in The 1960s
Merseybeats front man Tony Crane’s interest in music goes back even further to the 1950s: “I saw Eddie Calvert on television, the man with golden trumpet,” says Tony, who hails from Anfield “I thought, ‘God that looks good, I bet he’s got all the girls after him’.
Tony pleaded with his parents to buy him a trumpet, but instead they suggested he join the church band as they couldn’t afford one.
“When it came to rock n roll starting, I remember going to the cinema to see Elvis in Love Me Tender and the trumpet got thrown away.” Tony continues “I pleaded with my parents to buy me a guitar. They bought it 2/6 week from the back of The Reveille. I just wanted to be like Elvis, but I was still too young to do anything about it.”The Merseybeats are still going strong featuring both Tony and Billy Kinsley at the helm. You can find out all the latest news about them at their official website.
On leaving school, Tony joined Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building as an insurance clerk, but despite his good job he still yearned to be a musician. A colleague subsequently introduced Tony to schoolboy Billy Kinsley. Then things really got started: “I met Billy and we realised we could sound just like The Everly Brothers and that was the beginning of the band. We got two friends in and called ourselves The Mavericks.”
A meeting with Cavern Club DJ Bob Wooller got the band their first professional booking at the Aintree Institute, but not before a name change: “The local paper came out, we ran down to The Cavern because we lived within running distance. I said, ‘You said you were booking us on this, there’s some other band on called the Merseybeats who are they?” Bob said: ‘No that’s, yourselves’, and we went ‘Oh no, you might as well have called us The Liverpool Echo!’ Mersey beat was only the name of the paper, the music was never called Mersey beat we thought music was the Mersey sound, the beat came in much later on”.
The newly named Merseybeats along with another band called The Beatles became resident at The Cavern Club. “We hold the record for playing on the same bill with the Beatles,” says Tony, “We became very close and when they went outside Liverpool they always wanted us on their show with them.”
The Merseybeats signed to Fontana records in 1963 and as the Mersey Sound scaled the British charts they began a succession of hits across the world including I Think of You, Wishin' and Hopin' and Sorrow. The bands success even landed them a regular TV series in Italy .
I ask Tony if it seems 50 years since The Merseybeats charted with their first hit?, “Not at all, it seems like 5 years,” he replies, “trouble is, I cant tell people I’m 37 anymore. Inside your head you still feel about 18 when you made your first record. It was such an amazing time, the sixties go on forever. What’s the secret in that? I say it’s the songs. Memorable, easy to remember and they’re good tunes above all else!”
Read my review of The Merseybeats performance at St David's Hall Cardiff in 2013 along with Mike Pender's Searchers and Dave Berry at Mike Pender's Searchers website
A version of Andy Howells' interview with Tony Crane appeared in The South Wales Argus supplement The Guide in March 2013.