Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper Mersey Beat
Garrity was born in Manchester on 14th November 1940 and, on leaving school,
he undertook a number of jobs before joining his first skiffle group The
Red Sox, along with his brother Derek, and then joined The John Norman Four
followed by The Kingfishers. When Freddie became the leader of The Kingfishers
in October 1961 they changed their name to Freddie & The Dreamers and turned
professional after passing a BBC audition.
The group comprised Freddie on vocals with Derek Quinn on lead guitar, Roy Crewsdon on rhythm guitar, Pete Birrell on bass guitar with Bernie Dwyer on drums. Derek was born on 24th May 1942, Roy on 29th May 1941, Pete on 9th May 1941 and Bernie on 11th September 1940. The success of The Beatles had led to record companies signing up numerous groups from the provinces and The Dreamers became contracted to Columbia, making their recording debut with ‘If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody'. This R&B style cover of a James Ray recording wasn’t typical of the Dreamers' future output which often incorporated the group’s zany approach in their stage act.
Freddie next co-wrote ‘I’m Telling You Now’ with the prolific hit songwriter Mitch Murray. At the time, Freddie and the group were appearing on virtually every major British television pop show including ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ and ‘Top of the Pops’. They also went on to enjoy one of the ‘British Invasion’ successes, topping the American charts with ‘I’m Telling You Now'. The Dreamers were particularly noted for their comedy routines in which Freddie pranced and danced around in a gawky fashion, which often resulted in him suffering twisted ankles. When he was once asked during an American interview what the name of the dance was, he said “It’s called ‘Do The Freddie’”.
The group then wrote and performed a number for the dance called ‘Do the Freddie’, which resulted in a single of the same name especially for the American market – and another U.S. Top 20 entry. The group found international fame, launched a world tour, and also appeared in a number of films, including 'What A Crazy World’, ‘Just For You’, ‘Every Day’s A Holiday', ‘Out Of Sight’ and ‘Cuckoo Patrol'. Their other hit singles included: ‘You Were Made for Me’, ‘Over You’, ‘I Love You Baby’, ‘Just For You’, ‘I Understand’, ‘A Little You’ and ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ – all between 1963 and 1965.
The original line-up eventually split in 1968 with Freddie finding a new backing band, which he also called The Dreamers, to appear on the cabaret circuit. Freddie and Birrell also appeared regularly on the UK television children’s show ‘Little Big Time'. In 1988 Freddie appeared in a stage production of ‘The Tempest' and also continued to appear with different line-ups of The Dreamers. The other original members are no longer performing: Dwyer contracted lung cancer and died on 4th December 2002 at the age of 62. On leaving the group, Birrell became a taxi driver and later enjoyed a career as an actor, appearing in numerous television series including ‘Minder’, ‘Bergerac’, ‘Lovejoy’ and ‘Dr Who'. He died on 23rd June 2004. The last I heard was that Crewsdon has his own bar in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Quinn works for a soft drinks company in Chester.
For a number of years Freddie also appeared in pantomime during the Christmas season in roles such as Silly Billy in ‘Jack & The Beanstalk'. In 1996 he played a drug-pushing disc jockey in the hit UK television series ‘Heartbeat' and, the following year, his house was the subject of an edition of ‘Through the Keyhole'. Sadly, Freddie had to retire due to pulmonary hypertension which affected his mobility and confined him to a wheelchair. He was taken to hospital in Bangor, North Wales, during a holiday with his third wife Christine and passed away on 19th May 2005. He had a daughter by his first wife Josie and son and two daughters by his second wife Deirdre.
|Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.
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