The Undertakers

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The Undertakers
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Pop
Years active 1961–1965
Labels Pye Records
Associated acts Jackie Lomax
Past members Jackie Lomax
Chris Huston
Geoff Nugent
Brian Jones
Bugs Pemberton

The Undertakers were a British beat group, contemporaries of The Beatles and a leading group in the Merseybeat music scene of the early 1960s.[1]

Band members[edit]

Their best known line-up was:

  • Jackie Lomax (lead vocals, bass)
  • Chris Huston (lead guitar, vocals)
  • Geoff Nugent (solo, rhythm guitar, vocals) (born Gordon Geoffrey Nugent, 23 February 1943, [Garston Liverpool], [Lancashire]
  • Brian Jones (alto, tenor saxophone, vocals) (born 27th November 1940, Wallasey, Cheshire)
  • Bugs Pemberton (drums) (born Warren Pemberton, 7 January 1945, Liverpool - died 13 October 2013, Los Angeles, California)

Origins[edit]

The Undertakers were originally called Bob Evans and the Five Shillings, with Nugent; lead guitarist Ike X (replaced by Pete Cook (ex The Topspots); drummer Bob Evans (died March 2009) (ex The Renegades); bassist Billy Evans; tenor saxophone player Les Maguire (born Leslie Charles Maguire, 27 December 1941, in Wallasey, Cheshire) and rhythm guitarist, vocalist Mike Millward (born Michael Millward, 9 May 1942, Bromborough, Cheshire - died 7 March 1966, at Bromborough Hospital, Bromborough), who was later in The Fourmost.

Then they became The Vegas Five formed in 1959, a group led by drummer Bob Evans with Geoff Nugent; Chris Huston (ex The Casuals); lead vocalist Jimmy McManus (ex The Topspots); bassist Mushy Cooper (born David Cooper died in 1998) (ex The Topspots) and Les Maguire, who was later in Gerry & The Pacemakers, replaced by alto / tenor sax player, vocalist Brian (Sax) Jones (ex The Rebels) (born 1940 in Wallasey, Cheshire). This was one of the first rock and roll groups in the Liverpool area.

Group career[edit]

When the Vegas Five were booked to play a dance, they discovered that the local newspaper had inadvertently transposed their name with the word "Undertakers" from the adjacent column. The promoter persuaded them to develop this as a gimmick, by playing the "Death March" to start their show, and to change their name. In February 1961, Evans' group merged with another group, Dee and the Dynamites, based in Wallasey, and Evans left to be replaced by Pemberton (ex Dee and the Dynamites) in September 1961.

The Undertakers developed a major local following for their live performances.[1] This was due to the quality of Lomax's singing, the customisation of the band’s instruments and amplification by Huston, and the fact that, unlike most Merseybeat groups, they were boosted by a saxophone, which enabled them to play a wider range of R&B songs including more obscure material.[1] There is a photograph of fans queueing at The Cavern for what was thought to be The Beatles, when they were in fact queueing for The Undertakers.

They played at Hamburg’s Star-Club during 1962.[1] However, on their return, they rejected a management offer from Brian Epstein, and signed a recording contract with Pye Records with Tony Hatch as their record producer.[1] The records they made with Pye were weak both in terms of their sound and commercial success, although their third single, "Just a Little Bit", managed one week on the Top 50 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1964.[2]

Later years[edit]

The Undertakers split up after a tour of the United States in 1965, with Lomax, Huston and Pemberton all remaining in that country and developing their own careers in the music industry. Brian Jones became a session player and is sometimes claimed to have played saxophone on The Beatles' "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)", a claim which he denies, saying that it was "the Brian Jones who couldn't swim,"[3] and, in fact, most sources do state that the part was played by Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones. (These sources include the Beatles' Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones' then-bassist Bill Wyman.[4][5]) Pemberton lived in Los Angeles, California. Geoff Nugent re-formed the band for the Liverpool Garden Festival. They had many changes but in 2007 settled on a line-up of

Geoff Nugent vocals /rhythm guitar
Brian Jones tenor sax
Bill Good bass guitar /vocals
Baz Davies lead guitar/vocals
    Jimmy O'Brien   drums

When he was home from the US, Jackie Lomax would team up with the band to give three originals in the line-up. Lomax died on the Wirral in September 2013, followed shortly after by Bugs Pemberton who died in Los Angeles on 13 October 2013; both died from cancer related illnesses.

Discography[edit]

UK singles[edit]

U.S. singles[edit]

  • "Just A Little Bit" / "Stupidity" Parkway 909 (1964)
  • "Think" / "If You Don't Come" Interphon 7709 (1964)
  • "I Fell In Love" / "Throw Your Love Away Girl" Black Watch 5545/6 (1965)

CD compilation[edit]

  • The Undertakers Unearthed (Big Beat CDWIKD 163, 1996)[1]
    • "(Do The) Mashed Potatoes" / "Everybody Loves A Lover" / "Money (That's What I Want)" / "What About Us" / "Just A Little Bit" / "Stupidity" / "If You Don't Come Back" / "Think" / "Be My Little Girl" (Bickerton/Waddington) / "She Said Yeah" (Jackson/Christy) / "I Need Your Lovin'" (Gardner/Lewis/Levy/McDougal) / "Tell Me What You're Gonna Do" (Brown) / "Tricky Dicky" (Leiber/Stoller) / "Irresistible You" (Raye/Paul) / "Love Is A Swingin' Thing" (S Owens/L Dixon/W Denson) / "Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!" (R. Penniman) / "You're So Fine And Sweet" (Robinson/White/Whited/Moore/Tarplin/Rogers) / "Leave My Kitten Alone" (John/Turner/MacDougal) / "Watch Your Step" (Parker) / "Throw Your Love Away Girl" (Jackie Lomax) / "I Fell In Love (For The Very First Time)" (Hollon/Mosley/Bateman)

Produced 1963-1965 by Tony Hatch (1-8) and Bob Gallo & The Undertakers (9-21) Colin Gort replaced baz davies on keyboards in 2011. the keyboard sound gives the undertakers a much more fuller sound.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 575. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ "The Undertakers"
  4. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988a). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1. 
  5. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3. 

External links[edit]