Derry Wilkie & Many Others

Derry Wilkie was born in Liverpool on 10 January 1941.
Some rumours abound that he was an halfbreed singer and that his real name was Derek Davis.
In fact both of his his parents came from a small town outside of Warri, Nigeria and "Derry" is actually a misspelling of the Nigerian name "Deri."
In his infant years, he lived in Upper Parliament Street, Berkley Street then Kent Gardens, Liverpool.
Compere Bob Wooler introduced him to a local group called The Hy-Tones at Holyoake Hall, near Penny Lane, in late 1959. He then became their lead vocalist although they already had two singers because he was by far out-sang the other two.
At that time he often had to face racism: there was the story that a group of thugs were after him and came to the Iron Door club with hatchets, banging on the door to get in. Wilkie escaped by finding a small way out to the rear.

The name change to Derry Wilkie & The Seniors came in early 1960, and they appeared regularly at all the major Liverpool venues including the Jacaranda. The owner of this club, Allan Williams, booked them for the Liverpool Stadium Show with American rock 'n' roller Gene Vincent on Tuesday May 3 1960. Their performance was witnessed by London impresario Larry Parnes who was impressed and asked Williams to arrange an audition as he was seeking bands to back his stables of artists, such as Billy Fury and Johnny Gentle, both from Liverpool. The audition took place at the Wyvern Social Club on May 10, along with Cliff Roberts & the Rockers, Cass & the Cassanovas, Gerry & the Pacemakers and the Silver Beetles. As a result the Seniors were booked by Parnes to back Duffy Power for a season in Blackpool. But Power fell ill and the season was cancelled, so Casey confronted Williams who promised to take the group to London and find work for them. Williams took them to the 2 I's coffee bar where he met up with Bruno Koschmider who was seeking bands for his Kaiserkeller Club in Hamburg as the previous English band he had booked, The Jets had switched to the rival club. They took up a residency there from late July to early October 1960 but they ran out of money and had to be repatriated. About one of the liverpuldian bands that took over them in Germany, Wilkie said: “a such bum group would spoil the scene for everyone else.” Less than 3 years before the Beatlemania!
On their return to Liverpool they lost all their equipment when the building they were storing it in burned down. They suffered so many financial difficulties and first disbanded in December 1960.

They re-grouped in January 1961 with Frank Wibberley replacing Wallington on drums and the addition of a second vocalist, Freddie Fowell, later knowns as “Freddie Starr”, and secured a recording contract with Fontana. This was the first Mersey Beat group to make records. By 1962, their bass player Frank Bowen left to be briefly replaced by Lou Walters from Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. Despite releasing three singles and an album, they rarely ventured outside the north-west of England.
The Seniors finally disbanded for good in June 1962. Sax player Howie Casey joined Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes. Lead guitarist Brian Griffiths joined the Big Three, drummer Frank Wibberley joined the Lee Eddie Five, Freddie Fowell formed Freddie Starr & the Midnighters, while Derry Wilkie fronted the Pressmen from Wallasey.
The Pressmen were basically a rock n roll group playing Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly, Little Richard type set. When saxophonist Phil Kenzie joined they changed their style and started playing early soul covers. Bob Wooler now Cavern club DJ suggested them to took on Derry Wilkie as frontman. In May 1963, Derry Wilkie & the Pressmen were winners in the Beat Group competition winning a Decca recording contract but Decca reckoned they didn't give them it because, Wilkie wouldn't stand still in front of a microphone, plus they didn't write their own songs. However, their recordings weren’t commercial enough: they were rhythm and blues.They had only one song on “THIS IS MERSEYBEAT” album, issued in July 1963, on Oriole: " Hallelujah I love her so". The song was recorded by Oriole's leading A&R man John Schroeder, aided by recording engineer Geoff Frost, at the Rialto Ballroom, Liverpool. The sound and earthiness of Derry's voice has been captured.
Aynsley Dunbar joined them in August 1963 when the drummer Tommy Bennett left to get married.
Ritchie Prescott the guitar player also left because he didn't want to go professional and was replaced with Dave Carden from "The Midnighters".In late 1963, Carden got talking with Freddy Starr who said he needed a band to go to Germany with him, and the rhythm section left Wilkie and Kenzie flat without warning to go to Hamburg. Dave Carden, Dave Roberts, Bob Pears and Ainsley Dunbar carried on as The Flamingos backing Freddy Starr till the end of the following year. Derry Wilkie and Phil Kenzie were left with no choice but to form another band with Willie Van Geffen on guitar, Howard Morris on bass and Tommy Bennett on drums.

