The Nashville Teens
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The Nashville Teens
The Nashville Teens in 1966
|Also known as||Arizona Swamp Company|
|Origin||Weybridge, Surrey, England|
Art Sharp (born Arthur Sharp, 26 May 1941, Woking, Surrey) began his career in music as manager of Aerco Records in Woking, Surrey. The group's line-up eventually comprised singers Sharp and Ray Phillips (born Ramon John Philips, 16 January 1939, Tiger Bay, Cardiff, South Wales), with former Cruisers Rock Combo members John Hawken (piano), Mick Dunford (lead guitar) (born Michael Dunford, 8 July 1944, Addlestone, Surrey died 20 November 2012, Surrey), Pete Shannon (born Peter Shannon Harris, 23 August 1941, Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland) (bass) and Dave Maine (drums). Roger Groome replaced Maine shortly afterward but was in turn replaced by Barry Jenkins in 1963, the year a third vocalist, Terry Crowe (born Terence Crowe, 1941, Woking, Surrey) joined briefly and Dunford left, to be replaced by John Allen (born John Samuel Allen, 23 April 1945, St Albans, Hertfordshire). (Crowe and Dunford formed "The Plebs" with Danny McCulloch and Derek (Degs) Sirmon and were re-united with Hawken in Renaissance in 1970). There was also another member, Derek Gentle (vocals), who was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1962 and had to leave the band. He died in June 1963.
While playing in Hamburg, the Teens backed Jerry Lee Lewis for his Live at the Star Club, Hamburg album. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes, "Live at the Star Club is extraordinary, the purest, hardest rock & roll ever committed to record."
The band later backed Carl Perkins on his hit single "Big Bad Blues" (May 1964) and also played with Chuck Berry when he toured Britain. One concert was attended by Mickie Most, who subsequently produced the band's June 1964 debut single, an interpretation of the John D. Loudermilk penned song "Tobacco Road", which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 14 in the U.S.Billboard Hot 100 chart. The follow-up, another Loudermilk song, "Google Eye", reached number 10 in the UK in October 1964. The Nashville Teens' record producers also included Andrew Loog Oldham and Shel Talmy. One of their recordings was the mildly controversial Randy Newman number, "The Biggest Night of Her Life", about a schoolgirl who is "too excited to sleep" because she has promised to lose her virginity on her sixteenth birthday to a boy whom her parents like "because his hair is always neat".
A further three top 50 singles, "Find My Way Back Home" and "This Little Bird", followed in February and May 1965 and "The Hard Way" made a brief appearance the following year but three subsequent records ("I Know How It Feels To Be Loved", "Forbidden Fruit" and "That's My Woman") all failed to chart. Jenkins left in 1966 to join The Animals and was replaced by his predecessor Roger Groome. Reportedly Ray Phillips got an offer to join Cream in 1966. He refused.
Although musically competent, the group's lack of distinctive personality contributed to its lack of long-term success, as did Decca's poor promotion. (By 1970, Decca's only remaining rock acts were The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues, both of whom handled their own promotion.) In the late Sixties the group returned to its old craft: backing other artists like Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. In 1971 they released a single, "Ella James", a Roy Wood-penned song originally recorded by The Move, on the Parlophone label, again without success.
Arthur Sharp left in 1972 to join the band's one-time manager Don Arden, and Trevor Williams joined. Despite Phillips's efforts, the Nashville Teens split in 1973. The band re-formed in 1980, however, with Phillips as the only original member, joined by Peter Agate (guitar), Len Surtees (bass) and Adrian Metcalfe (drums). The band is still working. Phillips joined the British Invasion All-Stars in the 1990s and made three albums with the group, consisting of members of The Yardbirds, The Creation, The Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and other groups. The band did a cover of "Tobacco Road" that still receives airplay on XM Satellite Radio. The current line-up is Phillips, Metcalfe, Colin Pattenden (bass and vocals), Simon Spratley (keyboards and vocals) and Ken Osborn (guitar).
Dunford died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 20 November 2012 in Surrey, England.
Appearances in films and TV shows
The Nashville Teens appeared in three 1965 film:
- Pop Gear, by Frederic Goode - a long series of pop artists play one or two songs; the Beatles play live for an audience, while the Animals, the Honeycombs, Peter and Gordon and Herman's Hermits mime in a studio. The Nashville Teens mime "Tobacco Road" and "Google Eye". In the United States the film was issued with the title as Go Go Mania.
- Be My Guest, by Lance Comfort - a family has inherited a hotel in Brighton. Their son works at a local paper and tries to set up a pop group of which one member is played by Steve Marriott. A talent scout scene is a pretext to present a few artists, among them The Nashville Teens who also back Jerry Lee Lewis.
- Gonks Go Beat, by Robert Hartford-Davis - set in the distant future. An alien from the planet Gonk comes to Earth to establish peace between the two remaining nations, one of which prefers rock and roll and the other ballads and his task involves listening to the Teens, Lulu and the Graham Bond Organisation.
In 2010 "Tobacco Road" was featured on the 4th-season premiere of Mad Men.
