THE TOGGERY FIVE STORY
has often been suggested that Manchester's beat scene of the 1960's, owed much of its success to a favoured nearness to Liverpool,
where everything started with "The Beatles", who unleashed a whole new style of pop music that shook the world. In the wake
of "Beatlemania", several other Liverpool groups enjoyed success, like "The Swinging Blue Jeans", "Gerry & The Pacemakers",
"The Merseybeats" and "The Searchers" to name but a few. Liverpool's beat scene became known for the "Mersey Sound", whereas
Manchester never got a similar trademark or sound of its own. Nevertheless, the "British Beat Boom" soon saw Manchester emerging
as a strong contender to Liverpool, with a lot of talented young musicians and countless groups popping up everywhere in and
around the city. Groups such as "Freddie & The Dreamers", "The Dakotas", "The Hollies", "Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders"
and "Herman's Hermits", achieved phenomenal success around the world and found themselves competing in the premier league
with "The Beatles" and "The Rolling Stones".
However, the vast majority of Manchester groups formed during the early 1960s
never reached that level of fame and commercial success, and had to come to terms with achieving only local prominence, if
any at all. But even though they were lesser known, they weren't necessarily less capable as musicians.
In people like
Pete Bocking of "Pete Maclaine's Clan" and Peter Cowap of "The Country Gentlemen", Manchester certainly had its own guitar
heroes, while Graham Gouldman of "The Mockingbirds" was to become one of the most successful pop songwriters of the decade.
common to the groups they played in at the time, was that none of them made a big breakthrough outside the Manchester area
- despite having some of the city's best musicians in their ranks. In that same category of groups was a Stockport based quintet
called "The Toggery Five".
THE TOGGERY FIVE.
Formed in 1963 the group comprised of Bob Smith
on lead vocals, Frank Renshaw on lead guitar/vocals, Keith Meredith on rhythm guitar, Ken Mills on bass guitar and Graham
Smith on drums.
Unquestionable leader of The Toggery Five was, from the outset, Frank Renshaw. He was born in Wythenshawe
on June 22nd. 1943 and had formed his first band as early as in 1958 called "The Swallows", playing Skiffle. Later changing
the name to "Lee Shondell & The Premiers", playing Rock & Roll. He worked as a draughtsman until he was qualified
in 1963, but then quit his day job to become a professional musician with The Toggery Five. Frank Renshaw tells how it all
Frank: "I was the lead guitarist with a group called Lee Shondell And The Premiers Of Beat and was approached
by Keith Meredith and Graham Smith to form a new group with Bob Smith and Ken Mills. They were with a group called Gaye And
The Guys, the girl singer being Gaynor Tetlow."
Mike Cohen, who also handled the affairs of The Hollies at the time, became
Frank: "We did our first rehearsal in the "Thatched House" pub in Stockport, and invited Mike Cohen, who
owned a clothes shop called "The Toggery", to come and see us. He wanted to hear Beatles songs, and as our lead singer Bob
Smith didn't know any, I sang them. Cohen immediately liked us, and his girlfriend at the time, Lucille Hewit of Coronation
Street fame, came up with our name, "The Toggery Five". We immediately got a brand new set of Vox amplifiers and Shure microphones,
which was one of our ulterior motives for getting Cohen down there in the first place."
Cohen's clothes shop, "The Toggery",
became a kind of centre for musicians, as Graham Nash of The Hollies worked there for a while, as well as Pete MacLaine, lead
singer with The Dakotas and Clan. It was a place where all the local groups went to for their stage clothes, and musicians
started hanging out there, chatting over music and the thriving club scene. "
"The Toggery" even catered to the demands
of cool customers from out-of-town including The "Rolling Stones" and "The Beatles".
THE LION'S SHARE.
The Toggery Five played R&B influenced beat
music and soon established a reputation as a very good live band on the Manchester scene. Frank Renshaw, in addition to being
an excellent lead guitarist, also took the lion's share of the lead vocal work.
Frank: "We soon evolved into a hard R
& B group, and as my voice suited this more than Bob Smith's, I ended up singing most of the songs and playing lead guitar,
while Bob played a tambourine. However, we soon decided that this wasn't good enough, and after a "discussion", Bob left."
