Monday 19 August 2013

Britain is still a country for and says "Happy Birthday" to an old pop singer called Billy J. Kramer who sang when old boys were teens and all the world was young

Billy, who in the 1960s was a Merseybeat singer, managed by Brian Epstein and recorded several Lennon and McCartney compositions, is 70 years old today.

What you possibly didn't know about Billy, that he :

* was born William Howard Ashton in Bootle Lancashire, the youngest of seven children and went to the St George of England Secondary School and then took up an engineering apprenticeship with British Railways.

* in his spare time played rhythm guitar in a group he had formed, 'The Coasters', before switching to vocalist with the name 'Kramer' chosen at random from a telephone directory.

* came to the attention of Brian Epstein on the look-out for new talent add to his expanding roster of local artists, turned   professional with a new backing group, 'The Dakotas' and at John Lennon's suggestion, added 'J' to his name to further distinguish him by adding a "tougher edge".

* once the Beatles broke through, found, as a Merseybeat artist, his way was paved for success and was offered the chance to cover "Do you want to Know a Secret ?" with George Martin as producer in 1963 when I was 16 and he was 20.

* had another Lennon- McCartney song. "Bad to Me"
reach Number 1 and sell over a million vinyl copies and was awarded a gold disc and in 1964, when I was 17 and in love with Heather, his "I'll Keep You Satisfied" earned him appearances on the tv programmes 'Shindig', 'Hullabaloo' and 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.

* in 1964, despite being advised against it, turned down the offer of another Lennon–McCartney song, "One and One Is Two", and insisted on recording the Stateside chart hit "Little Children" which  became his second chart topper and biggest hit.

*  his Lennon–McCartney composition "From a Window"
only just became a Top Ten hit, then in 1965, when I was 18, his cover of "Trains and Boats and Planes" found itself in direct competition with Dione Warwick's version, which won the day and proved to be his swansong with the Dakotas.

* in 1983 at the age of 40, released a solo single called "You Can't Live on Memories"/"Shooting the Breeze" which failed to chart.

* in this century in 2005, recorded the "Cow Planet" for Sandra Boynton's children's album, 'Dog Train' after she had sought him, having in 1964, at age 11, bought a copy of his 'Little Children'.

* last year at the age of 69, went back into the studio for the first time in years to record  "I Won the Fight",  featuring  new songs written by him as well as covers and said in an interview in the 'Liverpool Echo' :
“The main thing about these new songs was that I finally decided to write them for me, and as it turned out, about me. I remember when I was a little boy and my mother use to take me into Liverpool and I used to look at all the guitars and I always felt something special was going to happen, but I was a very shy and self-conscious boy from Liverpool. When I was forced to take the lead, I really found it very difficult and struggled to deal with the attention and, like a lot of other people, I got into drinking, but in the end I got sober and I won the fight”.


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