John Stokes 

ex stage bass player and sometimes back singer with The Bachelors - John Stokes - dismissed in 1984

The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Quote 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"


"Didn't there used to be three of you?" 

Answer:  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 on ......

 The very beginning:

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. 

'The Jackpots'

Con was already performing with his 5 piece harmonica band.  So Con was playing in two bands - quite a feat.

Con Dec 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.

 John's 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,  just  North 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 outfits  [traditional German costumes]  With ten minutes to spare the choreographer  [Kitty] had to go on in his place. 

 The First UK Tour and John disappears:

 When they finished  their first major tour of Gt. Britain with 'Nina and Frederick' they  were stranded in Manchester with no immediate bookings As 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 with haste 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 time!]  

The 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 came in.  The two brothers, Dec and Con, genuinely starved during this period only living on scraps of porridge. 

John's voice was replaced  

John's voice was replaced on several recordings by their musical arranger Ivor Raymonde, most notably on 'Ramona' which was one of  their hits,  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 produced the album.  John never played bass on any other Bachelors' record EVER!  All 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.

The 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 machine, so that he could listen to himself. He was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was singing very much in tune.

 Was 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 Newspapers. 

   just one of the many headlines

     Eric Morecombe was heard to say: "That is the funniest headline I have ever seen in Show Business"

John's 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 for the four final years except when he had a 'solo' to sing.   Nobody noticed. 

 Offer from EMI

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 orchestrations and 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 missed.

John 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.

The Problem with Charity Benefit Shows

Con and 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.

The 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.  


It 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 more.

Con and Dec, to this day, observe this wise advice.

The deterioration in his voice was also discussed although John would not accept the evidence of his voice that had been recorded solo.  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 hearsay.

The 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 company?]  


NB: 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]

The three offers from Con and Dec to John re. the break up of the Company were:

1) John buy the Company at an agreed, negotiated price with Con and Dec.

2) Con and Dec buy the Company at an agreed price with John

3) The Company to be valued by independent valuers, the creditors paid and the proceeds split three ways.    


The 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 account.

It was 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.

Dec was 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.

NB: 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.

Under 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 use the 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 Bachelors".

(b) The 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 imitation thereof.

LINKS to view the High Court Undertaking signed and initialed by John  CLICK THE LINKS HERE:  


                      PAGE 1           PAGE 7            PAGE 14


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 liquidated.

Click here to view winding up papers:  Winding up Order page 1   

Winding up Order page 2                Winding up Order page 3

Stokes and Coe

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 Morgan dismissed John and John took him to court.

Meanwhile, Con 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.

John's 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. 

Further court action

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".

Australian Tours and cruises by Bogus Bachelors

Con and 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 court.

John's 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.


 Beware of Impostors

Con 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.

 Con and Dec always add their names to any advertising: Con & Dec The Bachelors.   Every contract issued by their agency requires that the 'billing' states this. 

Please inform us if you see this 'bogus Bachelors' act advertised, quoting the venue, the promoter and the date ... simply email click on the link.

We will send you a nice 'goodie bag' of current material as a 'thank you'.

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:

John Stokes

Jonathan Young

Kevin Neill [RIP]

Dave Pearson

Revised 15 December 2012

DISCLAIMER:  Please note that this is a historical site for reference only.  This site does not purport to be a promotion of Dec Cluskey and Con Cluskey as 'The Bachelors'.  Con and Dec [who recorded every Bachelors' Hit] are familiarly and legally known as Con and Dec The Bachelors.