Bobby Dell and the Dellstars

The group started out in 1957 as a group of Gorton kids in a skiffle group called the ‘Junior Blackjacks’ entering a talent contest at Platt Fields Park in Rusholme which they won.

Junior Blackjacks

  • Bobby Crossland (11) - Washboard/Vocals
  • Eddie Crossland (12) - Guitar
  • Malcolm Massett (11) - Tea Chest bass
  • Terry Hopkinson (10) - Guitar

In 1959 Bobby and Eddie playing as a duet won a talent contest at Butlins Holiday Camp, Pwllhelli in Wales. Years later as the group thing faded they were to play together again as a very successful duo.

Getting together with other friends and Malcolm Massett moving to the drums they became Bobby Dell and the Dellstars. Over the next few years with a few line up changes they performed at all the top venues in the North West.

Bobby Dell and the Dellstars #1

  • Bobby Crossland - Vocals
  • Eddie Crossland - Rhythm Guitar
  • Malcolm Massett - Drums
  • Tony Cooke - Lead Guitar
  • Allan Herricks - Bass Guitar

Tony Cooke later played under the well known pseudonym of Hickory Smith.

Allan Herricks eventually left the group and was replaced by Bernard Rix. Tony Macdonald replaced Malcolm Massett on drums.

Bobby Dell and the Dellstars #2

  • Bobby Crossland - Vocals
  • Eddie Crossland  - Rhythm Guitar
  • Tony Cooke - Lead Guitar
  • Bernard Rix - Bass Guitar
  • Tony Macdonald - Drums

Les Farrell, guitar, played for a very short period with the Dellstars temporarily making them a six piece group.

Further changes of line up and a group name change led the group into a phase where many pundits claim it was their best ever line up. Les Farrell replaced Tony Cooke on lead guitar and Antonio (Toni) Bonacci replaced Bernard Rix on bass guitar. The group changed its name to the In Crowd but because a London group called 4+1 had recently done the same the boys renamed themselves The Manchester In Crowd.

Below is a list of where all the group members originated from.

Bobby Crossland - Clowes Street, West Gorton
Eddie Crossland - Clowes Street, West Gorton
Malcolm Massett - Lilford Street, West Gorton
Terry Hopkinson - Margaret Street, West Gorton
Tony Cooke - Nelstrop Road, Levenshulme
Alan Herricks - Thornwood Grove, Gorton
Bernard Rix - Wilton Road, Crumpsall
Tony Macdonald - Gatley Road, Sale Moor…. a posh kid
Antonio (Toni) Bonacci – Ardwick
Les Farrell - Rylance Street - Ardwick/Openshaw
Pasquale - Hyde

Memories

"This is the first band I ever played in, that's me on the left with the old harmony guitar. It was new then, back in "63" or whenever it was, that album behind my head, of the "Beatles" had just been released

I first joined the band when I was at school, I was about thirteen years old, I'm sixteen or seventeen here.

The club was called the Rockingham. It was on Queen St, Manchester, very aptly situated. It was Manchester's first GAY club, the owner Reg was a raving gay and Harry the doorman was a giant (a very nice one) .

The first meeting with these guys was at an audition in Granada TV studios several years previous to this photo, the gay rights act of the sixties hadn't come to being, the program we were auditioning for was scrapped.

We were pipped at the post by Gerry Marsden at the BBC Playhouse, we never heard any more than that except the usual crap like "we will keep you in mind for future reference" .

Anyway Reg and Harry and friends attacked us after the audition, saying how good we where (poor mans Beatles) and they insisted to book us at their club for DOUBLE our normal money £15-00 we got £30,all they said, it was because the club was a little bit different!!!!

Different on arriving at the door a tiny hatch opened and the face of Harry appeared, saying GOOD EVENING BOYS sounding like someone was squeezing his bollocks in a vice! 

I strolled through the dancing couples to find a bar maid, yes! a woman. She told me not to worry about the strange behaviour and shown me the dressing room. After chasing down Deansgate for Bobby, the lead singer, who had decided he couldn't hack it. We finally did the night, it was like being a film star, the audience sat on the floor grouped in a semi circle, and twittered and clapped like little old ladies.

