I started back in Liverpool in 1956, singing and playing guitar in pubs for free drinks, singing Country Music and Rock and Roll. My main influences being Webb Pierce, Slim Whitman,Hank Locklin and Hank WIlliams on the country side, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino and Chuck Berry on the Rock and Roll side.
In 1960 I formed my own band - JC and the Strollers - playing at Weddings, functions and pubs and clubs. In the first few months we travelled everywhere on local buses with all the equipment, drums, amps and guitars, until we saved enough money to buy a van. After a year we added a female singer to the band and changed the name to "Tiffany's Dimensions", we played the length and breadth of Britain, playing mostly one night stands, where we quickly built up a good following.
In January 1965 Tiffany left the band and went on to form her own band. We carried on as "The Dimensions" and secured a record deal with George Martin at Parlophone Records. In June 1965 we recorded our first single "Tears on My Pillow" at Abbey Road Studios. Sadly we only had minor success.
Through internal arguments in the band over which direction we wanted to go, the band split up, but in our time we worked with some great bands including:
- The Beatles
- The Yardbirds
- Julie Driscoll and the Brian Auger Trinity
- The Nashville Teens
- Long John Baldry and his band which included Rod Stewart
- Gerry and thePacemakers
- The Searchers
- Manfred Mann
And many more...
The lead guitarist, Les Williams, and I carried on as a duo, The Two Dimensions, working the cabaret circuit all over the country. We worked all the top nightclubs of the day. We worked with many big stars of that time, people like:
- Max Wall
- Hilda Baker
- Dickie Valentine
- Dick Emery
- David Whitfield
- Vince Hill
- Billy Fury
- Dallas Boys
- Brian Pool and The Tremeloes
- Chris Barbers Jazz Band
- Guys and Dolls
- Frank Ifield
- The Fortunes
- The Foundations
- Brotherhood of Man
- Craig Douglas
- Frankie Vaughan
- Marty Wilde
And from America, Lou Christie, and the great jazz singer Billy Daniels.
In 1969 we added another member, changed our name to The Mersey Three, adding comedy to the act, and topping the bill everywhere we worked.
In 1971 I left The Mersey Three and formed a duo called Black and White with a great guitarist called Sandro. We continued to work all the top nightclubs, topping the bill wherever we went.
In 1972 I went solo, retired my bass guitar to the cupboard and worked under the name James Black still working the top venues. I started working abroad in places like Italy, Malta, Gibraltar, West Germany including Berlin, entertaining the forces. In 1975 I went to South Africa working the Crazy Horse nightclub circuit topping the bill at every venue. The tour lasted 3 months.
In 1976 I was invited back for another 3 months, while I was there the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was on a world tour and was in South Africa at the same time. Unfortunately the guy playing Joseph had to retire through illness and I was offered the part. Sadly through work committments and contracts I could not get out of, I had to turn it down.
I have continued to do the clubs ever since and three years ago decided to try the country circuit, as country music is my first love.
I lent Paul McCartney half a crown once to get some cigarettes from a machine - I never got it back!