In late 1963, Carden got talking with Freddy Starr who needed a band to go to Germany with him, and the rhythm section left Wilkie and Kenzie flat without warning to go to Hamburg. Dave Carden, Dave Roberts, Bob Pears and Ainsley Dunbar carried on as "The New Midnighters" backing Freddy Starr till the end of the following year (1). Derry Wilkie and Phil Kenzie were left with no choice but to form another band with Ernie Hayes on guitar, Derek Bond from The Rainchecks on bass, and Mike Holmes from The Four Dees on drums (2).
In December 1963, The new set of Pressmen had come to London and played with Georgie Flame & The Blue Flames while Derry Wilkie sang with The Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated. The band decided to turn professional and then reinvented itself as "The Others". Meanwhile Tommy Bennett teamed up with bassist Howard Morris and guitarist Adrian Flowerday to form a trio as "The New Pressmen".

Derry Wilkie & The Others toured the U.K. and Germany but never released a record during the two years they spent together.

They played at the same bill as Freddie Starr & The Flamingos at The Queens Hall, Widnes, in May 1964 (3). They were also a regular attraction at The Kraal club in New Brighton where they impressed the audience with their One Note Samba especially the virtuosity of the guitar and tenor saxophone in unison on the bridge. People tell that Derry Wilkie was phenomenal - ripping his shirt to shreds, climbing up the curtains, wailing like Little Richard...

In Summer '64, The Animals topped British then American charts with their bluesy version of the folk song "House of The Rising Sun" and had a residency at The A-gogo club in Newcastle which their manager Mike Jeffries owned. Derry & The Others played there and were spotted by Eric Burdon and his lads, who loved the Liverpool band and convinced Jeffries to sign them to his agency as Phil Kenzie recalls (later after their visit to America they also made him sign Jimi Hendrix and Goldie & the Gingerbreads) (4).

As 1964 drew to close, Derry Wilkie & The Others followed Freddy Starr and his outfit to Germany even ending up playing in the same clubs: in either Kiel or Flensburg.
During the first part of 1965, they took up a residency at the Star Club, Cologne, where they were spotted by other British acts such as Screaming Lord Sutch or Neil Landon & The Burnettes whose lead guitarist was Noel Redding later of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Redding remembered that bands like Derry Wilkie played even later hours than The Burnettes, giving them somewhere to hang out. He described Derry as a black Liverpuldian with the biggest hands he'd ever seen in his life... Wilkie & The Others were for a while out of work there and worked separately with two different bands before being repatriated by the Mike Jefferies Management.

After the group returned from Germany, Mike Holmes who didn't want to stay in London, was replaced by a Scottish drummer named Billy Adamson formerly with The Blues Council alongside saxophonist Bill Patrick and guitarist Leslie Harvey (Alex Harvey's young brother).

Derry Wilkie and his group even used the old name of The Pressmen when they supported The Alan Price Set at The Marquee Club, London, in November 1965.

When guitarist Richie Blackmore, bass player Andy Anderson and drummer Jim Evans left the Savages to back Jerry Lee Lewis on his tour of Europe in late 1965, Screaming Lord Sutch needed a new band. He went to see Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen in a South London Club. Phil Kenzie remembers him talking and laughing with Derry Wilkie and then The Pressmen were at his house in North London rehearsing - with the two remaining members of the Four Saxes, Noel McManus and Ashton Tootell - to be the new Savages.

The members of the Pressmen worked for Screaming Lord Sutch for a considerable time, playing a lot of dates with him in England and Scotland.

They were the set of Savages that recorded "One Eyed Flying Purple People Eater" (5) - with Nicky Hopkins on piano - and played 6 concerts over a week end in early 1966, starting at the Astoria Finsbury Park and promoted by Robert Stigwood, alongside The Who, The Fortunes and The Merseybeats.

Sutch made Derry Wilkie dress up as a woman for one part of the act so he could chase him around the club with an axe. Derry did it as a good sport for a while but he didn't really enjoy having to but the pay was good and they all needed the money.

Soon after the departure of Noel McManus, the Savages were approached by heavy-weight boxer Freddy Mac to form a larger "Soul" stage show which included American vocalists Cleo Sylvester (who previously worked with The Rollingstones in '64) and Ronald Bertram Greaves aka "Sonny Child" (Sam Cooke's nephew).

