The Factotums (Audenshaw/Droylsden)

The Factotums story as remembered by Steve, Jeff and Andy


The Factotums were formed from two groups who were all pupils at Audenshaw Grammar School and the members were Nidge Thomas, Jeff Lees, Ian Thornton and Steve Knowles.

Initially, in common with a lot of groups at that time, the emphasis was on instrumental tunes like The Shadows, The Ventures and other groups of that style but in 1963 the trend changed and there was a big rise in vocal groups performing a mixture of rock and R & B songs of the fifties. It was decided that this was the direction that the group would take and many hours of practising a programme of songs were spent in the attic of Nidge’s home in Fairfield Square, Droylsden.

Within a very short period of time bookings were flooding in, initially from youth clubs, church halls, schools, dance halls, social clubs, sporting clubs and coffee bars within a ten mile radius of Droylsden and by the end of 1963 the date sheet was completely full with double bookings on many of the weekends.

On 13th December 1963 Barrie Collens (later to become the owner of The Top Twenty Club in Droylsden and Beat City in Manchester in partnership with Jimmy Savile) and Ray Teret (Radio Caroline DJ) went to see the group performing at Manor Road Girl’s School in Droylsden. The show had to be abandoned midway through the performance when the girls invaded the stage. However Barry had seen enough for him to want to manage the group. 

Residencies at two of Tommy Brown’s venues, Brown’s in Moston on Fridays and the Devils Cave in Newton Heath on Sundays, plus a lot of slots at The Southern Sporting Club where the manager, Frank Fean, had taken a shine to the group, helped the group to develop the stage act.

By the start of 1964 the group were playing at larger venues over a far bigger area.

The different types of venues meant that the programmes were adjusted accordingly between the beat club and cabaret venues.

On 1st March 1964 the group recorded two tracks “Sure Know A Lot About Love” (a cover of a Hollywood Argyles song) and another with an unknown title and origin (maybe a Ray Teret compostion) at Tony Pike’s studio in Putney, London.

Many agents such as Alan Arnison, Kennedy Street & Ian Hamilton in Manchester, the Terry Blood and Mike Llyod agency and the Chris Wainwright agency in Stoke, Peppermint Promotions in Liverpool, the Astra agency and Anderson agency in Wolverhampton, the George Cooper Agency and the Bron Agency in London passed on bookings which ensured the full date sheet continued and the booking fee was steadily rising.

Around the middle of 1964 Jeff, on arriving for a practice session, suggested doing more of a four part harmony approach to the act in the style of “The Beach Boys” whose first record release in England “I Get Around” was just in the shops and he was clutching a copy in his hand.

On hearing the record all were in agreement with the idea and the next few months were spent practising this style and learning many songs from imported “Surfing” and “Hot Rod” albums picked up during a trip to Imhof’s record store on Oxford Street in London (recommended by The Nashville Teens, being the shop where they heard in import of John D. Laudermilk’s “Tobacco Road”).

This new style went down very well as it was completely different to what the other groups were doing which resulted in more demand and further increases in booking fees.

At the end of 1964 the group bought a Mk 9 Jaguar to travel around in which used to belong to the Chief Constable of Lancashire and had the registration GTJ 999. The boys found it quite amusing that the local constabulary would stand and salute as they drove through many Lancashire towns, especially when it was followed by a puzzled look when the officers saw it was not who they expected in the car. It was also nice picking from the bunch of grapes that would hang from the handle of the sunroof.

Whilst appearing at Blackpool Tower on 6th March 1965 the group received a call from their manager Barrie Collens to return to play at an all night session at Beat City in Manchester as Rolling Stones’ manager and record producer Andrew Loog Oldham wanted to see the group. At 2.20am precisely Andrew and the Stones, who had been recording a live show in Liverpool, walked into the club and Ray Teret introduced the Factotums on stage. Before the first number, the Ivy League’s “In My Lonely Room” had ended, Andrew turned to Barry Collens and told him that he would like to record the group.

