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Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Cavern Brick, Liverpool

Cavern Club Liverpool

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Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers with The Beatles
Gerry Levene and The Avengers wih Jerry Lee Lewis and various Brumbeat artists

 

Greame at back to left of Carl Wayne.To Carl's right is Jerry Lee Lewis (with Mike Hopkins peering between), Geoff Turton (Rocking Berries), then Gerry Levene. To Carl's left, wearing glasses is Peter Cook.

Set List in booking diary

Gerry Levene & The Avengers Ticket Wednesbury Youth Centre

Ticket for 13/7/63

Diary entry for 13/7/63

Gerry Levene
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Cover for booking diary 1963

Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Stolen Guitar
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Dr. Feelgood single Decca
Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Thank Your Lucky Stars
Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Dr. Feelgood Sheet Music
Gerry Levene & The Avengers With Gerry & The Pacemakers

With Gerry & The Pacemakers!
26/4/1963

Gerry Levene & The Avengers Postcard
Gerry Levene & The Avengers Postcard
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers
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Gerry Levene Autograph
Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Jim Onslow
Gerry Levene & Jim Onslow
Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Roy Wood
Roy Wood, Phil Tree & Gerry Levene
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Gerry Levene & The Avengers
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Gerry Levene & The Avengers - Dorothy Solomon Poster
Peter Cook - Georgia
Johnny Kidd and The Pirates - Dr. Feelgood
Jim Onslow & Mike Hopkins' Autographs - Gerry Levene & The Avengers
Roy Wood autograph
Duane Eddy - The Avenger
Johnny Tillotson - Without You
Crossbones - Shakin' All Over - Gerry Levene
The Hinge - The Village Postman - Gerry Levene
Gerry Levene - With Love
Jim Onslow - Revival
Jim Onslow - Hello Again
Jim Onslow - Forever In Blue Jeans
Jim Onslow - Sings Country
Headway - One Night Only - Gerry Levene
Jim Onslow - Ride The Train
Gerry Levene and the Avengers - Beat Merchants
Gerry Levene - David Lincoln
36avengerCUT.mp3
34jkidddrfeelgoodCUT.mp3

Gerry Levene   (vocals)

Mike 'Sprike' Hopkins   (guitar)

John Watson   (guitar)

Alan Bennett   (drums)

Jim Onslow   (bass)

Graeme Edge   (drums - replaced Alan Bennett)

Roy Wood   (guitar - replaced John Watson)

Peter Cook   (keyboards)

 

 

Mike Gibbs had been a useful amateur boxer when,
in 1959, he realised that he would have more luck
with the ladies by becoming a rock’n’roll singer and
keeping his film-star looks rather than risking a
broken nose and cauliflower ears on the boxing circuit.

 

With two pals Mike ‘Sprike’ Hopkins and John Watson,
both accomplished guitar players, they enlisted the
drumming talents of Alan Bennett. Spending long
periods honing their act, they  eventually approached
Ken Smith who ran the Say Mama club at Maney Hall,
Sutton Coldfield, begging for the chance to get their
first engagement. After some persuasion, this was granted and,
without a proper band name, Ken out of the blue announced them
to the audience as Cliff Angel & The Virtues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fearing they would be nicknamed the ‘Virgins’, another name was needed! Keen runner Mike (whose nickname was a concatenation of sprint & Mike) had long admired guitarist Duane Eddy and felt his track The Avenger would be a good name for the band to which Ken christened lead singer Gerry Levene.

 

For some time, friction had started to build as Alan’s dad’s managerial aspirations didn’t quite fit with the rest of the band’s plans but, as he was charged with driving them to & from gigs, they tried to make do.

 

With two guitarists, the band felt it was time to add a bass to the line-up so an advert was
placed in the Birmingham Dispatch. Auditions were arranged at Gerry’s house and
pulling onto the drive in his Austin J2 van came Jim Onslow (ex Robbie Earl & The Counts).

 

 

 

Mike & John were sat, sporting their beautiful pink Stratocasters when,
opening his flight case, Jim produced a matching pink Fender Bass!
The signs were looking good. With a van and the guitar, all they needed
was for him to prove he could play it.
 

