They were on the tour bus with Cilla Black and sung early Lennon and McCartney songs.

They played on stage in the film Ferry Cross the Mersey and had Brian Epstein as their manager.

They even recorded at Abbey Road studios with George Martin.

The Fourmost relax on the Merseybeat tour coach, February 1965

The Fourmost relax on the Merseybeat tour coach, February 1965

In fact, all the right Merseybeat credentials were in place for the Fourmost – but somehow they just missed out on the big time.

They came closest in mid-1964 when their single A Little Loving, penned by Russ Alquist, reached No. 6 in the UK charts.

Apart from that, their biggest hit was a version of the John Lennon song Hello Little Girl, written in 1957. It reached No. 9 in August 1963.

Freddie Garrity loses his shirt with the Fourmost and other artists at the Mod Ball, April 1964

Freddie Garrity loses his shirt with the Fourmost and other artists at the Mod Ball, April 1964

The Fourmost’s journey started when best friends Brian O’Hara and Joey Bower from Dingle formed the Two Jays in 1957.

They became the Four Jays in September 1959 with the addition of bass guitarist and singer Billy Hatton and drummer Brian Redman.

Guitarist and singer Mike Millward, previously with the Undertakers, joined the band in November 1961. New drummer Dave Lovelady signed up in September 1962.

The Fourmost on stage with Cilla Black in the film Ferry Cross the Mersey, July 1964

The Fourmost on stage with Cilla Black in the film Ferry Cross the Mersey, July 1964

The Four Jays changed their name to The Fourmost in October – and started playing gigs at the Cavern Club in Mathew Street.

The new band soon got noticed. Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein signed them up in June 1963 and introduced them to record producer George Martin.

After a quick audition, The Fourmost began recording for EMI’s Parlophone label. The future looked bright.

The Beatles, who wrote songs for the Fourmost, backstage at the Liverpool Empire, November 1964

The Beatles, who wrote songs for the Fourmost, backstage at the Liverpool Empire, November 1964

The band were in the same stable as the Beatles, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Cilla and early Liverpool rock and roll singer Tommy Quickly.

They featured on the Beatles’ 1963 Christmas show and lined up with a galaxy of stars at the 1964 Rave Mod Ball organised by TV show Ready Steady Go.

Billy Hatton also joined David Jacobs’ panel for the National Beat Group competition along with Alan Freeman, Cilla Black, Ringo Starr and Brian Epstein himself.

Brian Epstein, centre, and George Martin, left, at Abbey Road studios, October 1964

Brian Epstein, centre, and George Martin, left, at Abbey Road studios, October 1964

Thanks to the Epstein connection, the Fourmost could draw on the songs of Lennon and McCartney for their first singles.

The release of Lennon’s Hello Little Girl in August 1963 was quickly followed by the Lennon and McCartney song I’m in Love in November. It reached No. 17 in the UK charts.

After the success of A Little Loving, the band never made the UK Top 20 again. They came closest with their 1964 cover of the Four Tops’ song Baby I Need Your Loving, which reached No. 24.

The Beatles’ Christmas show featuring the Fourmost, Cilla Black and Rolf Harris, December 1963

The Beatles’ Christmas show featuring the Fourmost, Cilla Black and Rolf Harris, December 1963

The Fourmost were more successful on screen when they appeared in the Epstein-produced Merseybeat film Ferry Cross the Mersey in 1965.

They sang the track I Love You Too on the film’s album, which featured nine original numbers by Gerry Marsden.

The band’s own album – First and Fourmost – was recorded in September 1965. Cover versions included the Chiffons’ hit My Block and The Girl Can’t Help It by Little Richard.

Fourmost singer Billy Hatton on the National Beat Group competition panel, September 1964

Fourmost singer Billy Hatton on the National Beat Group competition panel, September 1964

Tragedy struck the group in March 1966 with the sudden death of Mike Millward from leukaemia. He was only 23.

George Peckham was recruited as his replacement and, in August, the Fourmost released another Beatles’ song Here, There and Everywhere. It failed to chart.

In November, the Fourmost tried their luck again with a version of the George Formby song Auntie Maggie’s Remedy. It fell flat in the UK, but made No. 43 in Australia.

Three more singles followed – Apples, Pears and Peaches and Rosetta in 1968 and Easy Squeazy in 1969.

McCartney played piano on Rosetta, but it didn’t help. All three singles missed the Top 30.

The Fourmost stopped recording after that, but were still a hit on the cabaret circuit for years to come.