The next few months were very hectic with Andrew driving up to Manchester to see the group with his chauffeur and bodyguard Reg King trying to break the land speed record on each occasion. The group were also travelling down to London to the office at Ivor Court on Gloucester Place, just round the corner from Baker Street, to try to get the first recording underway. Andrew’s first task was to change the stage image of the group, getting rid of the suits and kitting everybody with more casual clothes on a trip to Lord Johns in Carnaby Street with his secretary at that time Chrissie Shrimpton (sister of Jean and also Mick Jagger’s girlfriend). The same day he had a hairdresser come round to the office for a drastic haircut session and then off to D.J. Alan Freeman’s flat on the Edgeware Road for a photo session.

The first session was at Pye No.1 Studio near Marble Arch on for Decca Records. The tracks recorded were “The Coldest Night Of The Year”, a Nino Tempo, April Stevens song and a song called “My Surfboard’s in Black”, with the words hastily written by Andrew on a visit to the toilet, midway through the session. The backing was a full orchestra with Big Jim Sullivan on the guitar producing some very nice licks on “My Surfboard’s in Black”.

As the vocals tracks were being recorded the studio door suddenly burst open and in walked Lionel Bart, complete with “Doctor Who” type floor length scarf and arms outstretched at the top of the stairs. After a short break the session continued.

Unfortunately soon after, Andrew had an argument with Decca over the release in America of “The Rolling Stones” first album where they had put an inferior version of “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” instead of the correct version. Andrew told Decca that no more of his artists would be recording on the Decca label and therefore the two tracks funded by Decca were never released and are probably still in their vaults.

Andrew then decided it was time to start his own label and Immediate Records (the UK’s first indie label) was born.

The next session was over two days at the “City Of London” recording studios where the facilities were not quite as grand as the Pye studios but it did have a good atmosphere. Several tracks were recorded at this session taken from the set that Andrew had seen the group perform back in March.

He decided that a good first release would be the initial number from the set, “In My Lonely Room”, a Carter-Lewis composition which had been the flip side of their single “Funny How Love Can Be”.

The B side of the record “A Run In A Green And Tangerine Flaked Forest” was an Andrew Oldham composition which was completely alien to the group but would have given Andrew a bigger bite of the cherry had the record become a hit. (a common practice among producers in those days). Nicky Hopkins was the piano player on the track.

Although the record sold well in the north of England and received some good reviews, even in the Times, it failed to make the charts.

The signing to Andrew reported by Jimmy Savile in his Sunday “News of The World” column in March again helped to boost the fee for the new bookings that were coming in and the release of the record on 21st October 1965 which was a “Pick To Click” on Radio Caroline North made the group even more in demand.

At the end of November the group were asked to attend for a recording session of a number that Andrew had just been given by Brian Wilson called “You’re So Good To Me”. On arriving at the office in London it was learned that Andrew had flown out to the States on some urgent Stones business and had left Denny Gerrard to look after things. A rehearsal room had been arranged and the group were played an acetate of “You’re So Good To Me” and were left to learn the song by ear for the recording session the next day.

The session took place at Advision Studios, 83 New Bond Street, London. W1. on Tuesday 23rd November 1965 and three tracks were recorded. “You’re So Good To Me”, “Bye, Bye Love” and the quickly learned Denny Gerrard composition “Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love”. Jimmy Page was in the studio at the time and laid down a 12 string guitar fill in “Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love”. It was felt that insufficient rehearsal time had been given to “You’re So Good To Me” and on Andrew’s return he agreed and arranged a new session at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes. Arthur Greenslade was on keyboard and Nicky Hopkins on harpsichord with Andrew doing the producing and Glynn Johns doing the engineering.

This version of “You’re So Good To Me” with “Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love” on the B side, was released on 21st January 1966 and was voted a hit on Alan Freeman’s “Top Ten Game”. The record received excellent press and went down really well with the fans at all the venues but failed to get the national airplay which was required to get a record in the charts. Andrew who was the driving force behind Immediate and the records promotion was paying his attention to the Stones and their rising popularity in the States and he was abroad more often than the UK. “You’re So Good To Me” was referred to in one publication as “the hit that never was”.

