Part 3: Hey Lulu, It's All Over Now

Shane with Lional Bart, writer of 1962's "Too Young for Sad Memories".  "Oliver" was not far away.

"Cindy's Birthday" rose up the charts and breached the top twenty at no. 19 before inexplicably slipping slowly out again.  It was disappointing to all concerned that assured Top Ten material had in fact missed out on that accolade, nevertheless, after an eight-week run it was still his biggest chart hit to date.  The Fentones mustered another minor 'solo' chart entry shortly after this with a revival of "The Breeze And I", a number recorded by many others including the Shadows and the Tornados.  The Fentones actually beat the latter to the punch, their breathless performance consigned to an EP release while their manager Joe Meek sought out something else to record.  Beat was beginning to loom on the horizon and within eighteen months the face of first UK, then world pop would be changed forever.  Nobody at EMI knew this at the time, of course, and after the pleasing trend of three increasingly successful hits came the pleasant country-ish "Too Young For Sad Memories", seen as a good bet for another hit. The Lional Bart (right, with Fenton) penned ballad sounded like the kind of material Frank Ifield was about to have major-league hits with ("I Remember You", "Don't Blame Me").  The single, whose Rock-a-billy b-side, "You're Telling Me" was notable for Shanes' over-dubbed 'call and response' vocal, escaped in mid October to be promoted with more dates and - a big disappointment for all concerned - missed the charts entirely.  At least Bart - who co-wrote Tommy Steele's 1956 then-revolutionary "Rock With The Cave Man" and Cliff's 1959 "Living Doll" - would experience more success with stage shows like the acclaimed "Oliver!", which is not bad for a man who couldn't actually read music!

As can be witnessed, Shane and the Fentones were being promoted as separate enteties by 1963

In the early part of 1963 the group were on tour, which featured Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, The Tornados, Eden Kane, Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers and one Rolf Harris who'd had big hits with the novelty "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" and the spiritual "Sun Arise". The inhabitants of Scarborough, Yorkshire, were able to experience all this at the Futurist Theatre for only six shillings and sixpence!  Those were the days.  The Arena Ballroom featured Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages, The Brook Brothers and Freddie and the Dreamers, amongst others in the three-hour-plus show. Fenton was promoting his new single, the showy "I Ain't Got Nobody" coupled with "Hey Miss Ruby", though this change in style without the Fentones obviously present (at least on the topside) did not result in a hit.  The single later surfaced as Scopitone and Cinebox/Colorama Jukebox films, these were primitive 1960's precursors to today's' ubiquitous pop videos which played filmed performances of top hits on standalone units.  These originated on the continent and were therefore biased toward European hits which part-explains why another Fenton title is also listed on both these formats, which is otherwise unreleased in the UK at least.  "That Old Yeah Yeah Feeling" never made its way onto a UK release but was covered in recent times by the Rapiers.  Websites with more information on these interesting machines can be found here and here.  The first Fentone line-up change occurred when Tony Hinchcliffe left for South Africa.  His place was taken by American George Rodda.

Drummer Bobby Elliot (behind Shane) seen before he joined the Hollies.

On 18th  April 1963 the Beatles appeared in a live concert at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time, the second half of which was broadcast live on BBC radio.  Besides them plus Shane Fenton and the Fentones, the all-star bill featured Del Shannon, the Springfields, Lance Percival, Rolf Harris, the Vernons Girls, Kenny Lynch and Jazz meister George Melly.  All acts came together to sing "Mack The Knife" in the shows Grand Finale, after which Shane drove John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and young actress Jane Asher over to journalist friend Brian Hutchins' flat in Chelsea and Paul started famously dating Asher soon after.  Shane picked up with Paul's ex-girlfriend Iris Caldwell, who was the sister of Merseyside favourite Rory Storme - Ringo Starr had absconded from his band the Hurricanes to join the Beatles in pop's most famous line-up reshuffle of all time just the previous year.  Shane and his band had played at the Tower Ballroom in Liverpool where Iris worked as a dancer; they would be later married. 

Despite all this going on it was time to get down to work and Shanes' next 45 rpm offering was penned by Eden Kane.  "A Fools' Paradise" was credited to Shane Fenton alone and fared little better than the last.  In the style it was recorded it may well have been chart material just twelve months previously, but you have to wonder how it would have turned out had the Fentones been on backing duties, especially with the assured Elliot on drums.  Indeed Shane's own catchy composition "You Need Love" that adorned the flip sounded more in keeping with the Merseybeat bursting out all around them.  Around this time Rodda left the Fentones, and Bobby Elliot had joined on the understanding that this was a temporary posting before joining fellow Parlophone signing the Hollies.  The latter's original drummer Don Rathbone would be stepping down to become one of their road managers allowing the crisp and technically-superior Elliot to join full-time.  His replacement in the Fentones was Don Burrell. 


