||A Potted History and
St Leonard's church youth holiday of the summer of 1962, at Whiston
Lodge, Biggar in Scotland, was the coming together of Tony (singer) with Eddie
& John (guitars). Prior to that, Eddie & John (brothers) played
guitars together at home. I have a recollection of playing 'Twist Again'
over and over again at Biggar - it must have been in the charts. After
that holiday, four of us got together to play and sing (Eddie, John, Eric and
Tony). We played 'pop' songs for fun, learning what we could from the new
Merseyside groups that were starting to 'happen'. We also learnt some
fairly traditional Christian songs. This would be in the autumn of 1962,
during the Cuban missile crisis. Our first church booking was in January
In terms of musical styles and influences, John had liked Duane
Eddy ('The Twang's the Thang'). Eddie's first 'pop' interest had been at
the time of things like the late Everely's (Cathy's Clown etc), and Paul Anka
('Diana'). Tony had liked Elvis, and he might have admitted to liking the
Bachelors. I'm not sure what Eric liked, but I think the main influence
on all us around 1962 was the Beatles and the emerging Merseybeat scene (before
the Beatles hit the big time).
As a young boy,
Tony, the singer, had been involved with St John & James' Church Bootle and
was sporty - a footballer (soccer) and cricketer. It was this connection
which brought him to St Leonard's Church to play football (soccer) there and
become involved with the young people. He had been on a St Leonard's
youth holiday in the summer of 1960 (to Patterdale Hall, Lake District), but
had missed the 1961 holiday on the canal boats from Chester to
Llangollen. At the time of the start of the crossBeaTs
Tony was part of the St Leonard's scene and was a committed Christian.
Tony sang with a rather 'sweet' voice, which some people thought was
particularly suitable for ballads. Tony had left school at 16 (grade 10)
and was working in a shipping office (PSNC) in Liverpool.
JOHN BOYES (1963-end)
John (lead guitar) had always gone to St Leonard's and
was involved with the youth scene there - going on all the church holidays and
Boys' Brigade camps etc. He had been converted during the early ministry
of John Mockford (as had the others). John
had also left school at 16 (grade 10). He was interested in photography
and began working for a local photographer. Later, he became interested
in electronics and, after some time working for cancer research, ended up much
later working in computers at the University of Liverpool.
ERIC KNOWLES (1963-68)
Eric had also left school at 16 (grade 10) and was
working as a salesman in an Liverpool department store (John Lewis - G H Lee)
at the time the group started. He later moved into selling concrete, and
much later into waste disposal. Eric had always gone to St Leonard's as a
child, and was involved with the youth organisations, but it was when his
father was converted ('big' Eric) that the family became more involved, and
young Eric was converted. This was a year or two before the group
started. Eric had been a member of the Boy's Brigade (a uniformed church
organisation) at St Leonard's (along with John and Eddie), so Eric's drumming
stemmed from that.
Again, Eddie was
an involved member of St Leonard's Church, and had been converted at a mission
there. Eddie was younger than the others and had stayed on at school
after 16 to study "A" levels (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics). He was
in the first year 6th form (grade 11) when the group started. He later
went to the University of Liverpool to study physics, and then on to a PhD.
He was therefore a student in the early days of the group, and chose not
to go away from home to University so that the group could continue. For
the practice holiday in the autumn of 1963, he was in (high) school, and had to
ask the headmaster (principal) of the school for time off. He later went
into teaching Physics and eventually lecturing at the University of Liverpool.
Musically, he was interested in chords and chord sequences, an interest
which had stemmed from Tom Cooper.
the group had any musical training, or could read music, but
Tom Cooper had taught Eddie some chord theory.
Tom was organist and choirmaster at St Leonard's and was always trying to
introduce more modern Christian music to the young people. It was natural
that Tom should be an important part of the start of the crossBeaTs,
not just in musical terms but also spiritually.
JOHN MILLINGTON (1963-66)
John Millington (bass) became a Christian throgh St
Leonard's though he had not gone there as a child - living near to St John
& James in the same road as Tony. John joined soon after the group
started, and this relieved Tony from having to learn bass and sing at the same
time (which had been one option we had considered). John had also left
school at 16 (grade 10) and was working in a local government office (town
council, city hall) - Bootle.
When John Millington left the group to
get married and move to Wigan (1966), the group thought about 'taking on'
another bass guitarist. Some friends considered doing this but it didn't
seem right. There was even talk of amalgamating with the Witnesses, a
more recent Liverpool Christian group that we were friendly with, so that their
bass player (Jimmy Nunnan) would become ours, but this was not followed
Sam Pennington had
been known by the group for a while. Some of them had met him while
playing at bookings, others had bumped into him on holiday in Cornwall - quite
by chance. He was a committed Christian and worshipped at the same Church
as the Witnesses, Richmond Baptist in Liverpool. It was known that Sam
played guitar, and it was decided that the group ask him to play rhythm and
Eddie would go on bass. Eventually this happened - without too much of a
gap between John Millington leaving and Sam 'taking up post'. Sam had
also left school at 16 (grade 10) and was apprenticed to 'Harland and Wolf' as
a pattern maker. After serving his time, he went to Ford motor company in
Liverpool. In terms of musical influence, he liked the 'Hollies'.
Joe Roberts was a
later drummer (when Eric left). Joe had been converted at a meeting with
the crossBeaTs at Shrewsbury House
(Liverpool), and somehow we heard about him when we needed a drummer.
There was a reasonably long period when the group played without drums.
Joe had left school at 16 (grade 10) and had become a welder for a firm
working with 'containers' (for container ships etc). After his
conversion, Joe had played drums for another Christian band called the Beacons
before joining the crossBeaTs.