Share a Cuppa Tea…Billy Kinsley of The Merseybeats
The Merseybeats had the best name for any pop group of the early Sixties.
Bill Harry, copyright owner of the newspaper Mersey beat, had given his blessing and approval to the band to use the name.
With their compelling tunes, their numerous appearances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and Brian Epstein as manager; they appeared to have it all, as the saying goes. All that was missing were the requisite posh suits, a “must have” in the 1960s. While Mr Epstein supplied suits for his other band, The Beatles, he failed to provide them for The Merseybeats.
And so began the artistic differences which grew into a dispute and led to the split between management and band.
The Merseybeats went on to great success with fashion, credited as Best Looking Group, and hit records including It’s Love That Really Counts, I Think of You, Don’t Turn Around, Wishin & Hopin’, and others.
Today we have an original Merseybeat, Billy Kinsley, with cuppa in hand so let us begin.
1) Do you sing in the shower?
I don’t sing in the shower as often as I used to, but if I have a new song going round and round in my head I might try it out!
2) What are you afraid of?
I am afraid of terrorism and the way it has affected the world in which we live. I worry about how or if it can be prevented.
3) Pacifics, Rockin’ Horse, Mavericks, The Merseys, The Cheats, The Pete Best Band, or Merseybeats?
You’ve forgotten Liverpool Express which was my most successful band. As well as charting in the UK, we were also very successful in Brazil and Uruguay – and many European countries.
4) What was the first record you bought?
“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles. I still love that record.
5) Last book you read?
Philip Norman’s new biography of Paul McCartney which brought back many great memories as well as sad ones. Just about to read the new John Grisham book.
6) Have you ever had a broken heart?
I have had many a broken heart but not for love! Losing family members and so many close friends too early has been heartbreaking.
7) Do you have a tattoo?
No tattoos! I am from a generation where only sailors had tattoos!
8) What or who is/was your favourite:
Capistrano. (This word was in a song I loved as a kid, “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano”
Doris Day in “Calamity Jane”.
c. comic book ever?
The Dandy. ( I always visit the Desperate Dan statue when we play in Dundee as that was where it was published!)
9) Where do you keep your moral compass?
My heart dictates my moral compass. Kindness and understanding are central to living a good life.
10) The Beatles or The Who?
As much as I love the Who, as we shared a management team and toured with them many times, The Beatles were the best band I ever saw.
11) Who have you asked for an autograph?
In the late 50s, I waited outside the Liverpool Empire with my older sister who wanted Dickie Valentine’s autograph! He was the first pop star I ever met! I was 12 years old.
12) What question do you wish I’d asked you?
“Billy, where are all your song-writing and performing royalties? Do you want me to find them for you?”
13) If you could have invited anyone, living or dead, to this wee tea party, who would it have been?
John Sullivan. The writer of Only a Fools and Horses. I truly think he was the funniest guy ever. Sadly he died a few years ago.
14) Tell us a secret.
Brian Epstein had John Lennon’s Rickenbacker sprayed black. I was in the Cavern dressing room at a lunchtime session when a mutual friend walked in with it! He asked me to check if it was in tune, so I played it before John! Later, I watched John open the guitar case and drool over what would become one of the most famous guitars ever.
15) What’s new?
Lots of things to look forward to. I have been invited back to perform at the annual American Beatlefest again. Last time, it was Chicago, this time it is New York. Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry have asked for us to meet up with them on their next tour. I am sure we will have lots of memories of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp to share. The Merseybeats have toured almost ever year on the sellout Solid Silver Sixties tour. Wonderful that so many audiences still want to hear sixties music.
What a joy it was to share a cuppa tea with Billy. Learn more about the fascinating Merseybeats at their website. www.themerseybeats.co.uk
© JANE QUINN
Mighty Quinn Management