The Concords (Leigh)

The original concept of the Concords was the brainchild of two cornet players, John Doward and Steve Corcoran, who played with Leigh Silver Band in the late 50s to early 60s. The boys were keen to try a more modern form of music.

Steve was to be the vocalist and John would be a guitarist. A meeting was arranged to enlist the help of drummer Billy Maudslay and guitarist Jem Yates at Billy’s fathers’ butchers shop in Railway Road, Leigh in early 1962. A rehearsal was arranged the following week which showed that a lot of practice would be required to bring the group up to an acceptable standard.

A short time later, Steve and Jem left, replaced by Bernard Hatton (lead) and Melvin Doncaster (rhythm) – the group playing mainly instrumentals by the Ventures and Shadows.

In 1963, as the group got better, they decided to appoint a manager to obtain bookings for them. The job was filled by Billy’s father, Bill Snr, who was keen to promote the group. He also allowed the group to use the cellar under his butchers shop for rehearsals, which was a godsend.

As the groups’ repertoire was mainly instrumentals, the decision was taken to find a vocalist to perform the songs which were now taking priority over the instrumentals. After several auditions, the job was offered to Terry Bold. 

Both the guitarists used Solid guitars, which when played through a Watkins copycat Echo unit, plugged into a Vox Ac 30 amp, made a most acceptable sound. At this stage, John Doward switched to bass and purchased a Rosetti Bass 7 guitar from John Shinns’ music shop in Leigh, which cost £27.

The first booking with this line-up was at Hilda Street Youth Club in Leigh in early ’63 and was a great success. The group now had many high status bookings, including a week at the Garrick Club, supporting “Mandy Rice Davies” from the Profumo Scandal. The group were paid £25 between them.

The group played many of the venues in the Manchester area, supporting many of the big names of the time: Roy Orbison, PJ Proby, Sounds Incorporated, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, Sandy Shaw and Lulu.

By mid 64 the group was playing on average 3 – 4 nights a week and rehearsing one night per week and Sunday afternoons. As the demand on the group members’ time was now taking its toll, Melvin and Terry announced they were leaving the group, due to personal and work commitments. 

Melvin was replaced by “Boy Wonder” Bernard Southern, who at this time was only 15 or 16 years old. Bernard had left the Pressmen with whom he had played lead guitar from age of 14. Bernard needed to earn money to pay for his new short scale Rickenbacker guitar, replacing his Watkins Rapier. Bernard’s playing was incredible and he could also play every instrument in the group when required, with equal efficiency. He also handled the vocals together with John. The group continued with this line up and did many memorable gigs into 1966. In 1966 the group was probably at the peak of its performance when Bernard Hatton left to get engaged.

To replace him, John and Bernard Southern wanted to bring in Colin Foster, an old colleague and friend who played excellent rhythm guitar and hailed from St Helens. Colin had known John from when they attended St Helens College together and were on the same wave length. Colin would play more chord sharps than a guitar tutor book and was also a good singer and harmoniser.

However, Bill the manager brought in an organist called Ron, who worked in Shinns’ music shop in Leigh. Although Ron could play the organ and owned a Farfisa Compact, he was from another planet. Bill insisted that Ron would be good for the groups “cabaret image”. Ron was quite a bit older than the other members of the group, but was a nice guy. But Bills’ decision did not go down well with John and Bernard who were more soul/blues/rock inspired. 

The group still performed at many memorable high profile gigs, but a division was beginning to form as to the direction the group should take as regards the type of music played and the type of bookings they should perform at.

Bernard and John wanted to play more soul and blues music, whilst manager Bill did not like the idea and steered the group towards the cabaret circuit.

One venue the group played at on a regular basis when not on the cabaret circuit, is worthy of a mention. This was The Fusiliers on Cross Lane, Salford - a noted trouble spot. The landlord Dave was not a big man but was an expert at evicting trouble makers. The tell tale sign that an eviction was about to take place was Dave removing his glasses. On one occasion he had evicted a trouble maker and a few minutes later all the glass in the revolving doors was shattered. The man who had been evicted had obtained a shotgun and had blown all the windows out of the door. Luckily no one was using the door at the time!

On another memorable Saturday night, Manchester United had played Liverpool at Old Trafford. After the match, a coach load of scousers had stopped at the pub for a drink before returning home. They had been in the pub for a couple of hours when the regulars started to arrive to find their usual seats had been taken by the visitors, which did not go down too well with them. On one side of the concert room were approximately 50 scousers and on the other side were the regulars and visitors who had promised to help out.

The group began playing at 8pm and performed a couple of Beatles songs at the request of the scousers. The next two songs were requested by the Manchester crowd and were hits by the Hollies. The scousers then requested ‘I Like It’ by Gerry and the Pacemakers. This game of intimidation continued for a while until one side launched a loaded pint glass across the room, which hit one of the regulars on the head. This triggered off a chain reaction, and before long, glasses, tables and chairs were flying in all directions. The scene was reminiscent of a Wild West bar.

After a struggle which seemed to go on forever, Dave managed to restore order by evicting the scousers with help from the police. The pub was then closed at 9pm for the night to clean up the broken class and furniture. By some miracle none of the amplifiers on equipment was damaged and the pub was open for business by lunch time the following day.

The final crunch for this line up of The Concords came on the 18th April 1966 when the group played support band to Dusty Springfield at Bolton Casino. Bill, the manager, had a list of songs which Dusty was to perform. On this list was ‘Dancing in the Street’. This song was on the usual repertoire of the Concords and Bill told the group not to perform this song and leave it for Dusty to sing. However, for some reason before Dusty came on stage, Bernard announced the next song would be ‘Dancing in the Street’, which meant Dusty would be one song short in her performance.

After the concert, Bill paid off Bernard and John and told them their time with the Concords was terminated.

John Doward

A couple of days after the Bolton Casino incident, Colin Foster, along with John and Bernard met up for a drink at ‘The Railway Hotel’ in Leigh, to work out a scenario that would satisfy all parties. But with names like John Willie and Tony Owen slipping into the conversation, the scent of ‘Night Train’ was in the air and it soon became obvious that there was only ever going to be one outcome!

Unless Colin could pull a ‘sax’ out from under the table and play ‘Hoots Mon’ all the way through without making any mistakes, then it was a case of ‘Good Night Camper’ for the lads from St. Helens! 

The three lads parted company in ‘Good Spirits’ and Colin wasted no time in contacting his old ‘Group 3’ partner, ‘Barry Taylor’ from St. Helens.

Barry was a good looking lad, an excellent singer and an accomplished rhythm guitarist. 

All of which was quickly acknowledged by the Concord's manager and a crash course on becoming a ‘Concord’ was soon under way.

A couple of gentle venues to get the lad going would have been nice, but life under ‘Bill Mawdsley Senior’ just wasn’t like that. The group said they were ready – the manager began to manage!

Consequently, just three weeks after John and Bernard had left, the group, an act that had never stood on stage together, found themselves setting their gear up behind huge red velvet curtains on one of the most prestigious stages in the North West - just feet away from a highly knowledgeable audience that didn’t take prisoners and had just buried the previous act.

For the new Concords debut, ‘The Domino Club’ in Manchester was nothing short of being thrown to the lions! That was the least of their problems. Down the cellar the absence of Johnny Doward's bass playing was not an issue, with Ronny’s keyboard pedals proving more than adequate.

However, in this aircraft hanger somewhere in the suburbs of Manchester, it was to be a different story.

Just to compound matters, a brilliant group from Sweden called ‘The Bumble Bees’, just happened to be top of the bill. The night was quite simply – a disaster!

At the stewards inquiry, it was decided that ‘The Concords’ in their present form were not viable, and were disbanded with immediate effect. And with very little ceremony.

In fact the lads all grew six inches taller.

One good thing to come out of ‘The Concords’ last stand, was the fact that Colin and Barry had been reunited, and together with friend and bass player ‘Andy Tither’ (whose best mate Graham just happened to be a drummer). The four lads embarked on several months of intense rehearsing, only to be rewarded with just one booking! A Sunday lunchtime session at ‘Clock Face Labour Club’, where the venue quickly turned into a ‘Battle of Wills’ with the Bingo! The lads eventually having to accept defeat.

It was a difficult time for ‘The Pattern’, as they called themselves. The answer of course was staring everyone in the face. All the elements were there. It was just that they desperately needed a manager. You didn’t need a Philadelphia lawyer to work out what their next move was going to be.

Unfortunately, there was one drummer too many in the equation – it was not the happiest of board meetings!

Back in Leigh ‘The Concords’ manager was still reeling from ‘The Domino Fiasco’ and didn’t exactly welcome the trio from St. Helens with open arms! But young Bill was up for it and to the managers credit, he was eventually persuaded to come out of retirement.

The New Concords

In no time at all ‘The New Concords’ were back doing the rounds, and fired with renewed enthusiasm. The work load was incredible, and included being support act to some of the most famous faces around at that time: The Drifters – The Ivy League – Billy Fury – Marty Wilde – Wayne Fontana – and many more.

Twelve months down the road however, on the 22nd April 1967, circumstances unrelated to the group were to herald another change! Colin and Barry left the group leaving Bill and Andy with the unenviable task of holding auditions for replacements.

On the 17th July 1967 ‘Andy’s Concords’ comprised of Andy, Bill, Roy Jorgenson and Geoff Parr. The group, by now, was so well organised that any transfer of personnel was little more than a blip, and business was not affected!

Andy’s Concords

Andy’s Concords were to be the last credible line up, and ran until the 13th March 1968, when Roy Jorgensen left and was replaced with a lad from Bolton called Adrien Fildes.
But the group split up shortly after that and ‘The Concords’ disbanded for good!

Young Bill holds the distinction of being the only group member to be involved in all of ‘The Concords’ line up’s, from conception in early 1962 to their final booking on the 19th May 1968.

Colin Foster
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