The group formed in 1962 when two rival Weybridge bands merged. What made them different was the new group kept the two lead singers Ray Phillips and Arthur (Art) Sharp. The name Nashville Teens came from an Everly Brothers song "Nashville Blues" and the band had skiffle leanings which quickly changed to blues and R&B. The original band’s line up was John Hawken (piano), Mick Dunford (guitar), John Allen (lead guitar), Pete Shannon (bass),[then Pete Harris] and Barrie Jenkins (drums). Barrie left to join the Animals (1966) and was replaced by Dave Maine (drums) who in turn relinquished percussion to Roger Groome shortly afterwards. The group joined the band of UK musicians playing in the clubs of Hamburg and whilst residents at the Star Club they played backup for Jerry Lee Lewis on the ‘Live at the Star Club,’ album.
Later they also supported Carl Perkins on ‘Big Bad Blues,’ and regularly appeared on stage with Bo Diddley.
In 1963 Terry Crowe joined the group as a third singer but left soon after. Other lineup changes took place when Mick Dunford and Roger Groome left, and were replaced by John Allen and Barry Jenkins respectively. Mickie Most spotted the band when he was looking for new talent produced their first single gambling on a country song written by John D Loudermilk called 'Tobacco Road.'
Rather than play the song as written Micky Most gave it the R&B treatment producing one of the most original sounds of the sixties. Tobacco Road became a top twenty hit in the UK and US in 1964. The follow-up was another Loudermilk song,‘Google Eye’ which reached number 10 (UK) in the same year.
The band toured the States and shared the same bill with many luminaries of the time. Nashville Tens had three more singles which reached the top fifty. The band continued to record with many of the big name UK producers, including Don Arden, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Shel Tammy they were never able to repeat the success of Tobacco Road. By the end of 1965 their hits had dried up but they continued to get regular live work. In 1966 band members began to leave and after Art joined Don Ardon as a producer (1972), the band packed up a year later. They did reformed seven years on with Ray Phillips, the only original member left in the new line up. Nashville Teens continue to perform and have a strong fan base on the retro circuit and regularly appear as corporate entertainers. In 1965 The Nashville Teens appeared (as themsleves) in the movie ‘Be My Guest’ (with David Hemmings).
Worth a listen
Tobacco Road (1964)
Google Eye (1964)
Find My Way Back Home (1965)
This Little Bird (1965)