Last updated December, 2010Pat Wayne lead vocal
Patrick Curley was from Ladywood, Birmingham and worked as a waiter at the Grand Hotel on Colmore Row. He changed his name to Pat Wayne in 1957 when he formed a skiffle group called The Deltas with guitarist Dave Husthwaite. By the late 1950s The Deltas had become a polished act and wearing matching red suits, had won the BBC Six-Five Special talent contest held for local bands at the Gaumont Cinema. Pat later made an appearance on television which gave him his first real taste of fame.
Although Pat Wayne and The Deltas became well known around Birmingham in the late 1950's and early 60's, there were various personnel changes including a short appearance by Denny Laine as bass player (see Denny Laine and The Diplomats). Organist Mal Ford who worked at Cadburys, would leave to join Keith Powell's Valets and soon after, Pat Wayne decided he also wanted a change and left the Deltas to front The Rockin' Jaymen.
The Rockin' Jaymen had formed in 1957 with the band at that time consisting of Michael Craven (lead singer), Geoff Roberts (lead guitar), Graham? (bass guitar), Fred? (piano), and Jimmy? (drums). The line-up stayed the same until 1962 when a new bass guitarist Mal Edwards joined along with drummer Brian Sharpe (formerly of The Modernaires). Also joining the band were two of the best saxophone players in Birmingham - Dario Capaldi and Monk Finch - who had recently returned from Germany where they had played in Birmingham singer Johnny Neal's group The Starliners. Pat Wayne and The Jaymen became a popular attraction on the dance circuit and the line-up of two saxophone players made for a distinctive image on stage and gave the band a trademark sound.
In June of 1963 following in the wake of the "Mersey Sound" craze, Birmingham was visited by Cliff Richard and The Shadows producer Norrie Paramor who was looking to sign up new talent for Columbia Records. Auditions were held at the Moat House Club in Digbeth and Pat Wayne with The Rockin' Jaymen were one of the first bands to be signed. They were soon sent down to the famous Abbey Road studios in London where they recorded a number of tracks under direction of Norrie Paramor.
Before the band's first single could be released, the record company decided that the name Rockin' Jaymen might be confused with Peter Jay and The Jaywalkers, a group from East Anglia. Somebody at Columbia thought 'The Beachcombers' was a good name for the group and so they became 'Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers' (there was also another group called The Beachcombers in Birmingham in the early 1960s and their guitarist Peter Green later changed his name to Peter Lee Stirling, becoming a professional songwriter and writing hits for Kathy Kirby, the Merseybeats, and having his own hit records in the 1970s under the name of Daniel Boone). Note: there was also a London band called The Beachcombers whose line-up included future Who drummer Keith Moon.
A highly danceable track titled Go Back To Daddy, composed by Birmingham songwriters John Chesterton and Bob McNally, was chosen as the A-side for the first Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers single. Perhaps even more remarkable was the B-side which was a rocked-up version of the Hank Williams classic Jambalaya, and it must surely be one of the best dance versions of the song ever recorded. "We did many takes of Jambalaya" says guitarist Geoff Roberts. "It nearly drove us mad... and it got faster and faster". The single was released in 1963 and credited to Pat Wayne with The Beachcombers. The Beachcombers also had their own single without Pat Wayne released in October 1963; a high-energy, saxophone-heavy instrumental entitled Mad Goose. The 45's sold well locally and gave the Beachcombers exposure on TV and radio despite not reaching the record charts.
In November of 1963, Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers went back to Abbey Road to record a version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven. It has long been thought that future Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was hired to play lead guitar on the recording but according to Geoff Roberts this was not the case. "Jimmy Page never had anything to do with the band" says Geoff. "I played on Roll Over Beethoven and in fact created the guitar riff by double-tracking, the second track slightly out of tune with the first which gave the recording a distinctive sound. We actually recorded it before the Beatles and if you listen to their version there are similarities but they also used the same studio and probably the same engineers so its not surprising". Although the single was released before the Beatles version and apparently sold more than eighty thousand copies, it was unable to get into the charts. By coincidence Roll Over Beethoven became one of the first big hits for Birmingham group The Electric Light Orchestra in the early 1970s (see The Move).
Geoff Roberts left the Beachcombers in 1964 and was replaced by Tony Carter. Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers recorded another Chuck Berry song called Bye Bye Johnny that was released as a single in April of 1964 but it unfortunately also failed to chart. Sax players Dario Capaldi and Monk Finch also left The Beachcombers in 1964 and were replaced with new members. After the release of a final single with the Beachcombers, Pat Wayne decided to go solo and went on to record a further three singles in 1965 and 1966. The songs were well produced and should have done well, but by this time the record charts were dominated by "pop groups" and apart from isolated successes by those such as Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, solo singers seemed no longer in fashion. The Beachcombers also found it tough going with the line-up becoming further reduced by the departure of their saxophone players.
By 1966, Pat Wayne's solo recording career appeared to be foundering as EMI had not renewed his contract. He re-joined The Beachcombers who by then consisted of remaining original members Mal Edwards and Brian Sharpe along with Eric Ashcroft as their guitarist. Plenty of bookings for the band were still available locally but drummer Brian Sharpe also decided to leave. He was replaced with a young drummer by the name of John Bonham who had previously played in The Senators and with Nicky James.
Unfortunately, John Bonham's drumming style was far too aggressive for The Beachcombers and he ended up drowning out the rest of the band on-stage with his volume! After a few months and a number of bookings, John made an amiable departure from Pat Wayne and The Beachcombers who by now found their engagements increasingly scarce. He joined another local group called The Way Of Life but it would still be a few more years before John 'Bonzo' Bonham became part of Led Zeppelin - one of the most successful rock bands of all time!
Mike Kellie from the Birmingham group Locomotive joined the final Beachcombers line-up before they folded for good in 1967. Saxophonist Monk Finch went on to join Locomotive and Geoff Roberts continued with various other bands until 1968. In 1995, Geoff got back into music and played bass guitar in a band called 4-Play and in 1999 toured the U.K. and Europe with a band called Bullitproof. These days he plays bass in a modern country-rock band. Pat Wayne - a true legend of the Brum Beat scene - continues to perform around Birmingham occasionally to this day.
Thanks to Geoff Roberts and Mal Edwards for assistance in writing this biography.
Copyright © John R Woodhouse
Pat Wayne Solo Singles:
The Beachcombers Singles: