"There was a band in Manchester called Wayne Fontana and The Jets, who I used to go to watch at the local music clubs, The Oasis and The Three Coins, in Manchester town centre. I was down there one evening and Wayne came into the coffee bar of the Oasis and asked me if I would help him to do an audition with Fontana Records (Philips) because his guitarist and bass player hadn't turned up.
I said "sure" and we had a quick rehearsal in the dressing room of the Oasis. It was quite an easy gig to do because we were all more or less playing the same stage set anyway, just the keys of the songs were the only thing we had to change to suit Wayne 's voice. We did the audition and I wandered back to the coffee bar.
Suddenly, Wayne came hurtling around the bar door shouting, "I passed the audition, they want to sign me up, but with one proviso...............they want you to be in the groupô. I was gobsmacked to say the least; to be offered a recording contract at 18 years old, with the possibility of making records in London and maybe getting a hit! Wow, I was on Cloud Nine for days while it all sank in.
I handed in my notice at the drawing office, and started to rehearse full time as a guitarist in a group with a recording contract. Heaven!
We then were asked to go to London and make our first LP record at the Philips Studios near Hyde Park Corner.
It was all so official, guys in white coats in the control room and tape room and we had to listen back to mixes in the studio itself on smaller monitor speakers until the A and R man, Jack Baverstock, was satisfied that we had got a good one on tape. Then they would let us into the "hallowed" control room to listen to the song on gloriously loud monitors (6 of them)!
This excited my future passion for building recording studios and for the equipment, but that's another story.
Can you believe that we recorded some 12 songs in 2 days. It normally takes 2 months or more nowadays to make one single!
The Mindbenders outside Phillips Records in 1964
We were very, very excited about our first release, which was to be a cover version of Roadrunner, a Bo Didley song, backed by Hello Josephine, a Jerry Lee Lewis song, but the name The Jets was already being used by another group and we had to find a new one quickly. I had seen a giant film poster in Manchester advertising THE MINDBENDERS, a psycho, brainwashing thriller starring Dirk Bogarde, and I thought "Hmmmm, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders".
It sounded rather tasty; the rest of the band and Philips loved it too, so that's what we became as we released our first record.
We waited nervously for weeks until the record was released and held our breath each Friday when the new record charts were announced. After 5 weeks of release, we entered the charts at Number 46 with Hello Josephine. We sadly disappeared from the chart the next week, but the all important thing was that we could now legitimately call ourselves a Chart Group and our appearance fees doubled and then trebled within weeks. Another little extra bonus was that hundreds of girls fell in love with you through the records and at the concerts. It was Nirvana, we were being paid what seemed like huge sums of money for enjoying ourselves. How could anything top that?