As a result, the whole band - Derry Wilkie, Phil Kenzie, Derek Bond, Ernie Hayes, Billy Adamson, Ashton Tootell and roadie Bazz Ward - ended up involved with this project and left Dave Sutch.

The group called "This 'n' That" was in fact two groups which merged to form one large soul band with three singers and debuted at the Ram Jam Club in Brixton in April 1966. It was short lived and Derry Wilkie, who felt he was not getting the same attention as Sonny Childe, was opted out.

By mid '66, the group finally left Freddy Mac because they felt they could do better as a smaller unit.
They became Sonny Childe and TNT and recorded for Polydor until mid '67 (6).

Meanwhile Derry Wilkie went solo then went back to singing with Freddy Mac and his new group now call " The Mack Sound" from September 1966 to June 1967.
Wilkie then returned to Liverpool before moving to London and eventually living in Italy for some time.

Saxophonist Phil Kenzie joined Psychedelic band Tuesday’s Children and later became a sought-after session musician (e.g. The Beatles "Let It Be" LP, John and Yoko's Plastic Ono Band, George Harrison "All Things Must Pass", Paul McCartney & The Wings "Band On The Run" album "Jet", Al Stewart "Year of The Cat", Rod Stewart "Blondes Have More Fun", The Eagles "The Long Run" album ect.).

Drummer Billy Adamson later worked with Lulu, Emile Ford, Jet Harris then the Searchers for 30 years.

Derry Wilkie sadly died on 22 December 2001 and was buried in Toxteth Cemetery on Smithdown Road, Liverpool.

(1) According to Pete Frame ("The Beatles & Some Other Guys - Rock Family Trees of the Early 60s", on p.11),
in May 1964, The Pressmen let manager Les Ackerley persuade them to capitalise on the name of Faron's popular, defunct group. Played the Tanz Club in Hamburg... Read also articles by Bill Arty Davies and from British Beat

(2) According to Tommy Bennett, he was the original drummer of The Others but left them when they decided to turn professional. He then join the Pathfinders and was replaced with Mike Holmes.

(3) See Tickets Memorablio

(4) In an issue of Mersey Beat - July 23 1964, Derry Wilkie said: "And now I've got a new group, the fabulous (that's so true) THE OTHERS, and at long last we've found someone who'll be honest with us and will be signing with him in the near future."

(5) One Eyed Flying Purple People Eater / You Don't Care (Hep House HS04) was released only in Germany in 1966

(6)  Earnie Hayes:  "Sonny left and moved to USA...
Mike Vaughn-Jones, Billy Adamson, and myself joined Jet Harris from the Shadows with Pete Gage singing...

Late 1967 I had a call from Andrew Oldham asking if I could put TNT together to be a backing band for P.P.Arnold. I could only get Billy Adamson, Mike Vaughn-Jones, Phil Kenzie, Myself and we had Eddie Phillips from "Creation" on bass. "

Derry Wilkie & The Seniors
· Double Twist/True Fine Mama (Fontana H 364) - February 1962
· I Ain't Mad At You/Twist At The Top (Fontana H 381) - 1962
· The Boll Weevil SOng/Bony Maronie (Fontana TF 403) - 1963

Twist At The Top (Fontana TFL 5108) - February 1962

Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen
“THIS IS MERSEYBEAT” (Oriole PS 40047) - July 5 1963: “Hallelujah I love her So”

The Freddy Mack Show/This'N'That
 “Get Down With It”/ “I Care About You”  (Strike JH 310),   May 1966

Line-ups of Derry Wilkie Bands

The Hy-Tones #2 (Late 1959 - Early 1960)
· Howie Casey (Tenor Sax)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Billy Hughes (Lead Guitar)
· Brian Griffiths (Lead Guitar)
· Stan Johnson (Rhythm Guitar)
· Jimmy O’Connor (Bass/Vocals)
· Stan Foster (Piano)
· Derek Gill (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Seniors #1 (December 1959 - January 1961)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Howie Casey (Tenor Sax)
· Brian Griffiths (Lead Guitar)
· Billy Hughes (Rhythm Guitar)
· Paul Whitehead (Bass)
· Stan Foster (Piano)
· Jeff Wallington (Drums)

Howie Casey & The Seniors #2 (January 1961 - Early 1962)
· Howie Casey (Tenor Sax)
· Derry Wilkie (Vocals)
· Freddie Starr (Vocals)
· Brian Griffiths (Lead Guitar)
· Paul Whitehead (Bass)
· Frank Wibberley (Drums)