The vacancy as lead singer was filled by Paul Young, who
was discovered by Frank at Sharston Scout Hut in Wythenshawe, mid 1964. Young was born in Wythenshawe on June 17th. 1947 and
had already, as a 14 year old, joined his first group, Johnny Dark And The Midnights. He also played with The Teenbeats and
The Tigers before joining The Toggery Five as lead vocalist alongside Frank Renshaw.
Frank: "I went to see a group that
I heard about from my native Benchill in Manchester. It was Paul Fender And The Tigers, Paul being Paul Young. I offered him
the Singer's job and told him we were due to go on TV doing "Ready, Steady, Win", an off-shoot of "Ready, Steady, Go", and
he jumped at the chance. Once again, though, I was singing most of the repertoire, and Paul played tambourine and maraccas,
as we didn't have time to rehearse much yet due to work overload. That's why I sang on the first recordings of the group."
RUNNERS-UP IN "READY STEADY WIN".
In early September 1964 The Toggery Five made
it to the final of Rediffusion TV's "Ready, Steady, Win" beat group contest, where they delivered a powerful rendition of
"Dance With You", a song written by J.H. Frost and D. Styrup. It was a very prestigous competition with Brian Epstein acting
as chairman for the final panel, which also included Brian Jones, Brian Matthew and Georgia Brown. The group brought two coach
loads of fans from Stockport down to London.
The Toggery Five were runners-up in the contest, after a Harrow based group
called "The Bo Street Runners", who won with an up-tempo R&B number titled "Bo Street Runner", from which they also got
their name,. A group called The Thyrds came third with a song titled "Hide And Seek".
Brian Epstein and Brian Jones had
voted The Toggery Five winners of the contest - and they would have been first if it wasn't for the fact that first
prize was a recording contract with Decca. The Toggery Five had already signed up with EMI/Parlophone, while the competition
was going on, and even though the group had won every single heat from the beginning, they simply couldn't have won the final.
A big cover-up was used and the group ended up with second prize, a Commer van.
It was never proved that the record company
had pulled the strings, but Brian Jones told Frank, in the bar afterwards, that he couldn't understand why, at the time, and
was very disappointed.
BANNED BY BBC.
"Dance With You", the song featured in "Ready,
Steady, Win", was oddly enough never released on record by The Toggery Five. However, on September 18th. 1964, only two days
after the final was screened on TV, the group had its debut single released on Parlophone. It was a medium tempo beat ballad
titled "I'm Gonna Jump", written and sung by Frank Renshaw The lead vocal and chorus created a kind of ominous sound well
suited for the song. The B-side was "Bye Bye Bird", a harmonica wailing R&B number written by bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson
and Willie Dixon. This was also covered by The Moody Blues on their first album in 1965. The Toggery Five had done the recordings
at Abbey Road Studios, London on June 22nd. 1964 (Renshaw's 21st. birthday.), with The Hollies producer, Ron Richards, behind
the controls. "I'm Gonna Jump" was a very promising debut record for the group, with a lyric about a guy who wants to jump
in the river because his girlfriend has left him. In those days a controversial subject, and the BBC quickly banned the single
from being played on the radio. In that respect it shared the same fate as Twinkle,s teenage death song, "Terry", but a lot
of airplay on the pirate stations helped her single reach No.3 in the UK charts. The Toggery Five weren,t that lucky, and
the single went absolutely nowhere despite good reviews in the music press. It fared no better in America, where it was released
on Tower, a label which also handled the US releases of fellow Mancunians "Freddie & The Dreamers". But despite being
a flop as far as sales were concerned, a lot of true beat fanatics still regard "I,m Gonna Jump" as one of the great classics
and real collecters items from the "British Beat" era.
WITH THE BOYS.
The appearance on "Ready, Steady,
Win" and the release of their debut single gave The Toggery Five important television and press exposure. They subsequently
did "Ready, Steady, Go", "Scene At 6.30", "Disc A-Go-Go" and a Jimmy Savile show.
This kept their agency and management,
Kennedy Street Enterprises, busy - and secured the group consistent bookings around the UK, notably on a package
Tour with "Freddie & The Dreamers", "The Hollies", "Marianne Faithful", (Frank backed her on acoustic guitar), "The Four
Pennies" and others.
The group entered Abbey Road Studios again in January 1965 to record a new single. One of
the tracks they put down on tape during the sessions was a song penned by Andrew Oldham and Keith Richard titled "I'd Much
Rather Be With The Boys", a number The Rolling Stones reportedly found "too poppy" for their own repertoire and had rejected.
