Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators

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Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators
Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators at the 1977 Norwich Folk Festival, UK
Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators at the 1977 Norwich Folk Festival, UK
Background information
OriginCambridge, England
Years active1975 (1975)-1981, 2001-present
LabelsSwamp Records, Smooth Records, Dingle's Records
Past members
  • Gerry Hale
  • Anne Baker
  • Andy Metcalfe
  • Tony Shepherd
  • Richard Lee

Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators is a UK musical group performing an original blend of folk/country/swing music. They formed in Cambridge, UK in the 1970s, split up in the 1980s, and re-formed to play at the 2001 Cambridge Folk Festival and thereafter.


Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators formed in Cambridge, England in around 1975 as an amalgam of musicians from some previous local groups including "Baby Whale" and "Duke, Duke and the Dukes",[1] several of whom (Nick Barraclough, Anne Baker and Gerry Hale) also worked with UK bluegrass musician and recording artist Pete Sayers.[2] The group was/is fronted by Nick Barraclough (later a BBC country/folk presenter and producer) on guitar, 5-string banjo and vocals and also included virtuoso fiddle/mandolin player Gerry Hale (who later moved to Australia), singers and songwriters Anne Baker and Chris Cox, plus (at different times) Robb Appleton, Andy Metcalfe, Tony Shepherd and Richard Lee.[3] Their music has roots in bluegrass, jazz and swing, plus original numbers with a style reminiscent of the "lazy swing" of Dan Hicks,[4] and has been described as "sort of Americana, swingy, bluesy stuff with bags of harmony and whizzy playing";[5] their theme song, "Telephone Bill", being a re-write/extension of the Peter Rowan song "Panama Red" (originally written for the band New Riders of the Purple Sage). In their initial incarnation they toured widely, performed on UK television and BBC radio, and recorded 3 albums on the Swamp, Smooth and Dingle's record labels. In 2001 they re-formed to play at that year's Cambridge Folk Festival and meanwhile, also played gigs and released one album as "Nick Barraclough and the Burglars" (alias the "Burglars of Barcelona"). The present line-up comprises original members Nick Barraclough, Robb Appleton, Chris Cox and Steve Reynolds together with new member Paula Welham on sax, flute and vocals.[6]



  • Pretty Slick, Huh? Swamp Records WAM 679, 1979 album details
  • Lounge Music Smooth Records DIAL 100, 1980 album details
  • Manhattan Roll Dingle's Records DID 713, 1982 album details
  • (As Nick Barraclough and the Burglars): Daylight Robbery Gott Discs, 2007 album details
  • Pioneering 2013 (details??)


  • Manhattan Roll / You Got To Believe Weekend Records DJS 10785, 1977
  • Cruisin' / Pinball Wizard' Weekend Records DJS 10858, 1977
  • Wanna See Your Telephone Bill / Pioneering / Hollywood (You Kiss While You're Dancing) / If I Had My Way Weekend Records DJS 10885 (EP), 1978
  • Boogie Woogie Piggie Smooth Records Ring 1 (promo), 197?


  1. ^ "Cambridge Rock and Roll History". Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  2. ^ "Bluegrass Discography: Grand Ole Opry Road Show (Pete Sayers)". Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  3. ^ "Telephone Bill & the Smooth Operators". Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  4. ^ "...And Yet Another Good Man Gone. Dan Hicks". Afterword. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  5. ^ "Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators". The Portland Arms. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  6. ^ "Telephone Bill And The Smooth Operators Tour Dates & Tickets". Retrieved 2016-03-21.