Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Fourmost

The Two Jays were formed in 1957, when friends, Brian “Owie” O'Hara and Joey Bower joined together as a singing skiffle duo. They were both 13 and got a summer job at the Isle of Man. Later in 1959, after winning a local talent competition, they became the Four Jays with the addition of Billy Hatton (bass) and drummer, Brian Redman. The group were one of the better semi professional harmony combos working Liverpool and played the Cavern Club in Liverpool before the Beatles, then with the Beatles in the early sixties. When Joey left, Mike Millward (Bob Evans and the Five Shillings) joined the line up as rhythm guitarist in 1961, and Dave Lovelady (Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes) replaced Brian Redman on drums, in 1962. The group changed their name to the Four Mosts and would later shorten it to The Fourmost. By which time, Brian Epstein had become their manager when in 1963, they signed with NEMS, and soon after were auditioned by George Martin for Parlophone. The group recorded “Hello little girl,” a Lennon and McCartney song puportedly written when Lennon was sitting on the toilet. It reached No 9 in the UK charts in 1963.

The follow up single was another Lennon and McCartney song, "I'm In Love," (1963) which barely broke into the UK Top Twenty, and failed to chart in the US. Their next single "A Little Lovin'" (1964), written by written by Russ Alquist, reached No 6 in the UK, and gave them their highest charting success. “How Can I Tell Her” reached No 33 in July 1964.

The Fourmost became part of a long-running variety show at the London Palladium called Startime, featuring Tommy Cooper, Frankie Vaughan and Cilla Black in 1964. The Fourmost were the first Beat Grup is appear at the Palladium but sadly during their run, Mike Millward was diagnosed with leukaemia but continued playing.

A year later the group guested on Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965), with Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The Fourmost released their first album, aptly titled ‘First And Fourmost’ in November 1965. Unfortunately, none of the band were song writers and the track included a mixture of country, comedy songs as well as some rip-roaring rock'n'roll. Girls, Girls, Girls was released as a single and reached No 33 in the charts. The popularity of the Beat groups had dwained and the album failed to chart. Like many of Brian Epstein's artists, the group felt Epstein was spending too much time with the Beatles.

Tragically Mike Millward died in 1966 and due to his illness had stopped appearing George Peckham took over then he in turn was replaced by Ian Edwards (of Ian and the Zodiacs). They recorded a version of the Beatles, "Here, There and Everywhere", followed by a cover of George Formby's "Auntie Maggie's Remedy" in 1966. Neither single would chart.

After the death of Brian Epstein in 1967, the band switched to cabaret, and worked the clubs successfully before touring the world. Joey Bower rejoined the group in 1968, and the group released a version of Paul McCartney’s “Rosetta.” The single was produced by McCartney, who also played piano. Easy Squeezy was released later the same year but again failed to chart. After this the group stopped recording to concentrate on their live work.

The Fourmost split in 1978 with Hatton, Lovelady, Bower and Joey Hatton’s wife to form a semi-professional quartet Clouds, which performed in Liverpool clubs until 1993. Brian O'Hara continued as the Fourmost with three local musicians, but, after a few years, sold them the name, for a reputed £1000. The Fourmost continued performing with no original members. In 1990, O'Hara, Hatton, Lovelady and Bower set aside their differences to perform at a tribute concert for John Lennon at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. They never performed again. Brian O'Hara, died in Liverpool in June 1999.

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