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Vocal Harmony Pop Groups and Duos
The New Seekers sound was influenced by vocal harmony styles stretching back to The Fleetwoods and the Everly Brothers. Founded by Keith Potger of the Seekers, the group was most obviously influenced by the folk pop of the original Seekers, but the New Seekers soon became more than just a replica of their namesakes. They also drew inspiration from the California sound of the Beach Boys and from the "sunshine pop" of The Mamas and The Papas. The psychedelia / flower power era also had its influence on the New Seekers' sound. Roy Wood's group The Move was particularly influential as were the more melodic beat groups from earlier in the '60s such as Herman's Hermits, the Hollies and the Searchers.
The Osmonds (brothers Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay and Donny) started out singing in their local church in Ogden, Utah. Between 1962 and 1967 they made regular television appearances on the Andy Williams Show, followed by a two year stint as guests on the Jerry Lewis Show. In 1971 the Osmonds had their first hit record. One Bad Apple made it to the top of the US singles chart in February and began a run of hits that lasted until 1976.
In 1972 'Osmondmania' arrived in Britain, followed in November by the Osmonds themselves. Donny became a teen idol and soon found himself having greater success as a solo artist than he did with his brothers. Whereas the Osmonds struggled to reach number 40 with Down By The Lazy River, Donny's recording of Puppy Love went to number 1. Although the Osmonds went on to have five Top 10 hits in the UK, including the number 1 Love Me For A Reason, they were always playing catch up with their younger brother. Donny had two more solo number 1s (The Twelfth Of Never and Young Love) and another three Top 10 hits (Too Young, Why and When I Fall In Love).
Donny's solo hits were often borrowed from bygone eras (Too Young was first a hit for Nat 'King' Cole in 1951 while When I Fall In Love was a hit for Doris Day in '52). The Osmonds (as a group) also covered songs by other artists (Love Me For A Reason was a Johnny Bristol song and The Proud One was originally recorded by the Four Seasons). The brothers, however, also wrote a lot of their own material, including the most critically acclaimed of all their hits Crazy Horses. The album Crazy Horses included two Osmond songs, That's My Guy and Utah, which the New Seekers' covered on their album New Seekers Now. They typified the two extremes of the Osmonds' style - schmaltzy love songs and real rockers. While the former was what was expected of family entertainers, the latter was at odds with their clean cut image and, as a consequence, both the Osmonds and the New Seekers were taken to task by some critics who felt that they had stepped beyond the bounds of the vocal harmony genre.
In the 1980s the Osmonds (minus Donny) re-emerged as a country act but they never again matched the success of their teenybopper days. In 1982 they released a cover version of the New Seekers' 1971 hit Never Ending Song Of Love.
Paper Lace broke into the big time courtesy of Hughie Greene's TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. The group's first hit Billy, Don't Be A Hero made it to number 1 in the UK in March 1974, just as the New Seekers were climbing the charts with I Get A Little Sentimental Over You.Peter Oliver of the New Seekers later joined Paper Lace for a brief period. In the meantime the original line-up had another two hits with The Night Chicago Died and The Black-Eyed Boys. In the USA Paper Lace reached number 1 with The Night Chicago Died but lost out to a cover version of Billy, Don't Be A Hero by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods.
In 1994 Paper Lace's version of Billy, Don't Be A Hero was featured on the soundtrack of the hit movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
In 2012 Paper Lace, featuring original members Phil Wright and Cliff Fish, joined ex-New Seeker Eve Graham for a short 12-date tour of New Zealand. Paper Lace opened the shows, playing a set that included their hits Billy Don't Be A Hero and The Night Chicago Died, along with covers of other hits from the '60s and '70s such as Band On The Run, Daydream Believer and Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me).
Poco began life in the Summer of 1968 as Pogo but changed name when the band was threatened with legal action by Walt Kelly, who owned the copyright to a cartoon character with the same name. Randy Meisner, one of the original members, left after recording just one album with the band. He later became a founder member of the Eagles, whose relaxed country rock style had a similar and ultimately much wider appeal. Poco had three Top 20 singles in the USA - Crazy Love and Heart Of The Night (both hits in 1979) and Call It Love (a Top 20 entry a decade later).
