The Swinging Blue Jeans
|The Swinging Blue Jeans|
|Genres||Merseybeat, pop music|
|Past members||Ralph Ellis
The Swinging Blue Jeans were a four piece 1960s British Merseybeat band, best known for their hit singles with the HMV label; "Hippy Hippy Shake", "Good Golly Miss Molly", and "You're No Good", issued in 1964. Subsequent singles released that year and the next made no impression. In 1966, their version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Don't Make Me Over" peaked at #31 in the UK Singles Chart, but the group never charted again.
The group had its origins in 1956, when Bruce McCaskill formed a jazz influenced skiffle sextet group called the Blue Genes. The name was chosen by Spud Ward, because there was already a band called the Bluejeans backing Gene Vincent. Their line-up included Bruce McCaskill on guitar and vocals, Arthur Griffiths on rhythm guitar, Kenneth Metcalf on lead vocals and guitar, Ken Metcalfe on washboard (who was later replaced by Norman Kuhlke), and Spud Ward on wooden oil drum bass. Ray Ennis joined from the Rhythm Rockers when Metcalf left. Next came Tommy Hughes on banjo, with Ralph Ellis later joining on guitar, and Ward moved to Rory Storm's band, but came back playing double bass. Ward later joined Ralph Walters and the Dusty Road Ramblers, and Les Braid took over the bassist spot. Hughes and McCaskill left, the former for the Army and the latter over personal disagreements, replaced by John E. Carter and Paul Moss, respectively. By 1962, they were working full-time and playing skiffle at venues in Liverpool and at the Star Club in Hamburg. However the German audiences booed them off the stage, and the group rapidly changed direction and focus.
They switched to rock and roll, and with a name change to reflect their attire, to the Swinging Blue Jeans. This earned them a recording contract with HMV with record producer, Walter Ridley. With the departure of Moss soon after, they were left as a quartet comprising Ray Ennis (rhythm guitar, vocals), Les Braid (bass, keyboards), Ralph Ellis (lead guitar), and Norman Kuhlke (drums). Nevertheless, they made their recording debut as a quintet, with an Ennis penned original, "It's Too Late Now," which made the UK Top 40.
The Swinging Blue Jeans performed on many popular TV shows in the United Kingdom and Europe, appearing with The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and The Merseybeats. The Swinging Blue Jeans had the standard Shadows line-up of two guitars, a bass guitar and drums and achieved local fame with their appearances at the Mardi Gras Club and the Cavern Club. They had a three year spell of success, rising and falling with Merseybeat itself.
An album Blue Jeans a' Swinging was released in 1964 by HMV; an contemporaneous American LP composed of 45 and EP tracks, Hippy Hippy Shake included the released-in-the-US-only instrumental, "Wasting Time".
Ralph Ellis who, with Ray Ennis was one of the two songwriters in the group, left in early 1966, and was succeeded by Terry Sylvester from The Escorts. Finding themselves trying to keep up with the rapidly changing times, the band recorded a second album at Abbey Road Studios in early 1966 which had a limited release in Canada. The band drifted into a middle of the road direction which failed to bring them any success. In 1967, the band's producer Ridley decided to try and transform Ray Ennis into a solo star, cutting the disc "Tremblin'" with session musicians and backing vocals by Madeline Bell and Kiki Dee, but it was ultimately released under the band's name. Later that year another member from The Escorts - Mike Gregory joined the band making it a five piece line-up. Gregory played bass and Braid moved to the keyboards until 1972. Gregory left for family reasons and Braid reverted back to playing bass. In June 1968, a one off disc credited to 'Ray Ennis and The Blue Jeans' failed to bring any change in fortune, and Sylvester left at the end of 1968 to replace Graham Nash in The Hollies. "Hey Mrs Housewife" was credited to The Blue Jeans in April 1969, after which they were dropped by EMI. The band then changed their name to Music Motor for a one off single on Deram, "Happy", after which they reverted back to The Swinging Blue Jeans name and the band eventually retired to the cabaret circuit.
The Swinging Blue Jeans, continued with Ray Ennis and Les Braid until Braid's death in 2005. After fifty years as an active member, Ray Ennis announced he would retire after the band's tour which ended in Liverpool on 30 May 2010.
Band members 
- Ray Ennis - Vocalist / lead guitarist - born Raymond Vincent Ennis, 26 May 1940, Huyton, Liverpool - 1957 - 2010
- Ralph Ellis - Guitarist - born 8 March 1942, Liverpool - Summer 1958 - Feb 1966
- Norman Houghton - Washboard - born 18 September 1940, Liverpool - 1957?
