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Rock Hall of Fame beats back 6 British Invasion groups

Six British Invasion groups not yet inducted deserve Rock Hall of Fame consideration
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Gerry & the Pacemakers were the first to hit UK No. 1 with their first three singles

(No. 45 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been spot on in some areas, the British Invasion being one.

Sure, Donovan and the Moody Blues have yet to receive their just due, but, hopefully, they’ll be acknowledged while they’re still around to enjoy it. In case you missed it, both were profiled earlier in this series. Just call up Great Blogs of Fire under the Blogs tab at the top of this page.

Now that I’ve slipped that commercial by you, let’s get back to the British Invasion. So far, every major British Invasion group has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Moodies should be in the Hall of Fame, but don’t qualify as a major British Invasion group, their success coming when the Invasion had pretty much run its course. Their one Invasion-era hit, "Go Now," wasn’t even the same group.

But the Big Three, The Beatles, Stones, and Dave Clark Five, are all in as well as The Animals, The Hollies, The Kinks, The Who and The Yardbirds.

But wait - there was more…much more. And this week - and next - we’re going to take a look at six British bands that may not have reached the level of those above, but may deserve consideration for induction.

1. GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS - The story of how The Beatles opted to release their own "Love Me Do" instead of "How Do You Do It" as their first single, only to see the Pacemakers’ version soar to No. 1 on the United Kingdom charts is well known. That the Pacemakers became the first to top the UK charts with their first three singles - "I Like It" and "You’ll Never Walk Alone" following "How Do You Do It" - also is well known.

That Gerry & the boys were, like the Beatles, from Liverpool, managed by Brian Epstein and produced by George Martin is also common knowledge. That they starred in their own movie, "Ferry Cross The Mersey" you probably are aware of. And the fact that Marsden‘s version of "You’ll Never Walk Alone" became a soccer anthem in his native land and remains so today, yeah you know that.

But did you know that "I’m the One," the group’s fourth UK hit, just missed the top, stalling at No. 2? This began a string of hits written by Gerry Marsden. In fact, Marsden penned two of the British Invasion’s most enduring classics, "Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying" and "Ferry Cross The Mersey," both of which reached the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.

And how many remember it was Gerry & the Pacemakers and Chuck Berry together opening the fabulous T.A.M.I. show?

So why are Gerry & the Pacemakers relegated to second level status when it comes to British Invasion groups?

Basically, because their career was relatively brief, stardom lasting only from 1963 until 1966, and there was little progression. The Pacemakers' albums, from first to last, mixed just a couple of originals with a slew of covers, the "Ferry Cross The Mersey" soundtrack being the exception, but even that was sprinkled with recordings by other groups.

If Gerry & the Pacemakers had stayed together, it’s possible, considering Gerry’s terrific vocal ability, that the hits could have continued. We’ll never know. But they did leave us a fine collection of work, however sparse.

Phill's Hall of Fame - Yes.

Chances for Rock Hall of Fame induction - Fair.

The Hermits gave the best British groups a run for their money on the charts

2. HERMAN’S HERMITS - It’s hard to believe now that Peter Noone & company rivaled The Beatles and everyone else in popularity as the British Invasion got into full swing. But everyone knew the Hermits and, for awhile, they were everywhere, including the top of the charts. However, they weren’t taken very seriously. On the contrary, Herman’s Hermits became synonymous with lightweight.

Several factors contributed. First, they didn’t write their own hits and their cover versions sounded just plain wimpy, a great deal of the fault attributable to producer Mickie Most. His productions of the Hermits and the Animals, in particular, were almost totally without punch. He even made the original Jeff Beck Group LPs sound muddy.

And, of course, the choice of material included several outright novelties, "Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter," "I’m Henry VIII, I Am," and "Leaning On The Lamp Post," for example.

There also was - and remains today - controversy over just how much the Hermits played on their own records. Though it’s generally conceded today that the band could play capably and did most of their own playing on their recordings, the stigma of outside substitutes didn’t help.

Then there were the numerous television appearances, which gave the impression that the entire band consisted of Noone’s toothy grin as the camera ignored the rest of the band while zeroing in on a close-up of Noone’s face. Was there a band on stage with that head? Was there even a body below it? …who knew?

Anyway, 14 Top 20 singles in the states, 17 in the UK plus one solo by Noone. "I’m Into Something Good" hit No. 1 in England, "Mrs. Brown" and "Henry" reached the top in the US, "A Must To Avoid" was No. 1 in New Zealand and "No Milk Today" topped Norway’s charts. The first two Hermits’ LPs made it to No. 2 in the US, but for the most part the band was strictly a singles seller.

Phill's Hall of Fame - Yes.
Chances for Rock Hall of Fame induction - Fair.

Manfred Mann had just some hits in the US, but dominated European charts

3. MANFRED MANN - This London quintet started off ablaze with the classic "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" topping the charts in England, Canada, Sweden and the United States. But success in the States was minimal after that, "Sha-La-La," "Pretty Flamingo" and "Mighty Quinn" scoring decently, but little else.

Later, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band would connect, too, but that was an entirely different band except for Mann and, coming along in the ’70s, not part of the British Invasion.

Based on their success stateside, Manfred Mann wouldn’t even be in this conversation. But their success in their home country was remarkable, starting with "5-4-3-2-1," which became the theme song for the TV show "Ready! Steady! Go!" They charted 15 top 20 singles between 1963 and 1969, 10 of those reaching the top five with "Pretty Flamingo" and "Mighty Quinn" hitting the top. "Quinn" also topped the Swedish charts along with another Bob Dylan cover, "Just Like A Woman," while "Ha! Ha! Said The Clown" reached No. 1 in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands and "My Name Is Jack" topped the Austrian charts.

Manfred Mann’s failure to dominate American sales carried over to the LP charts, where only their debut album made even a small dent. The fact they made just one brief tour to the US probably had much to do with their lack of stateside success. But in Britain, four of their long-players were substantial sellers and they hit the top with three consecutive EPs.

Obviously, this group made a much greater impact in Europe than in the States. Because of this, it will be difficult for Manfred Mann to muster much support for Hall of Fame induction.

Phill's Hall of Fame - No.
Chances for Rock Hall of Fame induction - poor.