WELL, AT least it is finally settled! Those three schoolboy members of the chart-climbing Applejacks have decided to give up school and concentrate full-time on a show business career. Which puts an end to the rumours, doubts and counter-rumours headlined in newspapers over the past months.
Martin Baggot (16) and Don Gould (16) have now said a final farewell to their schoolmates at Tudor Grange Grammar School, and 16-year-old Phil Cash has handed in his satchel at Lyndon High School.
The group is completed by 19-year-old Megan Davies who is an electroencephalograph recordist, believe it or not; Insurance clerk Jerry Freeman (19) and hairdresser Al Jackson (18). The wide smiles they wear can be attributed to the fact that they’ve already got bookings worth £3,000 for April, their first full working month.
It’s not so long ago that they turned down a year’s contract for £10,000 so that the three students could complete their education. Don Gould, actually, already had seven G.C.E.’s in various subjects.
Drummer Gerry Freeman told me: “We’ve been going as a group since December, 1960, when we intended doing just one show in aid of Boy Scout charities. But we’d been bitten by the beat bug and just couldn’t even think of packing it in afterwards…”
Don Gould operates on piano and clavioline; Martin Baggott on lead guitar; Phil Cash on rhythm; Megan Davies on bass; Al Jackson is the vocalist. Phil, Gerry, Don have all been Scouts; Megan has been a Sunday School teacher for seven years — and Al was a choirboy for four years.
Up in Solihull Civic Hall, the group pulled in hundreds of fans every Monday evening. Local papers claimed them as the Midland’s answer to the Beatles. And the reason they registered so strongly was summed up as “personality.” They really attack audiences, and clearly enjoy every moment of their performances. It’s infectious. Check their fan club membership for confirmation.
Says Megan: “We’re all friends — I think that is the secret. Sometimes, of course, we get a bit worked up before a big show, but we all share the same sense of humour so we can get back on an even keel in just a moment or so. I don’t think we really suffer from nerves — maybe it’s because there are six of us and we can share the burden, too.”
But there’s no hiding the heart-searching that went on before the three schoolboy members decided to take the plunge into show business. They’d argued: “Education lasts a life-time; a hit record may be for only a short time.” Parents met headmasters, boys met managements — and the decision was taken.
The success of ‘Tell Me When’, on the Decca label, helped enormously. Plus the signing to the massive Harold Davison Agency in London. Personal manager is Arthur Smith.
The television dates started pouring in. They’ve recently done Thank Your Lucky Stars, Three Four Round, For Teenagers Only — and they’re in the Arthur Haynes Show on Saturday this week.
Things are, then, swinging. But I never thought I’d hear of a SOLIHULL SOUND! Still, you never can be sure of anything in the pop business.
© Peter Jones, Record Mirror, 21 March 1964