The Dakotas were formed in Manchester, England, in 1960, the name being suggested by a local promoter who wanted the band to dress up as native American Indians!
By early 1963 the Dakotas were now signed to Brian Epstein’s NEMS agency, and, thanks to the success of the Beatles, signed up to EMI records subsidiary label, Parlophone.
Billy J Kramer had been friends with John Lennon for some time and John gave the group a demo of a new song, "Do You Want to Know a Secret", which they perfected whilst working in Hamburg at the Star Club.
On returning to Britain, the song was recorded at Abbey Road studios, with producer George Martin. It stormed up the charts and reached No.2 in the spring of 1963. It must be remembered that the Dakotas and Billy each had separate recording contracts with Parlophone, and that they were billed as "Billy J Kramer WITH the Dakotas". To maintain the group’s identity, the Dakotas’ guitar instrumental "The Cruel Sea" was released as a single, and it reached the Top 20 around the same time as "Secret". This Mike Maxfield tune was released in America as "The Cruel Surf", coinciding with the surf craze.
The first Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas album, "Listen...", was released at the end of 1963, and eventually reached No.11 on the LP chart. Early in 1964, the group felt they needed to release a single that wasn’t written by the Beatles (!) and chose "Little Children". This controversial move paid off, and the record went to No.1 on the British charts in the spring of 1964. Later that year, both "Bad To Me" and "Little Children" made the American Top 10, and the group visited the ’states, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, and playing to sell-out frenzied fans of the "British invasion" sound.
The Reformation 1989 - 2008
The first new studio album since the 60s "The Dakotas - Volume 1" was released to critical acclaim in August 1991, including a contemporary orchestrated version of the 1963 hit single, "The Cruel Sea". In April 1992 the Dakotas did a three week tour of Sweden with fellow Manchester act, Herman’s Hermits. Between 1992 and 1994 the band appeared all over the UK, as well as regular trips to Germany.
In 2003 the Dakotas released their fourth, and biggest selling, studio album, "Everlasting", since the band reformed in the late 80s, to coincide with a massive 70-date "Solid Silver 60s" tour of the UK and Ireland. The tour also featured the Searchers, Wayne Fontana, Dave Dee and Barry Ryan, and ran from February until May 2003. Later that year, the band’s keyboard player, Toni Baker wrote the theme music, and the Dakotas were the session band for the immensely successful British TV comedy series "Phoenix Nights", starring Peter Kay.
In the spring of 2004 the Dakotas undertook yet another major 50 date UK theatre tour, teaming up once again with Peter Noone and Wayne Fontana, plus Bryan Hyland and John Walker (Walker Brothers). To tie in with the tour, the band released their fifth album, "Strong" named after the title track Im Gonna be Strong originally recorded by Gene Pitney. Almost straight after the tour, the Dakotas started recording tracks for the next Peter Kay TV series "Max and Paddy’s Road To Nowhere". Toni Baker co-wrote the music with Peter Kay for the show which featured Tony Christie singing the theme song.
During the early summer of 2004, the Dakotas were filmed to appear in an episode of Peter Kay’s "Max and Paddy", which was eventually broadcast in October 2004. Dressed as various 80s characters, the band performed to their recordings, including "Love Train", "Baby Now That I’ve Found You" and also backed Peter Kay on "I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues".
In August 2004 tragedy struck, when guitarist Mike Maxfield suffered a stroke and had to stop performing. Alan Clare has now taken over the role of the band’s lead guitarist.
In spring 2007 the Dakotas once more toured the UK along with The Searchers, The Merseybeats, John Walker & Wayne Fontana on the Solid Silver 60s Tour.
Once again a new CD was released to coincide with this tour.
The CD, called "Evolution" to mark the changes undergone by the band over the last few years, features many new songs including an original song specially written for the band by Toni Baker called "Falling From Heaven".
There are 17 tracks in all including "She’s Not There" and "You’re My World" which were well received by the 1000 plus crowd every night on the tour.
