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The Spinners, often referred to as ‘the other fab four’, were Britain’s leading folk music outfit for decades. They were occasionally called The Liverpool Spinners due to the fact that there was an American band called The Spinners who, while in Britain, were known either as The Motown Spinners or The Detroit Spinners.

Originally formed in the autumn of 1958 they comprised Cliff Hall, Tony Davis, Hughie Jones, Mick Groves, Jacqui McDonald, Stan Francis plus Tony’s wife Beryl and sister Joan. The Spinners were initially a skiffle group but when a seaman called Redd Sullivan suggested they include sea shanties in their repertoire, they changed direction musically and began to include English folk songs into the act.
The Spinners

Spinners Brighton 1961 As a folk act, based on Merseyside, they became a quartet, with Hughie Jones (guitar, harmonica, banjo) who was born in Liverpool. Cliff Hall (guitar, harmonica), was born in Orient Province, Cuba, of Jamaican parents. When his mother died he returned to Jamaica with his father who worked in the plantations. There wasn’t enough money to provide Cliff with further education and as a teenager he worked moulding breezeblocks and milking cows.When RAF personnel came to Jamaica on a recruiting drive, Cliff claimed he was older than he was, signed up and came to Britain in November 1942 and was stationed in Worcestershire. He married a Scottish girl Janet Massie in 1947 and the couple had three children. By 1953 he was working as an electrician in Leeds and when he was sent to work in Capenhurst in Cheshire he met Tony Davis and was invited to join The Spinners. Mick Groves (guitar), born in Salford was to say “I think our strong Liverpool identity is actually a great tribute to the city. They call it a melting pot and we all melted together greatly.”

Tony Davis (banjo, tin whistle, guitar, kazoo), was born in Blackburn, but moved to Merseyside at the age of 14. The Spinners had founded a folk club in Liverpool in October 1958 which they called the Triton Club and their live performances formed the basis of their debut album ‘Songs Spun In Liverpool’ in 1962. The Spinners ran the club for 25 years and it continues with new regulars under the name Triton Folk.
The group signed with Philips Records in 1963 and recorded eight albums on the label before signing with EMI Records in the early Seventies. Apart from performing vintage folk numbers, they also included original folk songs penned by Hughie in their repertoire, including ‘The Ellen Vanin Tragedy’ and ‘The Marco Polo.’

One highlight of their act was a tribute to their native Liverpool with a song originally written by Peter McGovern in 1962, ‘In My Liverpool Home,’ while Cliff introduced some traditional Jamaican songs into their repertoire.
The Spinners

The Spinners One of the original songs on the debut album, ‘Quayside Songs Old And New’ included the song ‘Liverpool Girls,’ which was penned by Cliff and was his comment on British cooking. He said “My first wife couldn't cook the dishes I liked at first, but I called the song 'Liverpool Girls' so as not to offend her." Oddly, the record company were uncomfortable about promoting a multi-racial group and placed a cartoon on the cover in which all the members appeared to be white! The group recorded over forty albums prior to their retirement in 1988, thirty years after their original formation, having achieved considerable fame in Britain via their many concert and television appearances. They even had their own television show on BBC 1 in 1970 which ran for seven years and another of their own series was aired on BBC Radio 2. They officially retired following a concert at the Philharmonic Hall after a 120 date farewell tour. A year after their retirement they gathered together to lead the community singing at the 1989 FA Cup final and also performed some Christmas shows in1992, 1993 and 1994. There was also a reunion performance at the Everyman Theatre in 2004. During the last 17 years of their career, John McCormick acted as their double bassist and musical director.

When the Spinners decided to retire, he said that The Spinners had become an institution and “who wants to end their days in an institution.” Following their retirement, Cliff moved to Australia with his third wife Dottie (he had been widowed twice) but passed away on 26th June 2008 at the age of 82.

Tony continued performing and Mick became Chair of Education at Wirral Borough Council and later moved to Devon.

Hughie Jones has also continued to perform and has had three albums released, including ‘Liverpool Connexions’ issued on the Fellside label on 14th November 2005. It contained the tracks: Mist Over The Mersey; Moles Of Edge Hill; Down By The Dockyard Wall; Blue And Red; Betsy Of New York; Rent Collecting In Speke; Here’s To Cheshire; Unmooring; Cape Horner; Liverpool Lullaby; Derbyshire; Seth Davey; Shanghai Brown; Dirty Old Town; Safe In Snug Harbour; King Of Edge Hill; Alexander Selkirk Is My Name; Daughter Of Water Street.
Their 1994 CD compilation ‘The Spinners’ contains the tracks:
The Spinners
Lord of the Dance, All Day Singing, Blaydon Races, Last Thing On My Mind, Amazing Grace, We Shall Not Be moved, Guantanamera, Jamaica Farewell, To Be A Farmers Boy, The Foggy Dew, Greensleeves / Lovely Joan, North Country Maid, Liverpool Hornpipe, The Colliers Rant, Dance The Flora, Banks of the Ohio, The Shepherd Lad, Waters of the Tyne, Lamorna, Bucket of the Mountain Dew, When I First Came To This Land, So Long It's Been Good To Know You. It was reissued on 13th January 2008.

