Karl Denver (Trio)

  • Real Name: Angus Murdo McKenzie
  • Birth Date: December 16th 1931
  • Birth Place: Springburn, Glasgow
  • Kevin Neill
  • July 25th 1931
  • Manchester
  • Gerry Cottrell
  • December 18th 1933
  • Manchester
  • Karl Denver's western yodelling style really caught the imagination of record buyers during the early 1960s. Few of us realised that the man behind the wonderful voice wasn't a genuine American country singer or a Texan cowboy. In reality, Karl Denver was more familiar with the streets of Manchester, and the residents of Reddish were only too aware who owned the big American automobile that they frequently saw being driven around northern Stockport.

    Karl was well travelled by the time he took up singing, having had a previous career in the merchant navy. He wasn't totally without real 'country music' credentials either because he had actually lived in Nashville for a short time before being deported from there as an illegal immigrant during 1959. It was in the USA that he'd adopted the new name that he retained for the remainder of his singing career. His amazing voice allowed him to bring great originality and power to the songs he knew and to provide them with a whole new character. This was especially true of his interpretation of his biggest hit- 'Wimoweh'. This song which, in common with many of Karl's early releases, was produced by the British rock and roll pioneer Jack Good, was particularly controversial. Karl made it his own despite the fact that it had previously charted (under different names) for the Tokens and the Weavers in the USA. Both the Tokens and Denver versions credit Paul Campbell with authorship, but it is now generally believed that the song was originally written by a Zulu tribesman called Solomon Linda. There is a 45rpm version of this song that is close to the African original; it is 'Mbube' by Miriam Makeba- the only one that credits Linda.

    The EP shown on the left was the Karl Denver Trio's first and probably most successful. Incidentally, while researching Karl's EPs in one of the catalogues published by 'The Gramophone' magazine I was intrigued by the categorisation used:- "c. and w. teenb and old-time pop. bal, burlesque voc." which I think you can take to mean that Karl didn't slot comfortably into any of the well established pigeon holes. That, for some reason, pleases me enormously.

    Karl's chart career lasted well into the era of the 'beat boom' but interest in his material was insufficient to keep him in hits beyond 1964. However, by then his following had grown sufficient for a lengthy career on the cabaret round. He became a familiar and popular act, particularly in Scotland and the North of England and things would seem to have settled at that. However he re-emerged to broaden his audience again when he began a perhaps unexpected association with Manchester based cult band 'Happy Mondays' during 1989

    Karl Denver died of a brain tumor a few days after his 67th birthday at the end of 1998 although Karl had claimed that he was born during 1934- probably because he liked to appear younger than he really was.

    Gerry Cottrell left the trio towards the end of the 1970s and Keith Elliott became his long term replacement. Kevin Neill can still be found in cabaret and (usually Blackpool) summer season along with John Stokes and Jonathan Young who together have revitalised the Bachelors.

    1950s & 1960s 45rpm UK Discography

    • Listings include UK 45 singles releases only
    • Collector's Items are shown In Red
    • See Lower list for EP releases

    Decca F11360 1961 Marcheta/ Joe Sweeney #8
    Decca F11395 1961 Mexicali Rose/ Bonny Scotland #8
    Decca F11420 1962 Wimoweh/ Gypsy Davy #4
    Decca F11431 1962 Never Goodbye/ Highland Fling #9
    Decca F11470 1962 A Little Love, A Little Kiss/ Lonely Sailor #19
    Decca F11505 1962 Blue Weekend/ My Mother's Eyes #33
    Decca F11553 1962 Dry Tears/ Pastures Of Plenty  
    Decca F11608 1963 Can You Forgive Me/ Love From A Heart Of Gold #32
    Decca F11674 1963 Indian Love Call/ My Melancholy Baby #32
    Decca F11720 1963 Still/ My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes #13
    Decca F11828 1964 My World Of Blue/ The Green Grass Grows All Round #29
    Decca F11905 1964 Love Me With All Your Heart/ Am I That Easy To Forget? #37
    Decca F12025 1964 Sally/ Swanee River  
    Mercury MF878 1965 Cry A Little Sometimes/ Today Will Be Yesterday Tomorrow  
    Mercury MF904 1965 Marta/ I'll Never Forget To Remember  
    Mercury MF926 1965 The Tips Of My Fingers/ I'm Alone Because I Love You  
    Page One POF063 1968 You've Still Got A Place In My Heart/ I Still Miss Someone  

    EP Discography

    • Collector's Items are shown In Red
    • See Upper List For Singles releases

    DFE8501 1962 "By A Sleepy Lagoon" #2
    Sleepy Lagoon/Lonesome Traveller/Snow Shoes Thompson/Just For A While
    DFE8504 1962 "Karl Denver Hits" #7
    Marcheta/Mexicali Rose/Never Goodbye/A Little Love. A Little Kiss

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