The Swinging Blue Jeans
CareerThe group had its origins in 1957, when Ray Ennis formed a jazz influenced skiffle sextet group called the Bluegenes.
The original lineup also included guitarist/vocalist Bruce McCaskill, banjo player Tommy Hughes, washboard player Norman Kuhlke, and oil drum bass player Spud Ward.
There were a number of early personnel changes, as guitarist Ralph Ellis joined the band and Ward was replaced by Les Braid.
Johnny Carter and Paul Moss entered the band to replace Hughes and McCaskill.
They were a fully working band by 1962, playing skiffle at venues in Liverpool and at the Star Club in Hamburg.
However the German audiences booed them off the stage, and the group rapidly changed direction and focus.They switched to rock and roll, and with a name change to reflect their attire, to the Swinging Blue Jeans.
This earned the band, then a quintet featuring Ennis, Braid, Ellis, Kuhlke and Moss, a recording contract with HMV with record producer, Walter Ridley.
The quintet's first recording, "It's Too Late Now", which was written by Ennis, made the British Top 30.
After the departure of Moss, the band became a quartet.
In December of 1963, a cover of the song "Hippy Hippy Shake" took the band to second on the British charts and established them as stars.They had a three year spell of success, rising and falling with Merseybeat itself.
During this time, the Swinging Blue Jeans performed on many popular TV shows in the United Kingdom and Europe, appearing with The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, and The Merseybeats.
The Swinging Blue Jeans had the standard Shadows line-up of two guitars, a bass guitar and drums and achieved local fame with their appearances at the Mardi Gras Club and the Cavern Club.An album Blue Jeans a-Swinging was released in 1964 by HMV; an contemporaneous American LP composed of 45 and EP tracks, Hippy Hippy Shake included the released-in-the-US-only instrumental, "Wasting Time".In early 1966, Terry Sylvester from The Escorts replaced Ellis, who had shared songwriting duties with Ray Ennis.
Finding themselves trying to keep up with the rapidly changing times, the band recorded a second album at Abbey Road Studios in early 1966 which had a limited release in Canada.
The band drifted into a middle of the road direction which failed to bring them any success.
In 1967, the band's producer Ridley decided to try and transform Ray Ennis into a solo star, cutting the disc "Tremblin'" with session musicians and backing vocals by Madeline Bell and Kiki Dee, but it was ultimately released under the band's name.
In June 1968, a one off disc credited to 'Ray Ennis and The Blue Jeans' failed to bring any change in fortune, and Sylvester left at the end of 1968 to replace Graham Nash in The Hollies.
"Hey Mrs Housewife" was credited to The Blue Jeans in April 1969, after which they were dropped by EMI.
The band then changed their name to Music Motor for a one off single on Deram, "Happy", after which they reverted to The Swinging Blue Jeans name, and the band eventually retired to the cabaret circuit.The Swinging Blue Jeans, continued with Ennis and Braid until Braid's death in 2005.
After fifty years as an active member, Ennis continues as the sole original member of the band and still tours.
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