Toby Twirl

info courtesy John Reed 

Line-up included

  • Dave ‘Holly’ Holland - vocals
  • Barrie Sewell - keyboard
  • Nick Thorburn - guitar
  • John Reed - drums
  • Stuart Somerville - bass
  • Steve Pickering - vocals (replaced Dave)
  • Rich McConnell - drums 

The original members, Barrie Sewell (keyboard), Nick Thorburn (guitar), Stuart Somerville (bass), Dave ‘Holly’ Holland (vocals) and John Reed (drums) all hailed from the North East and played extensively in the North West from 1969 until 1971 when the group eventually disbanded.

A very popular close harmony group incorporating comedy, they performed regularly at the Princess and Domino Clubs, The Embassy, Bolton, Burnley and Leigh Casinos and Poco A Poco in Stockport to name but a few. The group would also record several times at the BBC Playhouse studios several tracks in a three hour session which would subsequently be broadcast on the fledgling Radio 1.

There was a good camaraderie amongst the groups at the time, and the clubs seemed to be full every night. The famous ‘doubles’ were always fun when you would play a 10pm spot in one club and then drive somewhere to the other side of town to do a midnight show. The Princess and Domino Clubs were two such places which adopted this system.

Dave Holland left the band in late 1969 and was replaced by Steve Pickering who had established a reputation in the North West under the name Reg James. 


A funny story when we were playing the Kingsway Casino in Stockport. On Sundays, the Casino was closed and the owner had a bingo hall which was once a cinema. He used to put the acts booked at the Casino on at the bingo hall on Sunday nights. The stage was very large and being on drums was towards the back of the stage.

We were half way through our act when suddenly the audience (mostly pensioners) got out of their seats and started to run towards the stage. I thought we were going to get invaded, was this Saga Mania?

Being at the back of the stage I hadn't seen the Bingo Hall staff emerge into what had been the orchestra pit at the front of the stage and start serving free pies and peas which were included in the price of admission.

The term 'Pies have come' certainly had a new meaning from that moment on.

John Reed

Hi! This is Dave Holland (holly) once the lead singer with Toby Twirl. It is great to see old photos of the group. the memories come flowing back.

My wife and I are currently running a pub in my home town of Blyth Northumberland and would love to hear from anyone from the fabulous days of the sixties and would appreciate any old photos.

Dave Holland

Hi - I was lead guitar in the band. Just discovered the site.

I'm living in Tynemouth now and have been retired for over two years. We were a good band and probably deserved better. When I listen to some of the 45s that made the charts at the same time we were recording I find it hard to believe we didn't make it. But it's luck of the draw and we had an absolutely fantastic time trying.

I keep in touch with all of the boys on line, although I haven't been able to contact Holly. I've been onto his email address at the ' Joiners' Pub but haven't had a reply. If you read this Holly drop me a line. Will write again if any new info pops up

PS I haven't got the originals of any of our records - if anyone knows how I can get them to upload onto my ipod iwould be very greatful.

Nick Thorburn - 23/2/09 

Despite what you read, I was the original drummer with Toby Twirl and the Shades of Blue, before that. Have kept in touch with Holly but unable to find rest of the band. Nick, if you read this, please get in touch. Mob. 07881 934846 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Hope to hear from you soon.

Richie - 26/4/11

Hi Nicky, we'll have to enjoy another pint in Tynemouth sometime, when I can lend you an original 45 of Back in Time/Harry Faversham to put on your ipod?

Dropped in to see Hollie at the Joiners a while ago (probably a few years ago??) a pleasant chat although he was running the pub during our visit so the conversation was a bit short?

Jim Routledge - original drummer with The Shades of Blue - 22/8/11

Nicky, If you read this in time can you get in touch.(email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07881934846) I'm having my 65th birthday party at Shiremoor Social Club on Sat 13th October 2012. I'm presently playing drums in a north London band 'Simply Vintage'. We're coming up to Newcastle for my birthday weekend and playing at Shiremoor Club on the Saturday night. Holly has already agreed to join us for a few numbers on the night, and it would be terrific if you could join us too.

If anyone reading this knows Nicky's whereabouts or email etc etc can you either pass this message on or let me know. It would be tremendous to have 3 of the original 'Toby Twirl' together again on stage.

