What an honour...you want a biog? Con & Dec 'The Bachelors'. Well, me really, Con passed 8th April 2022.
Put it to good use....
You will tell from these few words that we look forward - all our career.
60 years at ‘The Top’ of our profession and still going strong! Well, nearly .. just me now.
These Dublin Lads are celebrating over 60 years in Showbusiness. Yep, we started in short pants ... honest. Recently we released 'Stripped Down Bachelors', a Swing Album ['Swinging Bachelors'], an Irish Album ['Irish Songs - the way we sing 'em'] posed almost naked for a Charity Calendar, and released a track on the Water Rats Compilation Album called ‘The Gathering’. In recent years we have had TWO Gold Albums - been at Number 5 in the Radio One Album chart and number 6 in the 'Value' charts, and Number 2 in The Irish Charts, outselling U2.
We have just completed our 78th album [Stripped Down Bachelors]. Our 'Sounds of Sunday', on 1st Sunday of every month, on ZOOM, is a sensation. I keep our memory alive.
1st Sunday of each month - 2 for 2.30pm UK time - ZOOM ID 736-7901-5504 Password: 2d6tmd.
So you see, we are still making headlines around the World. Brothers Con and Dec Cluskey, founder members of The Bachelors, were the first of the ‘Irish Boy Bands’ to invade Britain's shores in 1962. We took on the might of British Groups and even managed to outsell ‘The Beatles’ in 1964 and 1965. We were in the chart for 77 weeks in 1964. The Beatles were there for 55 weeks.What have we done recently?
Before Covid, we have been all over the TV with our hit album which was No. 5 in The Album Charts. Starred in our own show at The North Pier Blackpool.... Played New York for a fantastic 'Doo-Wop' weekend. Played three weeks at the Opera House Blackpool. Played for Jim Marshall’s birthday [and attended his tribute night RIP] ….yep, he supplied the famous wall of Marshall Stacks…loud? Yes! Played The Festival Hall in London for a unique choral concert and had the 200 strong Treorchy Male Voice Choir to back us….. played in Spain at La Manga ... the Internationally famous golf Resort. And yet another major choral concert, wrote the music parts for them.
But the sensation has been 'Sounds of Sunday' - right through Covid we had 'The Corona Diaries' every week ... then 'Bachelors in Lockdown' every month ... followed by 'Bachelors in Pandemic' .... and now our monthly 'Sounds of Sunday'“The past? Who cares, we’ve already been there”
Dec works hard at dreaming up new and inventive ways of giving you the best ..... he says: “all the good things are up-stream”
Can Dec Tell Stories? Yes! We have appeared with almost every Show Biz legend in the world, from Judy Garland through to ‘Ant and Dec’, and Dec will tell you the story about how he got Christened....he is the only other Dec in the world. Tom Jones, Engelbert, Sammy Davis Jnr., Bob Hope, Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Tony Bennett, Cliff, The Beatles, and even The Pope, we’ve shared a stage somewhere in the world at sometime with them all. Des O’Connor, Tom O’Connor - Brian Murphy, Glen Murphy. Cilla’s first big show? Lulu’s first big TV.....where did Freddie Starr get his big break? Bobby Davro? Yes, we knew them all, know them all, and boy, can we tell the stories? In fact we did that recently when we did a 2 hour show to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Risby WI. From ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ through to ‘Eastenders’, everyone has a tale to tell about ‘Con and Dec’. The Bachelors.
The Original 60's Group.
Yes, 'The Bachelors' got to work with the cream of the music industry...Clem Cattini, Ronnie Verrel, Andy White, Barry Morgan on drums......on bass: Frank Clarke, Lenny Bush, Dave Richmond, and the nutter himself, Herbie Flowers...he played with ‘Blue Mink’....and he is proud (the only one proud) that he wrote ‘Grandad’....in the guitar department we had the complete legends: Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Big-Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones), Eric Ford, Brian Daly, Judd Proctor.....Remind me to tell you about the time I sacked John Paul-Jones off one of our sessions! Yes, he who became the bass playing giant of ‘Led Zeppelin’. He was completely unsuited for the job with us....it was like asking Jools Holland to play ‘God Save the Queen’! Jimmy Page did okay...after Jim Sullivan and I showed him how to play an ‘E7th with a flattened ninth’ chord !!!
