Harvey and the Wallbangers

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Harvey and the Wallbangers
OriginCambridge, UK
Years active1980–1987
Past members
  • Andrew Huggett

Harvey and the Wallbangers were a 1980s jazz vocal harmony group, playing major festivals and the main Concert Halls in Europe and the UK, such as the Royal Albert Hall, Sadler's Wells, The Forum, Ronnie Scotts and the Berlin Tempodrom. The group also appeared on the Royal Variety Show and scores of other television programmes including "Wogan", "Russell Harty" and "Carrott's Lib".

Harvey and the Wallbangers recorded four albums on their own label (Hubbadots) and also The Jazz Album with Simon Rattle (EMI).[1]

Band members[edit]

  • Jeremy Taylor – Vocals, trombone, trumpet, percussion
  • Harvey Brough – Vocals, saxes, organ, cor anglais, percussion
  • Christopher Purves – Vocals, trumpet, percussion
  • Jonny Griffiths – Vocals, Guitar, violin, phonofiddle, percussion, ukulele
  • Neil "Reg" McArthur – Vocals, piano, guitar, harpsichord, melodica, percussion
  • Richard Allen – Vocals, double bass, percussion
  • Andrew Huggett – Drums

Early Band members[edit]

  • Paul Daniel – Vocals
  • Russell Watson – Bass Vocals
  • Brian Shelley – Vocals
  • John Miller – Piano
  • Chris Cox – Bass

The Supporters[edit]

  • Stephen Grater – Management
  • Sally Reeves – PA
  • Kevin McCloud – Set & Lighting Design (yes, the famous one from the telly)
  • Jo Cooke – Lighting Design
  • Rex Brough – Sound Engineer

The Evolution[edit]

[2] [3] Cambridge has a reputation for producing some of the UK's most exciting and eclectic groups and in the 1970s Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators (TBSO) were performing their original blend of folk/country/swing music at festivals across the UK.

In 1981 their front man, Nick Barraclough, approached Harvey Brough (a music scholar from Clare College, Cambridge) to produce some string arrangements for a gig they were doing at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. In return Nick promised to do a concert at Clare College, in memory of Harvey's brother Lester, who had been killed in a motor cycle accident. At that concert, Harvey's barbershop quartet also performed and the evening was such a hit that Nick invited Harvey to form a new group to perform with them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 1981).[4] That group was named Harvey and the Wallbangers, and included singers (male and female) from Harvey's Cambridge singing group, the University of Cambridge Consort of Voices, who performed Harvey's arrangements of American Songbook classics.

The following year the group also supported TBSO at the ADC Theatre Cambridge, which was followed by further gigs in Battersea and Buxton. The Wallbangers now included the long term personnel Jonny Griffiths (who had been studying at Clare college with Harvey) and Jeremy Taylor (a choral scholar from St Catharine's College, Cambridge). The rest of the group were made up of Chris Cox (the bass player with TBSO), bass singer Russell Watson, the vocalist (and actor) Brian Shelley and pianist John Miller (who later went on to play with Van Morrison).

Richard Allen (an old school friend of Harvey's) started off doing publicity for the band, before learning double bass (with Harvey's encouragement) and becoming one of the band's performers.

The real turning point for the Wallbangers occurred in 1983, when the group finally went full-time and the definitive shape of the band was formed with Harvey, Richard, Jonny & Jeremy being joined by bass singer Chris Purves (who was a choral scholar from King's College, Cambridge) and Neil McArthur (a talented pianist at Leeds College of Music) who used the alias "Reg Prescott" on stage. The group eventually became a band of seven when they were joined in 1985 by drummer Andrew Huggett.

The Stage Shows[edit]

Each year the Wallbangers would put together a new stage show, normally premiered at the Edinburgh Festival[5][6][7] (the only time they missed performing in Edinburgh was 1985). The shows were produced by a selection of inspiring Directors.

Performance Year Show Name Director
1983 Hep Cats Go Ape Jude Kelly (Royal National Theatre)
1984 Allez Bananes Rod Natkiel
1985 Like men Possessed James Runcie (TV Series Grantchester)
1986 Park the Tiger David Gilmore (Daisy Pulls It Off)

Radio Series[edit]

On 26 June 1985, the Wallbangers appeared on BBC Radio 2 (at 22.15) for the first of a series of five 15-minute Wednesday night shows of "music & mirth". The series was produced by Paul Mayhew-Archer and featured additional material by comedy writer James Hendrie.[8] The short series was repeated again in April the following year.

