A Treasure Trove of Info

Wimple Winch publicity shot

Extracts from an interview given by Pat McKissack to journalist Brain Neavyn which have just arrived. Browse and enjoy.

What a nostalgic day I have had, scouring the house for photographs, cuttings, diaries and other bits and pieces.

I had to find a day where I did not have anything else to do as I knew it would take ages.

I will attach my reply to your questions first, with a couple of file attachments about the Fan Club and send you another email later with the other bits and pieces you might find interesting.

Original Fan Club Card

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you - this has involved much more delving into the past than I had anticipated and I have to fit in the research in between holidays.

It is a hard life, being retired!!  Please see my answers to your questions below.

I am attaching any documents I have to support this - biographies of the original Just 4 Men and fan club letters, plus the photographs I have found.

Most of the information has been gleaned from sketchy entries in my teenage diaries which are extremely boring to anyone else but me and are full of oblique references to 'lush' boys and the many crushes I had at that time.

I had an amazing capacity to fancy myself in love with several boys at any one time - which was only cured by falling in love properly with my first real boyfriend.

That, of course, signalled my loss of interest in clubbing in Manchester and following Wimple Winch around from venue to venue, which is why the fan club faded from my mind and I lost contact with the group.

ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS:  When did you become involved with the fanclub ? 

Just 4 Men Biography

I found an entry in my diary at the end of 1966 to say that the lads had asked me and my best friend Margaret to take over the running of the fan club in the New Year – on the 5th January, 1967

What interested you in doing so ? 

We’d been friends with the group since early 1965 and followed them all round Manchester to all the different clubs.

They always spent lots of time with us – I think there were 6 or 7 of us altogether who drifted in and out in between boyfriends.

There was me, of course, and Margaret, then Norma, Millie, Hazel, Vivien, Viv (a different one!).

Margaret and I became the ‘core’ fans as first Norma got a serious boyfriend, then Hazel, then Millie went away for the summer season to Butlins Pwllheli and never came back to our Manchester scene.

(In fact she joined Roberts’ Brothers Circus when she came back after the summer but that is a whole other story.)  We all fancied Dee like mad – he was absolutely gorgeous and at 6 years older than me (a very naive 15 year old when I first met them) – just a bit dangerous.

Then we all had our particular favourites:  Norma and Margaret both liked John, I liked Keith first and then Barrie when he joined, Millie liked Larry.

I have to say they were all real gentlemen and treated us superbly.

They were happy to give us kisses at appropriate times but never pushed it.

I must admit it was more the band as people that we liked - the music was almost incidental, although they were the first group we saw in Manchester to sing and play imported American soul music rather than the same old same old rock and roll and/or pop covers.

Did you take over from someone else or did you start the fan club? 

We took over the fan club from Yvonne and Carol who ran the original Just 4 Men fan club.

Yvonne had been running it alone for quite a while since Carol got engaged and lost interest.

Then Yvonne took a modelling course at Lucy Clayton in Manchester and I think she was too busy to carry on.

How did you advertise the fan club? 

I can’t remember advertising it – we didn’t have much money and the fan club had to finance itself from members’ subscriptions.

We sent a circular out to all the addresses on the original fan club membership list and told them us (or Sandie) had taken over, asking if they were interested in renewing their membership.

Did you have much contact with the band members /management? 

The band became good friends over the years – I can remember going to John Kelman’s flat in Manchester to see him and his wife, Susan, very early on.

We always spoke to the band during their intervals between sets and they were very good to us.

My friend Millie went out with Larry for quite a while so we probably knew him best out of the group.

I had a huge crush on Keith Shepherd but he had a long string of leggy blonde girlfriends (called Camilla or Cilla – usually air hostesses from Cheshire!).

He also had a snazzy line in red sports cars – I think his dad had a garage in South Manchester so he had money behind him.

Way out of my league at the time.

Dee had a long-term girlfriend, Jackie, a couple of years older than we were and we used to chat with her every time we saw her.

Once they moved into the flat above the Sinking Ship Club it was much easier to see them regularly.

They played at the club two or three times a week and Dee, Larry and Barrie lived in the flat so we could visit them there.

Barrie met a few of us in Manchester the first time we went out there and travelled with us on the bus to show us the way.

Stockport was strange to us as we all lived in the Oldham area.

What activities were involved in running the fan club? 

We used to gather information from the band about things like forthcoming singles and what they were going to wear on stage and then ask the fans what they thought.

This was all done by letter – snail mail.

We had been members of the fan club ourselves for about two years before we took over, and Yvonne gave us a copy of their last fan club letter as an example of the sort of things to write.

I typed the letters at work on wax stencils on my office typewriter and then I had a tiny hand printing machine which used ink and stencils and Margaret and I got together and printed copies off for posting.

Unfortunately I can’t find the membership list so I don’t know how many members we had.

It can’t have been that many – maybe 20 or 30 – or we would not have been able to afford the stamps for postage.

When did you finish with the fan club? 

I think it must have been only about 6 months after we started running it.

I can only remember sending out about 3 letters – but one of them apologises for it being so long since we wrote so it must have been after a gap.

It didn’t die so much as fizzle out.

I got contact lenses and boyfriends at about the same time as we took over the fan club – and suddenly there was too much else to do!  Margaret started work in a residential children’s home and so was working very long hours and we did not have the time.

I think we both grew up a bit and stopped going down to the Manchester clubs or going to see groups all the time and it just ended.

Did you work with any other fan club? 

No – but I was a member of a couple, the Fourmost were a particular favourite of mine, also the Hollies.

What other bands or artists did you like at this time? 

•    The Beatles – of course (but not the Stones)

•    The Fourmost (I always fancied Brian O’Hara)

•    The Hollies – Dee introduced us to them when they were playing at Mr Smith’s Club in Manchester.

We were only 16 at the time and Mr Smith’s was for over 21 as it had a casino but we managed to blag our way in.

•    The Swinging Blue Jeans

•    Amen Corner – also saw them live at Mr Smith’s.

•    Gerry and the Pacemakers (that was more Margaret and Norma than me but they had been to tea at Gerry’s house in Liverpool with his mum).

•    Paul Fenda and the Tigers (Paul (real name Young) later joined the Toggery 5 and eventually Sad Cafe where he had a massive number one with Everyday Hurts.

His persistence eventually paid off – we saw him at Sinatra’s Club in Failsworth in the early 70’s in The Young Brothers, doing an Everly Brothers type act, singing When Will I be Loved.

Well it took a while!

•    The Denvers were a local Manchester group who I was also very friendly with at that time.

I first met them in 1964 and was still seeing them after we started following Just 4 Men round.

In fact they were often at the J4M venues in Manchester – Oasis, the Jungfrau, Rowntrees Sound or the New Century Hall at the CIS.

They were all the same age as me – taking ‘O’ Levels at school at the same time.

They were very jealous that 'their' fans were following another group.

•    Johnny Dean and The Graduates were a local Oldham group who were the very first group I became friendly with after seeing them at my local church hall.

Johnny worked for the Gas Board and that very next week was digging a hole outside the tennis courts at my school.

All the girls flocked round as he was very good looking and we spent our lunchtime chatting to him.

We followed him round for a couple of years from 1963 to 1965.

•     Brent Rogers and the Druids (another local Oldham group)

•    The Technique (a school band from Margaret’s school)   Reading through all my diaries today has amazed me with how vibrant the Manchester music scene was back in the 60’s.

There were scores of clubs, all with live bands on stage several times a week, as well as dances on in local church halls every week, also with live bands.

The choice was amazing – and all without a drop of alcohol served or a mention of drugs in those days.

It was all coffee clubs and Coca Cola.

In fact Mr Smith’s club in Manchester seemed incredibly daring as it not only served alcohol but also had a casino.

Hope this is OK for you.

If you need any more information don’t hesitate to contact me.

Regards, Pat