The Scorpions (Manchester band)
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The Scorpions are a 1960s British beat group, originally from Manchester in England, that became popular notably in the Netherlands. They should not be confused with the hard rock band Scorpions from Germany, or the London-based outfit The Scorpions. Their most important hit was "Hello Josephine", a song written by Fats Domino.
The band started at the beginning of 1961 and consisted of lead singer Peter Lewis, lead guitarist Tony Postill, his cousin Rodney on rhythm guitar, bass player Tony Brierley and Mike Delaney on drums. Although the band wasn't known in Manchester, they played in the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. They didn't release records in the UK. Just like many other British bands, The Scorpions tried their luck on the continent. Not in Germany or France, but in The Netherlands, where the market chances for the band were bigger.
To the Netherlands
In the Netherlands the group was more successful. Dutch booking agent Jan Vis arranged a series of gigs and producer Addy Kleyngeld arranged a Dutch recording contract at CNR. Their first single, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny, with Rip It Up on the flipside was released in August 1964. It was not a success. However, CNR believed in the Scorpions and during that year they released three other singles. The third, Hello Josephine, was their own version of Fats Domino's My girl Josephine. In the meantime Brierley stepped out and Terry Morton became lead guitarist. Rodney Postill switched to bass guitar and cousin Tony Postill to rhythm guitar. "Hello Josephine" became a huge hit in the Netherlands and reached the number one position in the Netherlands Top 40 of Radio Veronica (pirate station). Drummer Mike Delaney left the group at the beginning of 1965 and was replaced by Ian Lucas. The success of Hello Josephine justified the release of an LP, entitled Scorpions, which was released in mid 1965.
At that moment a difficult time started for the band. It was not easy to find a proper follow up for Hello Josephine. Although the ballad Ann Louise sold well, it could not compete with the success of "Hello Josephine". In addition, there were problems with the authorities. At that time there was no open European market and work permits for Englishmen were rather limited in the Netherlands. The Scorpions were urged to return to Manchester, where hardly anybody knew them because CNR did not release records in the UK. Peter Lewis and Ian Lucas decided to return and recruited guitarist Graham Lee for lead guitar and backing vocals, Dave Vernon (bass) and Roy Smithson (organ). The first single in their new line up, Greensleeves entered the charts. There was a highlight for the band in October 1965. The Scorpions were one of the big names on the yearly TV-event called the Grand Gala du Disque. They performed two songs. Other artists on the show were The Everly Brothers, Dave Berry and The Supremes. Shortly after that, drummer Ian Lucas left the band and was replaced by Tom Unthank. The band found it difficult to promote themselves due to the difficulty in obtaining work permits and so gradually, the band's popularity waned. At the end of 1967 they returned to England. There was then an eleven-year gap before the band returned to the Netherlands.
Ten years later it proved that the Netherlands hadn't forgotten The Scorpions. When former pirate station Radio Veronica became legal, they broadcast a TV-marathon The day the music died. On a stage, built in the North Sea on the shore of Scheveningen, popgroups, -singers and -ladysingers of the 1960s would again perform with their biggests 1960s-hits; playbacking of course, but even for such an act you need five Scorpions. Leadsinger Peter Lewis was accompanied by Graham Lee (leadguitar), Roy Smithson (piano), Tommy Unthank (drums) and Cedric Terry (bassguitar). This gig, meant to be unique and just once, had unexpected consequences: Hello Josephine again became a hit and reached the ninth position in the Dutch Top 40. And again people asked the band for gigs. The five Scorpions weren't prepared for that surprise. Peter Lewis, Graham Lee and Tommy Unthank had no further obligations, but however Roy Smithson and Cedric Terry had. The band that toured through the Netherlands at the end of 1977, was completed by bassplayer Dave Robin, while Unthank in the end was replaced by Max Hardy. This new line up recorded a new LP with former success songs as well as new ones. The group frequently toured in the Netherlands until 1979. Plans for a new tour in 1984, were crossed by the early death of Peter Lewis (2-1-1985) who suffered of stomach cancer. He was treated by doctor Harold Shipman, nicknamed "Doctor Death" and is believed to be Harold Shipman's youngest victim.
The curtain seemed to have fallen down permanently by the death of frontman Peter Lewis. After a reunion with former bandmembers in 2005, leadguitarist Graham Lee and drummer Ian Lucas decided to give The Scorpions another try. Together with newcomer Tom Morgan on bass they performed again as The Scorpions, the first time after nearly thirty years. It was such a success that Roy Smithson was persuaded to step in the band again. This 'new' quartet recorded the CD Now, with, next to Hello Josephine and Ann Louise, mainly "oldies but goodies" from the 1950s and 1960s. Graham Lee and Tom Morgan take care of the leadvocals.
The "tail" continues
In October 2010 Ian Lucas (married in June 2009) moved over to the eastern part of the Netherlands, decides to leave the band. Tommy Unthank, the drummer who replaced him at the end of 1965, steps in the band again. Though it includes none of the original members, the 2010 line-up had three members of the band of late 1965.
It concerns leadsinger/leadguitarist Graham Lee, also Scorpion in the 1960s and 1970s. Graham played with Billy J. Kramer and Wayne Fontana as well but considers the "great years" with Herman's Hermits, featuring drummer Barry Whitwam, as one of the important highlights in his musical career.
Then there are as well Tom Unthank on drums and Roy Smithson on keyboards. In the 1960s and 1970s they did many TV shows, gigs and recordings with The Scorpions. Tom was amongst all "housedrummer" in a night-club in Manchester for years. He was on stage with a lot of top artists. Roy not only plays his keyboards, he also takes care of the high vocal parts on Scorpions-recordings and at gigs.
Since June 2009 bass guitarist Diccon Hubbard completes the band. He brings in a lot of experience, gathered at Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders, Billy J. Kramer and The Dakota's and as bass player in the band of singer Dave Berry, to mention a few.
In the Dutch Top 2000-charts of December 2010 you find The Scorpions-hit "Hello Josephine" on position 1,571.
In Spring 2011 the band worked hard on the latest Scorpions-album, The End of the Tail, which was released in June 2011. Twenty songs, including some songs with their Dutch guest musicians, Ruud Wegman, bluesharmonicaplayer, and Ben Brekelmans on bass guitar. And so the "tail" continues.
Original Band members
- Peter Lewis: lead vocals
- Terence Morton: lead guitar
- Anthony Postill: lead and rhythm guitar
- Rodney Postill: rhythm and bass guitar
- Mike Delaney: drums
Subsequent Band members
- Graham Caunce (Lee): lead guitar and vocals
- Dave Robin: bass
- Cedric Terry: bass
- Dave Vernon: bass
- Tom Morgan: bass and vocals
- Martin Davies: bass and vocals
- Diccon Hubbard: bass and vocals
- Roy Smithson: piano,organ, keyboards and vocals
- Ian Lucas: drums
- Tommy Unthank: drums
- Max Hardy: drums
- 1965 Hello Josephine
- 1965 Ann Louise
- 1965 Greensleeves
- 1965 Baby Baby Balla Balla
- 1965 Hello Josephine
- 1965 Climbing the Charts
- 1966 Sweet And Lovely (repackage van Climbing the Charts)
- 1966 Keep In Touch With The Scorpions
- 1978 My Own Way To Rock
- 1997 The Scorpions
- 1998 Hello Josephine – The Complete Collection
- 2005 Hello Josephine/Climbing the Charts
- 2007 Now
- 2011 The End of the Tail