Seventh Avenue Tony & The Topcats
Alan Johnson: Lead Guitar. Alan Crossfield: Bass guitar.
Graham Ainsworth: Rhythm Guitar. Fred Holt: Drums.
Johnny Dee & The Detours were formed in 1960 by Alan Johnson, of Chalfont Street Bolton. In the early years they had many changes of personnel, but established themselves as one of Boltonís most popular groups in the early 60ís. In the line up in 1964 was Norman Kay - TV star Vernon Kayís father - aka Johnny Dee.
I joined the band as the drummer in 1964, after auditioning in the back room of The Nelson public house on Chorley Old Road, Bolton. I was offered the job, given a list of the songs to learn, and went on my first gig to Stoke- on Trent five days later. At that time we were performing in the dance halls, social clubs, and nightclubs in the Lancashire and Stoke areas.
First gig in Stoke-on-Trent 1965
My fondest memories of those early years were playing at Bolton Palais, Sale Locarno, Navada Bolton, Morecambe Floral Hall with The Merseybeats, Farnworth Monaco, Bolton and Wigan Casino's with Freddie Starr, and others too numerous to mention.
Bolton Navada 1965
We went everywhere in the group van, with only two people able to drive at that time. The sides of the van were covered with lipstick messages - we would call it graffiti nowadays.
The pictures taken outside a little club in my home town of Horwich called 'The Hole In The Ground, where we played and practiced on many occasions. I used my dadís drum kit for the first few gigs and then my mother bought me an Ajax kit from a shop in Wigan - canít remember the name of it, but she signed for hire-purchase and I paid her back, when I remembered too.
1970's - In Cabaret..
In the later 1960ís Norman left the band, and we became just The Detours, and went down to having four members. The cabaret clubs were becoming more popular at that time and we started to include some comedy routines into the show. It was a successful formula, and kept us going for several more years. However in 1970, I decided to quit playing and had two years off, being replaced on drums by Dave Thomasson.
The Detours 1999 - 2001
In 1990 we went back on the road with the last Detours line up. Alan Johnson on lead guitar, Alan Crossfield on bass guitar, Jimmy Johnson on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, and myself on drums. We finished due to health and retirement issues in 2001.
In 1972 Alan Johnson got back in touch and asked me to join a new project and line up, with the stage name of Seventh Avenue, after a few meetings with the Stuart Littlewood agency - we were back on the road.. Click on here for Seventh Avenue.
All I can say is that the music we all played and loved in the 60ís is still as popular as ever 50 years on, so lets all keep playing as long as we can. KEEP ON ROCKING.
Fred Holt: April 2012
"I was The Detoursí rhythm guitarist in the early sixties replacing Dave Wright - who was a founder member of the band; I joined with my 1961 Fender Stratocaster - fresh from the Flamingos - and a Vox AC 15 Twin. Al' Johnson - the best guitarist I have known - upgraded to a Fender Stratocaster and Al' Crossfield bought a Fender Precision bass and a Selmer Selectatone amp'. Al' Johnson and I bought Vox AC 30 twin amp's and Vox Reverb unit's. Al' also traded-in his Watkins Copycat echo unit for a Binson. Alan Fishwick was on drums with a Trixon kit and Dave Williamson was Johnny Dee.
We were invited to the BBC and auditioned for the new TV 625 show - this was when the lines that make up a TV picture moved from 405 to 625. We played the instrumental Silent Night and our hallmark Johnny B Goode. What a middle eight Al' played - it was as good as Chuck Berryís!"
Dennis Wheatley: May 2012
I joined the band in 1962, replacing Frank Hart as Bass player and remained with the band throughout its continued existence.
Transporting the equipment was sometimes a problem in the early days, as we had no van. Parents with cars were sometimes persuaded to help out, but more often than not, we simply used public transport. One particular logistical adventure involved the band being 'booked' to appear at Swintonís Bee Hive. This was a large public house on - or just off Rake Lane Clifton, around ten miles from our home base in Bolton. Our normal procedure was to recruit the help of friends and carry all the equipment to the nearest bus stop. This happened to be outside the 'Iron Church', about one mile north of Bolton town centre on the A666. The driver of the number 30 double-decker bus must have groaned inwardly as he caught sight of the stacked mass of amplifiers, drums and microphone-stands awaiting on the pavement. These were skillfully loaded on board once the bus had stopped. It was a well-drilled procedure on the part of the band, but had to be carried out quickly before the conductor became aware of the magnitude of the operation. Most of the drum-kit went beneath the stairs whilst other large items just stood on the open platform at the rear of the bus!