Alvin Stardust retrieved his first guitar in 2004, which he lost nearly half a century ago.  The prized instrument was signed by a host of stars, including Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and the Beatles so he was devastated when his mother misplaced it.  Nearly 50 years later, after his mother's death, he found it in a dusty box at the back of his parents' garage in Nottingham. Worth 1 million pounds, it has been placed in a bank vault.

Sheet music for the penultimate single release

There was a second film appearance in the short "Take Six" alongside the likes of Eden Kane, Vince Hill, The Viscounts and Alan Klein.  Les Vandyke's record of hit songs was excellent, most notably for Parlophone's biggest selling artist before the Beatles Adam Faith, and Decca's Eden Kane amongst others.  All the stops were pulled out for his catchy composition "Don't Do That" (click here to play an extract) which featured a fully-rounded sound and Fenton's double-tracked vocals in similar style to Billy J. Kramer.  The comparison is appropriate here as Fenton stayed loyal to his manager Tommy Sanderson, turning down a management deal with Brian Epstein.  Epstein was offering Fenton the chance to record Lennon and McCartney's "Do You Want To Know A Secret", which went instead to Billy J. Kramer, taking it into the top five in the process soon after.  Despite the solid arrangement and infectious sound of "Don't Do That" Fenton inexplicably failed to follow Kramer & co. into the charts although the solo billing in an era of groups wouldn't have helped.  There was some extra exposure in August by having the song "Somebody Else Not Me" featured in the film "It's All Happening" (A.K.A. "The Dream Maker").  It's release on the accompanying Columbia Soundtrack LP marked the first (and only) time a Shane Fenton EMI recording appeared in stereo during Shane's career.  After this, the recording side of things went a little quiet although he remained as popular as ever onstage.

There was one more outing for the group on Parlophone, although with that label's increased workload with Brian Epstein's now big-selling stable of groups this didn't appear until May 1964.  The beaty "Hey Lulu" (click here to play an extract), co-written by Clint Ballard Jr, writer of hits for artists like the Hollies (Here I Go Again") and the Swinging Blue Jeans (You're No Good"), had a party-type atmosphere with echoes of "La Bamba" about it.  Good as it was it got simply lost in the sea of single releases now available as the Beat Boom tide washed further and wider across the country.  Singer and group appeared collectively for the last time on "Saturday Club" - ironically the show which kick-started their career - before going their own ways. 

Shane Fenton still took occasional work when moving sideways into management where his first charges were top Parlophone signing the Hollies (which now of course featured Bobby Elliot).  This period was followed by a round the world tour which ended when he needed to earn a living again, and this was on the Cabaret circuit, forming a part-time double act with his wife Iris.  As more new waves of groups took a tighter grip on the charts, Shane gradually retreated away from the scene.  Meanwhile, after their split from their singer his former backing group kept their name and continued under their own steam before teaming up with UK rocker turned bluesman Duffy Power for some live dates.  Around this time some recordings were also tracked where Ginger Baker guested on drums but, as with everything else the Fentones recorded 'on their own' since 1962's "The Mexican" they remained in the can.  (The tracks with Baker would however see the light of day on CD in the new Century.)  Duffy and the group parted company some months later and after returning to their old stomping ground of Mansfield (with Tony Hinchcliffe back on the drumseat) the Fentones officially wound up in September 1965. 

For Shane Fenton there was one more 45 release on Billy Fury's own short-lived label, "Eastern Seaboard" coupled with with "Blind Fool".  This is now extremely rare, having been quickly forgotten along with an album that was slated for release on the budget Contour label.  Presumably this was a collection of some of the groups more worthwhile tracks but as it turned out, its release was cancelled around the same time that a a new record deal negotiated under the same name.  Even if it made it to the demo stage copies are impossible to find.  (If anyone has more info on this LP, please let me know!)  Shane Fenton's new recording career was interestingly timed as he'd developed a newer stage presence and wearing black leather and huge sideburns transmogrified into the new guise to record "My Coo-Ca-Choo" on an eight-track machine.  This went on to sell three-quarters of a million copies in 1973 and with a string of big sellers Alvin Stardust never looked back except to thank his lucky stars and it wouldn't be too long before the back catalogue under his previous guise was exhumed for re-releases.

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