You can hear these songs on the music player at the top of the myspace page'
Eddie Mooney joined the Dakotas in the late 80s after being a member of the successful band "Park Avenue". The drummer was Tony Bookbinder, who had been the original drummer in the Dakotas, and this connection eventually led to the reforming of the band with Mike Maxfield.
After fronting The Dakotas for 20 years, Eddie amicably left The Dakotas in January 2008 to join The Fortunes after their long-standing frontman, Rod Allen sadly passed away.
Paul Rafferty became the new singer/bass player and in spring 2009 the Dakotas again toured the UK along with The Searchers, The Merseybeats, John Walker & Wayne Fontana on the Solid Silver 60s Tour. Once again a new CD was released to coincide with this tour. The CD, called "Destiny" featured many new tracks including 3 original songs specially written by the band.
You can hear and download some these songs on the websites. Anyone wanting a copy of this CD can email the band at email@example.com.
After 2 years Paul decided to leave the band as he found all the travelling too strenuous for his health.
Marius Jones joined the band on bass in October 2010. He was already well known to Pete Alan & Toni, so was an obvious choice when it came down to choosing the right man for the job. Marius has a wealth of musical experience and has worked with many legends over the years. As well as working with Pete & Alan years ago with Freddie & the Dreamers, he also played bass with Amen Corner for several years. He is a great musician who has provided the musical foundation for a wealth of international stars.
Ronnie Ravey had been known to the Dakotas for years, as a professional singer/frontman. He has worked alongside many famous names both live and in the studio,since the early 60s. Like the rest of the Dakotas, he learned his craft by performing and singing every kind of music from The Everly Bros to Joe Cocker. His vocal talents are just perfect for the many styles of music The Dakotas like to perform live today, and his personality is second to none when it comes to making an audience feel at home. When the band decided to become a 5 piece outfit in November 2010, Ronnie was the perfect choice to front the band.
Toni Baker joined the Dakotas early in the 90s, though he has a long history of working in well known bands. He played on Billy Ocean’s early recordings in the 70s, & was a member of "Shabby Tiger", a hugely successful group in Europe, with many hit singles, such as the No.1, "Slow Down". Toni, who did sessions for Lisa Stansfield is still a top UK session man, & owns his own recording studio "Moose". He is also a talented songwriter, who had a Number 5 hit in Japan with Eat You Up.
More recently Toni has written all the music, including the TV theme tunes, for Britain’s top comedian Peter Kay on his highly acclaimed comedy series "Phoenix Nights" and Max & Paddy’s Road to Nowhere. Toni and fellow band member Pete Hilton also starred in the first episode of the first series of Phoenix Nights as members of a folk band called "Half A Shilling". Toni continues his production and session work for major companies including "League of Gentlemen", and a CD containing much of his recent TV work - The Best of Peter Kay So Far -was released in December 2005.
Pete Hilton joined the Dakotas in 1999, but has also a long established pedigree. Also an ex-member of Freddie & Dreamers, he is also a respected session drummer, and has been touring since 1963. In the late sixties Pete worked the original Liverpool Cavern Club with the eminent guitarist Robin Hill. Pete and Robin later formed jazz rock band Spring and were early pioneers of local radio. There were memorable live performances with Kevin Ayers & Mike Oldfield. Pete went on to work alongside many greats such as Joe Cocker, Canned Heat, Deep Purple, & Traffic.
In the late seventies Pete worked theatres throughout the UK with many greats such as Frankie Howerd and Bob Monkhouse. Rolf Harris & Tommy Cooper also played an important role in Pete’s education! In the late seventies while working with pop group Family Affair, Pete grabbed the opportunity to gig with the Supremes (Mary Wilson). Pete worked alongside David Essex, who later inspired him to perform in Godspell while he was living in Canada. Pete is passionate about jazz and classical music and was delighted to collaborate once again with Robin Hill to perform the Claude Bolling concerto. Pete is currently recording again with Robin. He continues to teach drumming, as well as performing with the Dakotas.
