In 1961 Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley performed as a duo called "the Mavericks," but they felt the name was too country and western and changed to the Pacifics. By this time the group had grown to a quartet they were re-named The Mersey Beats. Bob Wooler. Wooler was the MC at the Cavern Club and thought the name would catch on he was rights because they became firm favourites with the crowd. Later their name was changed to The Merseybeats and the lads were signed by Brian Epstein. The original line up was Tony Crane (lead guitar, vocals), Billy Kinsley (bass, vocals), David Elias (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Frank Sloane (drums). The line-up changed and Aaron Williams replaced David Elias and John Banks came in for Frank Sloane. Despite their continuing success as rockers on-going differences with their management eventuated in them leaving the Epstein stable signing with Fontana Records in mid-1963. Their debut single "It's Love That Really Counts" was a Burt Bacharach and Hal David song which reached number 24 on the U.K. charts.
Always the ‘belle figure,’ their on-stage sartoria saw them credited as the ‘Best Looking Group’ dressed in tight fitting suits, bolero jackets and frilly shirts. The boys wore high heeled zip boots which proved very popular with their female fans. “Don’t turn around” was released next followed by "Wishin' and Hopin'" and both singles reached number 13 in the charts.
“I think of you” came in 1964 and gave The Merseybeats their first million selling record and gold disc. “I think of you was an EP , as was their next release, "Merseybeats on Stage."
The band felt their A sides were too poppy and they wanted to showcase their live act for their fans. “Merseybeats on Stage” included excellent versions of "Long Tall Sally" and "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover."
The Merseybeats appeared regularly at the Cavern Club and worked with The Beatles on more occasions than any other band from that era. Success brought international recognition and The Merseybeats appeared in Germany and had their own Merseybeats Show on Italian television. However the Merseybeats were unable to establish themselves in the US market and eventually Billy Kinsey left the band in 1964 and John Gustafson (formerly Big Three trio) replaced him until Kinsey eventually returned. By 1965, music taste had changed and the Mersey Sound was passé. Despite other releases none made a significant impact and commercial success eluded them. In 1966 Chris Stamp and Kit Lambery (The Who managers) took an interest in the careers of Billy and Tony (now called the Merseys) and they scored a huge hit with "Sorrow."
Follow up recording fail to impact and the duo called it quits. During the 70s Tony Crane re-formed the old band and by the '90s Billy Kinsey was working with them again as the Merseybeats. The current Merseybeat line-up is: Tony Crane (founder member 1961) lead vocals and lead guitar , Billy Kinsley (founder member 1961) lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Bob Packham (joined 1974) backing vocals and bass guitar, Adrian Crane (Tony Crane's son, joined 2000) keyboards and lead guitar, Lou Rosenthal (also joined 2000) drums.
Worth a listen:
It’s Love That Really Counts / The Fortune Teller (1963)
I Think Of You (1963)
You cant judge a book (1963)
Don’t Turn Around (1964)
Wishin' & Hopin (1964)
You are my love (1976)