Al Ritchie and The Invaders
- Alan 'Al' Ritchie (Alan Taylor) - vocals
- John Barker - bass
- Jeff Alker - lead
- Stan Mathews - drums
The above photo on the swings, left to right, are Jeff Aker, myself (Al Ritchie), Stan Mathews and John Barker.
The theme for photo's then was urban working class. It was considered rock and roll as apposed to say an agent or promoter who would be photographed leaning on the bonnet of a roller with a big fat cigar in his mouth even though he didn't have a pot to piss in.
After 42 years the old memory is fading a bit but I recall lead singer Alan "Al Ritchie" who took his stage surname from Ritchie St in Gorton where he lived (long gone). I can remember two of the other guys lived in Cheadle Hulme/Bramhall area and used to rehearse in the scout/guide hut??
1964ish played at the Domino Club (didn`t get paid - told there were record company talent scouts in the audience) and the Levenshulme SporItng Club. One other gig I took them too I think was Chadderton British Legion.
The main reason we parted company was I couldn`t even get the petrol money off them never mind wages. Like many groups of that era, they were good there were just too many of them for all of them to be famous. We went many a Sunday night to the Royal Oak - the Harbour Lights were brilliant.
My real name is Alan Taylor - Al Ritchie that was I was born in Ardwick, Manchester not Gorton as stated.
I cannot recall John Owen who has written about the group The Invaders although I am flattered that we have been remembered after all these years and he had obveously seen us perform. He stated that he had ran us to gigs - I always ran the group to gigs in my Austin Omnyvan covered in lipstick messages - unless if the van was off the road he stepped in but at 69 years of age I have forgotten.
Just for the record the band consisted of John Barker six foot ginger haired bass player, who was born in the same street as me Ritchie street. Jeff Alker (lead guitar) who lived in Clayton and had a girlfriend who lived in openshaw called Penny, and the youngest member of the group Stan Mathews the drummer,
The main groups in the area at that time was the Cheshire Cats, The Tuxedos and the Emperors of Rhythm.
its such a pity that the live music scene is so stale now, In them days nearly club and pub was throbbing to the sound of rock and pop.
Al Ritchie 28/11/10
This picture of me, after I had turned solo, was taken in a profesional photographer's studio called Jeromes in Grosvenor Square at the top of Oxford Rd. I was holding my trusty Columbus copy guitar which I still have and my wife, Marie calls "Our baby"..
Re the message from John Owen about not being paid for petrol.
I do however remember coming home from a gig in Hyde at a pub called The Brunswick.
We had done three nights at six pound a night between the four of us. I was dealing out the money when my girlfreind Marie now my wife said "What about petrol?" The lads said "Oh, Al doesn't bother - we never pay petrol". To that Marie said "Well, we are hoping to get married and need every penny so be fair lads". With that the group reluctantly paid up and did therafter SHOULD HAVE MADE HER MANAGER.
Al Ritchie - 6/12/10
Two venues that we did regularly were Ebden Bridge and Todmordon. I think they were co-op halls.
Two guys who had seen us play must have got one of our cards and caused a moment when they turned up at my house in Ritchie St in a black limo - I think an Austin Princess, Anyway, a car of that quality in that area was as rare as teddy bear turds,and created the biggest curtain twitching event ever seen.
I remember they were brothers and we called them Mr Foy, They had arranged a group talent competition at one of the above venues and assured both me and my mam and dad that we would win on account of they being the judgies. It turned out they were a pair of con men who had advertised the event as being fronted by the Swinging Blue Jeans who it seems broke down on the way to the gig ,also the comp was won by the Skorpians because the girls screamed loudest for them.
Hey ho, thats life,
Al Ritchie 29/12/10
Under the venue heading it mentions the Princess Club but was always refered to as the Princess Theatre Club and after the demise of the Invaders Ii had a long and succesfull career.
I played this venue lots of times. The list of stars that appeared there was phenominal. I shared a dressing room with Gene Vincent, The Kinks, Little and Large - Sid and Eddie, who anounced that they were turning pro the night I apeared with them.
I cannot remember the year but Sid and Eddie went down a bomb singing I saw her standing there which was top of the charts at the time. I also appeared whith a lot of stars at other venues - Anita Harris (Bolton Casino), Ken Dodd (Rainhill ex-Serviceman's Club, Warrington), Dustin Gee (Picaddilly Railway Club), Frank Carson (Gigg Lane FC), Bernard Manning (Embassy Club), Johnny Dunkan and the Blue Grass Boys (somewere in Staleybridge) and lots more that has slipped my mind.
In fact at my age I am lucky to remember my name - lol!