Around this time the group were regularly doing warm-ups at the BBC’s Dickinson Road Studios for “Top Of The Pops” which went out live. There was always the chance that if one of the groups due to appear on the show failed to turn up through adverse weather conditions or other travel problems that they could fill their place with their latest release.

Cynthia Gaisford, Andrew’s P.A. introduced the group to record producer and songwriter John Schroeder who was with Pye records and he expressed an interest in recording the group. (John was the producer of many hits on the Columbia Label for people like Cliff Richards and the Shadows, Tommy Bruce, The Avons), although many of them were attributed to Norrie Paramore the senior producer who had employed John as his assistant. He also wrote and produced the big hits for Helen Shapiro. Wanting to progress and have more say in matters John left Columbia to become head producer at Oriole Records and is the man responsible for bringing Tamla Motown to the UK. After having several hits on the Oriole label John was invited to join Pye Records by Louis Benjamin) At the end of the contract with Immediate the group switched over to Pye with John Schroeder who was given his own label within the company called Pye Piccadilly.

In March 1966 Ian left the group to be replaced by Andy Lynch.

The first session for Pye took place on 29th June 1966 at Pye No.1 studio and the tracks recorded were “Here Today” from the Pet Sounds album and “In My Room”, a number which was already used in the stage act.

The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” was a classic song that was used in the stage act and was always very well received. It took quite a while to rehearse and the group’s electrician, Stan Lord from Failsworth, built them a Theremin (Beat Frequency Oscillator) which produced the high pitched space like tone which is a feature at the end of the song. It always attracted a lot of interest when the road manager brought it on stage for the number.

The second Pye session took place at 4.30 pm on 26th August 1966 in Pye No.1 studio. The tracks recorded were “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Absolute Sweet Marie”. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” had not been planned for recording and came about when the group were doing a sound check in the studio and having a bit of fun with John and engineer Alan Florence in the control room. John and Alan fell about laughing and John decided that it should come out as the A side and “Absolutely Sweet Marie” off Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album as the B side. The record was released on 4th November 1966.

That same day Steve had arrived at the studio early at midday to meet up with friend Klaus Voormann. Klaus, who was joining Manfred Mann had to cancel at the last minute and left a message at the studio asking Steve to contact Derek Taylor at Nems. On phoning Derek Taylor, Steve was asked if he would like to join the Moody Blues, a position which Klaus had rejected because he was joining Manfred Mann but the offer was turned down as he was happy where he was. With time to kill until the 4.30 session Steve walked into studio 1 to see if the roadies had arrived and was met by Chris Curtis (ex Searchers drummer). Chris had wanted to record a follow up to his solo hit “Aggravation” and had chosen a song called “Baby You Don’t Have To Tell Me” which he liked. Unfortunately he found out that the Walker Brothers had just recorded it but wanted to finish it anyway as it was his birthday. He asked Steve to do the producing while he put the vocal tracks down and after the session gave him a copy of the acetate. The acetate turned up again in 2005 and the song was released on the album “Unearthed Merseybeat Vol.3” on the Viper label some forty years later and unfortunately just after Chris had died.

On returning from a hectic two week Scandinavian tour and a three date gig in Holland the third session took place on 11th October 1966 in Pye No.2 studio. The tracks recorded were “New York’s A Lonely Town”, “The Tracks Of My Tears” and “You Still Believe In Me”.

The heavy date sheet for the next few months made it difficult getting back into the studio until 11th May 1967 when the group recorded a Goffin & King song “Sometime In The Morning” that John had sent up on an acetate for the boys to learn in April. The track was recorded in Pye studio 1 with Nidge’s sister, Veronica playing the piano part. The B side was a John Schroeder composition learned during the session itself with John adding the madcap high pitched vocal bits.