This was followed in 1987, when the Wallbangers had their own half-hour Tuesday night radio show on BBC Radio 2.[9] Produced again by Paul Mayhew-Archer and written by James Hendrie, the series ran for 6 episodes, hosting a number of special guest celebrities.

Episode No. Original Air Date Guests
Episode 1 20 January 1987 Jeremy Hardy, Roger McGough, Pete McCarthy.
Episode 2 27 January 1987 Paul Merton, John Irwin.
Episode 3 3 February 1987 John Dowie, Nick Revell.
Episode 4 10 February 1987 Jeremy Hardy, Roger McGough, Pete McCarthy.
Episode 5 17 February 1987 Paul Merton, John Irwin.
Episode 6 24 February 1987 John Dowie, Nick Revell.

In 1986 the band also provided music for an adaptation of Dario Fo's Archangels broadcast on BBC Radio 3.[10][11]

The Last Year[edit]

With Jonny Griffiths leaving the band, to fulfill his dream of becoming a maths teacher, and with no "BIG" recorded deal in the offing, the band decided to call it a day and planned a final tour to say farewell.[12] The tour poster said '"LAST CHANCE EVER TO SEE THIS BAND! SEE THIS GIG OR BE A JERK FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"'

So after four years on the road, the Wallbangers ended a successful 1986 with a two-week residency at London's Bloomsbury Theatre,[13] incorporating a sell out New Year's Eve event with a full two-hour show, including a star cabaret until 1 am. This was followed by an appearance, in February 1987, at Swindon's Wyvern Theatre.[14] They also performed with Simon Rattle and the London Sinfonietta, later released on Rattle's Jazz Album.[15]

The final show, on Sunday 3 May 1987, was originally booked at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End, but having sold out in just a morning, it was finally moved to the Sadler's Wells Theatre in Clerkenwell, London, where the Wallbangers performed for the last time to a packed house in a venue four times the size of what had been originally planned.

The celebrations were however tinged with some sadness, as Stephen Grater (the band's manager for the past four years) had contracted a brain tumor, and died a few days before the final concert. According to Purves, this partly inspired the band members to stop.[16]


Album Cover Album Title Album Details Tracks
Allez Bananes[17]
  • Released: 1984
  • Recorded: Gateway Studios, Battersea
  • Engineer: Pascal Gabriel
  • Produced: Rex Brough & Harvey Brough

(1) Five Guy's Named Moe, (2) Who Do You Know in Heaven, (3) My Baby's Gone, (4) Jailhouse Rock, (5) Shine, (6) Your Feet's Too Big, (7) I'll Be Forever Loving You, (8) Boogie Nights, (9) Sweet Talkin' Guy, (10) Sixteen Tons, (11) Traffic Jam, (12) Nutrocker, (13) Right Next Door to An Angel, (14) Sh Boom, (15) Blue Skies.

Wallbangers A – GoGo[18]
  • Released: 1985
  • Recorded: Gateway Studios, Battersea
  • Engineer: Pascal Gabriel
  • Produced: Rex Brough & Harvey Brough

(1) Make Your Mind Up, (2) Lets Make It Today, (3) Sea Cruise, (4) Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens, (5) Breakaway, (6) The Falling Rain, (7) Someday Soon Somehow, (8) Needle in a Haystack, (9) Anything (You Want Me To Do), (10) 523 423, (11) Sometimes Ali, (12) Got The Woo-Woos, (13) Cool Dog, (14) Every Second Every Minute Every Hour of Every Day (I Need Your Love).

Park The Tiger (EP)[19]
  • Released: 1986
  • Recorded: Hollywood Studios, London
  • Engineer: – Olly Hitch
  • Produced: Harvey Brough & Olly Hitch

(1) I Ain't Got You, (2) Tons & Tons of Sunshine, (3) Dancing in the Ballroom, (4) Devil Went Down To Georgia, (5) Like I Should.

