Mike Berry started off as "Kenny Lord and The Statesmen" and then became "Mike Berry & The Outlaws" before "Mike Berry and The Innocents." Today it is a new generation of Outlaws who back Mike in concerts and on CDs. "Kenny Lord and The Statesmen" consisted of: Tony Franchi - lead guitar, Terry Prudente - drums, Pete Richardson - bass and Siro Andreoli - rhythm guitar.
"The Innocents" were originally a band called "'Bobby Angelo & The Tuxedos" who had backed Mike once or twice. When 'Don't You Think It's Time' made it into the charts, Mike needed a band so offered them the job. The change in name came about when the guys were travelling in the group van one day to rehearsals. They were suddenly surrounded by police at traffic lights near their manager's office thinking five young guys in a van looked suspicious. Whilst being questioned, their manager came along to explain who they were and that they were quite 'innocent,' and so the name was born! Mike replaced their drummer with ex-Outlaw Don Groom, Dave Brown was on bass, Roger Brown on lead guitar and Colin Giffin on guitar and sax.
The original Outlaws date back to 1961 when they, as members of the then recently disbanded 'Billy Gray & The Stormers', reformed without Billy, on the promise of better things to come in the shape of a recording contract from the legendary producer Joe Meek, initially to back his newly signed artist Mike Berry. As it transpired, when Joe realised what a talented bunch they were, he was very keen to get them to record in their own right, as well as back virtually every other solo artist under Joe’s control.
The original line up of Bill Kuy (lead Guitar), Reg Hawkins (rhythm guitar), Chas Hodges (bass guitar) & Bobby Graham (drums), saw several changes over the years, under the discerning eye of the last remaining original member Chas Hodges.
These new boys included Roger Mingaye (lead guitar) who followed Billy Kuy in about 1961, he was with "Screaming Lord Sutch" before The Outlaws and like all Dave Sutch’s band members was given a name by Dave to suit his band persona, Roger’s being 'Scratch and Scrape Bailey' or 'Scratch' for short! Then came the now legendary Ritchie Blackmore of 'Deep Purple' & 'Rainbow' (lead guitar), Mick Underwood of 'Gillan' (Drums), Harvey Hindsley of 'Hot Chocolate' (lead guitar), Nicky Hopkins of 'Rolling Stones,' (piano) who was actually turned down as he wouldn’t join without guitarist friend, Bernie Watson (also brilliant but who went off to fulfil a long time ambition to play classical guitar, so Nicky could have joined anyway!) Our loss I think! The Outlaws were also the preferred backing for Gene Vincent & The Killer…Jerry Lee Lewis! When The Outlaws finally threw in the towel, Chas Hodges joined 'Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers' after which he joined Albert Lee, Tony Colton and Ray Smith to form the highly respected 'Heads Hands And Feet.' Chas, as we all know is now one half of 'Chas & Dave' (Dave Peacock) the creators of ‘Rockney’ (A unique combination of rock’n’roll music and self penned ‘Cockney’ lyrics).
The Current Line-UP
Have been with Mike since 1991
(From left to right: Alan Jackman, Mike Berry, Mark Lewis, Alan Jones)
Alan Jackman (Drums)
One of the youngsters in the band, who was also in 'The Baseball Boys,' but was with them when they became 'The Outfield' and subsequently enjoyed the major success in the United States that came their way in the eighties.
While with 'The Outfield' Alan played on the same bill and/or toured with such major names as Starship, David Bowie and Duran Duran, to name but a few. Since becoming an Outlaw he has also backed the likes of Paul McCartney, Bruce Welch, Georgie Fame, Eden Kane and Peter Sarstedt.
Mark Lewis (Lead guitar)
One of the other ‘youngsters’ in the band and a walking encyclopaedia of 60’s music trivia, Mark soon outgrew the top local bands and graduated to 'The Baseball Boys,' but unfortunately Mark left before they became 'The Outfield'.
He then spent some time as a recording engineer/producer, engineering for bands like 'After The Fire' and producing a couple of punk albums. Getting back to gigging, he shared the stage on occasions with techno-pop wizard Thomas Dolby (He of Prefab Sprout production fame), but soon decided he preferred proper music, (i.e. Rock’n’Roll & 60’s) and so became an ‘Outlaw’.
