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The Nashville Teens
|Also known as||Arizona Swamp Company|
|Origin||Weybridge, Surrey, England|
The Nashville Teens are an English rock band, formed in Surrey in 1962.They are best known for their 1964 hit single "Tobacco Road", a top 10 UK hit and a top 20 hit in the United States.
Art Sharp (born Arthur Sharp, 26 May 1941, Woking, Surrey) began his career in music as manager of Aerco Records in Woking, Surrey. The group's line-up eventually comprised singers Sharp and Ray Phillips (born Ramon John Philips, 16 January 1939, Tiger Bay, Cardiff, South Wales), with former Cruisers Rock Combo members John Hawken (piano), Mick Dunford (lead guitar) (born Michael Dunford, 8 July 1944, Addlestone, Surrey died 20 November 2012, Surrey), Pete Shannon (born Peter Shannon Harris, 23 August 1941, Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland) (bass) and Dave Maine (drums). Roger Groome replaced Maine shortly afterward but was in turn replaced by Barry Jenkins in 1963, the year a third vocalist, Terry Crowe (born Terence Crowe, 1941, Woking, Surrey) joined briefly and Dunford left, to be replaced by John Allen (born John Samuel Allen, 23 April 1945, St Albans, Hertfordshire). (Crowe and Dunford formed "The Plebs" with Danny McCulloch and Derek (Degs) Sirmon and were re-united with Hawken in Renaissance in 1970). There was also another member, Derek Gentle (vocals), who was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1962 and had to leave the band. He died in June 1963.
While playing in Hamburg, the Teens backed Jerry Lee Lewis for his Live at the Star Club, Hamburg album.Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes, "Live at the Star Club is extraordinary, the purest, hardest rock & roll ever committed to record."
The band later backed Carl Perkins on his hit single "Big Bad Blues" (May 1964) and also played with Chuck Berry when he toured Britain.One concert was attended by Mickie Most, who subsequently produced the band's June 1964 debut single, an interpretation of the John D. Loudermilk penned song "Tobacco Road", which reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 14 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The follow-up, another Loudermilk song, "Google Eye", reached number 10 in the UK in October 1964. The Nashville Teens' record producers also included Andrew Loog Oldham and Shel Talmy. One of their recordings was the mildly controversial Randy Newman number, "The Biggest Night of Her Life", about a schoolgirl who is "too excited to sleep" because she has promised to lose her virginity on her sixteenth birthday to a boy whom her parents like "because his hair is always neat".
A further three top 50 singles, "Find My Way Back Home" and "This Little Bird", followed in February and May 1965 and "The Hard Way" made a brief appearance the following year but three subsequent records ("I Know How It Feels to Be Loved", "Forbidden Fruit" and "That's My Woman") all failed to chart. Jenkins left in 1966 to join The Animals and was replaced by his predecessor Roger Groome. Reportedly, Ray Phillips got an offer to join Cream in 1966. He refused.
Although musically competent, the group's lack of distinctive personality contributed to its lack of long-term success, as did Decca's poor promotion. (By 1970, Decca's only remaining rock acts were The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues, both of whom handled their own promotion.) In the late Sixties the group returned to its old craft: backing other artists like Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent.In 1971 they released a single, "Ella James", a Roy Wood-penned song originally recorded by The Move, on the Parlophone label, again without success.
Arthur Sharp left in 1972 to join the band's one-time manager Don Arden, and Trevor Williams joined. Despite Phillips's efforts, the Nashville Teens split in 1973. The band re-formed in 1980, however, with Phillips as the only original member, joined by Peter Agate (guitar), Len Surtees (bass) and Adrian Metcalfe (drums). The band is still working. Phillips joined the British Invasion All-Stars in the 1990s and made three albums with the group, consisting of members of The Yardbirds, The Creation, The Pretty Things, Downliners Sect and other groups. The band did a cover of "Tobacco Road" that still receives airplay on XM Satellite Radio. The current line-up is Phillips, Metcalfe, Colin Pattenden (bass and vocals), Simon Spratley (keyboards and vocals) and Ken Osborn (guitar).
A 1993 EMI label compilation, Best of the Nashville Teens, contained a re-recording of their "Tobacco Road" hit which is the only version available on iTunes.
Dunford died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 20 November 2012 in Surrey, England.
The Nashville Teens appeared in three 1965 films:
In 2010 "Tobacco Road" was featured on the 4th-season premiere of Mad Men .
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