Singer/producer John Carter (born John Shakespeare) and singer/songwriter Ken Lewis (born Ken Hawker) from Birmingham began recording copies of the latest group hits in the early 1960s with session musicians and performing them for the BBC Light Programme’s shows Easy Beat and Saturday Club.
They eventually formed their own band – Carter-Lewis and the Southerners – to showcase their own songs. The lineup briefly included Jimmy Page (who went on to bigger and better things with The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin) and Viv Prince (later of The Pretty Things).
Carter and Lewis also composed songs for a number of other artists, including Herman’s Hermits, Brenda Lee and PJ Proby. John Carter also sang the lead vocal on The New Vaudeville Band‘s 1966 #1 hit, Winchester Cathedral.
Carter and Lewis then teamed up with session man Perry Ford to form The Ivy League who enjoyed a number of chart hits in the 1960s.
In 1966 the duo left the Ivy League to form the production company ‘Sunny Music’, creating The Flower Pot Men, whose hit Let’s Go To San Francisco reached #4 in the UK Chart in 1967.
By this time, Carter and Lewis worked purely as songwriters, arrangers, producers and studio-based musicians – occasionally promoting their recordings by forming short-lived groups such as White Plains and First Class (whose hit song Beach Baby, reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.
Ken Lewis died in Cambridge on 2 August 2015 due to complications associated with type 1 diabetes. He was 74.
John Carter (John Shakespeare)
Ken Lewis (Ken Hawker)
Bobby Graham (Robert Neate)