Lois Lane as a childBiography: The Caravelles

BIOG: EARLY YEARS > THE CARAVELLES > GOING SOLO

Of all the people I knew Andrea Simpson was the best possible choice as a singing partner. But, she was ‘going steady’ and her boy friend wasn’t too keen. As she was just 17 her Mum and Dad thought she should give it a try. So we started rehearsing. Folk songs, pop songs and classic standards from song books borrowed from her sister Carole Simpson, a very accomplished jazz singer who was currently working at Peter Cook’s Establishment Club.

One evening Tony Pitt, now guitarist with the Alex Welch Band, came to Barnet Jazz Club. Afterwards he came back to my Mum and Dad’s flat and I told him about the newly formed duo. ‘I know a great song I think would suit you called ‘You Don’t Have to be a Baby to Cry’. He sang it and wrote out the chords. The next day I taught it to Andrea and got to work to find an interesting harmony. It took a while but it was well worth it. A guitar playing acquaintance with recording equipment recorded us. Then someone suggested sending the tape to Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor’s agent, Malcolm Nixon. Within days we had a small independent record label, BPR, (Chris Blackwell, later Island Records, Harry Robinson, of Lord Rockingham’s Eleven, and Chris Peers, infamous PR man), knocking on our door with a contract.

Lois Lane as a childThe name ‘The Caravelles’, was chosen by Bunny Lewis, a well known figure in the music industry. He released ‘You Don’t Have to be a Baby to Cry’ on his Ritz label through Decca Records on the 12th July 1963. I was just 19, Andrea nearing 18. Suddenly we were on ‘Juke Box Jury’, ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, Ready Steady Go and every other programme you could think of and the record was swiftly climbing the Charts. Brian Epstein booked us to star with Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and The Fourmost on a 4 week tour. Shows with Cilla Black, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Del Shannon, The Rolling Stones, The Bachelors, lots more radio and TV. There were trips to Spain, Sweden and a concert in Scotland with The Beatles. Then the single was released in the USA.

Lois Lane as a childIn the late autumn of the same year You Don’t have to be a Baby to Cry reached No 3 in the USA. It managed No 5 in the UK and reached the German, Dutch, Spanish and Swedish charts. During this time we recorded a hurriedly put together album. One track, 'Have You Ever Been Lonely' made the Top Twenty in the States and negotiations went ahead for a 6 week tour with TV, Radio and dates with The Drifters, Johnny Tillotson, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Bobby Rydell and more. Then most spectacular of all was being asked to appear with THE BEATLES at the Washington Arena in their very first US concert. Andrea and I briefly shared the dressing room with Paul and Ringo, who had only just flown in. It was February 1964 with snow on the ground and that was our last appearance before flying down to Miami for a short holiday in the Bahamas. The Beatles went to Miami too, on the train, but that was just the beginning for them. We returned home to do the northern club circuit, The Star Club in Hamburg, recording for Polydor and sadly no more hits - but a fantastic life experience and enormous fun! In 1966 we split up. I went solo and Andrea worked with several other partners for a number of years with a few more single releases.

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