Alan Clare joined the band in December 2006. His varied guitar talents lend themselves perfectly to The Dakotas’ many faceted musical styles.
Alan has worked in many bands, including Freddie & the Dreamers alongside Pete Hilton, and is still a major session player, having worked with artists as diverse as the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Buddy Greco, Cliff Richard, Gene Pitney, Gerard Kenny, Kenny Lynch, Lynn Paul and Ken Dodd.
As well as being one of the North’s leading session guitarists, Alan also teaches a master class in advanced jazz guitar techniques.
A CD called "Destiny" was released to coincide with the 2009 tour featuring three original songs by the band, along with the hits and some of the songs they feature in their live set.
Toni Baker - keyboards/vocals. Pete Hilton - drums/percussion. Alan Clare - lead guitar/vocals. Marius Jones - bass guitar/vocals. Ronnie Ravey - lead vocals.
Check out the Dakotas latest cd The Dakotas LIVE.
Track listing below
Dakotas Line-up #1
"A school chum of mine called Bryn Jones played lead guitar with Pete Maclaine and the Dakotas - I think this was 1960, 1961. The drummer in the group at that time was a guy called Tony Mansfield (real name Tony Bookbinder) and he was the brother of Elkie Brooks.
Bryn left Pete Maclaine and the Dakotas in 62. or 63 advised by the headmaster of Chadderton Grammar School to concentrate on his "A level" studies!!"
Like Ian Maclean (IBR as we knew him) I was at Chaddy Grammar with Bryn Jones. I remember him bringing in his Fender Strat and showing it to us awed younger students in the dining room at the back of the school. I went on to be rhythm guitarist with The Paiges before following similar advice and giving up to study more. I still play though!
Dakotas Line-up #2
Dakotas Line-up #3
Billy J Kramer
Dakotas Line-up #4
Billy J Kramer
Dakotas Line-up #5
Billy J Kramer
Discography Sixties singles as The Dakotas - Billy Js recordings not included
I'm an 'ard workin Barrow boy/Seven pounds of potatoes
Page One POF 018
I can't break the news to Myself/Spider and the Fly
Meet The Dakotas
Parlophone GEP 8888
As a kid in my first group the Deputies (later the Orphans) we were based in Heaton Moor, Stockport.
I think I am right in saying that Mike's parents ran an off licence on Heaton Moor Road in the early sixties, when Mike was with the Dakotas. I well remember me and my brother talking to him outside the shop one day, and telling him we were in a band. He was very encouraging to us, which meant a lot to a couple of kids like us!!!
I always remember Mike's Gretsch "Chet Atkins", and the lovely "jangly" sound he always had. His playing style was very individual, playing octaves in solos for instance.
Hope you are well Mike!! Kind regards,
After Mike left The Dakotas, he carried on with the NEMS connection operating an A&R man for both NEMS & AIR out of the Neal & Hardy recording studio in Underbank Stockport. This was for many years the only studio in Stockport. I went to see him there a few times with material, some of which was used and a lot that wasn't. He was just a good guy.
I played with Ray Jones (bass in lineups 1-3) in a local group in Oldham until I went to University in 1960.
I have found some square pictures from a box camera so not up to today's standard but still of some historical interest.
This picture is of all the group: Me at the back (rhythm guitar, which I made the Easter before I sat "O" levels in '57), left Ray Jones (with bongos but bass guitar player), Dave ?? (drums), Mick Webb (lead guitar) and Peter Roseberry (vocals and some guitar).
Pete singing with Mick behind him, Ray back left and Dave and Me to the right.
Bottom right is Me performing the only lead number I played with Ray back left.
Even then it was a foregone conclusion that if any of us made into the industry, Ray would be the one as he was the only one who could read music well. He also played the clarinet.
