The Paramounts were an English beat group, based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. They had one hit single with their cover version of "Poison Ivy", which reached No. 35 on the UK Singles Chart in 1964, but are primarily known as the forerunner to Procol Harum.
|Also known as||Liquorice John Death|
|Origin||Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, United Kingdom|
|Genres||R&B, soul, pop|
|Associated acts||Procol Harum|
B. J. Wilson
The origin of the Paramounts is unclear. They were either formed as "The Raiders" in 1959 when the members were at secondary school, or were one of the first "manufactured" bands, the organisers of a band competition at the Palace Hotel in Southend forming a group out of the best musicians in the contest. The Raiders had Robin Trower and Chris Copping (guitars), Mick Trower (lead vocals; older brother of Robin Trower) and Gary Nicholls (drums; born 1945 died April 2007). The initial line-up of the Paramounts from September 1960, was Gary Brooker (piano, ex-Johnny Short and the Coasters), Mick Brownlee (drums; born October 1943, Chiswick, West London died June 2017, ex-Mickey Law and the Outlaws), Chris Copping (bass), Bob Scott (vocals, ex-Bob Scott and the Clansmen) and Robin Trower (guitar). Scott soon left, and Brooker became the vocalist, but as he was only 14, this made playing in licensed premises difficult, so they started performing in Trower's father's cafe, which became The Shades Club. Copping left in December 1962 and Brownlee left in September 1963, and were replaced by Diz Derrick (bass; born Grahame Derrick, 11 December 1944, Upminster, Essex) and B J Wilson (drums). Their musical style evolved from their initial R&B towards soul and by 1963 they were regularly playing in London, and were signed by Parlophone. In late 1964 and early 1965 they had Phil Wainman on drums (born Philip Neil Wainman, 7 June 1946, Hampton Court), briefly replaced Wilson who went to Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions. Their first single, "Poison Ivy", produced by Ron Richards, was a cover of the Leiber and Stoller song, which had been a hit for The Coasters in 1959. It became a minor hit for the Paramounts, reaching No. 35 on the UK Singles Chart, which led to them appearing on TV shows such as Ready Steady Go!.
Their second and third singles "Bad Blood" and "I'm the One who Loves You" both failed to chart, but the B side of the third single "It Won't Be Long" was the first song written by Brooker and Trower to be released. In search of another hit, subsequent singles were in different styles, but none of them charted. They became backing musicians on European tours by Sandie Shaw and Chris Andrews and the Paramounts eventually disbanded in 1966.
Brooker concentrated on writing music, collaborating with Keith Reid, and Matthew Fisher (organ), and they recorded "A Whiter Shade of Pale". Needing a band to tour and promote the record, Brooker convinced Trower and Wilson to rejoin them, and augmented this with David Knights (bass). By 1969, Knights and Fisher had left and Chris Copping rejoined.
Liquorice John DeathEdit
A friend of the musicians, Dave Mundy, disliked the name "Paramounts", which had been given to them by their manager, and wanted them to be called "Liquorice John Death". Mundy committed suicide in 1972, but left his possessions to Trower, including a painting of an album cover for an imaginary album by 'Liquorice John Death', which Mundy had called Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About.
In 1969, after Fisher and Knights had left Procol Harum, and Copping had joined, the line-up had evolved into the Paramounts' final line-up, minus Diz Derrick. At a practice/rehearsal in January 1970 the new line-up recorded 38 songs at Abbey Road Studios. Largely R&B covers that they had originally played as the "Paramounts", or songs in a similar vein, 13 of the tracks were mixed by Chris Thomas but the recordings were shelved.
An album containing all the Paramounts' singles, called Whiter Shades of R&B, was issued in 1983. In 1998 all the known original Paramounts recordings were remastered, as were six of the 38 tracks recorded by Procol Harum, in the Paramounts' style, in 1970. These remastered tracks were issued on a CD using Mundy's band and album names, and his cover art. The CD was re-released in 2005 by Friday Music, without Mundy's cover.
- "Poison Ivy"/"I Feel Good All Over" (1963) Parlophone (R 5093) UK No. 35
- "Little Bitty Pretty One"/"A Certain Girl" (1964) Parlophone (R 5107)
- "I'm The One Who Loves You"/"It Won't Be Long" (1964) Parlophone (R 5155)
- "Bad Blood"/"Do I" (1964) Parlophone (R 5187)
- "Blue Ribbons"/"Cuttin' It" (1965) Parlophone (R 5272)
- "You Never Had It So Good"/"Don't Ya Like My Love" (1965) Parlophone (R 5351)
- The Paramounts (1964) Parlophone (GEP 8908)
- Whiter Shades of R&B (1983) Edsel (ED 112) - CD (1991) Edsel (ED CD 112)
- The Paramounts at Abbey Road 1963-1970 CD (1998) EMI (7243 496436 2 8)
- As Liquorice John Death
- "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 417. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Joynson, Vernon (2006). The Tapestry of Delights Revisited. Borderline Productions. pp. 636–7. ISBN 1-899855-15-7.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Sixties Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 337. ISBN 0-7535-0149-X.
- "Review of Ain't Nothin' to get Excited About by 'Liquorice John Death'". Filmpop.com. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
- Eder, Bruce. "Biography of Liquorice John Death". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
- "Overview of 2005 re-release of Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
- Paramounts memorabilia exhibited in Southend-on-Sea, UK Thames Delta exhibition, 2012.