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Sunday, 2 March 2014

Tony Meehan born 2 March 1945

Daniel Joseph Anthony 'Tony' Meehan (2 March 1943 – 28 November 2005) was a founder member of the British group The Shadows with Jet Harris, Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch. He played drums on early Cliff Richard and The Shadows hits and on early Shadows instrumentals.

Before the advent of the Beatles, the Shadows were one of the most successful and influential British pop groups of their time, although their musical credibility is often forgotten in the light of later appearances in films alongside Cliff Richard. Moreover, Meehan's distinctive and innovative drumming formed the backbone of the band's musical style and influenced a generation of younger musicians.

Born in Hampstead, north London, Meehan took up the drums at the age of 10, and three years later made his first public appearance at a dance hall in Willesden. Equally interested in classical percussion, he played the timpani with the London Youth Orchestra in 1957. Soon afterwards, he was offered a job in a touring band at £25 a week, and was granted six months' absence from school. He never returned, having found work on the London cabaret scene playing at such venues as Churchill's and the Stork Club.

Like numerous other teenagers, he was also drawn to the heavily rhythmic world of skiffle. He performed with the Worried Men and the Vipers, whose constantly changing line-up included future broadcaster Wally Whyton and future Shadows guitarist Jet Harris. Meehan also briefly backed rock'n'roll singers Vince Taylor and Tony Sheridan.

His big break came at the end of 1958 when guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch needed a replacement drummer for their group, the Drifters, which was due to tour with Cliff Richard, then the country's newest pop sensation. With Harris already on board as bass guitarist, Meehan was offered the job, and the next three years was a period of almost non-stop performing and recording, both with Richard and with the group as they established themselves in their own right as an instrumental combo.

Their first record, cut in January 1959, was Richard's Livin' Lovin' Doll, closely followed by the group's debut single, Feelin' Fine. After threats of a lawsuit from the managers of the American vocal group of the same name, the Drifters renamed themselves as the Shadows.
To hear Tony’s ‘chops’ check out ‘See you in my drums’ on the album ‘The Shadows’. It’s light years away from Sandy Nelson’s ‘Let there be drums’. Tony Meehan plays some stuff there which even 53 years after he recorded the track in one take, still sounds fresh and new.

In October 1961 - and still only 18 - Meehan left the group to pursue a career as a composer and record producer, a role he had become fascinated by while working at the Abbey Road studios with the Shadows. He negotiated a pioneering independent production deal with Decca, under which he would bring acts to the company. His first success was I'm Just a Baby, a coy number by Louise Cordet, daughter of the owner of the fashionable Saddle Room club in London's West End. He also branched out as a session drummer for Frank Ifield, Billy Fury and John Leyton, among others.

However, Meehan was soon back on stage, this time in partnership with Harris, who had left the Shadows following disagreements with Bruce Welch. As Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, they had instrumental hits with Diamonds (which replaced the Shadows' Dance On at the top of the pop charts in January 1963) and Scarlett O'Hara, both produced by Meehan. Diamonds also included Jimmy Page on acoustic rhythm guitar. The brief career of the Harris-Meehan group came to an end after Harris was injured in an accident involving a bus and a car, in which he was travelling with his pop-star girlfriend, Billie Davis.

Meehan decided to go it alone and launched the Tony Meehan Combo in early 1964. While the group recorded conventional pop tunes (their biggest hit was Song Of Mexico, by Apache composer Jerry Lordan), they had a jazz-oriented stage show that featured future Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and future Miles Davis guitarist John McLaughlin. "We were doing the sort of thing that Chicago and Blood, Sweat And Tears came up with later" Meehan later told an interviewer, "but we were booed off the stage when we did our jazz things."

The combo was dissolved in the mid-1960s, and Meehan concentrated on production work for the next decade. Among his credits were albums by the soul artist PP Arnold, the American singer-songwriter Tim Hardin, the British singer John Howard and Roger Daltrey, of the Who. Meehan was less active in the music business after the 1970s, though he made a rare public appearance in 1999 at a Shadows convention sponsored by Bruce Welch signing autographs for hundreds of fans - but not joining Jet Harris and the others on stage.

 Meehan quit the music industry in the 1990s for a major career change as a psychologist, as a result of a lifelong hobby/interest. He worked in London at a local college lecturing psychology until his death.
Tony Meehan died on November 28th 2005 at St Mary's Hospital South Wharf Road, Paddington, London as a result of head injuries, following a fall down the main staircase at his London flat in Maida Vale. (Info mainly from The Guardian. "Song Of Mexico" from Lord of the Boot Sale blog)
Cliff Richard's The Event in 1989 had special guests and Jet Harris & Tony Meehan Guested and played 'Move It'

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Diamonds and Other Gems go here:

1. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Diamonds (2:29)
2. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Hully Gully (1:53)
3. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Footstomp (2:52)
4. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Scarlett O'Hara (2:21)
5. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Applejack (2:09)
6. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - The Tall Texan (2:25)
7. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Song Of Mexico (2:25)
8. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Kings Go Fifth (1:42)
9. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Besame Mucho (2:21)
10. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Chills And Fever (2:30)
11. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Clap Your Hands (Once Again) (3:01)
12. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - The Man With The Golden Arm ( (2:12)
13. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Wild One (Real Wild Child) (2:45)
14. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Some People (2:09)
15. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Rave (2:21)
16. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Man From Nowhere (2:34)
17. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Big Bad Bass (2:17)
18. Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Rifka (2:25)
19.Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Lonesome Part Of Town
20.Jet Harris & Tony Meehan - Again