Don Craine (real name Mick O’Donnell) and Johnny Sutton had previously been in a Twickenham band called The Downliners.
Following the demise of this band, Keith Grant (real name Keith Evans) and Terry Gibson were recruited and the band was renamed The Downliners Sect in 1963. They soon gained a following at Eel Pie Island in Twickenham.
Ray Sone joined the group on harmonica – apparently beating Rod Stewart and Steve Marriott for the role – and the group signed to Colombia Records. Their debut single was a version of the Jimmy Reed track, Baby What’s Wrong?.
From a blues core, The Downliners Sect covered many other fronts – country, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, bad taste (the Sick Songs EP) and self-referential original compositions – Sect Mania, Sect Appeal (suspiciously similar to Bo Diddley‘s Mona), