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Frankie Connor

In 1963 photo of hideaways Frankie joined a newly formed group the Hideaways at the age of 17 as a rhythm guitarist.  The group then consisted of three school friends, Ozzie Yue (guitar), John Donaldson (drums) and John Shell (bass guitar). After a couple of months rehearsing in a restaurant basement owned by Ozzie's father they were looking for gigs.  One of the first clubs they approached in Liverpool was in Red Cross Street known as the Hideaway club.  Telling the club owner that they were called the Hideaways, he gave them an unpaid booking and was suitably impressed that he gave them more dates.

The group recruited a fifth member called Judd Lander (harmonica) in 1964 and were given their first Cavern Club date during a Saturday afternoon junior session in March 1964.  Later that year the Hideaways were chosen from over 300 groups to appear in a national television commercial for Timex watches to be filmed at the world famous Cavern Club.  The Hideaways supported many stars during their six years playing at the Cavern Club.  The Hideaways were one of a handful of groups who along with The Beatles and The Swinging Blue Jeans to appear at the Cavern Club over 250 times.

In 1969 the group changed their name to Confucious with a new line up and signed to RCA records.  In 1970 they released their only UK single called "The Brandenburg Concerto" with a 'B' side called "The Message" written by Frankie Connor and Chris Finley.  In 1970 Frankie left the group and within six months had formed a duo with friend Alan Crowley called "Twos Company".photo of twos company

Frankie left the music business in 1974 to work as a sales rep and later to become a new partner in a business in 1979 which lasted until 1999.  In 1986 Frankie and his brother Freddie wrote and produced a local history book about Liverpool which became a local best seller.  The book was called "Liverpool It All Came Tumbling Down" and it prompted Frankie to write a song with the same title in 1987, released on Canal Records and produced by Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats.  The song went to No.1 in the local Liverpool Echo charts.  Due to the success of this single he got together with fellow musician Alan Crowley to see if they could record more original songs without the demands of a record company. 

Subsequently another single was released in 1988 called "Hanging On Tight To Your Dream" and was followed a year later by an album of songs which brought together many other local artists and old friends.  This collaboration of artists became known as Class of 64' and was used on this album and all albums afterwards.  At the same time as the first album,  the Holly Records label was founded to enable them to work and record with more artistic freedom.

Coincidentally at the same time as the first album Frankie began broadcasting in local radio firstly with Marcher Sound, Wrexham and then for three years photo of Frankie Connor with Liverpool's commercial station Radio City Gold.  Since 1996 he has been at BBC RadioMerseyside. His show is broadcast 12-2pm each Saturday.

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Frankie is currently working on a musical set in Ireland during the 18th century. There are around 16 songs written for this musical and will hopefully be released on the Holly records label using various artists very soon..   Watch this space.

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Alan Crowley

Alan Crowley was born in Liverpool in 1943 and his first public appearance was at school in a Christmas concert when he mimed to Johnny Ray at the age of 12.   During Christmas '58' along with friend Les Williams he sang two Eddie Cochrane numbers on stage

Alan Crowley formed the group The Tuxedos with three friends in 1960.  Alan and bass guitarist John O'Brien left after a couple of years but Alan was soon to form a new group "The Cherrypickers" along with Billy Butler, a local personality who at the time was appearing weekly as a pop panelist on "Thank Your Lucky Stars".  The group did not last long but he was to reform The Tuxedoes with Billy Butler,  John O'Brien (bass), Les Williams (lead) and Ronnie Myers (drums). The group played locally for three years and Alan spent a lot of his  time writing songs for other local artists.  As Alan says "Our assault on world domination failed but we had a damn good laugh anyway, meeting and playing with some great guys, some who are sadly no longer with us".   The band disbanded in late '64' upset that the world had fell for the Beatles instead of them.

Alan had been writing songs since 1960.  His main inspiration for writing stemmed from his love of the music of idol Buddy Holly.  Alan was on the Liverpool scene for many years often standing in as a guitarist for many groups although his ambition was to always record his own songs.  In 1965 he wrote a song called "You Don't Have To Whisper" for the group the Dimensions on the Parlophone label.  It was originally intended as an 'A' side but a fortnight before release the bands manager put out "Tears On My Pillow" as the 'A' side and Alan's song on the reverse.  The latter part of the decade was uneventful except for writing a couple of 'B' sides for Billy Kinsley's band the Merseys.  In 1970 he wrote a single with ex-Cryin Shame singer Charlie Crane on the Decca label called "Come Day Go Day Man" but failed to do anything.

In 1971 he got together with Frankie Connor to form "Twos Company" working mainly in cabaret and social clubs.  In their act they both played guitar and mixed comedy with pop music (Everley Brothers, Beatles).  The duo broke up in 1974 due to other work commitments but the friendship remained and 12 years later they became the catalyst for Class of 64's songwriting.

Alan is currently working with Frank Connor on an  original scripted musical set in Ireland during the mid-19th century.

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Billy Kinsley

Billy was born in Anfield, Liverpool in 1946.  He formed the Mavericks with Tony Crane in 1961 but soon changed the name with Bill Harry's kind permission to the Merseybeats.  They were eventually joined by old school friend John Banks on drums and Aaron Williams on guitar.  Having played the Cavern club in early '62, this led to many more appearances there over the following years.  1963 saw there first top thirty hit with "It's Love That Really Counts" on Fontana Records followed by "I Think Of You", which made no.4 in the charts.

After the break-up of the original band, Tony Crane and Billy had a no.4 hit again with "Sorrow" as  'The Merseys'.  Thereafter they played, toured , recorded or did TV appearances with the likes of The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Cream, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, The Four Tops, Jimmy Page, Bill Fury, Marty Wilde and many more like Uncle Tom Cobbley's Band!!!!  Billy also did session work with Steve Winwood and Jack Bruce of Cream.

After the Merseys, Billy recorded at Apple Records with artists like Jackie Lomaxphotograph of the merseys, Peter & Gordon, Doris Troy, Billy Preston, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.  In the seventies he had the nice distinction of being in the top twenty again after forming "Liverpool Express" with a worldwide hit called "You Are My Love" followed by "Everyman Must Have A Dream".  The group had incredible success in the whole of South America where they became household names. After touring Brazil they went on to have three more top three singles which were also hits in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Someotherguay!!!

Billy also sang a great song in a Nicholas Rogue movie called "Bad Timing" featuring Art Garfunkel.  The song was put up for an award but was beaten by someone else.  He is currently playing with the Merseybeats as well as putting out the "The Best of Liverpool Express" and "Once Upon A Time" which he regards as his best work to date.  The latter album has had great reviews in the USA and Brazil but his own city of Liverpool (capital of culture 2008) has completely ignored it except for some airplay on Radio Merseyside.

Billy has produced all four of the class of 64' albums to date at his own  recording studios.  This is called Fedoro studios named after the street he grew up in on Merseyside using many of his own musicians who jumped at the chance to work with him.  He says with Frankie and Alan he has tried to keep the spirit, the friendliness and most importantly the music of fellow musicians marching onward, instead of just remembering what they did years ago.  The Class of '64 will be remembered as keeping old friends together and what could be better than that.

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Photo of The Merseys by kind permission of Harry Goodwin

Radio Merseyside banner courtesy of Eric Wise, Radio Mersyside

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Copyright © 2004 Spencer Lowe