More to come watch this space,
Al Ritchie 5/2/11
I was looking at the guitar page and noticed an article by Eric Stewart. I in the sixties a member of our gang in Ardwick, name of Ronnie was a cousin of Eric and mentioned that Eric was selling a guitar and would I be interested I was and went along to his house in Rylance street which was only three streets away from my house in Ritchie Street.
Anyway I appeared on his doorstep and he brought this guitar out - that was called a Broadway.
I couldnt afford his asking price and didn't buy it but as I was trying it out I played the c major and Eric said what chord is that, and I shown him where to place his fingers. He then took the guitar of me and managed to play a perfect C.
He would perhaps deny it now but I swear its the truth. This is not meant as a put down because he ended up a brilliant guitarist.
Every Friday I would go to Rylance Street chippy and passed his house and there he would be in the parlour practicing. Also in the article he mentioned borrowing some gear off a Geofrey Proffit. If it his the same one, he was in my junior school Nanson Street but I didnt know he was into music. What a small world.
Al Ritchie - 7/2/11
I recall after a gig I used to bomb it into town to be first at the Wimpey Bar on Oxford Rd so we could park the van in front of the large plate glass window (no yellow lines in them days) just to get up the noses of the big time recording groups because our van was covered in hundreds of messages from girl fans.
If you walked down hill from the Refuge building and under the bridge and crossed the rd that is where the Wimpey Bar was and where all the bands made for after their gig.
Tthere was the Four Pennies who had a massive hit with Juliette, Hermans Hermits, the Dakotas, Pete Maclaine and the Clan. Wayne Fontana etc who had to witness passers by walking round the van reading all the messages.
My vanity had no bounds in them days, incidently Pete Maclaine introduced me to Graham Nash in the airport hotel on the day he was flying out to join Crosby Stills and Nash. I had seen Pete perform at the Oasis but didn't know him and cannot recall how we got talking.
Al Ritchie - 15/2/11
Hi Al - I was a friend of Daniel Holdship who went to Nanson Street School just as you did - you must be about the same age. He is still my friend and we both still play guitars. We remember The Measles and The Factotums from the manchester bands. We used to go to Oasis, Sound. Top of the Town, etc.
Eric Lees - 9/4/11
In the beginning ( no, this is not a biblical story) John Barker and I formed a duo called Al and Johnny both playing guitars and used to get a lot of work in Wythenshawe - Wythenshawe Labour Club, Benchill Con Club, Naval Club and a favourite with coach parties and hen nights - the Yew Tree.
My memories was that we seemed to be working every week and used to get good revues in the local Wythenshawe paper called The County Express which may still be going who knows.
Anyway we soon decided that we could form a group and make our sound fuller. After trying several drummers Owen Clancy and a lad called Eddy who was resident at Parker Street British Legion we decided to advertise in the Evening News.
We persuaded the landlord of The Star and Garter pub on Faifield Street to use his upstairs room to audition any drummers that turned up. I arrived early and couldn't believe my eyes - there were cars as far as the eye could see and they all had various peices of drummkit on roof racks, on back seats - wherever they would fit.
When I walked into the pub the landlord was going spare and regreted his part in this chaos. We eventually settled on San who was only sixteen at the time and was self taught playing to the radio at home.
We then advertised for a lead guitarist but it must have been a quieter affair as I cannot remember it. I do remember our first gig was a little pub in Mossley through Ashton called The Fleece. The landlord looked at Stan and said he can/t come in here - he looked about fourteen. I said "But he is our drummer we cannot perform without him". After some thought he said "Shove the drumkit into the dark corner of the stage and no beer".
Thankfully he was welcolmed everywhere after growing his hair into a beatle cut, which we all did.
Al Richie - 14/4/11
Great comments about the photos of the group. They were all taken by my wife Marie and enlarged enhanced by my mate Alan Jones.
Al Richie - 19/4/11
Hi Al - Just come across your page on the Manchester beat site, how fantastic to see all those photos of the band, oh sorry, group as we were then. I have often thought about you and the other guys and what you might be up to these days, they really were great times in the 60’s.
I do recall turning up for the auditions for your new drummer, I was so nervous, there were some good drummers there, one in particular was very good, showing off doing tricks with his sticks, I took one look at him and said to you, I’m not as good as that, so I’ll leave now, to which you promptly replied, don’t go anywhere, he’s not getting the job anyway!! (Something about him being a big headed b-----d !!). Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted when at the end of the night; you asked me if I wanted to join the group. I had never played in a group before that night and I was so grateful to you for giving me a chance.
