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Formed in 1962, The Nashville Teens were the product of the merger of two local bands in the Weybridge, Surrey, area. The band were unusual in that hey retained two lead singers - Ray Phillips and Arthur Sharp. The name was derived from the Everly Brothers song "Nashville Blues".
After some experimentation during their "apprenticeship" in Hamburg (including the short lived addition of a third lead vocal - Terry Crow) the band settled down and there were few changes of personnel during the early sixties. In 1966 drummer Barry Jenkins left to join The Animals, and pianist John Hawken joined Keith Relf of The Yardbirds to form Renaissance.
Art Sharp moved on in the early 1970's to follow a career in record producing, and today Ray Phillips is the sole "original" band member.
STAR CLUB HAMBURG
The band cut their teeth as residents at the famous Star Club in Hamburg, where they played alongside other up-and-coming acts like The Beatles. This scene led them to cut their first record as the backing band for Jerry Lee Lewis on "Live At The Star Club", they later backed Carl Perkins on his classic hit single "Big Bad Blues".
The Teens vocalists did not participate in the Jerry Lee Lewis recording and had to be content watching from the wings (The record was recorded live at the Star Club), The record does feature some interesting tracks where the drummer clearly drove the pace. Jerry has a reputation for not always being easy to work with, and you may wonder whether the speeding up of the beat is entirely accidental from a drummer who had a reputation for being rock steady ?
The bands big break came when they added John D Loudermilk's country song, "Tobacco Road", to their repertoire - except they gave it a full pulsebeat and pounding rhythm which transformed it from country music into one of the decades best known R&B standards. The song attracted singer Mickie Most to quit singing and take up producing.
Their R&B version of "Tobacco Road" has become a staple item in the repertoire of many bands, and there have been several extremely high quality covers - but there is still nothing to beat the original. Today when Ken Osborn on lead guitar hits those first chords and Ray bursts into "I was born..." the audience knows they are getting the first, the original and the best !
PRODUCERS & MANAGERS
The Nashville Teens produced many records during the sixties and seventies and were produced at various times by almost every big name producer in the UK. As well as Mickie Most, they utilised the talents of Don Arden, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Shel Tammy to manage and produce the band. The band continued to make records through the eighties and nineties, but remain committed to their first love of live entertainment.
Eventually Art Sharp left to join Don Arden in the management side of the business.
As well as their work with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins they also toured in the States with other big names like Bo Diddley, Ben E King and Chuck Berry. The band demonstrated the extremes of their musical talents when on tour with The Shangri-Las - they took it in turns to rev the motorbike on stage during "Leader of the Pack" !
Some lasting friendships and close relationships grew up between the touring bands in the sixties. The link between The Teens and The Animals was, and remains strong - Barry Jenkins eventually moved from The Teens to join the Animals as their drummer. The link with The Yardbirds was also tight and when the two bands appear together nowadays the dressing room is always full of anecdotes and good memories. John Hawken - The Teens original pianist left to join Keith Relf when he formed Renaissance. Art Sharp probably made the best move - into management - when he left the band in 1972 he went to become Don Arden's assistant.
TV AND RADIO APPEARANCES
The band have made many TV and film appearances. They featured in Fred Goodes film "Pop Gear" (1964) along with The Beatles and others. The Teens appeared on one of the very first "live performance" versions of Ready Steady Go, and have also graced the TV screen in the Southbank Show, OTT, Saturday Superstore, Unforgettable and a live recording at the Dominion Theatre. The most recent appearance was Ray Phillips on Never Mind The Buzzcocks in 2000. The Teens were also recently represented on radio when Colin Pattenden - bass guitar - was interviewed by Keith Skues on Radio London in August 2001. The radio station played Tobacco Road, Biggest Night Of her Life and a rare 1972 recording of Ray solo on Little Bird.
If you check on "The Music" section of this website you will find some video clips, two of which are videos of TV interviews being undertaken in 2003 in Hungary. Ray still gets asked for his memories in his own Country as well, one of the most recent being an interview with Roger "Twiggy" Day for Southern BBC Radio stations in April 2009