean Barrie and the Midnights and the Travellers. It was a great night enjoyed by those attending and even made a profit of just over £70 to be shared between the 4 bands. Probably more than any of them were earning from their normal gigs.
Inevitably, the band started to break up with Peter Whitehead leaving followed by Neil Grayson. The band soon changed their name to Johnny Collins and the Censors.
That, normally, would have been the end of the story leaving just a lot of happy memories.
In 1984, Neil and Peter were still involved at St Stephen’s and a Building Fund had been set up to hopefully build a new church. Neil’s wife, Kay, suggested we try to get the Angels back together for a one-off to raise funds. Accordingly, after several months of practice and a great deal of trepidation, Milnrow Conservative Club was the chosen venue for this one off on 9 November 1984. The 5 band members all worried about how many tickets we might sell – indeed, would anybody turn up. As it turned out, the venue was sold out and many more tickets could have been sold. In fact, the evening was such a success that the band’s performance attracted many enquiries to play again, especially from Hollingworth High School and Milnrow Cricket Club. Thus it was that, Gordon, Neil, Gerry, Fred and Peter started phase 2, this time as the Fallen Angels.
The band enjoyed their second coming and, after many rehearsals and hard work, increased their impressive play list to the point where they didn’t really need help from a DJ to fill an evening. They started to play all over Rochdale, Bury and Oldham even venturing into South Manchester on several occasions. Probably their longest journey was playing at the Shap Wells Hotel for the Ullswater Yacht Club in late 1991 - an enjoyable weekend. One gig would lead to another and their name, and reputation, was rapidly spreading. By this time, of course, all the band members had wives, families and demanding jobs and were therefore not able to play at every gig asked for.
At the end of 1991, Gordon decided that work and family commitments meant he couldn’t devote as much time to the band as it needed so he left, playing his final gig on 21 December at Milnrow Cricket Club, a regular and popular venue for the band. A replacement for Gordon was soon found but this arrangement didn’t last long leaving Gerry, Neil, Fred and Peter to carry on flying the flag.
There was an enforced break in mid 1994 when Peter had a heart by-pass operation but normal service was resumed in January 1995 and the band enjoyed continued success.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end and it was mutually decided in late 2001 that the band would play a final gig. As with the first, Milnrow Conservative Club was booked and, again, was a sell out on 9 February 2002.
This time, the band had chosen to donate any proceeds from the evening to Springhill Hospice in Rochdale and the magnificent sum of £1215 was handed over.
To commemorate their second ‘career’, the band recorded a 24 track CD at Studio Studio in Whitworth which they named ‘The Fallen Angels . . . . at last’.
These days, Gordon still lives in Littleborough, Fred lives in Newhey, Neil and Peter both live in Whitworth and Gerry and his wife, Jean, have emigrated to Australia. Neil now plays in a folk band called ‘2nd Fret’ and is enjoying yet another spell in a band. They, also, have now recorded 2 CD’s at Studio Studio.
I would welcome any memories, comments or additional information. Please contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Whitehead – September 2012
Publicity shot taken in 1962