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How It All Began


In 1959, Tez, with his school friends Mick Gillen (pictured above on right) Mike Sweeney (also known as Toddy) and local boy, Jim Green (centre in above picture), formed a band they called Teenage Crickets in suitable tribute to their hero, Buddy Holly. They did a regular gig at St Andrew’s Church Hall in Stourton, Leeds and went on to make a record of Buddy numbers at their own expense. After a while, Mick left to join another band and in 1961 it was Tez’s idea with Jim and Toddy to form another band they called The Cherokees, doing a few gigs at church and other local halls. A regular venue was the Hunslet Boys’ Club where they noticed a young guy who watched their playing avidly and one evening he approached Mike Sweeney to ask about joining the band as rhythm guitar.

Sweeney discussed this with Tez whose first question was, “Can he play?” Sweeney said he wasn’t sure but his dad had a van. That clinched it and Dave Bower was “in”. Another boy’s club member joined as singer but thankfully, Don Harding’s parents had far better things in mind for their son and this enabled Tez and Jim to approach a guy already very well known around Leeds whose brilliant voice was being chased by a number of bands in the area. In April 1962, John Kirby Woollard joined The Cherokees and Tez persuaded the others with roadie Jeff Hale, to pack in their jobs, “turn professional” and head for London.

On the first of October 1962, the boys, their gear, a few personal possessions and the cup they won as Ist_Oct_62.jpgMecca’s “Best Yorkshire Band 1962”, hit the road in John’s dad’s Bedford van known as the Striped Wonder of Woodhouse. It took them three days to reach London! It didn’t take Dick Turpin that long and he was on Black Bess (who rumour has it, was a barmaid at the Crown & Anchor!)!

In the months from April to October the boys had been saving to finance their adventure. They had become very well known around Leeds but even so, the bank was rather light and despite camping in the van by the time they hit “The Smoke”, they were desperately in need of a gig.....

©Tez Stokes 2010



Jim Green

John Woollard

Star Club Hamburg