The London Beats were the first Western rock band to tour behind the Iron Curtain, releasing an ultra-rare LP in Poland and three Polish-only EPs.
Significantly, its members also went on to such notable bands as Geno Washington’s Ram Jam Band, Fortes Mentum, Hamilton & The Hamilton Movement, The Flower Pot Men, The Nashville Teens, Aquila, Cressida and Tranquility.
Lead guitarist/singer Mick Tucker, rhythm guitarist/singer Tony Terry and bass player Simon Coaffee (aka Sam Clifton) first came together in Horley, Surrey outfit, The Moonriders, in early 1963, alongside singer Tony Jones and drummer Mick Godfrey. Not long after, the band changed name to The Pete Chester Combo after Chester took over the drum stool.
“For a while [Pete] became the band leader, because to us he was nationally famous,” explains Tucker. “His dad was a big radio star. Charlie Chester was a household name in the 1960s.”
Tony Jones, however, didn’t stay long and Mick Tucker poached lead singer Frank Bennett from local rivals, The Rockatones. Paired with producer Mickie Most, who introduced South African singer Jackie Frisco (later Gene Vincent’s wife) and his brother Dave Hayes as guest singers, The Pete Chester Combo recorded “Love Comes Only Once”, which was subsequently shelved.
When Pete Chester retired that autumn, original sticks man Mick Godfrey briefly re-joined, just in time for an aborted six-day tour of Israel.
Reverting to The Moonriders, the quintet cut a private demo disc comprising five songs – “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Every Day”, “Love Potion No 9”, “Memphis Tennessee” and “Talk About You”, and this landed the band a contract with Johnnie Jones’s London City Agency. The agent suggested a new name.
“The London Beats was his [Johnnie Jones’s] idea, particularly in Europe because it said where we were from and what sort of music we played,” explains Tucker.
Jones arranged a six-month deal with a promoter in West Germany, kicking off in January 1964, but Mick Godfrey bailed. Shuffling the pack, Frank Bennett recommended drummer Jimmy Smith from Lewes band, The Shades.
“Frank used to turn up to quite a few late ’63 gigs; he’d come up on stage and do a few numbers with us,” says Smith. “I remember being really impressed by his R&B voice.”
Departing for Frankfurt in March 1964, The London Beats worked the German club scene and American bases until mid-December, by which point Tony Terry had returned home (later forming The Pack).
In London, Mickie Most played the musicians a pre-release master tape of The Animals’ “House of The Rising Sun”. “We knew straight away that it would be a hit record,” remembers Coaffee.
That December, the quartet also recorded a cover of Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds” with producer Terry Kennedy, possibly credited as Bennett Tucker. More :
01 - Walking The Dog
02 - Wanna Walk In The Sunshine
03 - Hang On Sloopy
04 - Scarlet Ribbons
05 - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
06 - I Had A Talk With My Man
07 - Wan't be Long
09 - Your'e No Good
10 - Walkin' In The Sand