The Allisons were an English pop duo consisting of: Bob Day (born Bernard Colin Day, 2 February 1941 – 25 November 2013) and John Alford (born Brian Henry John Alford, 31 December 1939, London). They were marketed as being brothers, using the same surname of Allison.
The Allisons held similarities to American duo the Kalin Twins of a few years earlier. They harmonised their voices beautifully, had one enormous smash hit, and then struggled to get recognition for much else. Perhaps it was being so successful too quickly that ultimately proved to be a handicap by raising expectations too high.
Although Brian Alford had been singing in the choir of Saint Dionis Church in Parsons Green, Fulham, since an early age, it wasn't until around 1956 that it occurred to him that he might be good enough to become a professional. By 1958, Brian and a fellow member of the Shadows, John White formed a duet- calling themselves the 'Shadows Brothers'. The gigs they did were mostly unpaid, but they longed to try their talents in the burgeoning coffee bars of London. However, parental approval for taking themselves to Soho to do this was not forthcoming.
In January 1959 John White decided to quit, and Brian Alford carried on as a soloist until August when he began a new partnership with Colin Day- somebody he sang with in the church choir. At this point the act was renamed "The Allisons". They each adopted a new name- Brian became John Allison and Colin became Bob Allison. This they thought would strengthen their professional image as "brothers".
They entered a national talent competition co-sponsored by the pop newspaper DISC and a tape recorder manufacturer. They reached the finals at the ATV studio in Wembley despite a roster of 600 entries, and went on to win- then being invited to sing on Bert Weedon's TV programme "Lucky Dip" that same day. They also won a record test and taped several of the songs that John had previously written earlier during 1957 and 1958. These were submitted to Fontana Records in the hope of obtaining a full recording contract. Fontana were impressed and selected "Are You Sure" for submission to the UK heats to decide Britain's entry to the Eurovision song contest.
They came second with 24 points. The song was released as a single on the Fontana Records label, and climbed to number 1 on the UK NME pop chart. However, the chart compiled by The Official Charts Company shows the song spent six weeks at number 2 and a further three weeks in the top 4. "Are You Sure" sold over one million records, earning a gold disc. In Germany the single reached number 11.
Here's the flip side to "Are You Sure."
Sadly, the Allisons' follow ups to "Are You Sure" largely went unnoticed by record buyers. Doubtless, the Allisons were poorly prepared for the highly commercial world they had entered and management disputes, poor promotion and naivety took their toll. They achieved only two further minor chart placings in the UK.
As the sixties progressed the pair eventually decided to split up in 1963 and leave foreground pop music. At first, John turned to full time songwriting but the yearn to perform became too great and he soon found himself keeping the Allisons name alive whenever he could. He and Bob would reunite occasionally for short tours, but during the 1970s and 1980s John teamed up with other "brothers"- notably Mike "Allison" and Tony "Allison".
Here's one of the last photographs of John & Bob taken at the British Rock 'n' Roll Heritage Show 29th January 2012
Ultimately, the Allisons, in common with many of the musicians whose popularity peaked in the 1960s had found themselves in great demand again. By the 1990s, Day and Alford regularly reunited to perform on the oldies circuit. Bob Day died on 25 November 2013, aged 71, after a long illness