year, Joe Ankrah and his brother Eddie joined a vocal group called The
Shades, whose only appearances were in Stanley House, Upper Parliament
Street. Due to the fact that a rock ‘n’ roll group in London had the
same name, the group decided to call themselves the Chants.
Joe went along to the Tower Ballroom during an appearance by The Beatles and he had a chat with Paul McCartney, who asked him to bring the group for an audition. The Beatles liked the group so much that they provided backing for them on a number of appearances.”
In fact, when they turned up at the Cavern for an audition, but didn’t have a backing group, The Beatles offered to provide backing for them, but Brian Epstein objected. The Beatles overruled him and The Chants made their Cavern debut on Wednesday 21st November 1962 with The Beatles providing their backing.
The group’s leader, Joe Ankrah, wanted to form an American-style vocal group and The Chants were his third attempt. The other members were Edmund Ankrah, Nat Smeda, Alan Harding and Edmund Amoo.
Joe first met Paul McCartney at the Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, on 12th October 1962. He ‘blagged’ his way into Little Richard’s dressing room after the concert and Paul spotted him leaving.
that Cavern debut The Chants, backed by The Beatles, performed ‘Duke
Of Earl’, ‘A Thousand Stars’, ‘16 Candles’ and ‘Come Go With Me’ before
an enraptured audience, their set lasting approximately 20 minutes.
Local MP Bessie Braddock took an interest in the group as they were
from her Liverpool district, the Exchange ward, and she arranged for
them to be the only other Liverpool group present at The Beatles’ civic
reception at Liverpool Town Hall. Despite his initial frustration at
the Beatles’ agreeing to back The Chants against his wishes, Epstein
took over the management of the group early in 1963, but only for a
short time and without any formal contract signing.
The group found him ineffectual as a manager and he agreed to release them. They then signed with Manchester agent Ted Ross, who arranged a recording deal with Pye Records. However, they were later to consider they had committed “professional suicide” by signing with Ross, although they were grateful for what he tried to do for them.
Amoo wrote ‘One Star’, credited to Stanley Houseman, as a tribute to
Stanley House where they’d made their first appearance. Stanley House
was a social meeting place in the Toxteth area where young met old and
black met white to drink, dance and play football, table tennis, snooker
and generally mix together.
Commenting on their period with Pye Records, Eddie said:
“They had no idea what to do with a black 'doo wop' group - they just had no idea.”
The group never found record success, despite further releases with Fontana, Page One, Decca and RCA and strong singles such as ‘Man Without A Face’. After they disbanded in 1975, Joey and Edmund Ankrah joined another group, Ashanti, and enjoyed a degree of success on the television talent show ‘New Faces’.
Eddie Amoo formed a Liverpool soul group, The Real Thing, with his brother Chris and finally found UK chart success in June 1976 with ‘You To Me Are Everything’ which topped the charts and also reached No. 5 on its re-release in April 1986.
The Real Thing are still active with Eddie commenting:
I Don’t Care/Come Go With Me - Pye 7N 15557 1963
I Could Write A Book/A Thousand Stars - Pye 7N 15591 1964
She’s Mine/Then I’ll Be Home - Pye 7N 15643 1964
Sweet Was The Wine/One Star - Pye 7N 15643 1964
Come Back And Get This Loving Baby/Lovelight - Fontana TF 715 1967
A Love’s Story/Wearing A Smile - Decca F 12650 1967
Ain’t Nobody Home/For You - Page One POF 016 1967
A Man Without A Face/Baby I Don’t Need Your Love - RCA 1754 1968
I Get The Sweetest Feeling/Candy - RCA 1823 1969.