Who was/is Howie Casey ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Howie Casey & The Seniors
Twist At The Top, plus …
Howie Casey & The Seniors were one of the raunchiest Liverpool bands of the early Sixties. The steaming hot sessions captured on this high-energy album not only reflect the excitement of those happy days, but cast new light on pop history. But we'll come to that later!
When The Seniors launched a non-stop blast of twist numbers on their one and only album, the pop biz was young and fresh. That's why music recorded in the heat of the moment, still sounds so dynamic, forty years later. It was U. S. singing star Chubby Checker who set the ball rolling with smash hits The Twist and Let's Twist Again in 1960. Overnight everyone wanted to "do the twist" - from teenagers to movie stars. All you had to do was gyrate your hips and let the music do the rest. The only problem for club managers was finding the right local musicians who could capture the spirit of the latest American phenomena. The solution came when bookers discovered one of the hottest bands in Europe –playing right under their noses.
However, The Seniors weren't created simply to cater for the Twist craze. The band was already well established in Liverpool and Hamburg and played a solid blend of rock and R&B. They were the first Liverpool group to visit Hamburg, arriving on July 31st, 1960, more than two weeks before The Beatles. They also gave birth to Freddie Starr, one of Britain's most popular comedians, who sang with The Seniors before launching his solo career.
Howie Casey was busy putting the funk into Liverpool long before The Beatles had moved on from their skiffle group days. A fine tenor saxophone player, with his roots in jazz, Howie was born in Liverpool on July 12, 1937. He learned to play sax in the army during his National Service.
Says Howie: "I went into the army in 1955 and did three years with the King’s Regiment. I got into the military band and really learned to play. By the time I came out of the army in 1958, rock 'n' roll was happening. I joined a local band called the Rhythm Rockers, run by Frank Wibberly, who later became my drummer in the Seniors."
Why were there so many good R&B bands in Liverpool in those days?
"I don't really know. There is that thing about sailors bringing back records from America, but we used to get hold of them in the shops. None of our band had relatives going to New York on the boats."
Derry & The Seniors formed in November 1959 and was fronted by Derry Wilkie, a Liverpool born black singer blessed with a powerful voice. Little Richard, Ray Charles and Fats Domino were their inspiration and the group played R&B with great fire. Liverpool promoter Allan Williams took The Seniors to London, where German club owner Bruno Koschmider spotted them.
Says Howie: "Allan Williams got us the gig in Hamburg by going down to the 2I's coffee bar in Soho and having a blow. As good luck would have it Bruno Koschmider was in the audience. He owned the Kaiserkeller and he was looking for a band to replace The Jets with Tony Sheridan, who had just moved to the Top Ten, around the corner in the Reeperbahn. We were rather similar to Tony Sheridan, because we had a saxophone in the line-up and a black singer."
Bruno booked Derry & The Seniors to play for a month at the Kaiserkeller in the summer of 1960. They played up to seven hours a night for fifteen pounds a week and as Howie says: "We slept in cupboards." The Beatles were the next English band to arrive in Hamburg. "We used to play with The Beatles at the Kaiserkeller. They were playing at a much smaller bar called the Indra just up the road and they finished earlier. They would come into our club and get up and jam. We knew all the guys before we went over to Germany of course. There was the famous story about me saying ‘Don't send The Beatles over' to Allan Williams. We had seen them doing auditions in their early days and didn't think much of them. Then, when Allan said he was sending them out we said 'Oh no man, don't send them, they'll ruin the scene.' We wanted Rory Storm to come out. But of course, by then The Beatles had improved."