The record actually came out under the name “Barley Bree” on 29th July 1967 and again whilst getting some favourable write-ups and radio plays failed to make a real impact. Record royalties were however coming in from the Pye releases around the world which was nice to see as none had ever been received from the Immediate label releases.

The next Pye session was in studio 1 on 10th & 11th July 1967 with the backing arranged and conducted by Alan Tew. A full orchestra was used with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame on bass guitar. The songs recorded were Paul Simon’s “Cloudy”, Jimmy Webb’s “Pattern People” and “I Guess I’ll Learn How To Fly” from the Fifth Dimension classic album “The Magic Garden” and a new song written by Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett “Easy Said, Easy Done”.

The results of this session were the single “Cloudy” coupled with “Easy Said, Easy Done” being released on 21st October 1967. Again, although the record was released worldwide, there was no significant chart success which in the pop business is what matters and what groups are remembered for.

At the end of the second year at Pye it was decided to try a fresh start and Klaus Voormann provided the direction by telling Steve that Manfred Mann guitarist Tom McGuiness was interested in doing some record production. After a meeting with Tom on 29th March 1968 at Acton Town Hall where the group were playing, they were more than happy to go along with Tom’s ideas and directions. After a few visits by Tom to Manchester several tunes were worked on and eventually three songs, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Mr. And Mrs. Regards”, Manchester songwriters Andy Veal and John Marsh’s song “Driftwood” and a song entitled “Take Me Away To The Sunshine” were chosen.

Again heavy work commitment in the UK with tours of Sweden, Holland and a five week stint at the new Casino complex in Portugal’s well known resort Estoril, delayed the first recording session with Tom until 27th August 1968 at Olympic Sound Studios. The Estoril gig actually gave the group the first holiday that they had been able to take for about four years. Although they were working for about an hour and a half each night they were able to lounge about in the sun all day without having to travel anywhere. The other acts on the show were also lots of fun to be with, Liverpool’s Fourmost , the Bluebell Girls from Paris and Eduardo Nascimento (Portugal’s Cliff Richard) helped make it a memorable relaxing time.

Further recording sessions took place with Tom trying to get the group away from the Beach Boys image that they had been given and a new and fuller sound was emerging in the studio.

  • 5th September 1968 the vocal tracks were laid down for “Driftwood” at Olympic Sound.
  • 2nd January 1969 at Pye Studio No.1 the backing and lead vocals for “Mr. And Mrs. Regards” were recorded.
  • 22nd January 1969 the backing vocal tracks were recorded for “Mr. And Mrs. Regards” again at Pye studio No.1.

“Mr. And Mrs. Regards” coupled with “Driftwood” was released on CBS on 11th April 1969

With a day off on 6th March 1969 the group were about to start rehearsals in the morning when they received a telephone call from Kevin Donovan at The Place in Hanley (a regular venue over the years). He asked if the group would help him out by doing a spot that night and also backing Billy J.Kramer who was booked to appear but found himself without his backing group. A bigger rehearsal than had been planned in the morning was carried out in the afternoon and fourteen songs were learned in a couple of hours rehearsal with Billy and performed that evening.

On 20th June 1969 the group were back in the Pye studios recording a follow up to “Mr. And Mrs. Regards”. Tom had come up with a James Taylor song “Something In The Way She Moves” which was decided to be the next A side. The track was completed on 15th July 1969 in Pye studio 2 but remained unreleased.

In September 1969 it was decided to disband the group as it was felt that without the hit record the group would just continue at the same level and it was also noted that lots of the venues that had provided regular work like Mecca and Top Rank dancehalls were closing down, converting to discos and bingo halls.



