Liverpool group The Escorts reckoned they’d have piled up a stack of hit records if Brian Epstein had been their manager.
Somehow the 1960s band, formed by three friends from Morrison School for Boys in Allerton, never broke into the big time.
The musical talent of the three pals – Mike Gregory, Terry Sylvester and John Kinrade – was never in doubt.
In 1963, readers of Mersey Beat magazine voted them the ninth most popular group in Liverpool.
They were big favourites at the Cavern Club too. They made their first appearance there on New Year’s Eve 1963 and regularly played the lunchtime slot.
Club manager Ray McFall used to hand them the keys after lunch so they could leave their kit set up and rehearse before playing the first set in the evening.
Our photo shows the boys on stage with Kinrade on guitar, Gregory on bass and Sylvester on guitar and lead vocals. Tucked in behind them is drummer Pete Clarke.
They also performed at the Blue Angel Jazz Club in Seel Street – the venue where Epstein first noticed his future protégé Cilla Black.
Yet in spite of their local fame, the band’s six singles from 1964 to 1967 all failed to make the UK Top 40. Perhaps they never quite had the right push.
Their first single was a cover of Larry Williams’ Dizzy Miss Lizzy released in April 1964, some 16 months before The Beatles released their version.
In July, the group cut the single The One to Cry which entered the UK charts at No. 49.
Two more singles followed in 1965, including a cover of The Drifters’ I don’t Want to go on Without You, but both failed to chart.
In January 1966, The Escorts released a highly acclaimed cover of Let It Be Me, a 1955 song originally composed in French as Je t’appartiens. The English version was first recorded by The Everly Brothers.
Surprisingly, it too failed to chart. Soon after, Sylvester left to join The Swinging Blue Jeans and was replaced by Frank Townsend from The Easybeats.
The Escorts made one more record, From Head to Toe, on which Paul McCartney played tambourine.
Even with McCartney’s influence, the record made no impression on the charts and the band split in 1967.
Gregory followed Sylvester into The Swinging Blue Jeans before joining Big John’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus in 1975. He is now a solo artist.
Clarke became the in-house session drummer for Apple Records, recording with Kiki Dee and Billy Preston.
Kinrade gave up the music business to go into hair-dressing while Sylvester left The Swinging Blue Jeans in January 1969 to replace Graham Nash in The Hollies.
Our photo shows him, second left, on Top of the Pops in May 1969 – the year The Hollies released the ballad He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother which went to No. 3 in the UK charts.
The Escorts never made an album during their time together, but that was remedied 15 years after the band broke up thanks to singer Elvis Costello.
In 1982, he persuaded Edsel Records to release an LP containing all the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides of the group’s six singles. Its title was From the Blue Angel, recalling the name of the influential Liverpool jazz club.
Costello’s own version of The Escorts’ final single, From Head to Toe, peaked at No. 43 in the UK charts.
Once again, the Top 40 remained undisturbed.