Frank Rainger: Lead Guitar - Impressions - Vocal. Tony Benfold: Bass Guitar: Impressions - Vocal.
Geoff Ashcroft: Drums. Terry Devine: Impressions - Vocal.
"Schooner was formed after a successful couple of years from the Sullivan and King Duo. Frank worked in those days in Kirkby, near Liverpool. One day he was approached by a young scouser called Terry who asked him if he knew anybody who was looking for an impressionist to front a band. We gave Terry a five minute spot at one of the Christmas parties, so if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t matter too much. Terry or Tex as we used to call him in those days turned out to be a talented and funny impressionist. We built the act up over a period of around three months doing gigs for the same fee as Sullivan and King we averaging until we got the act right.
Once we were ready to go out as Schooner we approached our agent Hughie Mather and told him our intentions to go out as a four piece band. He said that was a problem for him as he didn’t have the venues we required to make our name. After a number of months working for William at The LE Agency we were offered the chance to turn professional.
This was around the time when Rainbow Cottage, Kettle and Winston were doing very well, so we decided to give it ago. This decision caused Geoff to leave, as he was in the middle of a car mechanic apprenticeship so John Hooton stepped in and we went on from there and from strength to strength.
Around a year later I left the band because we had won a summer season in Jersey, the problem being my wife was having twins. The band went on for many years after that and I believe Tex is on the cabaret circuit with his son."
Tony Benfold: June 2011
Schooner are still touring the country but only as a double act with Terry Levine and his son Lewis. Terry has been with the group from the beginning during numerous line-up changes.
This is a picture of Freddie Phillips the lead singer of the group, The Reason Why and Freddies Beano. It was taken at one of his last gigs at Goose Green Labour Club and you can tell by his face halfway through a song and still acts the fool! Brilliant guy.
I always wondered especially where Freddie had disappeared to after he left 'Beano'. He was the landlord for a short time at the pub opposite the North West railway station in Wigan - the Swan and Railway. He used to do karaoke at weekends then he went into stand-up comedy and appeared on the new, New Faces TV Show then he disappeared?
A few months ago I came across somebody on the Trip Advisor website who bumped into him on a coach excursion in Tenerife. I did hear a number of years ago that he went to live there at a similar time to Graham Hill of Rainbow Cottage and he opened a bar in Lanzarote.
The Reason Why became Beano then Freddie's Beano or vice versa. However all three groups where fronted by the legend that was Freddie Phillips. Freddie is now a tour guide on the island of Tenerife where he now resides,
Mike Curtis who used to play in The Ivy League then formed the Mike Curtis Set he also went on to be a successful comedian in Benidorm, Spain for 20 years.
Dave Darbyshire: November 2013
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