Al Jackson - Vocals
Martin Baggott - Lead Guitar
Phil Cash - Rhythm Guitar
Don Gould - Organ
Megan Davies - Bass Guitar
Gerry Freeman - Drums
In 1964 Solihull Group 'The Applejacks' became big stars overnight with their smash hit 'Tell me when'. With the exception of Al they all belonged to the 1st Olton Scout Group - even Megan! an assistant cub mistress. Various acts were being put together for a miniature gang show to entertain the parents. Five of them got together and their 'skiffle group' as it then was, turned out to be the hit of the show. The next step on the road to fame came when Joe Brannelly, their manager was so impressed by their playing, that he was sure he had a top group.
Tell Me When/Baby Jane Like Dreamers Do/Everybody Fall Down Three Little Words/You're The One For Me Chim Chim Cheree/It's Not A Game AnymoreIt's Not A Game Anymore/Bye Bye GirlI Go To Sleep/Make Up Or Break UpI'm Through/We Gotta Get TogetherYou've Been Cheating/Love Was In My Eyes
At the end of that year Joe invited Mike Smith an A&R man, along to the Civic Hall in Solihull to see them perform. Mike was also impressed and in January the groups first single 'Tell Me When' was released.The disc went right to the top of the charts and caused a number of problems for the group.Gerry, Al, Martin and Don were called before their headmaster and were asked to make a choice, continue with their studies or leave school to embark on a pop career. The boys made a decision to turn professional and the rest followed
This photo was taken after the group were filmed for the 1964 pop film 'Just for You'. The film featured a DJ, Sam Costa who reclining on a bed, called up his favourite pop hits onto a strange type of projection screen. The film was released after the Applejacks had had great success with 'Tell me when'. It included other 60's groups in a compilation, a forerunner to the pop video of today.
They went on to perform on many top line TV spots and had their own Radio Luxembourg show, and appeared in a 1964 film 'Just For You'. The groups second disc 'Like Dreamers Do' was a Lennon and McCartney number. The Applejacks had met John and Paul whilst rehearsing for a TV show, were it was suggested as their follow up release.
The Applejacks became very popular with the many fans of beat music and were booked solidly to appear throughout 1964 at dance halls all over the country. They had a road manager which was a luxury in those days to drive then between gigs, their personal manager Arthur Smith handled all the correspondence from their many live TV appearances and shows. The Applejacks were in heavy demand for TV work, appearing on shows such as 'Ready Steady Go, Top of the Pops, Thank your lucky stars', and many more. Their popularity was greatest in the venues of the major cities of London and Birmingham but they ensured that appearances were given throughout the country to support their recordings.
The Applejacks were the first Brum Beat group to have a top ten hit record and they should not be confused with the late 1950s American recording group of the same name. Despite a promising debut and having a strong Beatles connection, the Applejacks moment in the spotlight was over all too soon.
The group, formed in Solihull in 1961, were originally known as The Crestas and then The Jaguars. At that time the band consisted of Phil Cash (born October 9, 1947), Martin Baggot (born October 20, 1947), Gerald Freeman (born May 24, 1947) and Megan Davies (born March 25, 1944); all members of the 1st Olton Scouts Troop. By the end of 1961, keyboarder Don Gould (born March 23, 1947) was also added to the line-up. As they had no singer, they played instrumental songs by groups like The Shadows and Tornados. Singer Al Jackson (Harry Llewellyn - born April 21, 1945) joined in 1962 and The Applejacks soon became a popular attraction with a regular residency at Solihull Civic Hall. They played a lot of American style rock 'n' roll; Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles etc. and were unusual for the time in having a female bass guitarist.
The Applejacks were signed up by talent scouts from the Decca Record Company in late 1963 and in February of 1964 they released their first single Tell Me When which was composed by songwriters Les Reed and former school teacher Geoff Stephens. The record was a brilliant and catchy composition and fitted the times perfectly, peaking at number 7 and remaining in the charts for 13 weeks. Some of the band members were still going to school at the time! The success of the single brought TV appearances on shows like Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars where the Applejacks became friends with the Beatles who they met during a rehearsal.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney provided the Applejacks with a song Like Dreamers Do (one of the earliest Lennon/McCartney compositions) and the group recorded this with it being released as the follow up single. The Applejacks provided an excellent interpretation of the song and to their credit, used their own arrangement rather than just "copying" the Beatles demo. Hopes were high as recordings of Beatles compositions by other artists had proven successful but despite this, the Applejacks version of Like Dreamers Do only reached No. 20 in the record charts.
1964 proved to be a very busy year for The Applejacks. The group appeared in the British pop music film "Just For You" which also featured Freddie and The Dreamers and Peter and Gordon. In addition to regular TV apperances, The Applejacks performed live on the coveted New Musical Express annual poll winners concert at Wembley. Perhaps even more memorable was when Megan Davies and drummer Gerry Freeman were married in a highly publicized wedding that was attended by hundreds of screaming local teenagers.
The Applejacks recorded an album for Decca Records under the direction of future Gary Glitter producer Mike Leander. This self-titled album had a simple yet refreshing production style which suited the group well but unfortunately it did not sell enough copies to make the album charts. A new Applejacks single was also released but the awkward Three Little Words stalled at No. 23 and was to be their last showing in the record charts. Other singles were recorded and released but even a very good version of The Kinks I Go To Sleep could not halt the group's chart decline.
By 1966, The Applejacks had accepted a lucrative contract in cabaret to perform on board the luxury Trans-Atlantic ocean liners R.M.S. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I and II. Although a good move for the band financially, the engagements served to isolate them from their fans and make the promotion of any new records by the group all but impossible.
After being dropped by Decca the Applejacks faded from the scene, but their place in Brumbeat history is assured as they were the first local group to make a big impact on the national record charts.
The Applejacks 1960's Record Releases (highest UK chart position in brackets)
Tell Me When/Baby Jane (Decca F 11916) 1964 (7)
Like Dreamers Do/Everybody Fall Down (Decca F 11916) 1964 (20)
Three Little Words/You're The One (Decca F 11981) 1964 (23)
Chim Chim Chiree/It's Not A Game Anymore (Decca F 12050) 1965 (withdrawn)
It's Not A Game Anymore/Bye Bye Girl (Decca F 12106) 1965
I Go To Sleep/Make Up Or Break Up (Decca F 12216) 1965
I'm Through/We Gotta Get Together (Decca F 12301) 1965
You've Been Cheating/Love Was In My Eyes (CBS 202615) 1967
The Applejacks (Decca LK 4635) 1964
The Applejacks on Wikipedia
01 - Tell Me When
02 - Wishing Will Never Make It S
03 - Over Suzanne
04 - Hello Josephine
05 - As A Matter Of Fact
06 - Too Much Monkey Business
07 - Mem'ries Of You
08 - Ain't That Just Like Me
09 - Kansas City10 - I Wonder
11 - Three Little Words
12 - Baby Jane13 - No Time
14 - See If She Cares
15 - See If She Cares
16 - What'd I Say
17 - Like Dreamers Do
18 - Everybody Fall Down
19 - You're The One
20 - I Go To Sleep