stage bass player and sometimes back singer with The Bachelors -
John Stokes - dismissed in 1984
truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
from John "Con & Dec had studied piano for years
before me, when I first joined them I was afraid I might hinder
them with my own lack of musical knowledge"
there used to be three of you?"
5 in Con's first band [The Five Chords] in Dublin, then 3
.... then we added a drummer, so there were 4 ... then back
to 3 ... then for our first Summer Season opening back to
2 ... in the UK there were 3, then 2 again - then 3, then 2
.... then 4 [we added a drummer, Tony Tolley] ... then,
for the last 4 years with John Stokes, Con and Dec did almost
all the singing .... sometimes 2 sometimes 3 on stage.....read
Con met John at a Church Dance Hall in
Dublin and asked him if he would like to join him and his
brother Dec in a harmonica trio. Con had heard John was
a member of a group
called 'The Jackpots' and had been
asked to leave. John
did not turn up for the appointment. Again Con asked him to come
for a meeting and this time he came.
already performing with his 5 piece harmonica band. So
Con was playing in two bands - quite a feat.
and John formed a group called 'The
Harmonicords' and became very famous in Ireland mainly through a
26 week radio series on Irish National Radio [peaktime].
Dec wrote the arrangements and conducted the rehearsals.
He also wrote the arrangements for orchestras they played with.
First refusal to appear on stage
The first Summer Season
[a theatre show playing every night for 12 weeks]
they were asked to appear
in was at
Butlins in Mosney,
of Dublin. They spent some time rehearsing with the rest of the
company. This included learning
dance routines. On
the opening night
John refused to go on stage in
the dance routine as they were required to wear Lederhosen
[traditional German costumes] . With
ten minutes to spare the
choreographer [Kitty] had
to go on in his place.
First UK Tour and John disappears:
they finished their
first major tour of Gt. Britain with 'Nina
and Frederick' they were
stranded in Manchester
with no immediate
Con and Dec had professional positions prior to leaving Ireland
there was no employment readily available.
Con was an Electrical Engineer
specialising in heating design and Dec was a Civil Engineer in
the Chief Civil Engineer's office of the Irish National Rail
Company C.I.E. John [as a carpenter] returned
to Dublin. Con
and Dec were fortunate, through hard investigation, to obtain
bookings. They sent
for John to rejoin
them as they started performing around
the clubs in Manchester [there were more than 365 clubs
in Manchester at that
First Recordings and John is gone again!
When they made their first record and
were asked to stay in London during the terrible winter of
1962/3 for interviews, expected TV and Radio etc. food
was short, money was short and heating was definitely short. John
disappeared again leaving Dec and Con to wait for the phone to
ring. Again they had to send for him when bookings
The two brothers, Dec and Con,
genuinely starved during this period only living on scraps of
voice was replaced
John's voice was replaced on several
by their musical arranger Ivor Raymonde, most notably
on 'Ramona' which was one of their
and also on 'I
Wouldn't Trade You For The World' .
On the sessions produced by Tony Hatch only Con and Dec
appeared. John only
played bass on
one recording; their
Irish Album 'Under and Over' .
However, Dec had
to quietly go back into the studio and
replace lots of it. Dec
the album. John
never played bass on any other Bachelors' record
the vocal arrangements were written and arranged by Dec.
As all the recordings post 1963 were co-produced by Dec,
although this fact did not appear in any credits at the time.
Beginning of the End:
The Bachelors bought their own sound
system in the late '70s and for the first time they had monitor
speakers on stage so that they could hear themselves singing.
Con noticed that the voices were somehow out
of tune, and immediately thought it was his fault! He asked
their sound man, Brian Savory,
to record his
voice solo, during a show, direct from his microphone to a tape
that he could listen to himself. He was pleasantly surprised to
hear that he was singing very much in tune.
it Dec's voice out of tune?
Con then got Brian to secretly record
Dec thinking it must be him who was out of tune. Once again he
was pleasantly surprised..... It was not him.
Their next show was at Gunton Hall, and once
again Con asked Brian, this time, to record John solo, direct
from his microphone to the tape recording machine. When he got
home he could not believe what he was listening to! Not only was
it out of tune, but there were the weirdest noises he had ever
heard on the tape. At the next show Con handed the tape to
John and asked him to listen to it, whereupon he flung the tape
to the floor saying it was 'doctored' and that there was nothing
wrong with his voice. He then stated that the monitors on stage
made him sing out of tune!
At the eventual High
Court case John's voice
at that time was described by Queen's Counsel as that of a
'drowning rat' ... which made headlines in the National
just one of the many headlines
Morecombe was heard to say: "That is the funniest headline I
have ever seen in Show Business"
microphone had to be turned off!
Con and Dec had no option but to ask
Brian Savory to turn John's microphone off and it was like that
four final years
except when he had a 'solo' to sing.