Howie Casey & The Seniors #3 (Early 1962)
· Howie Casey (Tenor Sax)
· Derry Wilkie (Vocals)
· Freddie Starr (Vocals)
· Brian Griffiths (Lead Guitar)
· Lu Walters (Bass)
· Frank Bowen (Bass)
· Frank Wibberley (Drums)

Howie Casey & The Seniors #4 (Early - June 1962)
· Howie Casey (Tenor Sax)
· Derry Wilkie (Vocals)
· Freddie Starr (Vocals)
· Brian Griffiths (Lead Guitar)
· John O'Hara (Bass)
· Kenny Hardin (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen #1 (April - August 1963)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Ritchie Prescott (Lead Guitar)
· Bob Pears (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Dave Roberts (Baritone Sax)
· Tommy Bennett (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen #2 (August - October 1963)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Dave Carden (Lead Guitar)
· Bob Pears (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Dave Roberts (Baritone Sax)
· Aynsley Dunbar (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen #3 (Late 1963 - Early 1964)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Ad Flowerday (Lead Guitar)
· Wille Van Geffen (Lead Guitar)
· Howard Morris (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Tommy Bennett (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Others (January 1964 - Mid 1965)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Ernie Hayes (Lead Guitar)
· Bob Montgomery then Derek Bond (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Tommy Bennett then Mike Holmes (Drums)

Derry Wilkie & The Pressmen #4 (Mid 1965 - Early 1966)
· Derry Wilkie (Lead Vocals)
· Ernie Hayes (Lead Guitar)
· Derek Bond (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Mike Holmes (Drums)

Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages #11 (Mid 1965 - Mid 1966)
· Dave Sutch (Lead Vocals)
· Derry Wilkie (Vocals/Sport)
· Ernie Hayes (Lead Guitar)
· Derek Bond (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· Noel McManus (Tenor Sax)
· Ashton Tootell (Barytone Sax)
· Mike Holmes then Billy Adamson (Drums)

The Freddie Mack Show/This'N'That (Mid 1966)
· Freddie Mack (MC)
· Cleo Sylvester (Vocals)
· Derry Wilkie (Vocals)
· RB Greaves (Vocals) aka "Sonny Childe"
· Jo Baker (Vocals)
· Jeff Krivet (Guitar)
· Ernie Hayes (Guitar)
· Derek Bond (Bass)
· Phil Kenzie (Tenor Sax)
· "Nobby" Clarke (Tenor Sax)
· Ashton Tootell (Barytone Sax)
· Mark Charrig (Trumpet)
· Mike Vaughn-Jones (Hammond Organ)
· Billy Adamson (Drums)
· Eddie Lincoln (Percussion)

The Freddie Mack Sound  (Late 1966 - Mid 1967)
· Freddie Mack    (MC)    "Mr Superbad"      
· Derry Wilkie    (Vocals)          
· Kookie Etan    (Vocals)          
· "Honey"   (Vocals)          
· Richard "US Flatop"  (Vocals)          
· Alan ??   (Trumpet)          
· Eddie Thorton    (Trumpet)    "Tan Tan"      
· Clarence Jackson    (Trombone)    "JJ"      
· Roger Warwick    (Baritone Sax)                
· Bernie Wehrman    (Tenor Sax)          
· Dick Morrissey    (Tenor Sax)          
· Chris Burdett    (Alto Sax)          
· Bill Davidson    (Keyboards)          
· Ged Peck    (Lead Guitar)          
· Alan Cartwright    (Bass)          
· Nick Simper    (Bass)          
· Ray Lewis    (Bass)
· Barry J. Wilson   (Drums)       
· Roger Pinner    (Drums)    "Roger Truth"          
· Tony Gomez    (Conga)       

Does anybody know about Derry Wilkie’s career after 1967? Please contact us:

A tribute to Derry Wilkie by Michael Wynne
"I played as a teenage lead guitarist with Derry in the early '90s in North London. In those days he wouldn't stray much from his 'manor', the Haverstock Hill area and the gigs used to be monthly residencies at the Sir Richard Steeles and the Load of Hay. At any time the band could have Tony Ashton (Ashton, Gardner and Dyke) or Ron Magness (of Flashdance fame) on keyboards (sometimes both if Derry was feeling plush), Archie Legget (Gerry Rafferty, Dr John, Spooky Tooth) on bass as well as me on axe duties. There was never a shortage of musicians wanting to play for Derry then and we all seemed to live on or just off the 'Hill. Typical numbers were Derry's 60's faves "Twist'n'Shout", "La Bamba", "Gimme Some Lovin'", "Whiter Shade of Pale."
We never rehearsed, just "kept the vibe goin,' lah'' as Derry always requested. Both coming from Liverpool as we did, we always had a special banter. Derry always gave his all in performance and the audience gave it back in shedloads.
We lost touch when he stopped performing and I moved away, but I always have great memories.
RIP Derry, play one for me at that Great Gig in the Sky." Mickey Wynne

Thanks to Mickey Wynne, Gaz Gaskell, John Wardburg, Wes Wilkie, Phil Kenzie, Earnie Hayes and Bazz Ward for providing corrections


  1. A great article. many thanks!
    Bob Hardy

  2. I played in a band in the 70's, and had Derry's brother Eddie as lead singer for a while..cracking singer, and a nice bloke. Went to the family flat in Kent Street on a couple of occasions and met Derry who impressed me so much as a young kid just starting out. Great days, great memories. Fascinating article about one of Liverpool's unsung musical heroes..gone but never forgotten.

  3. I played in a band that also played the Star Club Cologne back in 1965. They loved the Liverpool groups there in those days. We were The High Society from just north of London.
    The changing room there was adorned with lewd cartoons and grafitti. The writings clearly included Freddy Starr and the Midnighters, Aynsley Dunbar and Bobby Patricks Big Six (or Big Pr*cks) as it was written. It was a pleasure just reading the stuff and realising what a good time they must have had there, as we did.
    O'Hara's Playboys were playing just down the road, and later The Fortunes. Good days indeed. In a week's time I'm revisiting Cologne for the first time since then, having already been to Hamburg where we started all those years back. I wonder if the Star Club Cologne is still there, in it's original place?
    cheers all you gigsters from the 60s.

  4. Hi All
    I'm now back from Cologne (see above comments)but the place, understandably, has changed a lot since the 60s. I didn't find our old playing Club (Star Club) and I'm now trying to find out what address it had in those days to be able to pinpoint it on a map of Cologne. It was only about 100 metres away from the Cathedral (Dom). Does anyone have a clue of its original address?

  5. The boll-weevills top birmingham group played at ma reagans venues, featered in brum rocks and brum rocked again books, pete webb drums and vocals. bill dixon rythm, john rowlands bass, geoff nicholls,lead , went on to be a session member with black sabbath

    1. Yes I remember them as the birmingham beach boys, they were good, old mr reagan at the plaza kingsheath was ther biggest fan and gave them regular work at all of his venues around the birmingham and black country where they played with all the latest stars the searchers even used petes drums at the opening of the brum cabin club, because the stage was too small for a quick change over, they outshone unit four + two when they had their number one song concrete and clay at the marine ballroom evesham, also voted top beat group in top beat magazine once, but for some reason mainly forgotton by the midlnds press, as geoff did go on to be in many bands and end up with black sabbath, he was a gas fitter when he started with bill and pete, and they started to write there own songs when pete left to get married and wouldnt go to germany and sold his drums but kept on writing with his cousin bill dixon and still does this know, great memmories of this forgotten band at the abbey erdington.

  6. I lived in kent gardens from 1952 and my best mate was his brother harry davis

  7. I found a postcard with signatures of Derry and the Others. Anyone interested ?

  8. Very flamboyant man who told me many story's of him and John Lennon as mates going around liverpool loverly guy ­čĹŹ✌


  10. Sorry about my english (i am from argentina). Above all, Derry was one of the warmest and kindest persons i know. He was the first person that spoke to me during my stay in London during mid 90's. One night, while having some beers at sir Richard Steel, that cool guy approached and said me something like "excuse me man, but i noticed that it's the second night you are drinking alone...come and join us if you want". Sice then i spent a lot of time with him and his partner Moe and some of his friends. I remember Sean Gerrard, jim mc nicholas ,and mike... and some others whose names i
    dont remember. Either al the steels or at the load of hay. One night, at my place across haverstock hill road, derry told me that he was form a band with young musicians and and that he was composing some themes. He sang one of them. A damn great reggae! I still have like a treasure a couple of photos with him and a harp he gave me when i left london, where he wrote "we luv yoo man. Derry x Moe". I will always remember his enormous hands and and even biggest heart.


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