8 April 2016
Some Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas concerts:
Monday, March 11, 1963: The Casino Ballroom, Lord Street, Leigh, Lancashire, UK
Saturday, April 20, 1963: The Oasis Club, 45 - 47 Lloyd Street, off Albert Square, Manchester 2, Lancashire, UK
Saturday, May 4, 1963: The Imperial Ballroom, Carr Road, Nelson, Lancashire, UK, with Gerry and the Pacemakers, Pete Novac and the Heartbeats, advertised as Billy Kraner and the Dakotas
Friday, July 19, 1963: The California Ballroom, Whipsnade Road, Dunstable Downs, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, UK, with Tony Holland and the Pack-a-beats, Jackie Frisco, The Pete Chester Combo
Monday August 19 - Saturday, August 24, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK, supported The Beatles, as did Tommy Quickly
Monday, August 19, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Tuesday, August 20, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Wednesday, August 21, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Thursday, August 22, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Friday, August 23, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Saturday, August 24, 1963: The Gaumont Theatre, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
Saturday, February 29 - Saturday, March 21, 1964: UK Tour with Gene Pitney, plus The Swinging Blue Jeans, Cilla Black, The Remo Four, The Escorts. The promoters were Arthur Howes and Brian Epstein and the compère was Billy Burden
Saturday, February 29, 1964: The Odeon Theatre, Angel Row, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK, first date of tour
Sunday, March 1, 1964: The Coventry Theatre, Hales Street, Coventry, Warwickshire, UK
Monday, March 2, 1964: The ABC, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
Tuesday, March 3, 1964: The City Hall, Barker's Pool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK
Wednesday, March 4, 1964: The ABC Lincoln, Lincolnshire, UK
Thursday, March 5, 1964: The ABC Cinema, Market Street, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK
Friday, March 6, 1964: The ABC Cinema, Station Road, Wigan, Lancashire, UK
Saturday, March 7, 1964: Unknown venue, unknown place, UK
Sunday, March 8, 1964: The Hippodrome, Birmingham, Warwickshire, UK
Tuesday, March 10, 1964: The ABC Cinema, London Inn Square, Exeter, Devon, UK
Wednesday, March 11, 1964: The ABC Cinema, George Street, Plymouth, Devon, UK
Thursday, March 12, 1964: The Gaumont, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK
Friday, March 13, 1964: The Granada, Sutton, Surrey, UK
Saturday, March 14, 1964: The Theatre Royal, Norwich, Norfolk, UK
Sunday, March 15, 1964: The Gaumont, Derby, Derbyshire, UK
Tuesday, March 17, 1964: The ABC, Dover, Kent, UK
Wednesday, March 18, 1964: The Granada, Edmonton, North West London, UK
Thursday, March 19, 1964: The Granada Cinema, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK
Friday, March 20, 1964: The Gaumont, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK
Saturday, March 21, 1964: The Odeon, Epsom Road, Guildford, Surrey, UK, last date of tour
Wednesday, April 8, 1964: Ready Steady Go!, Mod Ball, The Empire Pool, Wembley, Middlesex, UK, with The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, The Fourmost, Freddie and the Dreamers, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames
Sunday, July 5, 1964: The ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK, with Millie and the Five Embers, Tommy Quickly, The Remo Four, Clifford Davis, two shows, 6.10pm & 8.35pm advertised as one night only in person Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas
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Tony Bookbinder played drums for my band the Buttons in 1969 and Ted lee was the bass player. Most memorable gig with Tony was the Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport. What a fantastic drummer he was. When he hit the drum you jumped.
i worked with Tony Bookbinder in the early 80's. We sold ad space for a Canadian trade publication. Great guy with great stories . One night we were in a Chicago night club and he sat in with the band on drums. I was very impressed and so was the band.
worked over 30 times with The Dakota's since the reform in 1990. i was DJ At Heywood Civic along with Paul Walker for over 20 years. A top band to work with always a very polished show, still in touch with Toni Good times....
I saw the Dakotas at Boston Gliderdrome - 1963 or 1964. They were very smart - like young executives - smarter than anyone in our little hick town. They did a set before Billy J opened his act with I'll Keep You Satisfied. One thing that puzzled me at the time was a spng they sang which went ber ber ber ber berrr! in the chorus and had a line in it 'beside the railroad track. Any ideas what it was?