English beat group, The Tremeloes, is celebrating a remarkable 60 years in the music industry. Founded in 1958, the band has been going strong ever since. Although there have been various line-up changes over the years, their brand of British beat music remains as popular today as it was six decades ago.
When The Tremeloes first started out in Dagenham, Essex, the king of rock ‘n’ roll Elvis Presley was only 23 years old and had just been drafted into military service, Harold Macmillan was the UK prime minister and a passenger plane, the British Comet jet aircraft, launched the first transatlantic flights between London and New York.
In Dagenham, a group of teenage friends decided to get together and form a band. The original line-up included lead vocalist Brian Poole, Alan Blakley on rhythm guitar and keyboards, bass guitarist Alan Howard, lead guitarist Graham Scott and drummer Dave Munden.
They started out playing at local dances and clubs, citing Buddy Holly as their inspiration. They also began playing at US airbases across the UK, where they had to play longer sets, forcing them to learn a massive number of new songs and improve their skills. After turning professional in 1961, they signed for Decca in January 1962.
Their first UK chart hit was in July 1963. Their cover version of Twist and Shout – which was originally a hit for the American band the Isley Brothers in 1962 and also covered by the Beatles in March 1963 – reached number four in the pop chart.
This was the start of a multitude of hit records, including 91 singles and EPs, 14 studio albums and 76 compilation albums. Their first UK number one was Do You Love Me, also in 1963. This was the song that broke them into the Australian market.
They have also contributed to more than 1,000 compilation albums, playing their own songs on albums bringing together various artists, including A Galaxy of Stars, the ‘Here Comes My Baby’ series, Great Heartbreakers, the ‘My Little Lady’ series and hundreds more.
Silence is Golden
As the song most associated with the Tremeloes, their 1967 hit, Silence is Golden, was a cover version of the Four Seasons’ 1964 single. Released as the B-side of their number one US single, Rag Doll, it was written by the song writing team of Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio.
The Tremeloes’ version hit the number one spot in the UK singles chart on 18th May 1967 and remained there for three weeks – it sounded very similar to the original by the Four Seasons, as they used the same arrangement.
It was also a number one hit in Ireland, New Zealand and Norway and charted in the top ten in Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain. It was number 11 in the American Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and sold one million copies worldwide, earning the group a gold disc.
The title of the song is a well-known phrase that means saying nothing is better than speaking in some circumstances. It first appeared in the English language in 1831, when it was used by the author and poet Thomas Carlyle. He used it in his novel, Sartor Resartus, in which a character praises the virtues of silence.
It was also used in the German language in the 19th century, except the phrase was used in its entirety, “Sprecfien ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden” – “Speech is silver, silence is golden”. The full phrase is seldom used today.
The song, Silence is Golden, is written from the point of view of a man who is secretly in love with a woman, but she is with someone else. He is watching from afar as she falls for her boyfriend’s lies, while all the time he is deceiving her.
The singer feels helpless, because the woman is so blinded by love, she wouldn’t believe him even if he warned her she was being deceived – hence he sings the lament, “How could she tell he deceived her so well? Pity she’ll be the last one to know. Silence is golden, but my eyes still see.”
Ever since the song was released, it has appeared on a multitude of compilation albums over the years and has become synonymous with the 1960s, representing the musical style of the era. The high-pitch tones and the unison of the singers make it a true timeless classic.
Original lead vocalist Brian Poole left the band in 1968 to start his own record label, Outlook Records. Now aged 76, he has continued to tour, including the Reelin’ and Rockin’ Sixties Tour from 2002 to 2007.
Rhythm guitarist Alan Blakley left the Tremeloes in 1972, but re-joined the band from 1979 to 1996, until his untimely death from cancer in June 1996, at the age of 54.
Bass guitarist Alan Howard, now 76, left the band in 1966, when he decided to start his own business, while lead guitarist Graham Scott left in 1961, before the band hit the big time.
Drummer Dave Munden, now 74, is still with the current Tremeloes line-up today – he is the only original member still playing with the band. The other current band members are lead vocalist and keyboard player Joe Gillingham, 72, Jeff Brown, 58, who plays bass guitar and guitarist Syd Twynham, aged 63.
The band still plays the live circuit, playing Tremeloes hits going right back to the early days in the 1960s. In a recent interview, Munden said he believed the band’s great longevity stemmed from their songs’ catchy simplicity and the harmonious vocals.
The Tremeloes’ famous hit song echoes what many people think – silence is indeed golden. For people living near sources of noise, such as industrial premises, a building site, or noisy neighbours, silence is a somewhat precious commodity!
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