1.) In My Lonely Room/Run In The Green And Tangerine Flaked Forest (Immediate IM009) Released on 1st October 1965.
2.) You’re So Good To Me/Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love (Immediate IM022) Released on 21st January 1966.
3.) Here Today/In My Room (Pye Piccadilly 7N 35333) Released on 15th July 1966. Released in Europe on the Pye label. Released in Australia on the Astor label AP1221
4.) I Can’t Give You Anything But Love/Absolutely Sweet Marie (Pye Piccadilly 7N 35355) Released on 4th November 1966. Released in Europe on the Pye label. (in Germany with a picture sleeve. HT300049) Released in Australia on the Astor label AP1327
5.) Sometime In The Morning/ Save Your Love (Pye 7N 35393) Released on 29th July 1967.
6.) Cloudy/Easy Said, Easy Done (Pye 7N 17402) Released on 21st October 1967. Released in Europe on the Pye label Released in Australia on the Astor label AP 1431
7.) Mr. and Mrs. Regards/ Driftwood (C.B.S. 4140) Released 11th April 1969


  • Quick Before They Catch Us (Sequel NEX CD 108) 1990 UK. Here Today
  • The Immediate Alternative (Sequel NEX CD 110) 1990 UK. In My Lonely Room/Run In The Green And Tangerine Flaked Forest.
  • The Immediate Record Company Anthology 3CD Box Set ( Dojo DO BOX 1) 1991 UK.
  • British Beat Anthology Volume 3 (PRT Records TECP 25667) 1991 Japan. Here Today.
  • Pictures In The Sky (Demon Records DO CD 1997) 1991 UK. Cloudy.
  • The Immediate Singles Collection Volume 2 (Sony Music AK 46994) 1991 USA. You’re So Good To Me.
  • Look At The Sunshine. Ripples Volume 1 (Sequel NEMCD 426) 1998 UK. Here Today.
  • Dream Time. Ripples Volume 2 (Sequel NEMCD 427) 1998 UK. In My Room/ Sometime In The Morning/ Easy Said, Easy Done
  • The Autumn Almanac. Ripples Volume 3 (Sequel NEMCD 454) 1999 UK. Cloudy.
  • Jingle Jangle Morning. Ripples Volume 6 (Sequel NEMCD 388) 2000 UK. Absolutely Sweet Marie.
  • The Immediate Singles Collection. 6 CD Box Set (Sequel NXTCD 324) 2000 UK. In My Lonely Room/Run In The Green And Tangerine Flaked Forest/ You’re So Good To Me/Can’t
  • Go Home Anymore My Love.
  • Jimmy Page And His Heavy Friends. (Sequel NEECD 486) 2000 UK. Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love.
  • The Songs Of Goffin And King. (Sequel NEMCD 376) 2000 UK. Sometime In The Morning.
  • Immediate Blitz Of Hits. 2 CD Bookset (Charly CDBOOK 101) 2000 UK. In My Lonely Room/Run In The Green And Tangerine Flaked Forest.
  • Pop Goes Immediate, 2 CD Bookset (Charly CDBOOK 102) 2000 UK. You’re So Good To Me/ Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love
  • Jump And Dance. Volume 2 (Sequel CMRCD 097) 2001 UK. Save Your Love
  • The Beat Era. Volume 1 (PCR Records PCR 141) 2001 Germany. Here Today.
  • The Songs Of Bob Dylan (Sequel CMRCD261) 2001 UK. Absolutely Sweet Marie.
  • The Songs Of The Beach Boys. (Sequel CMRCD 295) 2002 UK. You’re So Good To Me/ Here Today/In My Room
  • The Jimmy Page Collection (Fuel 2000 302 0612912) 2003 USA. Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love.
  • 1996 The Soundtrack (Castle Music CMEDO 705) 2003 UK. You’re So Good To Me.
  • Jimmy Page And Friends. (Atom Music ATOM 2048) 2006 Germany. Can’t Go Home Anymore My Love.





  • ROUTE 66
  • STAY


  • FUN, FUN, FUN.
  • UP, UP & AWAY

BILLY J. KRAMER SET (6th March 1969)

  • HUSH


The Jungfrau. A great little cellar club venue in Back Cathedral Street in the Corn Exchange building excellently run and created by Alan Brooks who had been a joinery teacher at a school in East Manchester. The interior was timber built like a Swiss chalet which helped with the acoustics. I can’t remember how many gigs we did there but it was a lot. It was always packed (as were most coffee bar clubs at that time) and one xmas gig we did there our act had to be cancelled half way through as the condensation in the atmosphere had caused the P.A. to become live and we were getting shocks every time we touched the mikes.