The short journey into Boltonís town centre terminated at Trinity Street Railway station. Here, the equipment was removed from the bus, carried across the road and down the station steps onto platform 1 where we would await the next train to Manchester. This duly arrived Ė steam hauled and made up of non-corridor stock. Once our gear had been loaded into the guardís van, the band and teenage entourage made its way to the nearest empty compartment and settled down for the seven-mile journey to Clifton Junction. This was a small station situated in the Irwell valley. From here, the venue would be reached by an uphill walk of approximately half a mile. The bandís amplification equipment, at the time consisted of a mish-mash selection from the catalogues of 'Watkins' and 'Selmar'. We were still several months away from acquiring the much heavier Vox AC 30ís and this was a good day to be thankful for the fact! No doubt we provided much amusement for the local residents as they watched a ragged line of teenage boys transporting half the contents of a music shop along Rake Lane.
I remember little of the bandís performance that Friday night, nor the journey home. I suspect that we may have caught a late bus or hired a taxi. The gear would have remained on stage until the following afternoon when the band would return and convey it directly to the next venue.
The line-up in1962
Dave Wright: Rhythm Guitar. Alan Fishwick: Drums. Alan Crossfield: Bass Guitar.
Dave Williamson: Lead Vocals and the first Johnny Dee. Alan Johnson: Lead Guitar.
Dennis Wheatley - Alan Fishwick - Alan Crossfield - Alan Johnson.
Both venue and equipment had moved up-market by the time of the 1963 picture at Bolton Casino Club. Instrumentals made up a considerable portion of the bandís repertoire at that time and would account for the absence of Johnny Dee on the photograph.
Alan Crossfield, Alan Johnson, Les Johnny Dee Brocklehurst
Graham Ainsworth - Jimmy Isherwood.
Dennis Weatley left the band in 1963 and for a short period, the band continued as a four-piece until the simultaneous resignations of Alan Fishwick and Dave - Johnny Dee - Williamson. Graham Ainsworth and John Kelly were then recruited as guitarist and drummer respectively. This allowed the band to fulfill its existing obligations and continue the search for a lead vocalist. Les Brocklehurst was recruited as the latter in the summer of 1963 whilst John Kelly was replaced by Jimmy Isherwood shortly afterwards.
The pic above was taken in March 1964 in the managerís office at Bolton Palais. The band had just won the area semi-final of a National Beat Competition organized by 'Mecca'.
Les Brocklehurst left the band in the spring of 1964 and was replaced by ex-Tony & The Topcats vocalist Ė Kevin Barnes. Other vocalists were to follow in due course but the mantle of Johnny Dee, which until that time had been worn by whoever happened to be fronting the band, was laid to rest.
Alan Crossfield: September 2012
"Around 1974 Alan Crossfield had already moved to the resident band at The Last Drop Hotel in Bolton playing bass, he was joined later that year by ex-Invictor Paul G Shaw on Lead Guitar. In 1975 Fred Holt had left Seventh Avenue and joined the
Last Drop Band as well on drums to be followed by yet another ex-Detour, Norman Kay, on Lead Vocal and Rhythm Guitar. The line-up was completed by the addition of ex-Rumble Fat Band keyboard player Keith Davies and the name of the band was changed to Streetlight. This line-up carried on with great success until 1995 when the contract at the Last Drop Hotel ended and it was decided to relaunch The Detours on the club circuit using the same Streetlight line-up. The band was warmly greeted throughout the Creeme Entertainments portfolio of venues and carried on until 1999 when Norman Kay retired from performing. His replacement, Australian Christian Hart, lasted for only six months during which time the band were performing under the name of Christian Hart & The Detours. The departure of Christian Hart caused the break up of the band with Paul Shaw and Keith Davies moving to a three-piece called Trilogy. Fred Holt & Alan Crossfield teamed up once again with Alan Johnson and a new vocalist as described earlier in the feature. We've had quite a varied history and lots of success for everyone concerned."
Paul G Shaw: October 2012
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