Their discography, together with year of release, includes:

1962 Quayside Songs Old and New EMI CLP 1500 (Mono); 1963 The Spinners (Fontana TL 5201); 1964. Folk at the Phil! (Fontana STL5219); 1965 More Folk at the Phil (Fontana STL 5234); 1966 Another L.P. By The Spinners (Fontana STL5431); 1966 The Family Of Man. (Phillips TL 5361); 1967 The Spinners Live Performance (Contour 6870-502); 1967 Another Spinner from The Spinners (Fontana 6857006); 1967 16 Startracks (Philips LP 6308-064); 1967 The Singing City (Philips 6382 002); 1969 The Spinners Clockwork Storybook (Fontana SFL 13191)(Later re - issued as Stop, Look, Listen); 1969 The Spinners (Contour CN 2026); 1969 Stop, Look, Listen (Contour 6870 529); 1969 Spotlight On The Spinners (Philips 6625 014); 1969. Not Quite Folk (Fontana STL 5495).

1970 The Spinners Are In Town (Fontana 6309 014); 1970 The Spinners Collection (Contour PDA 026); 1970 10 Of The Best (Fontana SPXL51); 1971 Spinners Vol. 1-3 (Phillips 6382 046/7/8); 1972. An Evening With (Contour, LP 6870 588); 1972 Love Is Teasing (Columbia SCX 6493); 1973 The Liverpool Spinners (EMI ST6406); 1974 The Spinners At The London Palladium (EMI YAX 4832); 1975 Sing Out, Shout With Joy (EMI SCX6526); 1976 Liverpool to Coney Island (Philips SON Q08); 1976 The Spinners English Collection (EMI OU 2120); 1977 All Day Singing (EMI, LP EMC 3167); 1978 The Spinners Sing Songs of the Tall Ships (EMI NTS 154B1979); 20 Golden Folk Songs (EMI NTS 193); 1979 18 Golden Favourites; 1979 By Arrangement (EMI, TCEMC 3009), re-released as Everybody Loves Saturday Night (MFP 50339).

1980 Blaydon Races (Ideal TCIDL 7); 1981. Around The World And Back Again (Dingle's LP DID 712); 1981 Carribean Sunshine Hits (One-up, LP OU 2235); 1982 Here's To You From The Spinners (PRT N145); 1983 Here's To The Spinners (TC-MFP 41 1038 9); 1983 In Our Liverpool Home (PRT SPN1); The Best of The Spinners. 2 cassettes, (DTO 10068); 1984 Last Night We Had A Do (PRT N6553); 1985. Your 20 Favourite Christmas Carols (Capitol, LP ED 2607471); 1986. Spun Gold (PRT, PYC 12, LP N 6560); 1986 The Spinners In Concert. (MFP, CC 212); 1987 The Spinners Christmas Cassette (RTS 1679); 1988, The Spinners Final Fling (EMI EN5007)

1991 The Best Of The Spinners (Pickwick PWK 103); 1992 The Best Of The Spinners (Castle MATCD 228). Other compilations include: Meet the Spinners (Warwick WW 5058); This Is The Spinners (EMI THIS 7); The Spinners (EMI Ideal TC IDL 7); 1994. The Spinners (EMI 724383018925). Their EP’s include: Songs Spun in Liverpool (Topic TOP 69) ; The Singing City; The City Sings Back; Flowers of Manchester . Their singles include: Maggie May/ Linstead Market (Fontana TF 450); Shine Eye Gal/ Amen; Dirty Old Town/ Philimiooriay (Fontana TF494); The Old Dun Cow/ Hold Him Joe; Family of Man/ Shortness of Sight; Funeral in Berlin/ Diamonds and Pearls; Orange and the Green/Mrs. Hooligan's Christmas Cake; Seth Davey/ All For Me Grog; I've Been on the Road/ Bluenose; Uncle Sigmund's Clockwork Storybook//Mechanical Blackbird; Black and White/Strangest Dream; Malaika/ Wing Like A Dove; Here's To The Couple/ Deep Blue Sea; Castles In The Air/ Lamorna; Last Thing On My Mind/ We Shall Not Be Moved; The Wind Is Blowing/The Wren Boys Song (PRT 7P316)

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