Obituary: Colin Manley

"COLIN MANLEY was brilliant," Paul McCartney said during an interview on BBC Radio Merseyside in 1988. "He was the finest guitarist around Liverpool in the early 1960s and he could do all that Chet Atkins stuff with two fingers. A lot of the lads tried to play like that, but only Colin could do it really well."

McCartney knew Manley from their schooldays together at Liverpool Institute. While Paul and George Harrison became Beatles, Colin Manley and his schoolfriend, Don Andrew, formed the Remo Four. Manley later recalled: "Paul left school in 1959 and would not consider any other job but playing music. Don and I went after jobs right away and it was only after a couple of years that we decided to pack it in. Paul didn't think like that at all - he wanted to play and that was it."

With the vocalist and guitarist Keith Stokes and the drummer Harry Prytherch, the Remos played around dance-halls and clubs on Merseyside. They are particularly remembered for their instrumentals and their green suits with shocking pink linings. Many Cavedwellers recall the Remo Four outclassing the Shadows one night in 1961 at the Cavern. "I can't dispute that," says Hank Marvin, "we had a bad night. The Remo Four were excellent and a far better proposition than us."

Manley was always experimenting with his sound. In 1959 he ordered a Bigsby tremolo arm from America which he attached to his Hofner Committee guitar in order to emulate Duane Eddy's twangy guitar. A year later he was entranced by the wah-wah effects on Chet Atkins's "Boo Boo Stick Beat" and ordered a DeArmond foot-pedal. With these accoutrements he could emulate an orchestra playing "The James Bond Theme".

In 1962 the Remo Four went fully professional for a tour of US airbases in France. The line-up changed to Manley, Andrew, Phil Rogers and Roy Dyke with two vocalists, Johnny Sandon (who left the Searchers to join them) and Ellen Bee, who got engaged to six servicemen during the group's six months away.

By the time they returned to the UK, the Beatles were becoming known nationally and the Remo Four quickly secured a contract with Pye Records. Manley played his new Fender Jaguar on "Lies" (1963), which he also wrote. He used the wah-wah footpedal on the B-side, "On the Horizon" - the first British record with this effect; it was followed by the Beatles' "I Need You".

The Remo Four were signed to Brian Epstein's NEMS organisation, working as backing musicians for Cilla Black and others. With Tommy Quickly they made the Top Thirty with "The Wild Side of Life" in 1964. Manley said of this period,

We used to go on with Tommy for a short spot just before the Beatles. We couldn't hear the music we were playing because the fans were in such a frenzy. They made almost the same noise for Tommy as they did for the Beatles. I could have played in a different key to everybody else and nobody would have noticed. John Lennon let me use his 12-string

Rickenbacker for the introduction to "The Wild Side of Life". When we finished our spot, we'd come off and I'd give it back to him. I could tell by the look on his face that it was all too much for him. It was like being in the bird house of a zoo, greatly amplified.

Also in 1964, the Remo Four released a blistering version of "Peter Gunn". Duane Eddy commented, "It's absolutely wild and I loved it. It takes guts to play it without a sax!" Don Andrew left the Remo Four in 1965, and then the group were obliged to leave on tour. Manley recalled,

NEMS was well-organised by show-business standards. We had itineraries and wage packets and hotels were booked for us. After a couple of years, NEMS told us that we owed them some enormous sum of money - and we also owed back taxes. The only answer was to go to Germany to work it off.

Manley, Rogers and Dyke were joined by a keyboard player, Tony Ashton. They were very successful and experimented with extended jazz pieces at the Star-Club. Their jazz-rock album, Smile (1966), was ahead of its time and it was in Germany that Manley discovered what could be described as "rock 'n' dole": "The Arbeitsamt was a government service which would arrange gigs for us. There was no middleman and tax was deducted at source. It was terrific." They returned to the UK in 1967 and were produced by George Harrison for the soundtrack of the film Wonderwall (1969). In 1998 a fine, unreleased track from the sessions, "In the First Place", was found and issued.

The Remo Four broke up with the advent of a splinter group, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke, who had a Top Ten hit with "The Resurrection Shuffle" (1973). Manley found work as a Dakota for Billy J. Kramer and a Blue Flame for Georgie Fame and spent some years with Clodagh Rodgers and then Freddie Starr.

For the past 15 years, he was a member of another 1960s Liverpool band, the Swinging Blue Jeans, who showcased his guitar wizardry. In 1992, he played a sensational version of "Sleepwalk" at a Remo Four reunion in Liverpool. In recent years, he had made a supreme effort to shed weight. The Blue Jeans' lead singer, Ray Ennis, commented, "He's leaving us inch by inch." Although very ill from cancer, he was able to see his daughter, Julia, performing recently in the musical Smokey Joe's Cafe.

Colin William Manley, guitarist: born Liverpool 16 April 1942; married (one son, one daughter); died Liverpool 9 April 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road