The Allisons are one of the best-loved of all Britain's Eurovision Song Contest entries despite never having won the event; they finished second in the 1961 competition. Originally a duo of Brian Alford and John White, the roots of the Allisons sprang from the remains of a southwest London youth club band called the Shadows (again, no relation to the better-known instrumental combo). Originally performing as the Shadows Brothers, the pair were popular enough to appear on the television talent show [RoviLink="VW"]Television Discoveries in 1958, but White quit in early 1959, and Alford attempted a solo career. By late summer 1959, however, he had teamed up with Colin Day and they took the new name -- changing their own surnames accordingly.
By 1960, the Allisons were performing at the legendary Bread Basket coffee bar, and later that year a demo tape of Alford's own compositions reached the ears of Fontana Records, which promptly entered one of the songs, "Are You Sure," for the U.K.'s Eurovision heats. Held just a month after the Allisons turned professional, the song was a runaway triumph at the regional contest, and remains one of the most deserving also-rans in the entire history of Eurovision. The single of "Are You Sure" reached number two on the U.K. chart in spring 1961, but follow-ups "Words" and "Lessons in Love" barely scratched the Top 40 and, by the mid-'60s, the duo had split. Alford continued as a songwriter, however, and occasionally convened new Allisons lineups, not only alongside Day, but also with other singers -- Mike Allison and Tony Allison both appeared alongside Alford over the years. ~ Dave Thompson
© 2014 Rovi Corporation.