The Spinners (UK band)

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The Spinners
The Spinners.png
The Spinners
From left to right: Mick Groves, Tony Davis, Cliff Hall, Hughie Jones
Background information
OriginLiverpool, England
GenresFolk music, Skiffle
Years active1958–1989
LabelsPhilips Records, EMI Records
Past membersTony Davis
Mick Groves
Cliff Hall
Hughie Jones

The Spinners were a folk group from Liverpool, England, that formed in September 1958. The group was unusual for its time in having a multiracial membership.

They variously had four albums in the UK Albums Chart between September 1970 and April 1972. One of them, Spinners Live Performance (1971), spent three months in the listing and peaked at No. 14.[1]


The band began as a skiffle group with a mainly American repertoire,[2] until they were prompted by Redd Sullivan, a seaman, to include sea shanties and English folk songs. They started out as the Gin Mill Skiffle Group, which included guitarist Tony Davis and washboard player Mick Groves.[3] The group played the Cavern Club, Liverpool for the first time on Friday 18 January 1957, with the Muskrat Jazz Band and the Liverpool University Jazz Band. They played there on a number of occasions on Friday 24 May; Sunday 26 May; Wednesday 5 June; Wednesday 3 July and Friday 16 August 1957. In September 1958 they became the Spinners. They founded a folk club in Liverpool, the 'Triton Club', but soon were performing in London at places such as (the iconic 1950's-founded London coffee house) The Troubadour. Their first album, Songs Spun in Liverpool, was recorded by Bill Leader from live performances. In 1962 Peter Kennedy of the English Folk Dance & Song Society recorded an album with them called Quayside Songs Old & New. In 1963 Philips Records signed them, and they recorded eight more albums over the next eight years. They signed for EMI Records in the early 1970s.[4]

They became popular by reviving some of the greatest folk music and singing new songs in the same vein. Although sounding like traditional English folk songs, some of their material was in fact composed by Jones, such as The Ellan Vannin Tragedy and The Marco Polo. One of their best known songs, particularly in their native Liverpool, was in My Liverpool Home, written by Peter McGovern in 1962. Cliff Hall also introduced traditional Jamaican songs to their repertoire. One of their albums was called Not Quite Folk.[5]

They produced over forty albums, and made numerous concerts and TV appearances. In 1970, they were given their own television show on BBC One that ran for seven years. They also had their own show on BBC Radio 2. They retired in 1988, after thirty years together, although they led the community singing at the 1989 FA Cup Final and played some Christmas shows in the early 1990s. Mick and Hughie still occasionally perform,[6] although Cliff retired to Australia, where he died in 2008, and Tony died in 2017.[7][8]

Their version of the Ewan MacColl song, "Dirty Old Town", was included in the Terence Davies' 2008 memoir/documentary of Liverpool, Of Time and the City. A biography of the group 'Fried Bread and Brandy-O' (the title of their signature tune) was written by Liverpool journalist David Stuckey (with a foreword by Pete Seeger and an introduction from Deryck Guyler) to coincide with their 25th anniversary. It was published by Robson Books.

In 2009 The Liverpool Barrow Boys from Songs Spun in Liverpool was included in Topic Records 70-year anniversary boxed set Three Score and Ten as track 19 on the 6th CD.

Band members[edit]

  • Tony Davis (born Anthony John Davis, 24 August 1930, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, died 10 February 2017)[9]
  • Mick Groves (born 29 September 1936, Salford, Lancashire, England)
  • Cliff Hall (born Clifford Samuel Hall, 11 September 1925, Oriente Province, Cuba, died 26 June 2008, Adelaide, South Australia)[7]
  • Hughie Jones (born Hugh E. Jones, 28 July 1936, Liverpool, England)


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 520. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ Schofield, Derek (29 June 2008). "Obituary: Cliff Hall". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Mike Groves's web-site". Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  4. ^ Groves, Mick. "Mike Groves web-site". Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Bill Harry's Sixties". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  6. ^ Groves, Mick (2016). "Monthly Archives: May 2015". Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b "The Dead Rock Stars Club – January to June 2008". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  8. ^ Schofield, Derek (21 February 2017). "Tony Davis obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  9. ^ Kirkham, Jenny (14 February 2017). "Tributes paid to former Spinner and adopted Scouser Tony Davis". Retrieved 22 January 2018.