SOUNDS INCORPORATED (By Steve Walker)
Alan (Boots) Holmes (saxophone)
At a time when Shadows-like guitar combos were dominating the British pop music scene, Sounds Incorporated featured a Piltdown Men saxophone-led style that set them apart from the crowd. With the exception of their drummer, Tony Newman, who came from north-west London, the band members came from Kent's border with south-east London. They soon became renowned in that area, especially around Woolwich, for the fullness of their instrumental sound. Their big break came in August 1961. Union restrictions having prevented his own band, the Blue Caps, from crossing the Atlantic with him, Gene Vincent had been forced to use a British backing group, and the group selected for his forthcoming UK tour was Sounds Incorporated. They also backed Gene in the (Abbey Road) studio, on the UK single "I'm Going Home"/"Love Of A Man" (recorded on July 27, 1961) and on "Spaceship to Mars" and "There I Go Again" (recorded November 30, 1961). The success of the tour with Gene led to a recording session with Parlophone Records and further opportunities to back other visiting American artists, most notably Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brenda Lee and Sam Cooke.
Their only record with Parlophone, 'Mogambo' c/w 'Emily', failed to achieve any significant sales and even a switch to Decca failed to make much impact. It was while they were with Decca that they cut the Duane Eddy-sounding 'Keep Moving' and 'Order Of The Keys' with Joe Meek producing (probably now their most sought after single). In March 1963, they made their debut TV appearance on 'Thank Your Lucky Stars' (the rest of the line-up, introduced by Brian Matthew, was Brenda Lee, Ronnie Carroll, Mike Sarne, Julie Grant, Gerry & The Pacemakers and Tony Holland).
They travelled to Hamburg to entertain American servicemen, played the famous Star Club, and met and befriended the Beatles. Late in 1963, Beatles manager Brian Epstein signed Sounds Inc. to his management company.
In 1964, the group not only became singer Cilla Black's backing band, but toured the world as the Beatles' opening act, including the legendary show at New York's Shea Stadium. 1964 also saw the group in tandem with Gene Vincent again on the ATV televised epic 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'. In 1967, the Beatles invited Barrie Cameron, Boots Holmes, and Griff West to be the saxophone section on their Sergeant Pepper LP track 'Good Morning, Good Morning'.
Sounds Incorporated's own UK success with singles was very modest in comparison to their reputation as live musicians, but they managed two minor hits while still with Brian Epstein ('The Spartans' and 'Spanish Harlem' reached the lower regions of the UK charts in 1964). Their greatest success was actually in Australia where their 'William Tell' went all the way to the #1 spot - despite passing almost unnoticed at home in the UK. However, as the 1960's progressed the group began to disintegrate. First off, Tony Newman joined Jeff Beck's group and later went on to work with David Bowie. He was followed by Barrie Cameron who wanted a career in A&R. The rest of the group soldiered on, mainly playing in Australia, until 1971 when they finally broke up to each pursue new musical careers.
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