The Factotums were formed from two groups who were all pupils at Audenshaw Grammar School and the members were Nidge Thomas,Jeff Lees, Ian Thornton and Steve Knowles.
Initially, in common with a lot of groups at that time, the emphasis was on instrumental tunes like The Shadows, The Ventures and other
groups of that style but in 1963 the trend changed and there was a big rise in vocal groups performing a mixture of rock and R & B songs
of the fifties. It was decided that this was the direction that the group would take and many hours of practising a programme of songs
were spent in the attic of Nidge’s home in Fairfield Square, Droylsden.
Within a very short period of time bookings were flooding in, initially from youth clubs, church halls, schools, dance halls, social clubs,
sporting clubs and coffee bars within a ten mile radius of Droylsden and by the end of 1963 the date sheet was completely full with double
bookings on many of the weekends.
On 13th December 1963 Barrie Collens (later to become the owner of The Top Twenty Club in Droylsden and Beat City in Manchester in
partnership with Jimmy Savile) and Ray Teret (Radio Caroline DJ) went to see the group performing at Manor Road Girl’s School in
Droylsden. The show had to be abandoned midway through the performance when the girls invaded the stage. However Barry had seen
enough for him to want to manage the group.
Residencies at two of Tommy Brown’s venues, Brown’s in Moston on Fridays and the Devils Cave in Newton Heath on Sundays, plus a
lot of slots at The Southern Sporting Club where the manager, Frank Fean, had taken a shine to the group, helped the group to develop
the stage act.
By the start of 1964 the group were playing at larger venues over a far bigger area.
The different types of venues meant that the programmes were adjusted accordingly between the beat club and cabaret venues.
On 1st March 1964 the group recorded two tracks “Sure Know A Lot About Love” (a cover of a Hollywood Argyles song) and another with
an unknown title and origin (maybe a Ray Teret compostion) at Tony Pike’s studio in Putney, London.
The Factotums: the forgotten Manchester band who played with The Kinks and drank tea with Mick Jagger
Merseybeat may have put Liverpool on the map in the 1960s, but Manchester bands like The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits sold millions of records in the same era. In April 1965 alone, three Mancunian acts took it in turns to top the charts in the USA, while another held the top spot in the UK. Though they never ‘made it big’ in the traditional sense, another Manchester band of the time, The Factotums, were signed by The Rolling Stones’ manager, supported The Kinks, played with Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones, Pink Floyd and Cream, and toured Sweden with Manfred Mann. Factotums member Jeff Lees talks about Manchester’s 1960s club scene, a Carnaby Street re-style, a photo shoot with David Bailey and drinking tea with Mick Jagger.