Alan Jones (Bass)
After the departure of John Farrar from 'The Shadows', Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett decided to continue as a "trio" employing freelance musicians when they needed to work on recording sessions and tours . Thus, Alan Jones (and Cliff Hall) were never actually "full" members of the Shadows but as they were regular fixtures on stage and albums for thirteen years, most fans regard them as part of the band. Alan first joined the band to play the bass guitar when they reformed again for their "Twenty Golden Dates" Tour in 1977 and became an integral part of the stage act for the next ten years. He fitted in perfectly with both the music and their gentle humour as if he had been a member of the group since the early days. His bass playing can be heard on all Shadows albums from "String of Hits" (1979) to "Steppin' to the Shadows" (1989). The "Guardian Angel" album, in particular, was a fine showcase for his bass guitar work. He also appears on the 1978 video and album of the "Thank You Very Much" concert.
Prior to joining the Shadows in 1977, Alan had spent the previous three years in America working and recording with Tom Jones. It was during this time in America that he was offered a position in Elvis Presley's backing group but had to decline as he was already under contract to Tom at the time! Being a freelance musician allowed him to undertake other projects, however, in 1986/7/8 he was in the Dave Clark/ Cliff Richard musical TIME. It was whilst he was involved with this project that he suffered horrific injuries in a motorway accident in 1988 which could have ended his life. Fortunately, Alan survived the accident but his injuries were so severe that he spent a lot of the next time years in hospital which meant that he wasn't available for (what appears to be) the Shadows final tour and album (Reflection) in 1990. During the nineties, Alan has worked with 'Tangent,' and can be heard and seen on their CDs and videos. He has recently been playing with Barry Gibson's 'Local Heroes.' And 1995 saw the release of his solo CD.Originally begun in 1987 the album reflects the music which has influenced Alan's career.
Alan is a fairly new addition to The Outlaws filling in for Jim Rodford who left to play with 'The Kinks' and 'The Animals.'
The 'Other' Outlaws
These Outlaws frequently play with Mike, especially when the normal line-up are unavailable. They are normally referred to as the 'Swedish' Outlaws because they are often called to back Mike for gigs in Europe and especially Sweden.
Gary Baldwin (keyboards)
Gary is rated as the UK's top Hammond organist and has played with/alongside world famous Hammond virtuosos Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. Gospel soul legend Doris Troy said of Gary “He rates alongside Billy Preston…”
Amongst the many artistes he has performed with are Georgie Fame, Fats Domino, John Mclaughlin , Kiki Dee, PP Arnold, Clare Martin, Benny Green, Jim Mullen, Tommy Chase, Mighty Flea Connors, Mick Hanson and Shuggie Otis.
His tours have led him across Europe and the UK performing at many of the top festival venues and he is a featured soloist with The Echoes of Ellington Jazz Orchestra. Studio work includes the acclaimed "Portishead" and "Morcheeba" albums and many blues recordings including Hershey and the 12 Bars and Eddie Martin.
Gary features regularly at one of London's top live music venues, The 100 Club in Oxford Street, and radio broadcasts include BBC's Paul Jones' Blues Show and Jazz FM with Jools Holland. Gary also tours with his own band and has recently recorded the CD "Spycatcher".
Ron Beynon (Lead guitar)
Started his recording career, coincidentally, with the same guy that signed up Mike Berry a couple of years earlier; the legendary record producer Joe Meek. He joined the ex Tornado, Heinz‘s band 'The Wild Boys' and later played with Marty Wilde, Joe Brown & Suzi Quatro. He backed many visiting American artists including; 'The Four Seasons,' 'Charlie & Inez Foxx,' and none other than Jack Hammer, the man who wrote “Great Balls of Fire.”
Ron is a fully paid up member of that select group of great Welsh musicians known as ‘The Taffia’, most of whom he has played with at some time or other, and members of which include Shakin’ Stevens, Dave Edmunds, Micky Gee, Andy Fairweather-Low, Henry Spinetti and drummer Terry Williams (a founder member of highly rated band ‘Man’, who while playing in Ron’s band was invited by Mark Knopfler to join Dire Straits!)
During the Seventies, he moved to the States and worked with a couple of first rate bands but due to family commitments had to return to the U.K. before he was able to secure that big break. In the eighties and nineties very much in demand he worked with English rockers Cliff Bennett , Mike Berry (of course!) and ex- Shadow and guitar legend, Jet Harris .