‘Where 'The Bachelors' Were’
Con and me and de odder fella
My mum was not too pleased when I gave up a position in the Chief Civil Engineer’s Department of C.I.E. (the Irish equivalent of B.R.) to have a go at the music industry in the UK. I had read Civil Engineering and this was my first (and last) ‘proper’ job. Yes, we had a fantastically successful career playing mouth-organs (ok, don’t laugh) since I was twelve! First TV show we did was the famed Ed Sullivan Show on U.S. television [65 Million viewers]. Not bad for the first one! The biggest in the world at the time. Then we appeared on the opening night of Irish Television....great honour.
We wrote and arranged the music for a 26 week series on Irish national radio....for Eamonn Andrews' Radio Production Company (BTP), as it happens....became a lifelong friend. And I’ve got the ‘red book’ ['This is Your Life'] to prove it. Tried the ‘big time’ in theUK for a few days...’Opportunity Knocks’....what a flop! Then tried it for four weeks....boy, was my head teacher miffed when I disappeared for that length of time!!! Then the big step. We heard whispers that a big ‘London’ agent was interested in us...Philip Solomon, he discovered Bridie Gallagher, Ruby Murray, Lena Zavaroni, Pam Ayres, Frank Carson, Van Morrison ...list is endless... (sadly passed away just a few years ago)....at that time wanted us to tour with Nina and Frederick (‘Little Donkey’, remember?) for five weeks.....great. 'The Bachelors' ended up in England After the five weeks? Broke, forlorn, homesick, destitute...... Never told Mum (she would have been livid!). Of course John Stokes (the non-brother in the outfit) disappeared back to Ireland (as he was to do every time there was any problem!). John was a carpenter, so no problem picking up work where he left off....Con and I, different kettle of fish! In fact the Employment Exchange were in hoots of laughter when I went to them for employment....they could not believe I was serious....with my education and qualifications?
You find out that the landlady knows a guy called Frank White...who just happens to be a relation of your father??? Uncanny or what? Quick phone call: “Leave it with me for an hour”. Sure enough, we got to see him and blow me...we were up and running....Three shows for that week-end....First, call Mum...we needed our guitars, double bass and amplifier, double quick! Should we call John, get him back from Ireland? Yes/No?, Yes/No?.....oh, all right then, toss the coin.....
Arbroath Summer Season
Ended up a few months later in a Summer Season in The Webster Hall, Arbroath, Scotland. Salary? £57.50 for three of us per week....I couldn’t give a toss...I wasn’t married, no responsibilities, but Con and John...whoops!! Married, with kids. We were doing our Karl Denver impression every night...well, not so much Karl Denver as three Frank Ifields. Who arrived to see us? The famous, or infamous, Dick Rowe...the boss of Decca. Famous for turning down The Beatles..however he discovered, not only us, but Vera Lynn, Mantovani, Tom Jones (with a little help from meeeself...I’ll tell you about it sometime), Engelbert, ‘The Stones’....goes on forever! Incidentally, Dick’s son, Richard Rowe, was the Supremo of ‘Sony Publishing’ world-wide...how about that? Operated from Madison Avenue. I bumped into him, at an Art Exhibition, in the West End recently. Dick was certainly not impressed: “Oh, by the way, try ‘Charmaine’, Karl has turned that song down, but I know it’s a hit!” How about that for a parting line from Dick?
The lucky break for 'The Bachelors':
Next morning, we were rehearsing at the theatre (oh, okay, it was just a church hall), “Let’s sing‘Marcheta’”. Half way through, a figure appeared from the shadows. “Why the heck didn’t you sing that last night when I came to see you?”. “But, but, but Mr Rowe....ehhhhh.” “You’re just damn lucky I had to come here this morning to catch my taxi to the station”. “I’ll see you at Decca Studios in two weeks time, Sunday...I’ll let Philip have the details”...........Wheehhhh.......
The Audition Session:
“Come on guys, give it a rest, it’s not going to get any better” “When did you eat last?” “Oh, Mr Raymonde (later to become a close friend, Ivor) you’re not going to catch US out that easy...we KNOW that we shouldn't eat”. “WHAAAATTTT?” That Cafe was bliss...that breakfast. WOW! If I close my eyes I can still smell the fried bread. Okay I can smell the tramp sitting beside me as well!
Back to Scotland: “How did it go?” “Don’t ask.”
Sitting in London:
In a borrowed flat....freezing, broken hearted....yes, John had b*ggered off again....Con and I shared our last bag of porridge........ 1962, coldest winter on record.
Philip called. “If anyone asks you....you are a ‘country and western’ group”. He had set up a meet with Shel Talmy and Mike Stone (who were to become one of the great driving forces in British Pop Record Production). They were predicting that C&W would be the next huge phenomenon in the UK. This was IMMEDIATELY pre ‘Beatles’. They loved us...and we loved them.....they spoke our language as regards music, recording, harmony.....we just loved every second of their company!
The session was a luscious dream....like a game of tennis........
'The Bachelors' First Hit:
What did it feel like standing in Philip’s flat in Park Lane, London, listening to the acetate pressing of our first proper recording? Can you imagine? Did you ever get that hair on the back of your neck stand on end...did you ever have a welling up in your eyes with sheer excitement....did you ever just stand silent in disbelief? That numbness....IT WAS ALL OF THAT...AND THEN SOME MORE......
Okay, we had a huge hit....19 weeks in the top twenty...longest for that year....AND CON AND I STILL SANG IT EVERY TIME WE APPEARED ON STAGE......
'The Bachelors' Christmas Song Fiasco:
We then wrote a Christmas song. “Oh My Gaaaaawwwd”. Dismal, undiluted, abysmal failure....it wasn’t released....it escaped! I think I personally have got more copies than were ever bought. Still get royalties though.....
Dick Rowe: “Now do you understand, boys, stick to what I say...just record ‘oldies’.”
He said the same to Mick Jagger one day at Top of the Pops.....we were chatting in our dressing room. Mick’s reply? “F*** *ff, Dick”....Whaaaattt? “Mick just told Dick to.....Did you hear that?” (I hope that story doesn’t offend! I should be president of the anti-bad language society...but Hey, it’s just a true story).
A Meteoric Rise To Stardom:
We made two films, (first singing ‘Stars will Remember’) [No. 1 in juke-box chart that year] and ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands’ in ‘He’s Got a Horse’ with Billy Fury, we were directed by our fantastic choreographer and life-time friend, Ross Taylor. Back to back...TV series, TV appearances coming out of our ears! We played ‘Top of the Pops’ so many times that we had our own wardrobe department at BBC...TRUE!!!
|SEASIDE SPECIAL BBC TV 1976|
Why did 'The Bachelors' part company with John? “well...long story really....”
I like John Stokes...see him quite often, at various charity functions or at Lodge...he is a ‘Water Rat’, as was Con.
You see, every partnership, in music, always seems to have two guys who do it all....Hank and Bruce....were always ‘The Shadows’...then Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi....who were the other guys in ‘Status Quo’? Who can remember? Then, The Kemp brothers?
Just a fact of life....A bus has always got a driver, conductor and passengers!
In ‘The Bachelors’ early days, Con was the one with the voice, I was the one with the ideas, John was the one with the newspaper! A great pal and fun to be around. Con and I always wished him the best of luck in everything that he attempted. Sadly he breaks the laws of this great country every time he attempts to present a 'Bachelors' presentation ... he is forbidden by a High Court Undertaking which he signed. Why does he do it? Who can tell .... a law breaker?
Where We Are
Now Con has left me, I am honouring his name with the 'Sound of Sundays' every month .... creating at least one brand new recording and video each month .... I love it. I have always loved the latest and greatest equipment and techniques ... I am a Hip Hop producer and writer really?
My new show 'The Bachelors' History' is now ready, trialled and dress rehearsed and bookings coming in .... Srprisingly affordable - I am so excited CLICK HERE.
ZOOM ID: 736-7801-5504 PASSWORD: 2d6tmd
every 1st Sunday of the month 2 for 2.30pm UK time
The great honours we have thrust upon us. Headlining at Millwall Football Ground to celebrate the Queen Mum’s 100th. birthday. Starring in the ‘Howard Keel Golf Classic’ Cabaret with Johnny Mathis and Howard Keel himself! FOUR standing ovations in twenty minutes!!!!! Appearing at The Waterfront in Belfast.... The Opera House Blackpool...... Earls Court, Bournemouth International Centre ... WOW!!
The fun we both have had traveling around the World...it’s a doddle ....and I get paid for it! I get to see exciting places, meet lovely people, sing a few songs and smile at the Bank Manager. Who could ask for anything better?
At time of writing, our 78th. album released and tracks being recorded for 'Sounds of Sunday'. 628 tracks to date? Did I ever think we would get this far? And the equipment available today just makes us sound better and better. I start on our next two albums shortly.
AVE MARIAWhere 'The Bachelors' Will Be
Recording In The Future?
I use every bit of tomorrow’s digital technology to enhance and improve the fantastic sounds that I always ade and still make. I produce the most exciting harmonies and vocal tricks..... videos are a joy to make with such a wonderful studio here at Stanton Prior.
The Big Question I Get Asked All The Time?
When are you going to retire? Answer: I will retire five years after I die. You see, I don’t work....what I do is not work...what I do is what I enjoy doing and I happen to get paid for it. Think of Jack Nicklaus, the great golfer....does he work? Has he ever worked? Ask Richard Branson if he works? I just know the answer he will give.
I am a keen members of ‘The Grand Order of Water Rats’. I am lucky enough to have been honoured as ‘King Rat’ and now am fantastically honoured to be a Grand Councillor of the Order and, most important of all, to have been a TRUSTEE for twenty years, that is having overall financial responsibility for the running of the most prestigious and respected Show Business Charity in the World....Wheeeehhhh! What an honour from my fellow show-business pals, Kink Charles 111 [yes, The King] Joe Pasquale, Michael Crawford, The HAiry Bikers, Mike Batt, Jimmy Tarbuck, Roy Walker, Rick Wakeman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Bryan May, Prince Michael, Niko McBrain [Iron Maiden] to name just a few!
Dec and Toastmasters International
Dec has been involved with this, the biggest Speaking Organisation in the world ... advised to join by the speaking giant, Jim Rohn RIP. He has been awarded the highest speaking award from that organisation and assists the Princes Trust in the UK with his phenomenal workshops to make kids able to speak in public ... so worthwhile.
See Dec in action CLICK HERE.
Helping Young People In Need
This is my own way of collecting money so that we can personally help and distribute that money to deserving young people. As a Trustee of the Water Rats I saw deserving young people who need funding for an exciting project or an exciting career who just don’t meet the requirements of The Water Rats. So I can identify those and sometimes we are able to help them.....BIG TIME!
Wonderful thing....ask me if there is anything I regret in our career and I will answer: “Of course, taking Dick’s advice and not writing as much as I should.” I started writing seriously far too late in my career, now I advise everyone to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!
[ DEC CLUSKEY ]
HI-RES PICTURES CLICK HERE