The Avengers (UK band)
|1961 - 1967
|Medway Towns, Kent
|Rhythm & blues, pop
Tony Barrows (1961-1963)
Pete Gilbert (1963)
The Avengers were a 1960s four-piece Beat group from Medway Towns, Kent. School friends Trevor Brice, on lead guitar, with bassist Tony Jarrett, guitarist Tony Goulden, drummer Tony Barrows and singer, Peter Butcher started the first line-up of the Avengers. Barrows was soon replaced by Pete Gilbert, and they added keyboard player Barry Landemen. Dick Allix eventually took over from Gilbert, before their change of name.
The Group began gigging at local clubs and one night found themselves supporting the more experienced Candy Choir, a group fronted by Eddie Wheeler (vocals, guitar). As well as doing their own gigs, Candy Choir also acted as the backing band for pop stars Crispian St. Peters and Barry Ryan. The young Avengers were highly impressed by the group. They became friends and also followed their example by concentrating more on vocal harmonies than on instrumentals. At this stage singer Peter Butcher then left the band and was replaced by Brice on vocals. Under the management of local restaurant owner and music mentor Barbara Lee, the band briefly changed names to the Four Avengers, the Grockels, and Brice's Braces, without much commercial success.
They signed a recording contract with Joe Meek which went nowhere, so instead released one single with RCA Victor in 1966: 'In the Beginning' (written by Keith Kitchen and Derek Webb) backed with 'I'm Not Gonna Cry Over You', which flopped over a name confusion. The band had to change their name to the Sages when they tried touring the United States to promote the single, because an American band called the Avengers was already using the name. To compound problems, the band were also seriously 'ripped-off' when two 'promoters' pocketed the entire ticket sales and disappeared during a concert at Rochester Casino, with headliners the Kinks, who failed to show up because no contract had been signed.
Then, in 1968, the Avengers while playing in local clubs, attracted the attention of entrepreneur Roger Easterby, who subsequently became their manager and producer. He found them a song called 'I Live for the Sun' which had been a minor hit in the United States for the Sunrays, a group from California managed by Murray Wilson, father of the Beach Boys. It was deemed eminently suitable material that would take advantage of the British group's love of harmony and cheerful tunes. Before the song could be recorded and released, it seemed like a good idea to find a new name for the Avengers (which according to Easterby made them sound like an old-fashioned rock 'n' roll outfit). During a meeting with their manager, one of the group spotted a copy of Vanity Fair on a bookshelf. With a judicious change of spelling, the Avengers became Vanity Fare.