Their original demo version later appeared on the "Metamorphosis" LP released in 1975.
For The Toggery Five, though, the
Oldham-Richard song seemed perfect, and the group's interpretation was polished and crafty, with a Jaggeresque vocal performance
by Frank Renshaw.
Frank: "When we later did "I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys", on the "Ready, Steady, Go" TV show, Paul
insisted on miming to me singing, as he didn't want to be seen just standing there playing a tambourine."
The other track
recorded during the sessions was a Frank Renshaw original titled "It's So Easy". It was a great Hollies styled number with
a compelling, high-pitched vocal by Renshaw and close harmonies all the way. It also had some classy guitar work and was a
confident performance through and through by the group. Credit must also go to Ron Richards for an excellent production job.
"It's So Easy" was undoubtedly good enough for an A-side, but ended up on the flip - so when it was released on
February 26th. 1965, The Toggery Five's second single certainly gave good value for money. But in spite of its obvious musical
qualities and the Rolling Stones association, the single failed to give the group a well deserved commercial breakthrough.
HIT UNDER THE BELT.
their first two single releases had failed to bring The Toggery Five a much desired chart entry, Wayne Fontana gave the group
a Clint Ballard Jr. song titled "I'm Alive" to record as their next single. The song was originally written for Gene Pitney,
who had rejected it, as did Wayne Fontana. Frank Renshaw recollects what happened back then in 1965.
Frank: "Wayne Fontana
gave us this song "I'm Alive" as he said it wasn't his style. We liked it a lot, booked time at Abbey Road Studios, and recorded
it with Ron Richards as producer. He was also the Producer for "The Hollies". He played it to them and they stole it from
us. It turned out to be their first No.1 hit in the UK. I'm sure it would have made a turning point for The Toggery Five because
it was such a good song, and I think our version was much better. It must still be in the EMI vaults somewhere. I remember
the day we recorded it, The Beatles were in the next studio recording the song "Anytime At All', which has remained one of
my favourite Beatles songs along with the little known "Yes It Is".
The Hollies heard our version and quickly recorded
it themselves, then got a release date two weeks before ours, and stopped our version from being released. Our manager Mike
Cohen, who also managed The Hollies, thought that as this song was so good, it would be their first No.1, and it was.
pacify The Toggery Five, The Hollies offered them a song titled "Going Away". It was written by Graham Gouldman especially
for The Hollies. And we later recorded it at Abbey Road as our next single after "I'm Alive".
Frank: "The song "Going
Away" I had forgotten even existed, but a while ago I found an EMI acetate of it in the attic - a version recorded
by The Hollies.
"Going Away" was a good song, but not as immediate in impact as some of the better known Graham Gouldman
compositions from the 1960's, and there was no way it could compensate for "I'm Alive". Nevertheless, The Toggery Five made
the most of it when they recorded the song at Abbey Road Studios. It was an up-tempo number, building well, with a good lead
vocal by Paul Young, and tight harmony vocals throughout the song.
However, both "I'm Alive" and "Going Away" got shelved,
and supposedly remain somewhere in the vaults of Abbey Road Studios.
WALK AWAY RENEE.
by the way things had turned for the group, Frank Renshaw left in October 1965 to join Wayne Fontana's new band, after the
latter and The Mindbenders had just split into two factions.
Frank: "I joined Wayne Fontana in late 1965. Wayne was my
"Best Man" at my wedding, and two days later we left to do Wayne's first solo gig as "Wayne Fontana And The Boys" on a nationwide
tour with Herman's Hermits and The Fortunes. We soon changed the name to "The Opposition", though. The line-up was me, Bernie
Burns on drums, Stuart Sirett on bass and Mike Parkes playing keyboards."
Renshaw played guitar and sang backing vocals
on Wayne Fontana's 1966 solo album, "Wayne One".
About a year later he recorded "Walk Away Renee", which
was given to him by The Hollies, who had received the song as a demo from the publishers.
Frank: "Walk Away Renee" was
a solo effort by me, which was produced by Graham Nash. The backing track had already been done by The Hollies with an added
brass section, and I sang to that. It sounded really good, but there again it got lost somewhere in history, when three weeks
later, The Four Tops released their version and got to No.1 worldwide.
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to the LINKS page.