Cliff Bennett was one of the most under-rated
R&B singers of his generation. His group, the Rebel Rousers,
evolved during 1958 and 1959 taking their name from a Duane Eddy
hit of the time. The band spent their first year or two as amateurs
and the original, fully professional, line-up consisted of Bennett,
Mick King, Frank Allen, Sid Phillips and Ricky Winters. Their
first opportunity to record was in 1961 at Joe Meek's famous
Holloway Road Studio. Although their records deserved a better
fate, they remained uncharted and now have the status of collector's
items. With no sign of a hit in sight, Frank Allen took the opportunity
to join the Searchers who needed a replacement for Tony Jackson.
However, Allen's place was soon filled by Bobby Thompson who
abandoned his Liverpool group 'The Dominoes' shortly after their
break from their lead singer 'King Size Taylor'.
The band had to remain content with
an arduous touring schedule which took full advantage of the
German clubs in the Hamburg area. Their lack of hits went on
until they secured the management of Brian Epstein and a little
of the Beatles magic touch came their way. 'One Way Love', at
last brought some of the atmosphere of their successful stage
act to vinyl, but none of its immediate follow-ups did much at
all. However, their final hit was the magnificent 'Got To Get
You Into My Life' which was produced by Paul McCartney. No further
chart entries followed, but the band kept trying, even changing
its name to the more contemporary, 'Cliff Bennett Band'. By this
time several of the original members had fallen away and the
group then included Mick Green and Frank Farley who had previously
been members of the late Johnny Kidd's 'Pirates'.
Cliff pressed on into the 1970s with
new ideas, initially with the group, 'Toe Fat'. Sadly, Cliff
was not able to find his way back to chart success and finally
went into retirement. However, he has occasionally taken time
out from his proper job to entertain us again on 1960s revivalist
and nostalgia concerts.
If you'd like to know more about Cliff
and the early days of the Rebel Rousers, then just click here
and be prepared for some very special photos!