The Barron Knights formed in 1959 in Leighton Buzzard and their first brush with fame came in 1963 when they appeared as a support act at The Beatles‘ Christmas shows in London.
Although they would ultimately find fame as a comedy parody cabaret act, they actually started off as a straight beat combo playing the same Reeperbahn clubs as The Beatles in 1962.
Originally a trio, guitarist Pete ‘Peanut’ Langford, bass player Barron Anthony (real name Antony Osmond) and singer Toni Avern were joined by drummer David Bellinger from another Bedfordshire group, The Wanted Five.
In 1961, with Avern better employed in a managerial capacity, an additional guitarist Jud Hopkins (replaced by Butch Baker) and vocalist Duke D’Mond (Richard Palmer) were added.
Ex-choirboy Duke D’Mond proved a talented mimic and the band introduced an increasing element of comedy into their repertoire. Chart success followed in July 1964 with Call Up The Groups (a medley of parodies of popular hits of the day) which reached #3 in the British charts. The Bachelors bit was replaced by a send-up of the better-known Animals on the US version.
The Barron Knights went on to release a number of singles, EPs and LPs, all parodying groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and even The Bachelors, whose hit I Wouldn’t Trade You For The World became I Don’t Want To Go To Work (On Me Bike In The Rain) on the Barrons’ 1965 EP Pop Go The Workers.
Not content with mimicking the top groups, they also had quite a line in impersonating female singers. D’Mond’s high-pitched squeal – his approximation of The Supremes and Sandie Shaw – helped send Pop Go The Workers into the Top 10 in 1965.
The Barron Knights were ultimately destined to tour the cabaret circuit, which they did with great success. 1977’s Leo Sayer pastiche Live In Trouble was followed by their biggest hit, the million-selling A Taste Of Aggro, which took aim at Boney M and The Smurfs.
Duke D’Mond died in 2009. The band’s sole surviving founder member, Peter Langford, said of D’Mond: “He was the guy who sang all the serious stuff”.
Duke D’Mond (Richard Palmer)
Barron Anthony (Antony Osmond)
Pete ‘Peanut’ Langford