The Rubettes shot to the top with Sugar Baby Love, a song that harked back to the rock 'n' roll era and featured a piercing falsetto lead vocal reminiscent of the Four Seasons. The record entered the UK singles chart on 4th May 1974. Within a fortnight it was number 1. The group followed it up with hits in a similar vein, two of which made the Top 10, Juke Box Jive and I Can Do It. Later singles (You're The Reason Why, Under One Roof and Baby I Know) had a more laid back, country feel to them.
Like the New Seekers, the Rubettes continued to perform on the cabaret circuit long after their hit-making days were over. In 1999, somewhat surprisingly, the two groups found themselves packaged together on a compilation CD titled Juke Box Jive.
From their first hit in 1963 to their last in 1966, the Searchers made a career out of cover versions, taking songs that had been previously recorded by other artists and turning them into what many now mistake for Searchers' originals. Their début hit, Sweets For My Sweet, had been a US Top 20 hit in 1961 for the Drifters. Their last hit, Have You Ever Loved Somebody, was originally recorded by the Hollies. In the intervening years the Searchers had another 12 Top 50 hits, including consecutive UK number 1s with Needles and Pins and Don't Throw Your Love Away. The former was a minor US hit for Jackie DeShannon in 1963, the latter had appeared on the B-side of the Orlons' US hit Bon-Doo-Wah.
The '70s answer to the Searchers, Smokie were one of the vocal groups that emerged in 1975 to fill the gap that had been left in the 'middle of the road' market by the break-up of the New Seekers. Smokie had been around for years but the group only become successful once they had signed to RAK Records. Teaming up with top songwriters and producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, they had their first UK hit in the Summer of '75 with If You Think You Know How To Love Me. Following their second hit, Don't Play Your Rock 'n' Roll To Me, the band changed the spelling of its name to Smokie. During the next three years, Smokie had another nine Top 20 hits in the UK, all of which bar two, were written by Chinn and Chapman. The two exceptions were a cover version of Needles and Pins (the Jackie DeShannon / Searchers hit from the '60s) and Mexican Girl (a Smokie original written by lead singer Chris Norman and drummer Pete Spencer).
Three Dog Night's
1971 album Harmony
included two Paul Williams' songs, The Family Of Man
and An Old Fashioned
Both were Top 20 hits
in the USA.
Three Dog Night Cyan
Released at the
beginning of 1974 Cyan included
the US single
from the previous year, Shambala,
(a number 3 hit
at the time that
the New Seekers
were touring the States).
Turtles Happy Together
Take That's career as a chart-topping boy band got off to a slow start. Their first UK chart entry, Promises, made it to number 38 at the end of 1991, spending only two weeks on the singles' chart. The follow-up, Once You've Tasted Love, barely made into the Top 50 at all, peaking at number 47.
The band's breakthrough came in June 1992 with a cover version of It Only Takes A Minute, originally a US hit for Tavares in 1975 and a UK hit for Jonathan King in 1976. Take That had further hits with cover versions of Barry Manilow's Could It Be Magic, Dan Hartman's Relight My Fire and the Bee Gees' How Deep Is Your Love. Most of their big hits, however, were written by lead singer Gary Barlow, amongst them the number 1s Pray, Babe and Never Forget. The band's best-selling single (also written by Barlow) was their sixth number 1, Back For Good.
Robbie Williams quit the band in 1995 and embarked on a hugely successful solo career. Gary Barlow and Mark Owen followed suit (though with less success), bringing the Take That party to an end in February 1996.
Three Dog Night formed in 1968, taking their name from an Australian expression used to describe the coldest night in the outback. With harmonies on the rough and ready side, the band boasted three vocalists - Chuck Negron, Cory Wells and Danny Hutton.
They made their chart début in February 1969 with Try A Little Tenderness. This was the first of 21 US Top 40 hits. These included One (written by the then little-known Harry Nilsson), An Old Fashioned Love Song (written by Paul Williams) and Shambala. The New Seekers covered all three of these songs - One and An Old Fashioned Love Song featured Lyn Paul on lead vocal, Shambala was recorded after Lyn had left the group.
Three Dog Night only had two hit singles in the UK - Mama Told Me Not To Come (written by Randy Newman) and Joy To The World (written by Hoyt Axton).