- Jimmy Hudson - Double bass - 1957 - Summer 1958
- Kenneth Metcalf - Lead vocalist, guitar - 1957
- Arthur Griffiths - Guitarist - 1957
- Tommy Hughes - Banjo - Summer 1958 - Spring 1959
- Paul Moss - Banjo - Spring 1959 - April 1963
- Les Braid - Bassist / keyboardist - born William Leslie Braid, 15 September 1937, West Derby Road, West Derby, Liverpool — died 31 July 2005, Fazakerley Hospital, Fazakerley, Liverpool - 1957 - 2005
- Norman Kuhlke - Drummer - born 17 June 1942, Liverpool - 1957 -
- John E. Carter - Singer, guitarist - born 21 May 1938, Liverpool. Carter came from HyKatz Skiffle Group in Spring 1959, before leaving for Canada in June 1961.
- Terry Sylvester - Singer, guitarist - born 8 January 1946, Liverpool. Sylvester came from The Escorts in Feb 1966, before leaving to replace Graham Nash in The Hollies in Jan 1969.
- Colin Manley - Guitarist - born Colin William Manley, 16 April 1942, Old Swan, Liverpool — died 9 April 1999 (ex-guitarist with The Remo Four)
- John Ryan - Drummer - born 5 April 1953, Pinehurst Avenue, Liverpool (ex-drummer with Liverpool Express)
- Bruce McCaskill - Guitarist / vocalist - born 15 January 1940, Liverpool - 1957 - Spring 1959
- Mike Gregory - Bass guitarist - born Michael Gregory, 7 November 1946, Liverpool Maternity Hospital, Liverpool (ex-bassist with The Escorts) - July 1967 - Jan 1972
- Kenny Goodlass - Drummer - Liverpool (ex drummer with The Escorts)
- Mick McCann - Drummer - born 2 February 1949, Liverpool; occasionally deputised for Kuhlke in 1967 - 1968
- Phil Thompson - Drummer - born 18 October 1947, Liverpool; joined the band in 1983 and left same day as Ray Ennis.
- Hedley Vick - Guitarist - 24 April 1952, Bromborough, Merseyside; 1975/6 including tours of UK, Europe and New Zealand; brother of opera director, Graham Vick
- Alan Lovell - Guitarist - born 5 January 1952, Newtown, Wales (ex-guitarist with The New Vaudeville Band 1981 - 1988)
- Jeff Bannister - Keyboardist, vocalist - born Jeffrey Bannister, 7 January 1943, Slough, Berkshire
- Pete Oakman - Bassist, vocalist - born Peter Andrew Oakman, 12 December 1943, Cuffley, Hertfordshire
- Spud Ward - Double bassist, bass guitar, songwriter - born 2 November 1940, Walton, Liverpool - 1957 - Summer 1958
- "It's Too Late Now" / "Think of Me" (HMV POP 1170, June 1963) - UK #30
- "Do You Know" / "Angie" (HMV POP 1206, September 1963)
- "Hippy Hippy Shake" / "Now I Must Go" (HMV POP 1242, December 1963) - UK #2; US #24
- "Good Golly Miss Molly" / "Shaking Feeling" (HMV POP 1273, March 1964) - UK #11; US #43
- "You're No Good" / "Don't You Worry About Me" (HMV POP 1304, May 1964) - UK #3; US #97
- "Promise You'll Tell Her" / "It's So Right" (HMV POP 1327, August 1964)
- "It Isn't There" / "One of These Days" (HMV POP 1375, December 1964)
- "Make Me Know You're Mine" / "I've Got a Girl" (HMV POP 1409, March 1965)
- "Crazy 'Bout My Baby" / "Good Lovin'" (HMV POP 1477, October 1965)
- "Don't Make Me Over" / "What Can I Do Today" (HMV POP 1501, January 1966) - UK #31
- "Sandy" / "I'm Gonna Have You" (HMV POP 1533, June 1966)
- "Rumours, Gossip, Words Untrue" / "Now the Summer's Gone" (HMV POP 1564, November 1966)
- "Tremblin'" / "Something's Coming Along" (with Kiki Dee, Madeline Bell), (HMV POP 1596, July 1967)
See also 
- List of bands from Merseyside
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- List of British Invasion Artists
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 544. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Biography by Richie Unterberger and Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 26 October 2009.
- "Allmusic ((( The Swinging Blue Jeans > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))".
- "Allmusic ((( The Swinging Blue Jeans > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))".