Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers

The Rebel Rousers were a skiffle group from Slough, UK and formed in 1959 as the backing for lead singer, Cliff Bennett. The group took their name from the Duane Eddy hit and after playing as amateurs became a professional four piece group with a line up consisting of Mick King (Lead guitar), Frank Allen (bass guitar), Sid Phillips (keyboards and saxophone) and Ricky Winters (drums).

Joe Meek discovered the group in 1961 and recorded their first four singles but like so many aspiring bands of the time their debut works made no commercial impact whatsoever. When Frank Allen was asked to replace Tony Jackson (The Searchers) he jumped at the opportunity and Bobby Thompson (formerly of the Dominoes) came in to complete the lineup. The group had built a solid reputation as a live band and was a popular attraction on the Hamburg clubs in Germany during 1962 and 1963. Keen to try again for record success the group signed for Parlophone and released cover versions of "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" and "Got My Mojo Working" but these too failed to catch the attention of the record buying public.

In 1964 the group became part of the Brian Epstein stable and recorded “One way love” (written by Don Covay and Ronald Dean Miller) which, on their seventh attempt, gave them their first hit single.

"I'll Take You Home" was the follow up but failed to chart in the UK top 40.

Despite the lack of continuing commercial success the band were well liked by fellow musicians and Brian Epstein included them on The Beatles' last European tour. The group had a distinctive sound which not only consisted of Bennett’s voice but also Sid Philips’s Alto sax. As a sound they compared more to the Dave Clark Five than The Beatles because of the brass section but when they released a cover version of The Beatles, “Got to Get You into My Life" (produced by Paul McCartney) it was the definitive version.

The song sold well and gave the group their second hit single. As the sixties drew to an end and musical tastes changed the band tried to keep up but despite lineup changes which included Dave Peacock (guitar), and Chas Hodges (keyboards) the band broke up in 1968.

The 'Cliff Bennett Band' (Toe Fat) were formed and comprised of Bennett (vocals), John Bennett (trombone), Alan Drover (saxophone), Stuart Hamer (trumpet), Mick Green (guitar), Frank Farley (drums) (both formerly of The Pirates and The Dakotas), and Robin MacDonald (bass) (The Dakotas). Try as they might they could not break into the charts and eventually the band split up.

In the early 70s Cliff Bennett formed Cliff Bennett’s Rebellion and sang for Shanghai.

By the end of the decade Cliff had retired from the music industry to follow his commercial interests in shipping. Occasionally he does still perform at reunion gigs. Chas Hodges (keyboards) and Dave Peacock (guitar) became Chas & Dave and had a run of commercial successes as the cockney rockers with their own brand of ‘Rockney.’

Worth a listen
Poor Joe (1962)
One Way Love" (1964)
Three rooms of running water (1965)
Got to Get You into My Life" (1966)

Chas and Dave
Gertcha (1979)
Rabbit (1980)

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