THE JOHNNY TAYLOR FIVE
Photograph © Northern Daily Mail
The Johnny Taylor Five taken at the Billingham Arms about 1964. Henry Fawcett played rhythm guitar, Gary Phillips on vocals, Johnny Taylor on drums, Eric Shoosmith on lead guitar with Gordon Valentine on bass.
Eric Shoosmith, who was lead guitarist with the band between 1963 and 1965, tells us that the Johnny Taylor 5 was formed in Billingham and played all the usual clubs but, for whatever reason, rarely in Hartlepool. Gordon and Eric were in the same year at Henry Smith's School on the Headland (a school they both loathed) and it was during 1957/58 that they took up the guitars. Eric played with The Intruders in a residency at the Queen every Saturday until Gordon headhunted him for the JT5 in early 1963.
The Johnny Taylor Five at the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool sometime in 1964 following a competition win by the band. This photograph shows Eric, Henry and Gordon with the poor drummer hidden as always!
Also at The Cavern - this photograph shows Henry, Eric and Gordon with Brian hidden again!
You often wonder why the poor drummer always has to sit at the back because he's rarely seen. Dave Clark and Peter Jay were always at the front! The Cavern again is the venue.
The two photographs above were taken at Fearnley's Studios in Middlesbrough with the band facing a white screen. The Transporter Bridge was an added feature. The photograph on the left shows Brian (stage name Johnny) Henry, Gordon, Gary (real name Lou Flett) and Eric. On the right is Gordon, Gary, Eric, Brian and Henry. Slightly larger images will show when these photographs are clicked.
This rare photograph of the band was sent by Trevor Davis and shows Gordon Valentine, on the extreme left, Pauline Riley - formerly of The Denvers - on tambourine and vocals, Henry Fawcett on lead guitar, Vic Creed on drums, Terry Owens on keyboards with Trevor Davis on bass guitar.
Photographs taken at Brian Taylor's house show Gordon Valentine, Trevor Davis, Henry Fawcett and the original Johnny Taylor - Brian. The Johnny Taylor 4 perhaps?
The Johnny Taylor Five up and down - with Henry and Johnny at the top looking down on Gary, Gordon and Eric. This dates to 1964 and was taken by the Fearnley Studio in Middlesbrough.
Memories of The Johnny Taylor Five as told by Eric Shoosmith:
The band started life in Billingham in early 1960 initially by Brian Taylor and Henry Fawcett. Alan Raine was lead guitarist with Al Morgan on vocals (formerly of The Echoes). Gordon joined later in that year on bass and the following year saw Alan Raine depart to be replaced by Ray Douglas. Al Morgan was then replaced by Gary, a singer with Stockton Stage Society, so quite a culture change for him. Early in 1963 Gordon asked me to join from The Intruders and from then on we were really busy - usually 4 or 5 bookings a week dependant on personal commitments (I was doing 3 nights at night school).
We played with lots of big name bands such as the Rolling Stones at New Brighton Pier compered by Jimmy Savile; Mindbenders, Merseybeats, Nashville Teens, Searchers, Marmalade and even The Beatles* at the Astoria, in Middlesbrough, on June 23rd, 1963 (yours truly had an important examination that night so the guitarist from the Tempests filled in - just my luck!) I eventually left in 1963 and the band took a slightly different turn by bringing in Terry Owens on organ to develop into more of a showband. Gary and Brian soon also left to be replaced by the late Vic Creed on drums and Jenny Peters (ex-Denvers). Gordon became a front man and Trevor Davis took over bass playing duties. In this format they played all the Bailey nightclubs and similar venues before finally disbanding in 1967.
Gordon and Henry played on as a trio with John Lowes (ex-Panthers) on drums. Brian retired to run a guest house in Grasmere, Gary lives not far away in Lancashire, whilst Gordon and Trevor both retired to France. Gordon's son, Jamie, is a very talented musician having completed a jazz degree, and is currently General Manager of Rose Morris Music in Denmark Street. Jenny emigrated to Canada and Terry set up a very successful business start up company called InBiz from which he has recently retired, but he still has various other businesses including a large property portfolio. Henry carried on the family transport business which he still runs with one of his sons working mainly in the North East. I was a partner in a medium sized architectural practice in Middlesbrough until retirement in March 2007 and still live locally.
As mentioned above The Beatles* played at the Astoria in Middlesbrough on June 23rd, 1963. The Johnny Taylor Five guitarist Henry Fawcett, who supported The Beatles that night, spoke to John Foster, of BBC Tees, on December 8th, 2010 which was the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death. You can hear the interview here:
The Johnny Taylor Five’s lead guitarist, Eric Shoosmith, had an exam that evening and was unavailable for their gig supporting The Beatles and so Laurence Atkinson was asked to stand in. He says: "I was the lead guitarist with The Tempests and, although we played most nights of the week, I think that night was a Tuesday, a fairly quiet night for us, and I was available - so, happily agreed! We played immediately before the Beatles with one set of about an hour as I recall. The only practice we’d had together was a quick run through the set the week before the gig so it probably wasn’t my finest performance on lead guitar. Good job there were 3,500 screaming fans to drown us out! It was certainly the noisiest gig I ever played and the only time I ever played behind steel chain-link fencing. But that afforded me a great seat for The Beatles’ performance. For their whole set, I sat on the front of the stage in front (and just to the side) of John Lennon".
Thanks to Trevor Davis and Eric Shoosmith for the photographic content on this page.
Copyright © Stan Laundon.com
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