I think I was with the Invaders for about a year or so before we went our separate ways, I later joined a group from Altrincham called the Sidewalkers, followed by a group called Tangerine, which was formed with former members of The Semitones, also from Altrincham. I managed to get Jeff Alker to join the band; he was with us until we split up in late 1968. Later that year I got married, (still with the same lady after 43 years) temporarily gave up the playing the drums and then moved to Australia in early 1972. We lived there for about 7 years before returning back to the UK.
I have played in many bands since that time, both here and Australia, still love music, although I’m more into jazz these days, is that an age thing? I still have a kit, but not played for a year or so. I keep telling myself, I will get back into playing again, but having the time is always the problem.
I have no idea what Jeff or John could be doing these days, I seem to recall John was thinking of emigrating to South Africa! Don’t know if he ever did get there. Well Al, It’s great recalling those early days, I hope you and your family are well, I manage to get up to Manchester every couple of months or so, we still have very close friends up there, although not as much family now, It would be good to catch up with you some time. I will leave my email address with Paul from M/beat, should you wish to make contact.
Stan Matthews - 1/5/11
I recall the group and i going to an audition for the tv program Ready Steady Win which on reflection we were not quite ready for especially as you had to write your own stuff.
I had written one song called Love you baby which I have to admit now was pony and trap. Anyway the auditions took place in a place called Zion Hall on Stretford Road.
The room where the bands had to perform was very strange it was octagonal and there was a little stage on each of the eight walls. The audiance, who may have been judges, shuffled from one stage to the other as each group finished.
W we stayed behind to watch and was very impressed with the bands we saw. One sounded like the Beach Boys with harmony in falsetto and a comedy group called The Rolling Bones who each wore bowler hats that were too big for them and covered their eyes. They reminded me of the flower graders in the adverts.
Even after these auditions I never saw any of the groups on telly
Al Richie - 26/6/11
The demise of The Ivaders came about through a man who I later thought could be a con man.
He appeared at our table in between spots at the Princess Theartre club Barlow Moor Rd and asked if he could join us which made us a bit unconfortable as he was wearing a dog collar and introduced himself as Farther something or other.
He behaved in a very un priest like manner with a pint of beer in one hand and a fag in the other.
He began telling us that he was the priest of a church on Broadway, Blakeley near Heaton Park and his father was a big noise in the church in Strasburg France perhaps a cannon or a bishop I cannot remember.
Anyway he said that his dad was in charge of a large number of churches in the area and each church had a social club atached to it and they were looking for groups with what they termed the mersey sound [a phase that used to annoy the hell out of me] and that we fit the bill.
He seduced us with big money talk and a stepping stone to fame. The gigs would last I think three or four months with great wages we said we were interested and to set the ball rolling.
The onset was after several meetings the trip seemed to be going ahead. Stan the drummer had a kit that was not up to the standed of playing abroad and as he was only an appprentice joiner his wages wasn't up to buying a new kit, so he persuaded his dad to stand guarantor for a new kit on the never never and Stan promissed him that he would pay him back out of his gig money.
I had to cancell about three months of bookings to leave an opening for our trip.
Then disaster struck! I recieved a letter from this so called priest. I do remember it was written in red ink and was supposed to be a letter from his dad and it said "I am sorry to inform you that I have had a nasty fall down the church steps in Strasburg and broke both my legs and am writing to you from hospital so any plans for The Invaders to come here will have to be put off untill further notice."
I was so gullible at the time and so ambitious it never accured to me that anyone would con someone like this. Consequently Stan couldn't afford to pay for his new Premier glitter kit as I had cacelled all our imediate bookings and decided to leave the group.
We decided that we would never find another Stan so wound up the group and I decided to go solo so as I said in an earlier article, the pop world seemed to be full of con men.
Al Richie - 26/6/11
Hi, its great to hear that everyone I knew in those days remeber it as I do. Didn't earn much but had a great time. After the Invaders I also joined a group called the Cordettes, they were based in whitefied the singer was called Adge Horrocks.
We toured germany and France. Later Stan invited me to join the Sidewalkers later called "Some like it some don't" After that in 1970 I imigrated to South Africa and played in a group with Adge called Magic Village. I returned in 1994 and went back again five years ago. I am currently over here with my wife Linda until Nov 27th. I would love to hear from Alan and Marie and Stan if possible. Thanks for bringing back all the memories of such a special time in our lives.
John Barker - 1/9/11
All Ritchie is my grandad and I've heard him play his guitar many times at home at a family get together. My nana bought him a guitar it took her ages to get it. I'm proud for my grandad to be what he is today.
Love from your grandson.
Adam Taylor - 21/2/12