Rich Mc Connell - 4/2/12

Met up with the lads from Toby Twirl . Hadn't seen John Reed for over fourty years. It was like old times - Barry, Nick and John and myself and Stu was there in spirit (god bless). The humour was still the same and the memories came flowing out. See we have been given an article in Shindig in the near future, that should be interesting.

Holly - 14/2/12

God this takes me back, Shades of Blue, Toby Twirl, the Urge,,etc etc, The north east music scene was buzzing at that time. I remember you all,, including Jim the original drummer. I bumped into Holly in the 80's in Joplings in Sunderland. The last time I saw you on stage was at the Blackburn Cavendish where I was working at the time, I believe you stayed in out flat that week. I'm still in touch with a few people from Blackburn, including Sid Stewart and Twiggy Sue.

I have been living here in the Algarve since 1993, would love to hear from some one.x

PS Long live Harry Faversham,,,in those days we all had our fantasies,,lolx

Liz - 18/4/12

Hi all at Manchesterbeat, the lads from Toby Twirl had a reunion recently in Gosforth. The banter was brilliant and the humour was still there after many years. Manchester was a topic of conversation, the clubs the digs and the great fans who made us geordies welcome in that area.

Can you remember our great road manager Colin Hart . He moved on to bigger things and ended up being tour manager for Deep Purple, well he has just visited the north east from his home in Florida. Colin has writetn a fantastic book on his experiences as a road manager . It was lovely seeing him after 40 years. He sends his regards.

Dave Holland (holly) - 17/5/12

Thanks to all the boys in the band!

They were a GREAT inspiration to me in the late 60s and I went on to have more than FORTY years in the biz working all over Europe and I was billed as 'the ultimate party host'. I met Stews' parents in Kennersdene may years ago and they were SO lovely, they invited me in for tea to chat over all the good times, thank you to them. I STILL have copies of the singles, 'Movin' In' and 'Harry Faversham' and should any of the boys like to have them, PLEASE drop me a line or call 01302 789 846, I do hope that they go to a 'good cause'. I am retired now and living in Doncaster, PLEASE give me call!


Bryan S - 20/5/12

I remember going to an audition back in 1968 with our band 59th Street Bridge. It was during the day at some club in Manchester and Toby Twirl were also auditioning. We had only just come on the scene at that time and Toby Twirl were obviously a lot better than us.They got the gig. The one thing that sticks in my mind is that they were very encouraging to us even though they had the better sound and equipment. No "airs and graces" you might say. We did pinch one of their songs though!! "Build me up Buttercup" It used to go down really well. Thanks guys.

Malcolm Crossley - 6/6/12

Just heard Toby Twirl on Sound of the Sixties and the names Nicky Thorburn and Barry Sewell. I well remember them from school days when they played as The Shades of Blue at Stannington Village Hall. John Glass was then in the line up along with another lad form Blagdon, David, I think. Great days, glad a couple of you had your taste of fame ! I think I was probably your first girlfriend Nicky when you were still in the boy scouts!

Susan Hutchison - 20/7/12

Just been pushed back to the '60s in Blackburn when I worked at the Cavendish under the Sid Stewart management, with Liz, Twiggy Sue, Vi etc etc. I (known as Little Lilian then ) remember one of TT's band living in Cramlington, where we lived for a few years before emigrating here to Australia 30 years ago. We also remember Big Col from Blackburn & the north east.

Keep in touch with some of the old names such as Terry Slessar who has visited us here in QLD. Fond memories of our old nightclub days of late 60s & early seventies back in the day!!!

Lilian Murr - 9/2/13

Hi Holly Re Toby Twirl. would love to get in touch with everyone giving updates on MANCHESTERBEAT re the group . We have now got a Facebook page but would it would be great to get some up to date news from Australia and Portugal etc

Dave Holland - 5/3/13

Reading all the comments brings back so many memories, I'm in touch with Liz, Lillian, Vi, Sid Stewart ( manager Cavendish Blackburn) just been talking to Colin Hart, roadie for Toby Twirl, before moving on to be tour manager for Deep Purple.
They were the good old days, so many good times.

Twiggy Sue x  - 6/8/13

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