Sabres / Hammers (St Helens) 

1962 - 1964
For more info - see The Magic Lanterns and Harmony Street

Line Up included 

  • Maurice Tickle - vocals
  • Peter Bond - lead guitar
  • Ken Hobin - rhythm guitar
  • Ian Moncur - bass
  • Allan Wilson - drums
  • Gerald Blackman - lead guitar
  • Jimmy Bilsbury - vocals

A couple of schoolmates and I bought guitars and tried to copy the Lonnie Donegan skiffle era of the late 1950s. Later we aquired better gear and started to practice the Shadows music, I copying the bass playing of Jet Harris note for note. All we were doing was playing youth clubs getting nowhere and interest started to dwindle. Soon my schoolmates lost interest and music came to a stop.

The lad who sang with us, on a night out got up on stage with a band from St. Helens, they liked him so much he was asked if he would join them on a regular basis.

A few months passed by and my mate said he was doing well getting proper gigs doing local dance halls and pubs. Some time later he told me their bass player was not happy and wanted to leave the group. At this time I was introduced to them, and was so happy to get through the audition.

It was 1963, Please Please Me by the Beatles was high on our playing list, and we had started rehearsing their new single From Me To You.

Another year went by and we saw some personnel changes, Our lead guitarist Peter Bond was replaced by Gerald Blackman from Leigh, then Ken Hobin our rhythm guitarist left the group, My old mate Maurice Tickle the singer, was replaced by Jimmy Bilsbury also from Leigh, formerly with the Beat Boys (Ronnie Carr's men).

So now we were four piece, Allan Wilson on drums, Gerry Blackman Lead, Jim Bilsbury vocals, and myself on bass.

About a year later, we had a name change to the 'Hammers'. We played all the venues in the North West dance halls, clubs and some pubs. Then came another change, Gerry Blackman left the band and was replaced by Peter Shoesmith.

It was about this time 1965-66 that we played one of the biggest clubs in our area, called the 'Garrick'. Here we met a singer-compere Roy Hastings, he liked some of our songs and offered to take a demo disc to his publisher in London.

We were over the moon when we found the songs had been accepted. Our trip to London to meet our publisher, new management deals were set up. And another new name 'The Magic Lanterns'. That was it, we were signed up. 

The new song 'Excuse me Baby' was given to us to rehearse, went back to London to record it, and it was released on the CBS label, It was given a lot of air time on the then 'Radio Caroline' reaching No.1 on its 'sureshot' chart.

The record got up to No. 44 in the NME national chart. which wasn't bad for an unknown group

The Sabres (St. Helens) must not be confused with the Manchester band of the same name, which drummer Kevin Godley (10cc) and later Godley & Creme, played.

Ian Moncur 

The original Sabres started in St.Helens in 1961.Founding members were Pete Bond, Allan Wilson & Ken Hobin. Maurice Tickle & Ian Moncur joined in 1962 and Vince Reno & the Sabres were born.This October the guys will be having their 50th year re union and will play at Lankykats (Unity club,Standish ,Wigan). on Oct 18th. A rockin' good time will be had.

Ken Hobin - 15/9/12

The Sabres / Vince Reno and the Sabres  

Line-up #1 

  • Richard Ashton  - lead vocals
  • Kenny Lilley - lead vocals 
  • Pete Bond - lead guitar, vocals
  • Ken Hobin - rhythm guitar 
  • Derek Jolly - bass
  • Allan John Wilson - drums 

Line-up #2 

  • Vince Reno - (Maurice Tickle) lead vocals 
  • Pete Bond - (Gerry Blackman) lead guitar, vocals 
  • Ken Hobin - rhythm guitar 
  • Ian James Moncur - bass (Burns Sonic) 
  • Allan Wilson - drums 

The Sabres formed in 1961 in St Helen's, Lancashire with a line-up of Richard Ashton on lead vocals, Kenny Lilley on lead vocals (b. Kenneth Lilley), Pete Bond on lead guitar, vocals (b. Gerry Blackman), Ken Hobin on rhythm guitar (b. Kenneth Hobin), Derek Jolly on bass (b. d. RIP) and Allan Wilson on drums (b. Allan John Wilson, 1945, St Helens, Lancashire, UK). 

In late 1961 saw a line-up change with Ashton and Lilley leaving and being replaced by lead vocalist Vince Reno (b. Maurice Tickle, 1945). One night Reno did a singing spot, he stood in, he got up at The Lupro in Ashton, Lancashire and sang one song. He enjoyed it so much that the band asked him to join. Then Reno recommened his friend Ian Moncur (b. Ian James Moncur, 1945, 72 Stone Cross Lane, Lowton, near Leigh, Lancashire, UK) to be the new bassist as Jolly was not very good. He was not happy and wanted to leave. Reno had been in Moncur's first band. 

The band also changed their name to Vince Reno and the Sabres as they wanted to avoid confusion with a band from Liverpool called Denny Seyton and the Sabres.

The Sabres played locally around Leigh, Burtonwood American Airbase, Manchester and Liverpool. They would play the local ballrooms, like The Casino in Leigh, Lancashire, The Monaco, Hindley, Lancashire, The Co-op Ballroom in Leigh, The Co-op Ballroom in St Helens and The Co-op Ballroom in Warrington, Lancashire. They also played at the famous Cavern Club at 8 - 10 Mathew Street, Liverpool 1, with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and The Hollies. 

Moncur had started work in 1960 and later bought a small bass, a Burns Sonic.

John H. Warburg - 4/8/14
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