The Oasis. Another great venue where we played on numerous occasions, quite often doubling up with Tony Stuart’s other venue at Warmington Country Club. The main deejay there was Phil Woodbine (Phil Cooper) who later was to become one of the directors of Island Records.

The Devil’s Cave. Located at 1220, Oldham Road in Newton Heath this was one of Tommy Brown’s venues which he ran with his wife Jackie. The stage was the smallest that we have ever played on and you had to balance on the space in front of the amps to prevent falling into the audience. In late 1963 we played regular Sunday’s at the club and also Fridays at Browns Teenbeat Club, Ben Brierley in Moston. (One of their other dance schools)

The New Century Hall. A great Manchester Saturday night venue which was another of our regular gigs, run very well by Ricky Dixon and Mr.Betesch senior. Excellent comfortable dressing rooms backstage with a little side room or cupboard which allowed access to the operation of the water closets in the adjoining toilet facilities. Once it was established which compartment a fellow artist had entered it was found quite funny to prematurely flush the toilet whilst the victim was in the sitting position, Rod Stewart being one such victim. Another gig had Ricky Dixon jumping up and down backstage as Jerry Lee Lewis was due on stage and hadn’t arrived. At the last minute Jerry Lee arrived surrounded by his entourage, walking through the front entrance and concert hall straight to the side of the stage where he peeled off his overcoat, stubbed out his cigar and waited to be announced on stage. Red faced Ricky was still mad and having a go at Jerry Lee who was completely unconcerned and looking in the other direction. He then went on stage and performed as only he could, leaving the grand piano smoking.

Beat City (The Three Coins). Originally run by Kennedy Street as The Three Coins the venue was taken over by Barrie Collens around the middle of 1964 when it change it’s name to Beat City. We played there every Monday night throughout 1964 and early 1965 unless we were booked at another venue. (We played at Barrie’s other venue The Top Twenty Club in Droylsden on Tuesday nights with a similar arrangement.) Beat City was another coffee bar cellar club comprising of a long narrow room with the stage at the far end which was excellent for acoustics.

The Southern Sporting Club. Located just off Hyde Road in Gorton virtually opposite the entrance to Belle Vue Speedway was this nightspot which I remember looking like a converted cinema. We played there initially around October 1963 and the manager Frank Fean took a shine to us, not only giving us a lot of bookings at the club but also passing our name on to other club managers. Jeff remembers The Bachelors being top of the bill one night and arguing like mad in the dressing room but minutes later being on stage all smiles going through their repertoire. I remember coming off stage to be met by Gerry Dorsey asking me what the audience were like as he waited in the wings to be announced on stage. It’s strange seeing him now so full of confidence on stage in Las Vegas, I wonder if he still thinks about The Southern Sporting Club?

The Domino and The Princess Clubs. They must have been owned by the same people as we always seemed to double at the two clubs and they used to advertise together. The Domino was a converted cinema on Grey Mare Lane, Openshaw and the Princess a similar club on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton.


The Ian Hamilton Organisation. Without doubt the best Manchester booking agent that we had was Ian Hamilton from his first floor office in Kennedy Street, just off Fountain Street. Initially he had Roy Williams working with him and was later joined by Chris Wright, who had been a student at Manchester University doing business studies and went on to become a partner in Chrysalis Records in 1967.

Ian Hamilton himself was a smashing guy with a good sense of humour as we found out when he accompanied us to some gigs in Holland where he wanted to meet up with Dutch agent Jan Vis. Ian always kept the date-sheet full, never gave us any problems holding fees back (as a lot of agents were known for) and was helpful in promoting the group, taking the group photos and having promotion handouts printed.

Ian, I understand, moved to Australia and married Lynn out of the Caravelles who went on to write the theme tune for Prisoner Cell Block H.

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