- "Tobacco Road" / "I Like It Like That" (1964) – #6 (UK Singles Chart), #14 (Billboard Hot 100)
- "Google Eye" / "T.N.T." (1964) – #10 (UK), #117 (US)
- "Find My Way Back Home" / "Devil In Law" (1965) – #34 (UK)
- "The Little Bird" / "Whatcha Gonna Do" (1965) – #38 (UK), #123 (US)
- "I Know How It Feels to Be Loved" / "Soon Forgotten" (1965)
- "The Hard Way" / "Upside Down" (1966) – #45 (UK)
- "Forbidden Fruit" / "Revived 45 Time" (1966)
- "That's My Woman" / "Words" (1967)
- "I'm Coming Home" / "Searching" (1967)
- "The Biggest Night of Her Life" / "Last Minute" (1967)
- "All Along the Watchtower" / "Sun Dog" (1968)
- "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian" / "Looking for You" (1969)
- "Ella James" / "Tennessee Woman" (1971)
- "You Shouldn't Have Been So Nice" / "Tell the People" (1972, never released)
- The Nashville Teens: "How Deep Is the Ocean", "I Need You Baby (Mona)", "Parchman Farm", "Bread and Butter Man" (1964)
- Tobacco Road (released in the US and Canada, 1964):
- Nashville Teens (1972):
- The Best of the Nashville Teens 1964-1969 (1993):
- "Tobacco Road", "I Need You Baby (Mona)", "T.N.T.", "Parchman Farm", "Need You", "La Bamba", "Bread and Butter Man", "Google Eye", "Hootchie Kootchie Man", "How Deep Is the Ocean", "Find My Way Back Home", "Devil-in-Law", "Too Much", "Hurtin' Inside", "I Like It Like That", "Searching", "Soon Forgotten", "The Little Bird", "I'm Coming Home", "The Hard Way", "Words", "That's My Woman", "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian", "Looking For You"
- Tobacco Road (produced in Germany, 2000):
- "Tobacco Road"; "I Need You Baby (Mona)", "Need You", "Bread and Butter Man", "Hurtin' Inside", "Hootchie Kootchie Man", "Google Eye", "Too Much", "Parchman Farm", "I Like It Like That", "How Deep Is the Ocean", "La Bamba", "T.N.T.", "Devil-in-Law", "Find My Way Back Home", "Whatcha Gonna Do", "I Know How It Feels to Be Loved", "Upside Down", "Forbidden Fruit", "Revived 45 Time", "That's My Woman", "I'm Coming Home", "The Biggest Night of Her Life", "Last Minute", "All Along the Watchtower", "Sun Dog", "oor Boy", "Ella James", "Tennessee Woman"
- Rockin' Back To Tobacco Road (2007):
- "Let It Rock/Rocking on the Railroad", "I'm a Lonely One", "Chantilly Lace", "Break Up", "Tobacco Road", "Widdicombe Fair", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", "Ex Kay on LX", "The Biggest Night of Her Life", "Last Minute", "All Along the Watchtower", "Sun Dog", "Hitch Hike", "The Little Bird", "Widdicombe Fair" (alternate version), "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian", "Train Keeps a-Rollin", "Tennessee Woman", "Fishhead", "New York Mining Disaster", "Half Breed", "Day and Night"
- Current members
- Ray Phillips - lead vocals, bass guitar (1962–73; 1980–present)
- Ken Osborn - lead guitar (?-present)
- Colin Pattenden - bass guitar, lead vocals (?-present)
- Simon Spratley - keyboards (?-present)
- Adrian Metcalfe - drums (1980–present)
- Former members
- Arthur Sharp - guitar, lead vocals (1962–72)
- Trevor Williams - vocals, bass guitar (1972–73)
- Terry Crowe - lead vocals (1963)
- Mick Dunford - lead guitar (1962–63)
- John Allen - lead guitar (1963–69)
- Len Tuckey - lead guitar (1969–73)
- Peter Agate - lead guitar (1980-?)
- Pete Shannon Harris - bass guitar, guitar (1962–66)
- Neil Korner - bass guitar (1966–69)
- Roger Dean - bass guitar (1969–73)
- Len Surtees - bass guitar (1980-?)
- John Hawken - keyboards (1962–68)
- Dave Maine - drums (1962)
- Roger Groome - drums (1962–63; 1966–73)
- Barry Jenkins - drums (1963–66)
- List of 1960s one-hit wonders in the United States
- List of Decca Records artists
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- British Invasion
- Charlie Gillett (4 January 2011). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock & Roll. Souvenir Press Limited. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-285-64024-5.
- Peter Checksfield, "Jerry Lee Lewis. The Greatest Live Show on Earth", Record Collector, #188 - April 1995, p. 79.
- Milo Miles, Album review of Live at the Star Club, Hamburg. Rolling Stone, #899/900 - July 2002, p. 112.
- Q Magazine, #1, 2002, p. 59.
- Mojo, 3/01/04, p. 52.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Album Review: 'Live at the Star Club, Hamburg' at Allmusic.
- Many sources say the group also backed Bo Diddley, but Arthur Sharp denies this in the booklet accompanying the CD sampler Rockin' Back To Tobacco Road.
- Brian Hogg in the booklet accompanying the 1993 CD The Best of the Nashville Teens 1964-1969.
- Chris May and Tim Phillips, British Beat, Sociopack Publications, London, , p. 61.
- Allmusic review
- Marianne Faithfull recorded the same song under the title "This Little Bird".
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 387. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Erroneously called "Parchment Farm" on the cover.
- Song from the film Gonks Go Beat.
- The first twelve tracks are Nashville Teens recordings from the years 1966–68, meant for radio broadcasts. The other tracks are recordings from the years 1969–71 with Ray Phillips and Arthur Sharp as singers, backed by various studio musicians.