The Tremeloes started out as Brian Poole's backing group, playing on a string of hits that began with Twist And Shout in 1963. In 1966 Poole embarked on an ill-fated solo career. The Tremeloes, meanwhile, went on to even greater success without him. Between 1967 and 1970 the group had seven Top 10 hits in the UK, including the number 1 Silence Is Golden.
By the time that the New Seekers were emerging on the music scene the Tremeloes' popularity was on the wane. On the 10th July 1971, as the Tremeloes entered the UK singles chart for the last time, the New Seekers also entered the chart with what was to be their first Top 10 hit, Never Ending Song Of Love.
Having previously been a part of the early '60s surf scene as members of the Crossfires and the Nightriders, the Turtles started their recording career in 1965 as a folk-rock group. They followed the fashion of the time (set by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963 and the Byrds earlier in 1965) by recording a Bob Dylan song (It Ain't Me Babe). They even imitated the Byrds by temporarily changing the spelling of the group's name to Tyrtles.
The Turtles did not have any hits in the UK until 1967, when they jumped aboard the psychedelia bandwagon and charted with Happy Together, She'd Rather Be With Me and (in 1968) Elenore.
The Walker Brothers (Scott, John and Gary) continued where the Righteous Brothers left off. The Brothers (who each took the name Walker but were not actually brothers at all) used Phil Spector style arrangements to create a moody backdrop for Scott's rich baritone and John's soaring high-pitched harmony. Their hits included the number 1s Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore. The Walker Brothers split up in 1967, re-forming in 1975 and returning to the charts in January 1976 with the Tom Rush song No Regrets.
The Walker Brothers were the inspiration for the Australian trio the Virgil Brothers, whose line-up included New Seeker-to-be Peter Doyle.
Irish boy band Westlife had their début hit in 1999 with Swear It Again. They became the only chart act to reach number 1 with their first seven singles and the first UK-based act to reach number 1 four times in the same year. The band's hits include cover versions of ABBA'sI Have A Dream, Phil Collin's Against All Odds and Barry Manilow's Mandy. In each case Westlife outperformed the original by reaching number 1.
Wet Wet Wet began life as a blue-eyed soul band in 1982. The band's biggest hits, however, were more pop than soul - covers of the Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends (a number 1 in 1988) and the Troggs' Love Is All Around (number 1 for a staggering 15 weeks in 1994).
In 2011 Wet Wet Wet's lead singer Marti Pellow joined the UK touring production of Blood Brothers, playing the role of the Narrator. He went on to play the role in the West End (1st November 2011 – 28th April 2012) before returing to the touring production. Pellow has also appeared in the musicals Jekyll and Hyde and The Witches Of Eastwick and in Sir Tim Rice's concert revival of his hit musical Chess.
Wishful Thinking's main claim to fame was having a hit in Germany (several times) with the single Hiroshima, a haunting song in the style of the Moody Blues that recalled the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The band never made into the UK charts but came closest in 1972 with a cover of the Lindisfarne song Clear White Light.
The band's original line-up - Brian Allen (drums), Roger Charles (bass), Roy Daniels (vocals) and Terry New (lead guitar) - released their first two singles in 1966. By 1967, when they recorded their first album, Live Vol. 1, there had been two changes to the line-up. Roy Daniels had been replaced by Kevin Finn (who, as Danny Finn, became a member of the New Seekers in 1976) and Terry New had been replaced by John Franklin (who later became the New Seekers' musical director).
In March 1969 Roger Charles was replaced by a new bass player and vocalist Tony Collier. In 1970 the new line-up released a single in Germany, Without A Place to Go. They followed it up in 1971 with Hiroshima. Although it didn't make the Top 20 at the time, the single eventually became a big hit in Germany in 1975 and again in 1978. The song (which featured Tony Collier on lead vocal) was also the title track of Wishful Thinking's second album. Unlike their first LP, this was an album of original material - a showcase for the songwriter Dave Morgan, who wrote all of the songs on it.
On 5th October 2003 members of the various Wishful Thinking line-ups met at a party at the Lakeside Leisure Complex at Frimley Green, hosted by their former manager Bob Potter. Brian Allen, Roger Charles, Tony Collier, Roy Daniels (Spreadborough), Kevin Finn, John Franklin and Terry New performed together on stage for the first time in their lives, playing two songs, Cherry, Cherry and Peggy Sue.