George Gallacher: Frontman with Sixties band The Poets

 

With the vocalist and songwriter George Gallacher at the helm, The Poets were the first Scottish group to make the British charts, reaching No 31 with their wistful and ahead-of-its-time composition "Now We're Thru" in October 1964.

 Their debut 45 for Decca was produced by the Rolling Stones impresario Andrew Loog Oldham, whose Immediate label they later joined. Yet, despite releasing some of the most innovative singles of the period, they never achieved the success of contemporaries like the Pretty Things, with whom they toured, but are fondly remembered by freakbeat and psychedelia connoisseurs the world over.

Born in Glasgow in 1943, Gallacher was a promising footballer and had trials with Leicester City and Celtic. By 1962, music had taken precedence and he formed The Poets with bassist John Dawson, drummer Alan Weir, rhythm guitarist Tony Myles and Hume Paton, whose 12-string guitar helped the band stand out as much as the Edwardian look – velvet jackets, ruffled shirts – they adopted before The Kinks, ostensibly as a nod to Robert Burns. Within a couple of years, their repertoire of rhythm and blues covers and original material by Gallacher and Paton won them a strong following in the ballrooms of central Scotland and North-east England, even if a London audition with Mickie Most proved unsuccessful.

Oldham, who had travelled to Scotland to marry the 18-year-old painter Sheila Klein, spotted The Poets on the cover of the magazine Beat News and tracked them down. "It was a Sunday morning," Gallacher recalled. "I was still in bed and my mother came in and said: 'George, were you expecting the manager of the Rolling Stones?'"

To promote "Now We're Thru", The Poets appeared on Top Of The Pops and Ready Steady Go! and were filmed for the US programme Shindig!, which explains their enduring cult status on the other side of the Atlantic. Impressed by Gallacher's ability, Oldham asked the singer to give Stones guitarist Keith Richards a few songwriting tips, but this only lasted one session. After producing their next three self-penned singles, the Zombies-like "That's The Way It's Got To Be", the haunting "I Am So Blue" and the dreamy "Call Again", Oldham became increasingly wrapped up in Stones business and setting up Immediate, and didn't spend enough time nurturing The Poets, causing dissension within their ranks.

When Paul Raven – at Immediate years before his reinvention as Gary Glitter – remixed their cover of the Motown standard and mod favourite "Baby Don't You Do It" in 1966 behind their back and lost the dynamism of the group's original mix, that proved the last straw for Gallacher.

The Poets declined an offer from the Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe to move to the US and retreated to Scotland, where the frontman showed his eventual replacement Andi Mulvey the ropes as he appeared alongside him for several gigs in a six-piece Poets. In 1967, Gallacher married and worked as a turner at Macdonald Pneumatic Tools in East Kilbride. He took up football again but was by then too old to consider a professional career.

In the late 1980s he returned to university and qualified as a teacher. He still played music with his brother-in-law Fraser Watson, another ex-member of The Poets, with whom he eventually relaunched the band last year with the help of Edinburgh's The Thanes. Gallacher suffered a heart attack on his way home after watching Partick Thistle beat Dumbarton 3-0 to go top of the Scottish First Division. Tony Myles is now the only surviving member of the original line-up of The Poets.

George Gallacher, singer, songwriter, turner and teacher: born Glasgow 21 October 1943; married 1967 Anne Watson (two sons); died Glasgow 25 August 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea