When UK chart-toppers Brian Poole And The Tremeloes parted company in 1966, few would have wagered that the backing group would outdo the lead singer. Remarkably, however, the relaunched Tremeloes went on to eclipse not only Poole, but the original hitmaking act. At the time of their reconvening in 1966, the lineup was comprised of Rick West (b. Richard Westwood, 7 May 1943, Dagenham, Essex, England; guitar), Alan Blakley (b. 1 April 1942, Dagenham, Essex, England, d. 1995; rhythm guitar), Dave Munden (b. 2 December 1943, Dagenham, Essex, England; drums) and Alan Howard (b. 17 October 1941, Dagenham, Essex, England; bass). In May of 1966 Howard was replaced by Mike Clark; however, a mere three months later his spot was taken by Len GÇÿChipGÇÖ Hawkes (b. 2 November 1946, London, England), whose lead vocals and boyish looks gave the group a stronger visual identity. In order to keep up with the times, the group members abandoned their stage suits in favour of Carnaby Street garb and fashionably longer hair. Their second-generation debut for Decca Records was a cover of Paul SimonGÇÖs GÇÿBlessedGÇÖ, which proved unsuccessful. Seeking more commercial material, they moved to CBS Records and covered GÇÿGood Day SunshineGÇÖ from the BeatlesGÇÖ Revolver. In spite of radio play, it too failed to chart, but their third release GÇÿHere Comes My BabyGÇÖ (a Cat Stevens composition) smashed into the Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic.
An astute follow-up with GÇÿSilence Is GoldenGÇÖ, previously the flip side of the Four SeasonsGÇÖ GÇÿRag DollGÇÖ, proved a perfect vehicle for the TremeloesGÇÖ soft harmonic style and gave them their only UK number 1 and their highest US chart entry (number 11). Having established themselves as a hit act, they notched up an impressive run of hits during the late 60s including GÇÿEven The Bad Times Are GoodGÇÖ, GÇÿSuddenly You Love MeGÇÖ, GÇÿHelule HeluleGÇÖ and GÇÿMy Little LadyGÇÖ. At the end of the decade, the Tremeloes seemed weary of their role in the pop world and broke away from their usual Tin Pan Alley songsmiths to write their own material. Their first attempt, GÇÿ(Call Me) Number OneGÇÖ, was an impressive achievement, probably superior to the material that they had recorded since 1967. When it reached number 2 in the charts, the group members convinced themselves that a more ambitious approach would bring even greater rewards. Overreacting to their dream start as hit writers, they announced that they were GÇÿgoing heavyGÇÖ and suicidally alienated their pop audience by dismissing their earlier record-buying fans as GÇÿmoronsGÇÖ.
Their brief progressive phase was encapsulated in the album Master, which won no new fans but provided a final Top 20 single, GÇÿMe And My LifeGÇÖ. Thereafter, they turned increasingly to cabaret, where their strong live performances were well appreciated. In 1974 Chip Hawkes went to Nashville, USA, to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful solo career (his son Chesney Hawkes would enjoy a brief moment in the spotlight in the late 80s). Blakley left the following January, and Aaron Woolley and Bob Benham were brought in as replacements. The Tremeloes continued to record on an occasional basis, with albums being released by DJM Records and their old label CBS. They were still active in the new millennium, with Munden and West joined by Joe Gillingham (keyboards/vocals) and Davey Freyer (bass/vocals). In September 2006 Poole and the band reunited after 40 years for a tour of the UK. The latest version of the Tremeloes featured Munden, Hawkes, West and newer members Gillingham and Jeff Brown.
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