The Skyliners


Mike McConnell lead
Kenny Leach bass
Tony Saul drums
Dave Blackley vocals/rhythm
Dave Wardle bass, replaced Kenny

I started the original Skyliners in 1955 as lead guitarist with Dave Blackley as singer and rhythm guitarist when we were still at school. Kenny Leach as bass player (on tea chest) and eventually Tony Saul (on drums).

We played in all of the Manchester clubs (Oasis etc) and dance halls (e.g. La Ronde – Cheetham Hill, El Rio – Macclesfield, The Kingfisher Club – Stockport, Cresta – Newton Heath, Savoy – Oldham) and all over the North West (Cavern Club etc), travelling in an old Austin Princess car and Commer Cob van.

Above: Swinton Social Club 1962


Dave Wardle (who died some years ago) replaced Kenny Leach on bass guitar and Danny Betesh was our manager.

We were resident at the Three Coins on Fountain Street for a period of time and were the first group to play at the Twisted Wheel on the opening night.

I used to teach guitar at Barratts shop on Oxford road whilst I was still at Art College and remember Fred and Adrian Barratt as good friends, they both helped me a great deal.

At the same time, as well as playing lead for the Skyliners, I also played lead for Johny Peters and the Crestas (in pink satin suits), the Maurauders (from Stoke) and the Carl Denver Trio (on my nights off from the Skyliners!).

Pictured above at the Cumberland Suite, Belle Vue, 1960

As happens, the Skyliners split up – amicably – and I was asked to join the Phantoms.

It was a great time to be involved in a group. There was friendly rivalry with the Hollies, Freddy and the Dreamers etc, etc. However I had to make the decision whether to concentrate on my playing (I turned down an offer of work in America) or art and design, and, as I’d got engaged, the day job won out!. I’m not in touch with anyone now.

I believe Dave Blackley has a club in Dubai and I will try to find out what happened to the Tony Saul our drummer.

Mike McConnell

This picture was taken in 1956 in a photographic studio in Sharston Hall, Wythenshawe. The guitar is a Hofner President and it cost £39. in 1955. The amplifier is a Selmer TV20, the bill is shown above.


This group was way ahead of its time well before the rock band boom. They were born more in the skiffle era.

I remember late '50s we heard that The Skyliners were on at the "El Rio" in Maccelsfield so we all piled in to my mates ( Terry Peacock) car - Morris Minor reg No XMA 166 and off we went to Macc.

The highlight of that night was when they did "A Foggy Day In London Town". We had never seen so many chord changes in one song but Mike sailed through it with ease.  This was the time when I started to take the old geeetar a bit more seriously. So you see Mike was quite an influence on me.

I got to know Mike very well and he was a regular Barratts customer.

This group was a ground breaking unit & lit the way for what was to happen a few years later. As a guitarist he was an inspiration to many would be rockers, including me.

Brian Higham

Just found your website and just wanted to say how great it was to see the photo's of the Skyliners.

I first met Dave Blackley and Mike at the Alhambra Palace, Ashton Old Road, Higher Openshaw, they used to play on a Sunday afternoon.  I also frequented the Three Coins every Saturday night!!

I also remember them playing "Foggy day in London Town", and many more.

We went to see them one New Years Eve at Benchill Labour Club, as you can see I was a big fan and a bit of a groupie!!!

Would be nice to know what the guys are up to now??

Doreen Abbott

This article appeared in the Wythenshaw Express in November 1959. The guitar, a Gibson ES175, was the very first Gibson ever to be sold in the Manchester area. I purchased it from Barratt's, it cost £125 for the guitar and £25 for the case. I never got the guitar back after the theft.

This article mentions a crash we had in Manchester city centre, it made the front page in the Daily Mirror.

Mike McConnell

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Comments (3)

Topic: The Skyliners
Frank Renshaw says...
I remember being in a Skiffle Competition with the Skyliners, held at The Green Door, Benchill, about 1959. They had the first Strat I'd ever seen. It was Daphne Blue.
11th March 2014 9:52pm
Paul webmaster says...
Skyliners make front page of the Daily Mirror
28th November 2014 11:43pm
Adam Wiseberg says...
Just found this post 3 years later.
I think about Sid O'Brien every time I drive up Hyde Road.
My dad and him used to do business in the 60s and 70s
2nd December 2016 3:11pm

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