The Bachelors were asked by Kay O'Dwyer
of EMI to record three songs. EMI would pay for the recording
and promotion of the songs. Dec wrote the
arranged to rehearse the first song before the next show they
were doing. John did not show up for rehearsals. Con and Dec
told him they wanted to put the song in the act to perfect it
before recording started. The song was 'Nelly Dean', and still
John did not rehearse the song.
In those days the Record company A&R people suggested the
songs to be recorded.
This was a golden opportunity for The Bachelors, not to be
walked off stage
Dec and Con decided to put the song in
the act and when it came time to sing it, John walked off stage.
The bass player in the band took over John's part. This
continued every night they performed. Dec then finished the
arrangement for the second song, "I Will Take You Home
Again Kathleen", and handed the bass part to John
to learn. The music was flung on the floor with the words "It's
a load of crap".
Picking the music up from the floor they
asked their drummer, Ken Newton,
to ask John to
learn the part. John
reluctantly took the music. When it came time for Nelly Dean to
be sung, John would walk off the stage, and when it came time
for the second song to be sung he would take out the music, turn
his back to the audience and play the bass without singing.
Problem with Charity Benefit Shows
Dec were much involved in charitable work and as top stars The
Bachelors were in constant demand to appear for differing
charities. It became increasingly more difficult to get
John to appear for 'no money'. Toward the end of the
relationship Dec was obliged by John to request him to appear at
charity shows by letter. John would arrive shortly before
the appearance time and leave immediately after. Con and
Dec appeared many times as a duo in these circumstances.
It became increasingly obvious from audience reaction that the Bachelors minus One had
better entertainment value than the complete trio.
last Company meeting
This behaviour went on for some time
until Dec and Con had enough of it. They
found it amazing that the audience never even noticed John was
missing from the stage ... they thought it was simply part of
the act and accepted Con and Dec as a duo. It
was decided to call a company meeting of Bachelors Limited at
The Eccentric Club in London with Michael Knight, their
accountant, as secretary, and confront John officially with his
conduct in the act. John said, in
his defence, that
the public did not wish them to sing new songs and that they
should continue doing the same act they had done for the past
many years. He also stated that they should not be
recording the songs they were rehearsing.
was pointed out that The Bachelors, right from the
start of their recording fame had included 'new' songs
in their presentations, live, on TV, Radio and on
record. It was expected of them by the public.
This was a method of constructing performances and
records given them by various producers, Ross Taylor,
Ernest Maxime, Michael Kent, Dick Rowe, Ivor Raymonde
and Dec, to this day, observe this wise advice.
deterioration in his voice was also discussed although John
would not accept the evidence of his voice that had been
There was no option but to
vote John off the board of directors and also terminate his
service contract with the company Bachelors Ltd. John stormed
out of the meeting with the words "I've heard enough of
this crap". This meeting was minuted.
It was much later discovered that John
did indeed have a problem with his throat, although it must be
stressed that this has not been verified by John and may be
last show together
After that meeting which was chaired
by Dec with Michael Knight as Secretary,
John was notified of the board's
decision by post and told that his services would no longer be
needed in 1984 after the end of Pantomime at Hanley Theatre.
John got Legal Aid [this would not be
possible today] and sued Con and Dec under the Companies Act for
unfair dismissal from the board of directors of Bachelors Ltd.
He also claimed unfair dismissal from the group The Bachelors.
The judge ruled that the name 'The Bachelors' belonged to the
trio and NOT to the company and that they should sort that out
amongst themselves. Con and Dec declared that they would cease
to use the name 'The Bachelors' -
whereupon John ran
from the court followed by his solicitor.
The judge then gave them 20 minutes in
the corridor outside to sort out the matter of the company. John
refused to meet any of Con and Dec's terms till it was time to
return to the courtroom,
whereupon John asked if he could buy the company from them. They
agreed to this as the company was in debt to the bank. [John was on legal aid - but was able to pay Con and Dec for the
it should be noted that this offer was already made by
Con and Dec to John prior to the court action.
The court action was designed to break Dec financially
through court legal costs
[this was conveyed to Dec by the legal teams involved]
three offers from Con and Dec to John re. the break up
of the Company were:
John buy the Company at an agreed, negotiated price
with Con and Dec.
Con and Dec buy the Company at an agreed price with
The Company to be valued by independent valuers, the
creditors paid and the proceeds split three ways.
negotiations continued from that Monday until Thursday.
John made many extra demands and given that he had legal aid,
and Con and Dec did not, they had to agree to all. Even
down to John demanding Dec's wife's car as an 'extra' and also
one of Dec's beloved vintage cars, again as an 'extra'.
Sandy [Dec's wife] was forced to drive her Golf Convertible car
to London and park it in a side street by Sheridan's [solicitors
to Con and Dec] with the keys left under the rear wheel.
