Manhattans 

The Manhattans were a five piece band who worked the Manchester scene in the early sixties. 

During a season at Butlins Pwllheli in 1965 the lead vocalist (Glenn South) became ill. Pete Maclaine who was working in the office of our agent (Alan Arnison, Stockport) at the time, stepped in to fill the breach.

Russ Lee - 16/2/09 

The Manhattans story - kindly provided by Russ Lee and updated by Alan(Al) Dickinson

Alan (Al) Dickinson (pianist and vocalist, son of Lou Dickinson, who had been a professional big band pianist and the landlord of the Marsden Cross Hotel Brierfield, Nelson Lancs) originally started the Manhattans back in 1957/58 as a quartet.

The line up was Alan Dickinson (piano), John Dunicliffe (Guitar), Trevor Catlow (drums), Ronnie ? There was no bass player at this stage.

Ronnie left the group, and was replaced by Ivan Dixon (vocals) and Walter Oliphant came in on bass guitar. The rest of the line up was John Dunicliffe, Trevor Catlow, Alan Dickinson and for a while we had a tenor sax player whose name I cant remember.

This line up lasted until 1960/61? and was reformed with the line up that did Butlin Bognor in 1962.

  • Jack Beckett/Johnny Grant (vocals)
  • Brian Birtwell (drums) 
  • Dennis Constable (bass)
  • Russ Lee/Lacy (guitar)
  • Alan Dickinson (keyboard)

This line up played Butlins Bognor in 1962 (swapping with a 2 week stint at Butlins Clacton). Then playing:

  •  Summer season at Butlins Pwllheli 1963
  • Christmas at Butlins Bognor 1963
  • Summer season Pwllheli 1964, when Alan Dickinson left and joined Neil Landon and the Burnetts (inc Noel Redding & Pete Kircher)in Germany.
  • Resident at Dolphin club Colne Weds.and Suns during the winter periods. 

Instrumentation: 

Alan Dickinson: Hohner Pianet ( the first electric piano in the area. Prior to this he had tried various piano mics with varying degrees of success)

Dennis Constable: Gibson SG bass. Non descript 30watt valve amp driving an 18" speaker . 

JB: Harmony Rocket guitar

Brian Birtwell: Premier kit with Zylgan Cymbals and Ludwig all metal snare drum.

Russ Lee: Gretch Anniversary guitar with bigsby trem ,and Fender Tremolux amp..

Alan left the group in the winter of 64 and was replaced by Trevor Bastow a virtuoso pianist, poached by JB from The Peter Hurley trio,an outfit working at Pwllheli at the same time as the Manhattans.

Brian Birtwell left the band because he needed to stay nearer his family and took a job backing cabaret artists at Rosegrove Cabaret Club. Sadly Brian died at 27 years of age.

Malcom Foster,a n excellent drummer,was approached, but would only join the band as long as he could bring his own bass player. Malcom Bateson was the man in question and, knowing his pedigree, we had to agree. Sadly we had to let Dennis go.

So for a short time the line up was:

  • Jack Beckett aka John Grant ( vocals)
  • Russ Lacy ( aka Russ Lee) Guit /vocal
  • Trevor Bastow ( Key board /vocals)
  • Malc Foster ( Drums/vocals)
  • Malcom (Beef) Bateson (Bass)

During this period Jack Beckett left and was replaced by Glenn South

The Manhattans Mk 2 1965

  • Glenn South (voclals,guitar and harmonica)
  • Russ Lacey aka Russ Lee ( Guitar,vocals)
  • Malc Foster (drums/vocals)
  • Malcom Bateson (Bass)
  • Trevor Bastow (Keyboards/vocals)

Great success,on the Mecca circuit nation wide

Went down to Kingsway studios London to record "You've got your troubles" Agreed a simultaneous release date with The Fortune's management. Went off to Butlins Pwllheli that summer anticipating the release of their record during that time.

The Fortunes released early. The rest is history. 

Butlins season went well though. They brought the house down every night in the huge Viennese bar.

Half way through the season Glenn who was suffering from a serious bout of asthma had to leave the band. Pete Mclaine (late of "The Clan") joined on vocals.

The Season continued after some serious rehearsals , and Pete fitted in very well. After the Season Malc Foster left the band. The group finally fizzled out after a disastrous tour of South Wales, using a series of dep. drummers.

Russ took a job at Blackburn Locarno with the George Marino Quartet, and one day received a call from the Vic Rawlings agency inviting him to a free evening at Rosegrove Cabaret club. He arrive to find that Jack Beckett had also been invited , and when the pair of them had been ushered into a private "box" in the circle, they discovered that the cabaret that night included The Manhattans.

Alan Dickinson had formed a trio and they were truly awful. To cut a long story short Vic Rawlings brought Jack Beckett , Russ and Alan together, had them rehearse, and then sent them off to Turkey in the winter of 1966.

Although musically, the tour was a success, Alan was dropped as soon as the group got back to the UK. Russ and JB became a duo and for a while the name Manhattans was dropped.

Sometime in the early 70s Russ answered an ad. In the local paper.The Thornton Manor, Thornton in Craven, was looking for a resident trio. He replied to the ad and got the job. Unfortunately he did not actually have a group at that time.

Luckily JB was just returning from Dublin where he had been doing the Olympia Theatre. They had broken up in 69 after their last Mosney season as "Russ and Johnny".

The Manhattans name was reborn and with dep drummers, they took up the residency at the Thonton Manor.

Shortly after Tony Mirando ( a rrummer out of the pit orchestra at Butlins) came over from Dublin and joined the Manhattans.

So the 70s Manhattans comprised of :

  • Tony Mirando (Drums,vocals and flute)
  • JB (vocals and Bass)
  • Russ (Vocals and Guitar)

When this outfit broke up in the late 70s the name was dropped again for a while.
The name was revived by JB and Graham Cockett some time later………….

 

 

 

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