Someday Soon Somehow[20]

(1) Here Comes Leroy, (2) We're Heading for the Poorhouse, (3) False Alarm, (4) Traffic Jam, (5) Baby Don't Drink, (6) Out of the Shadows, (7) The Concept, (8) Inflation Blues, (9) I Think You're Something Else, (10) Sometimes I Feel like A Motherless Child, (11) Marie, (12) Occapella, (13) Cool Jerk, (14) Let Me Down, (15) Life Is Easy, (16) Since I Don't Have You, (17) Lipstick Traces on a Cigarette, (18) High School Confidential, (19) Who's Fooling Who? (20) Someday Soon Somehow, (21) Breaths.

Simon Rattle Jazz Album[21]
  • Released: 1987
  • Recorded: CTS Studios, Wembley
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle & London Sinfonietta
  • Produced: EMI Records Ltd

(3) After You've Gone, (8) Sweet Sue, (10) Makin' Whoopee!, (11) My Blue Heaven.

Final Concert
Early Days[22]
  • Remastering of 'Allez Bananas' with some added out-takes
  • Released: 2004
  • Recorded: Gateway Studios, Battersea
  • Engineer: Pascal Gabriel
  • Produced: Rex Brough & Harvey Brough

(1) Five Guy's Named Moe, (2) Who Do You Know in Heaven, (3) My Baby's Gone, (4) Jailhouse Rock, (5) Shine, (6) Your Feet's Too Big, (7) I'll Be Forever Loving You, (8) Boogie Nights, (9) Sweet Talkin' Guy, (10) Sixteen Tons, (11) Traffic Jam, (12) Nutrocker, (13) Right Next Door to An Angel, (14) Sh Boom, (15) Blue Skies, (16) Glad To Be Here, (17) Paper Moon, (18) Deacon Jones, (19) Atom & Evil, (20) Mr Paganini, (21) Old Man River, (22) Don't You Worry 'bout A Thing, (23) Sunny Side of the Street.

Post-Wallbangers careers[edit]

Christopher Purves, who left the band due to the pressures of touring, trained as an operatic baritone and his first major role was in Inés de Castro by James MacMillan in 1997. He also played the lead roles in Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Verdi's Falstaff, Beckmesser in Wagner's Meistersinger, Tonio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci and Balstrode in Britten's Peter Grimes.[23] He also sang in a television commercial for fruit drink Um Bongo.[24]

Harvey Brough followed the dissolution by scoring John Godber's Shakers with his brother Rex, providing what the Times described as "blues, country and Bananarama-ish tunes".[25] But like Purves, he later went in a more serious direction, including composing and performing Requiem in Blue, a composition with elements of jazz, folk, and classical music, in tribute to his dead brother.[26][27] He was married to jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth.[28]

Harvey and the "New" Wallbangers[edit]

The members of the band worked together occasionally after the split. Harvey Brough was joined by the reunited Wallbangers for a 2004 concert at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.[29]

In 2016 Clara Sanabras asked Harvey to reform the Wallbangers to appear on one song (Travellers Never Did Lie) on her album "A Hum About Mine Ears". Based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest", this was an extraordinarily ambitious suite of songs for Soloist (the composer herself) Choir (Chorus of Dissent) and Orchestra (Britten Sinfonia), with another special guest, one Nigel Kennedy. The CD was launched at the Barbican, London in March 2016, by Clara with the new Harvey and The Wallbangers, Britten Sinfonia, Jacqueline Shave, Violin and two choirs – Chorus of Dissent and Harvey's Vox Holloway conducted by Harvey.

In 2017, after a 30-year hiatus, three of the original Wallbangers (Harvey Brough, Jeremy Taylor & Richard Allen) plus two new Wallbangers (Clara Sanabras & Naomi Hammerton) decided to reform the band.[30] They were joined by a rhythm section Andy Hamill and Roy Dodds to perform in three sold-out gigs in London and Southampton, followed by an appearance at the Bury St Edmunds music festival.