The year 2000 at Paul McCartney’s “Buddy Holly Birthday Party” at London’s Mermaid Theatre , with Mike Berry and the boys, Ron backed Marty Wilde , Joe Brown , The Mavericks and of course ’Sir Paul’ and was then joined by Dave Gilmour and Mick Green all of whom were asking “Who’s the guitarist?” So the boy is no slouch! Which is why in the 21st century Mike is only too pleased to see him back with 'Mike Berry & The Outlaws.'
Brian Hodgson (Bass)
In his early years, Brian toured and recorded with Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and many others. In the 70's he worked with George Harrison, Eric Idle, and Neil Innes in the BBC TV series "Rutland Weekend Television" which featured the first appearance of "The Ruttles".
As a member of 1980’s rockabilly rebels 'Matchbox' he wrote and produced some of their records. In 1989 he co-wrote the winning UK 'Song for Europe'. In 1992, Brian was elected onto the Council of BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors) and, in 1993, he co-wrote and produced a hit single for Manchester United “United We Love You.”
Brian has written and/or produced many artistes including Shaken' Stevens, Dennis Waterman, Billy J Kramer, Johnny Halliday, Lonnie Donegan, Peter Sarstedt, Mike Berry, Sonny Curtis, Hayden Thompson and Kirstie McColl.
More recently he has been producing music for film and video with such projects as "Savage Hearts" featuring Richard Harris, Angus Deayton and Jerry Hall, Jeremy Clarkson videos and BBC TV series "Clarkson" and Vinnie Jones' "Great Balls of Fire".
Brian is a founder member of "Hogan's Heroes" who regularly back one of the world’s greatest guitar heroes, Albert Lee. In 1999 they toured with Dave Edmunds and Mike Berry on the "Not Fade Away" tour, a 40th Anniversary tribute to the music of Buddy Holly.
Jim Rodford (Bass & Vocals)
Jim RodfordBefore Alan Jones, Jim Rodford was what you might call the senior statesman in the band and has had an impressive career by anyone’s standards. Not only does he do a really mean rendition of “Route 66”, but as a founder member of 'The Mike Cotton Sound' he backed ‘Gene Pitney’, ‘Elkie Brooks’ and ‘P.J.Proby’ (Yes he was there at the famous trouser splitting episode!). He was also a founder member of 'Argent'. He is a current member of some twenty years standing, of ''The Kinks', and as such has toured with most of the greats in the rock world.
More recently he has worked with ‘Barbara Dickson’, and the late great Lonnie Donnegan. Jim currently divides his talents between 'The Animals', 'Rod Argent & Colin Blunstone' and ‘The Outlaws’ and along with Mark & Alan he has backed ‘Paul McCartney’, ‘Bruce Welch’, ‘Eden Kane’, ‘Peter Sarstedt’, & ‘Hank Marvin’.
He’s now back with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone touring the world with The Zombies!
Nick Smith (Bass)
Nick started playing `bass' on his Dad's Fender Strat back in 1981 aged 10, and a year later, got his first proper bass which he still owns! Growing up in the '80s, he was massively influenced by players such as Alan Jones (Mike's main bassist!), Chris Squire, Sting, Colin Hodgkinson, Mark King and many more and soon started playing in bands, including his Dad's 60's act where the young bassist learned much of his craft! He turned professional in 2001 following a successful 14 year career in information technology; he felt that it was time to pursue his dream and has since then, played with a very wide range of acts covering a hugely diverse range of musical styles, including The Shades of Rhythm, Doctor And The Medics, Gizz Butt (The Prodigy), Bert Weedon, Brian Licorice Locking, Jet Harris and The Shadowers, Charlie Gracie, John Leyton and of course, Mike Berry and The Outlaws! His hobby is collecting bass guitars; he has over 80 at the time of writing...and if you are in Cambridgeshire, he can teach you how to play! Nick uses Markbass amplification and Elites strings.
Pete Wingfield (Keyboards)
One of the most sought-after musicians on the world recording scene, Peter had his own, self penned, US/UK solo hit in 1975 with 'Eighteen With A Bullet'. He has toured and recorded with 'The Everly Brothers' consistently since their reunion in 1983 and as a Hogan's Hero with Albert Lee for the last twelve or so years. He has now left Hogan's Heroes to pursue other projects.
Also in great demand as a session player he has recorded with Level 42, Steven Bishop, Elkie Brooks, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Little Richard, B. B. King, Hot Chocolate, Gerry Rafferty and Sir Paul McCartney.
As a record producer he is responsible for hits by- among others: Alison Moyet, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Proclaimers and Five Star'.