BIOGRAPHY
The British Invasion had its good-natured clowns, and they were Freddie and the Dreamers. Although the Liverpool scene was eventually more famous, nearby Manchester was the scene of equal musical activity. Freddie Garrity (born 14 November 1940) was caught up in the skiffle craze of the late 1950s in England, learning to play guitar. Skiffle was the last truly amateur musical form the punk music boom twenty years laters, and as with punk, skiffle bands formed for fun, and technical ability counted far less than enthusiasm. A bespectacled young man bearing a resemblance to Buddy Holly, Freddie looked like a bookish nerd with a cackling laugh, and performed with comic, acrobatic, exagerrated dancing meant to elicit a smile. He performed with such groups as The Red Sox and The Kingfishers before deciding to form his own group. The other Dreamers were all local Mancunians as well: Pete Birrell (9 May 1941) on bass, Roy Crewsdon (20 May 1941) on guitar, Bernie Dwyer (11 September 1940) on drums, and Derek Quinn (24 May 1942) on lead guitar.

The band auditioned for BBC radio in 1961 and subsequently appeared on Let's Go and on The Beat Show radio programs. They followed this with touring in England and with a residency at The Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Germany, much the same as The Beatles and other northern British acts had done. In late 1962 they turned professional and signed with EMI/Columbia Records. In May 1963, their first single came out, a cover of James Ray's If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, and reached #2 on the U.K. singles chart. Like most groups of the era, they didn't write much of their own material, and relied on producers to choose material for the records. The successful pop hit writer Mitch Murray provided the band's next two chart successes, both of which were hits later in 1963. These were I'm Telling You Now and You Were Made For Me, both of which were light, bright pop tunes - not deep, but catchy. This is the sound the group became known for. They toured with Roy Orbison and appeared in the movie What A Crazy World. At this time, the group was regarded as being among the top British bands of their day. Soon, it would be The Beatles who would set a new standard of respect and longevity achieved largely by composing their own material.

Three more hits in Britain came in 1964, Over You, I Love You Baby, and I Understand. They finished the year with their appearance in The Beatles 1964 Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. In 1965 they broke through into the U.S. market with the release of I'm Telling You Now, which hit #1 in the springtime. This success got the group touring the states and appearing on the pop music TV shows Shindig! and Hullaballoo. Another hit, Do the Freddie, spurred a momentary dance craze. American advance orders for the bands' debut album Freddie and the Dreamers reached 200,000, which at the time was the most ever for the Mercury label. The group was then featured in the films Seaside Swingers, Just for You, and Cuckoo Patrol. They did a world tour including stops in Australia and New Zealand, and a second trip to the U.S. Their bouncy, Mersey-inspired songs were danceable and popular, but they never moved beyond that style. A Little You was a minor hit in the U.K. Other U.S. chart hits were I Understand (#36), You Were Made For Me (#21), and A Little You (#48). Although subsequent singles didn't break, the band continued doing well on the club and cabaret circuit, moving into a more obviously humorous direction, recording an album of Disney film songs and then a children's album. They continued touring until 1968 and broke up not too long after that. In that period, when "rock" emerged and became something "serious," Freddie and the Dreamers were retroactively dismissed as innocuous popsters, never taking into account that the happy-go-lucky group never took itself so seriously. The band's accomplishments can't be denied - they couldn't resist taking offbeat material and making into hit music.

Garrity and Pete Birrell went on to host their own U.K. children's TV series called The Little Big Time. Garrity formed an all-new Freddie and the Dreamers in 1976, and continued playing the oldies circuit in the U.S., U.K., and Australia into the 1990s.



SOURCES:
  • Rock Encyclopedia, Lillian Roxon, Tempo Books, 1969.
  • Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock, various authors, Rolling Stone Press, 1995.
  • Delirium's Psychedelic Web WWW site, http://www.delerium.co.uk/archive/uk6070s/f10.html
  • Liner Notes (from The Best of Freddie and the Dreamers), Roger St. Pierre, Capitol/EMI, 1979.
  • E-mail contribution from Kenny Winston.