We had a great night and became good friends with Reg and Harry not forgetting Peter Harry's boy friend. We played that club for about three years. never knew Why???? I think it was the roadie!! we later employed funny, we met him (Dennis) at the club, he resigned with a fat lip one night, after trying to touch me up. 

Incidentally Reg died in the early nineties, after fighting the battle for all day pub hours. He owned the Rembrant at the time, my wife and Ispent many an evening there. What a guy Regie Killduff God bless him."

Hickory Smith (sadly passed away)

"Every Saturday morning at 11am I arrived at Reno's on Oxford St, for my lesson, it cost five bob (5 shillings) a small fortune then 25p now. My old man must have hated me!!! That was FIVE pints + bus fares. On Saturday Nights when my dad was home (he was a long distance driver) Him and mam went to Mount Rd transport club in Levenshulme M/c. If my two elder brothers where out they would take me along (with guitar) with them, I used to sit in the football teams changing rooms playing guitar wiith a packet of crisps and a lemonade (beats a plectrum).

A lad a year younger than me also a BEER ORPHAN was Glynn Ellis or now known as WAYNE FONTANA. We became good pals, he got a guitar and brought it along, I used to show him what I'd learnt that day. He was barmy! diving round doing impressions of Elvis.

I lost contact with Glynn about a year after he left school. "Spurley Hey" Levenshulme (we played together at his leaving assembly) The next I heard he had formed the JETS who later became Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders."

Hickory Smith - Also have a look at The Ivan Brothers

I remember we bought our first van off Wayne Fontana and I bought an amp off Derek Leckenby (Hermans Hermits) when he was playing with a group called The Helions.

So many memories - what a great time it was!

Alan Herricks

I am Bernard Rix's son Michael. The old fella died in November 2005. Pity he didn't know about this website. He would have loved it.

Michael Rix 2/12/10

It seems we have a connection a friend of ours who played drums for us when we were forming. His name was Owen Clancy and my group was Al Ritchie and the Invaders.

Anyway, Owen suddenly started going to Gorton and was a friend of one of your older brothers and they persuaded him to play the tea chest bass for their group the Black Jacks Skiffle Group.

I went to your house on Clowes Street a few times and saw the progress of you and your brother. You used to ask me to play Walk dont run which I had just learnt.

I went to a gig with The Black Jacks and ended up carrying the tea chest bass on a double-decker bus on the platform while the lads went up stairs. 

It was covered in graffiti and had the words “gale warning” - no doubt a reference to a girl friend.

I was told they had won a talent contest at the Apollo, Ardwick and came second to The Red Socks, fronted by Freddy Garrity. 

Sometime later I was driving up Ashton New Rd when I saw a gang of young girls outside a pub called The United and the poster in the window said Bobby Dell etc. Now this next bit of information will make you think I have lost all my marbles or you will remember it.

I, for some reason, was following behind in my van when you skidded on ice and hit a telephone box causing it to collapse like a Canadian redwood tree.

Please onfirm this is true else I will reform my band and call it Al Zymas and the Jerry Atriks! Good luck.

Al Ritchie 9/2/11

Monday night at Nicholls Youth Club 1963 - wot great nights they were. I was 15 and fancied Eddie like mad. loved your music but loved you doing Rave On and you all kicked your leg.

Also you asked me to form a fan club for you but I couldn't - too shy - but the guy who played records during your short breaks always would play Del Shannon's Little Town Flirt whenever I walked in.

God old days hey
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 

Pooch 6/3/11

Al Richie is quiet right about our van demolishing a 'phone box - I was in it at the time!

Re Nicholls Youth Club Ardwick - our first appearance there was manic we were mobbed and all the traffic was held up at the traffic lights at the junction of Hyde Road and Devonshire Street as we tried to get to our van.

Remember George Moss was a leader there?

Alan Herricks - Bass - Bobby Dell and the Dellstars 9/4/11

Dad (Tony Cooke) passed away suddenly 20 July 2009, was still creating music until the end, great to see these pics on here and re-live some of his youth.

Susan Keane  21/6/12