 

 

Jim had long been a fan of The Shadows (and Jet Harris in particular) and
had been struck by the album track Nivram ([Hank] Marvin backwards),
learning it note for note, including its complex bass solo. Amazingly, for the audition, they said they’d been working on this very track and could he try to play along?. Without hesitation, he joined in, until the bass solo part where the lead fell silent and left Jim to play his pièce de résistance, note perfect and to their utter astonishment.

 

 

He’d passed with flying colours and, volunteering his transport too meant that Alan could get his
cards, opening the way for a young Mr. Edge to enter the scene. ‘Graham’ had been more of a
jazz player up to that point, and the 4/4 rhythm of this combo wasn’t his most natural style but he
soon got the hang of it.

 

Unusually for Brum acts, their spirit of adventure cast
them further afield, an appearance at the legendary
Cavern Club in Liverpool, an area notoriously difficult
for outside bands to crack.

 

The date was August 28th 1962 and Jim recalls pulling

into Matthew Street and seeing hoards of graffiti for
this band unknown to them, The Beatles ??


Following the Avengers’ set, the Cavern DJ Bob Wooler
informed them that the Beatles, only 10 days since Ringo’s
induction, would soon be arriving and before long,
the audience were in a frenzy as they made their entrance,
minders forcefully parting the fans Moses-style.

 

 

Whilst they had no record deal at the time, the reaction to the Beatles was unlike
anything they’d ever experienced. Any initial scepticism over their act was quickly
dispelled as a whole host of new songs were added to the Avengers’ set.

 

 

Spending around a month in Liverpool, including several dates
at Litherland Town Hall, the band often retired back to the
Iron Door club until the early hours, in the company of their new
Beatle friends.

 

This friendship continued back in the Midlands as they often met up
at the Moat House when they were both in the vicinity and shared
the bill again at Tamworth Assembly Rooms on February 1st 1963.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Brum, they gained a residency at the West End Ballroom playing every Wednesday and Saturday l
unchtimes 12-2. Bizarrely, the 1200 capacity venue would empty dead on 12:55 and re-fill again at
1:05pm as more lunch-break revellers from the local shops & factories fought to catch their favourite local band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another line-up change came in the form of one Roy Wood (later of Move, ELO & Wizzard
fame), sharing lead guitar with Mike, in favour of the now departed John Watson. The
Liverpool sound that they played was still quite new and set them apart from the other bands
competing for attention. It was with some repugnance then that their arch-rivals, the Diplomats
were spotted at the back of one show, noting down songs to add to their own set.
The four bright-blonde guys were not that difficult to spot!

 

This rivalry was not just an act, the two bands really did not get on. It was very rare that
they appeared on the same bill (with the West End being the home ground for the Avengers).
However, on one occasion, both were booked to play at the Adelphi, West Bromwich,
the centre of the Diplomats territory. John Gordon who booked the acts rang Jim panicking
that the Diplomats were stuck in Banbury, their van breaking down after last night’s show.

Reluctantly Jim & his van came to the rescue, returning them & their gear back home,
with a stony silence the entire journey. Needless to say, on home turf, Denny Laine &
The Diplomats “wiped the floor with them”.

 

 

Being popular with the renowned Ma
Regan, she assured the band that she
would be recommending them to her
friends at Decca, having booked several
of their acts for her venues. Good to
her word, and a helping hand from
George Harrison,  Dick Rowe offered
them a recording session at the Decca
studios, St. John’s Wood. An EMI
offer received at the very same day was
therefore declined.

 

 

It was 21st November 1963 and the band were getting ready to record when a faint but audible
rattle could be heard from Graeme’s kit every time he hit the bass drum. Try as they  might
to locate it, the entire kit had to be dismantled before the offending loose nut was found.

 


Finally, after several hour’s studio-time wasted, the band quickly  slotted in Twist & Shout, Do You Love Me, Without You and an original Levene composition Please Say Yes as warm ups for the main track, finally,  producer Mike Smith had Dr. Feelgood in the can too.