Dec was also saddled with the Company's debt of £57,000 to the
then Westminster Bank in Berkeley Square although this money was
owed by The Bachelors Limited [owned by John after the court
case]. Dec had always been the sole guarantor of the bank
conveyed to Dec through his solicitors after a meeting with
John's solicitor [Jack Rabinowicz of Teacher Stern Selby] that
John's intention was to break him financial through huge court
costs. Given that John had obtained legal aid, by whatever
means, this was entirely possible.
offered a briefcase full of cash by Kevin Kinsella [adviser to
John] outside the offices of Con and Dec's solicitors in Red
Lion Square, London to buy Bachelors Limited [under the
counter]. This cash money was offered in full view of Con
and Dec's solicitor. Dec responded that he would consider
if Con and Dec had John's promise that all the creditors would
be paid. Mr. Kinsella's reply was: "f**k the
creditors". Dec did not accept the money.
the reason for the creditors was that John [quite legally
and rightly] was advised that he could freeze the bank account
of Bachelors Limited as a minority shareholder - so no monies
could be paid into or paid out of the account. All monies
from shows etc. were therefore held by the agent and not
released to Bachelors Limited until after the court case. Sadly, The Bachelors
could not pay those who the company owed money to until after
the case. John did not pay the creditors.
the terms of John's undertaking no party is allowed, by law, to
disclose the financial settlement.
As part of the agreement for John buying
the company he signed an
undertaking saying that he was not allowed to use
the name The Bachelors [or
any colourable imitation] in any shape or form, in
perpetuity. Con and Dec were allowed to
name in any way, in particular
'The New Bachelors', but not 'The Bachelors' alone or
'The Original Bachelors'.
Extract from High Court
Undertaking by John Stokes 15th May 1984 [Page 7}
7 (a) The Purchaser [John Stokes] and the
Company hereby irrevocably consent
in perpetuity to the use by the Vendors [Con and Dec Cluskey] of
any name incorporating the word "Bachelors" alone
provided such name does not constitute the name "The
Bachelors" alone or the name "The Original
Purchaser [John Stokes] and the Company
[Bachelors Ltd] hereby undertake and agree with the Vendors [Con
and Dec Cluskey]:-
(i) That they
will not hold themselves out or permit the use of any name
INCLUDING THE WORD "Bachelors" or any colourable
to view the High Court Undertaking signed and initialed by John CLICK
THE LINKS HERE:
|It should be
noted that John allowed Bachelors Limited to be wound
up in the High Court, Chancery Division, Companies
Court - "No. 00431 0f 1985 - 2 April 1985
submitted by John James Stokes on 7 March 1986".
The undertaking [agreement] of 15th May 1984 is cited
[mentioned] in the winding up order.
Three unpaid creditors of
the Company made a petition for the company to be
Click here to view winding
up papers: Winding
up Order page 1
up Order page 2
up Order page 3
John formed an act with another
performer called Steve Coe calling themselves 'Stokes and Coe'
[clearly observing the 'High Court undertaking']. This did not
last long. John then joined ex footballer Willy Morgan and
formed a company running Golf Tournaments, the most famous of
these being The Howard Keel Golf Tournament. Eventually Willy
John and John took him to court.
and Dec had continued successfully as 'The New Bachelors' [with third
member Peter Phipps] until
1993 when John reappeared with another band and called himself,
'The New Bachelors' [in contempt of court - can carry a
prison sentence]. Con and Dec had no option but to change their
name to avoid confusion.
contempt of court
John continues to break the high court undertaking
with Con and Dec by using the name 'The Bachelors'.
This contempt of court can carry a prison sentence as can the
offence of "fraudulent deception for personal gain" or
'passing off', the more familiar term for this offence.
His advertising also breaks the rules of The Advertising
Standards Authority which state that all advertising has to be
plain, clear and not misleading.
In Altringham County Court on 9th July 2006, as
part of a further action against John Stokes and a venue
advertising 'The Bachelors', Counsel for Brick Lane Music Hall
stated that they had changed the advertising for this bogus 'The
Bachelors' to ‘John Stokes’. The act was announced on stage
as: "John Stokes and his Fabulous Band".
Tours and cruises by Bogus Bachelors
Dec are inundated with complaints re the
Australian tours by this
bogus act each year and are advised that venues cancelled
because of John's breach of undertaking and contempt of
web site clearly breaks the conditions of his High Court
Undertaking by referring to his presentation as 'The Bachelors'
and contains many untruths and misleading information.
and Dec ensure that the public are fully aware that the band
they book tickets for are the two guys who recorded every one of
the 605 tracks, all The Bachelors hits, and are currently
promoting and enjoying the success of the 76th album release: "Swinging
Bachelors". To purchase go to the 'Album Shop'
'Con and Dec - The Bachelors' today
present a 'huge' show with a top notch crew in attendance and
the best musicians available.
and Dec always add their
names to any advertising: Con & Dec The
Every contract issued by their
agency requires that the 'billing' states this.
inform us if you see this 'bogus Bachelors' act
advertised, quoting the venue, the promoter and the
date ... simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
click on the link.
We will send you
a nice 'goodie bag' of current material as a 'thank
You will know
them from these pictures. Kevin Neill [RIP] has been dead some time but still features on some advertising. It would appear that Dave Pearson has replaced him: