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The Dakotas

The Dakotas were most closely associated with Liverpool-born singer Billy J. Kramer. They had a history before that, however, as well as a striking lineup on their own, separate from the developments in Kramer's career. The original group hailed from Manchester, and were put together as a backing band for Pete MacLaine. At that time, from 1962 through January of 1963, they were comprised of Mike Maxfield (lead guitar), Robin MacDonald (rhythm guitar), Tony Mansfield (drums), and Ray Jones (bass). In early 1963, just as the Beatles were finished with their second single, "Please Please Me," their manager, Brian Epstein, was looking for a backing band for his newest discovery, Billy J. Kramer. He had been playing and singing part-time with a band called the Coasters, but wanted to turn professional, at Epstein's insistence. The Coasters declined to follow him, and a new band was needed. Enter the Dakotas, who parted company with Pete MacLaine to sign with Epstein. He was not yet renowned as a world-beating success, but he did have two bands, the Beatles and Gerry & the Pacemakers, cutting records for Parlophone, one of which, "Love Me Do," had already charted modestly. It was an attractive offer, and they became Kramer's band. They were a very solid group, well able to adapt to the requisite Merseybeat sound not only as it had existed up to early 1963 but as the Beatles were altering it with their records and their success -- rock & roll balladry, with room for smooth vocals and even harmonies, became obligatory, along with a band sound that left room for some elegance as well as a good attack. Kramer hit with his first five singles, and in the process of becoming a star, the Dakotas also got their chance in the spotlight. They scored a success with their instrumental version of "The Cruel Sea," and also saw some action on "Magic Carpet." In July of 1964, the first major lineup change took place, as Ray Jones was pushed out on bass. Robin MacDonald, who had been playing rhythm guitar, shifted over to bass, and the Dakotas added a second lead guitarist in Mick Green. Green was a musician in a unique situation -- he had never inaugurated a band's sound, tending to come into lineups that already existed; when he did so, however, as in the case of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, he inevitably boosted their sound by many decibels and punched up the virtuosity. He was among the first of a new generation of hot rocking British guitarists, separate from blues virtuosos like Eric Clapton, and able to attack his instrument with distinctive riffs and variations in several different idioms, all of which came out well in the studio and even better in concert. His arrival in the Dakotas' lineup gave the group a unique double-lead guitar configuration that made them a power to contend with on-stage, although ironically, he only played on one hit with Kramer, "Trains and Boats and Planes." Kramer's string of hits ended in mid-1965, but he and the Dakotas were still a major live act, in England and even more so in America, where "Trains and Boats and Planes" made the Top Ten. In August of 1966, Tony Mansfield left the band, and ex-Pirate Frank Farley joined on drums, lasting until September of 1967 playing the cabaret circuit after concert work disappeared. By that time, Kramer's star had faded, and the Dakotas split in late 1967. Robin MacDonald and Mick Green became part of Engelbert Humperdinck's backing band, while Kramer kept on working for a time with the Remo Four, a perennial replacement band, having succeeded the Searchers as Johnny Sandon's backing band. In the mid-'70s, Green and Farley became the core of a re-formed Pirates, who continued to perform and record into the '90s. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Produced By George Martin - 50 Years In Recording

Disc 1

1. Pickin' A Chicken

8. Ae Fond Kiss

15. Portrait Of My Love

17. Experiments With Mice

21. My Kind Of Girl

22. Hi-Flutin' Boogie

23. Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine?)

24. Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O

26. Be My Girl

27. No Other Baby

28. Sun Arise

29. You're Driving Me Crazy

Disc 2

1. The Q5 Piano Tune

2. Unchained Melody

4. A Transport Of Delight

5. Nellie The Elephant

6. Little Red Monkey

7. Goodness Gracious Me

8. The Wormwood Scrubs Tango

9. The Hippopotamus Song

10. Any Old Iron

11. The Hole In The Ground

13. All The Things You Are

14. The Horse Show

16. My Boomerang Won't Come Back

17. A Drop Of The Hard Stuff

18. You Gotta Go Oww!

20. I've Lost My Mummy

21. My Brother

24. Right Said Fred

25. Football Results

26. Jake The Peg

28. A Hard Day's Night

Disc 3

1. Please Please Me

2. How Do You Do It

3. Do You Want To Know A Secret

4. Hello Little Girl

5. I Want To Hold Your Hand

6. The Cruel Sea

8. Bad To Me

9. Anyone Who Had A Heart

10. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying

11. I'll Keep You Satisfied

12. A Little Loving

13. Little Children

14. You're My World (Il Mio Mondo)

15. Yesterday

16. You'll Never Walk Alone

17. I (Who Have Nothing)

19. It's For You

20. It's You

21. Ferry Cross The Mersey

22. Can't Buy Me Love

23. I've Been Wrong Before

24. In My Life

25. Land Of 1000 Dances

26. Alfie

27. Michelle

28. Step Inside Love

29. She's Leaving Home

30. When I'm Sixty-Four

31. Time

Disc 4

14. No One Will Ever Know

18. From Russia With Love

20. Goldfinger

Disc 5

2. Icarus

5. Live And Let Die

6. Juniper Bear

8. Tin Man

9. Pinafore Days

11. Diamond Dust

12. Sister Golden Hair

15. Get Back

16. The Highwayman

18. World's Greatest Lover

Disc 6

1. Ebony And Ivory

2. Hymn

3. Say, Say, Say

4. Our Perfect Song

14. Summertime

Comments

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I'm guessing this is Billy J. Kramer's backing band. Good Shadows-styl e instro rock.

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