At the London shows the Wallbangers were joined on stage by original pianist "Reg Prescott", for the song Blue Skies.[citation needed]

Film and TV[edit]

Show Title Program Details
Six Fifty-Five
  • Released: Tuesday 9 August 1983
  • Channel: BBC 2
  • Cast: Lenny Henry
  • Editor: Peter Hercombe
  • Songs: Stranded in the Jungle & Right next door to an Angel
At Last -It's 1984!
  • Released: Sunday 1 January 1984 (New Year Show)
  • Channel: BBC 1
  • Cast: Michael Barrymore
  • Director: Bach Tony
  • Songs : Schboom & Paper Moon
Folio – TV Arts Show
  • Released: 1984
  • Channel: Anglian TV
  • Cast: Paul Barnes
  • Songs : Grazing in the grass, Allez bananes, Who put the Bomp, Schboom, Nobody, Ain't nobody here but us chickens, Sea Cruise, Boogie Nights
Royal Variety Performance
Cabaret (TV Series)[31]
The Laughter Show (TV Series)
  • Released: Saturday 2 March 1985 – (repeated Thursday 25 July 1985)
  • Channel: BBC 1
  • Cast: Les Dennis and Dustin Gee with Slither Spook and Roy Jay
  • Director: John Bishop
The Laughter Show (TV Series)
  • Released: Saturday 23 March 1985 – (repeated Thursday 29 August 1985)
  • Channel: BBC 1
  • Cast: Les Dennis and Dustin Gee with Greg Rodgers
  • Director: John Bishop
Kelly's Eye
  • Released: 1985 – 6 episodes
  • Channel: TVS (Television South)
  • Cast: Matthew Kelly
  • Songs: 523423, Someday soon somehow, Needle in a Haystack, Cool Dog, Falling Rain, Breakaway
Summertime Special[32]
Minstrel of the Dawn
  • Released: Monday 21 March 1988
  • Channel: BBC 1
  • Cast: Mary O'Hara
  • Director: Alan Tongue


  1. ^ "Reviews:The Simon Rattle Jazz Album". Gramophone. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  2. ^ Interview with Musical Director Harvey Brough
  3. ^ Interview with Wallbanger Jonny Griffiths
  4. ^ David Sinclair. "Rock." (Review of Harvey and the Wallbangers at Ronnie Scott's, London.) Times [London, England] 16 September 1986: 27. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  5. ^ Miles Kington, "Just dying to be noticed." Times [London, England] 30 August 1983: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Theatre." Times [London, England] 29 December 1984: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  7. ^ Miles Kington. "Reckoning up Auld Reekie." Times [London, England] 19 August 1986: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  8. ^ Website : genome.ch.bbc.co.uk – Radio Times Archive
  9. ^ Website : epguides.com – Radio Guests and Airdates guide
  10. ^ Mitchell, Tony (2014). Dario Fo: People's Court Jester. A&C Black. ISBN 9781408148648.
  11. ^ Peter Waymark. "Publishers in conflict." Times [London, England] 8 March 1986: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  12. ^ Requiem in Blue – Harvey Brough biography
  13. ^ Flyer from the Bloomsbury Theatre Box Office – December 1986
  14. ^ Flyer for Thurs 12 Feb – Wyvern Theatre, Swindon
  15. ^ Richard Williams. "Classic jazz." (Review of Simon Rattle/London Sinfonietta: The Jazz Album.) Times [London, England] 7 November 1987: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Christopher Purves, From Rocker to Choir Boy to Opera Singer on Stage in HGO's Peter Grimes". Houston Press. 18 October 2010.
  17. ^ From the LP album sleeve, Allez Bananes
  18. ^ From the LP album sleeve, Wallbangers A – GoGo
  19. ^ From the EP album sleeve, Park The Tiger
  20. ^ From the Tape sleeve, Someday Soon Somehow
  21. ^ From Gramophone Review
  22. ^ From the CD sleeve, Early Days
  23. ^ "Christopher Purves interview: From doo-wop to new opera". The Daily Telegraph. 2 March 2013.
  24. ^ Emma Pomfret. "In the red – and loving it." Times [London, England] 18 September 2009: 9[S]. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  25. ^ Kate Bassett. "Happy hour not quite on song." Times [London, England] 17 May 1994: 39. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2017.
  26. ^ Walters, John L (22 June 2004). "Harvey Brough". The Guardian.
  27. ^ "Album: Harvey Brough, Requiem in Blue (Smudged Discs)". The Independent. 17 June 2010.
  28. ^ "Acclaimed jazz artist Jacqui Dankworth brings her talent to Oxford". Oxford Mail. 8 January 2015.
  29. ^ "The Wallbangers bounce back". The Scotsman. 10 November 2004.
  30. ^ "In Tune", BBC Radio 3, 11 January 2017
  31. ^ From IMDB website, Harvey and the Wallbangers
  32. ^ Website: tvpopdiaries.co.uk/1986

External links[edit]