The story goes that Decca turned down The Beatles and signed Brian Poole and The Tremeloes instead.
And it’s a good story, but Brian is happy to point out that the truth was actually a little more complicated than that.
“We were doing backing vocals for Decca, for EMI and for lots of other companies,” recalls Brian, who is currently on the road with the ’60s Gold Tour 2014.
“We were a vocal group, and when Decca realised that, they asked us to come in. We played our own music, but we had also learnt three-part vocal. We did backing for people that were in the charts just before us, people like Tommy Steele. We also did backing for some of the Americans that were coming over and were in the charts just before us.
“So when it came to our time to go and audition for Decca, they already knew us. When The Beatles came in and auditioned, unfortunately they did lots of weird songs. They did cover versions of things like ‘My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean’, old, old ’40s songs. I just don’t think that it worked. We went in and did our usual thing, which was just playing rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what we were.”
And so it was The Tremeloes that were signed.
“I didn’t know why at the time they didn’t pass. They were doing all the dance halls, the same as we were. But on radio I later spoke to George Martin (The Beatles’ producer), and he said to me ‘Brian, you have got to realise that they had just come back from Germany, and nobody realised at the time what a massive deal they were.’ Even he didn’t know how fantastic they were. They just didn’t do the right songs that day. They were the best song-writers in the world, and they still are, but I am proud that we beat them just that one day!”
Another little victory came later when Brian and his band became the first British band to knock The Beatles off the number-one spot when The Tremeloes’ ‘Do You Love Me’ edged out ‘She Loves You’. Another little victory came when The Tremeloes and The Beatles, both having discovered the song ‘Twist and Shout’, raced up the charts with it on an EP. Again, the Tremeloes won – just!
But the pleasure was purely that The Beatles, as far as Brian was concerned, were and are the absolute best, the very finest from a terrific decade.
“All the fashion places started then, and most of them were in London, and lots of the TV shows like Ready Steady Go were in London. You had the connection between the fashions and the music, and you have got to remember that the American air force had only just left Great Britain by then. There were 30 or 40 of them. They were young men. They were 18 or 20, not much older than we were, and they took the music back with them.
“But there were just so many places to play in this country. There were dance halls everywhere. There were lots of places around London, just lots and lots, and they were lovely places to play. There was so much happening.
“That era represents the first time that lots of things that were being done had actually been done. We started very early. We started in 1957. Two of us were doing A levels. We were determined to complete them and get a university place, but then suddenly this came along and we decided we were going to be in a band. It was so great for us. What you have to understand was that everything was connected, the fashion, the music, everything.
The ’60s Gold Tour 2014 brings together Gerry & The Pacemakers, P J Proby, The Fortunes and Brian Poole and Chip Hawkes. They play The Hawth, Crawley, on Saturday, November 29.