 

Resisting offers to go solo and leaving the band behind, Gerry did take up the invitation to return a couple of weeks later to record some solo tracks where It’s Driving Me Wild (the eventual b-side) and Just Wanna Make  Love To You were also laid down, the former written and produced by the legendary Bert Berns (Russell). These featured famous session-man Big Jim Sullivan on guitar and Arthur Greenslade on keyboards, the latter previously guesting on the Dr. Feelgood session.

 

 

 

 

 

The band earned publicity when Mike’s beloved pink Strat was stolen from his home,  a national newspaper on May 26th 1963 related their detective work and perseverance in tracking it down even though it had changed hands several times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting their trust in the Dorothy Solomon Associated Artists agency, the
clock ticked slowly as they awaited the single’s release, made worse
knowing that Gerry’s solo rather than an Avengers’ track was to be the
b-side. At the time, the Agency was also handling the Redcaps and the
Bachelors, and, as the latter’s popularity soared, support to the
Avengers was even less forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disappointment was heightened when Mike Smith released Brian Poole & The Tremeloes’ hit version of Do You Love Me,
with the identical arrangements they had developed for their track.

 

Roy Wood had always sought an outlet to demonstrate his creative & musical talents, however Mike’s prowess left little room for him to steal the limelight, so, off to join Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders departed Roy.

 

Impressed with the organ sound achieved on record, they  recruited West Bromwich lad
Peter Cook (who later recorded for Joe Meek),  a brilliant pianist whose blindness didn’t dent
his ambition. His sense of humour needed to be strong too for the band on many occasions
played tricks on him such as setting him up with his back to the audience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After several months, and, behind a raft of other versions that had
been released in the meantime, Dr. Feelgood finally hit the shops.
A slot on ATV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars was aired on 15th February
1964, the band miming to the record. Jim recalls being on the way
to a gig in Cheshire that night – they randomly knocked on the door
of a house in the area, explained that they were due to be on TV
and were duly invited inside to watch the show, and were soon
on their merry way again.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales were however disappointing and by now Graeme’s feet were itching for pastures new, with of all people,
arch-rival Denny Laine. By April 1964 with the Avengers now no more, Jim and Mike jumped ship as two-man
replacement for Denny in the Diplomats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a while Gerry rehearsed with Graeme Edge and Denny Laine as precursor to the Moody Blues 5 but, following a disagreement with Denny, he decided to leave.       Taking on The Chicanes, Gerry Levene had a new Avengers and continued to perform well into 1965.

 

By 1968, Gerry had teamed up with Chris Sedgewick as The Hinge, releasing one single on RCA Victor, The Village Postman c/w You’d Better Go Home.

 

 

Staying with RCA, in 1970 Gerry then released Hold Back The Daybreak under the name David Lincoln backed by a 50 piece orchestra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1972, Bill Farley of Regent Sound put together the band Crossbones, comprising Gerry, James Parsons, Les Fortnham and Mike Millard, releasing the single Shakin’ All Over on the Penny Farthing label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More recently, Gerry formed his own publishing company, Sovereign Music, amongst the many titles is a one of his own, With Love - Romantic Hits of the 60’s.

 

 

 

In 2005, Gerry contributed his track Hold Back The Daybreak to the One Night Only compilation, alongside many other Brumbeat legends such as Mike Sheridan, Idle Race, Danny King, Steve Gibbons, The Fortunes and Raymond Froggatt.  The album was released to support the Headway WM charity, dealing with Acquired Brain Injury.

 

 

Jim Onslow continues to wow audiences with his one-man show around the West Midlands
and has a long catalogue of self-published CD’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2005, one of Jim’s songs, Night Train Home, was chosen for inclusion on Volume Eight of the popular Ride The Train series.










 

Click Here for Show Dates

 

 

 

 

Gerry Levene's Official Website

Jim Onslow's Official Website

 

Photos supplied courtesy of Gerry Levene, Jim Onslow and Mike Hopkins.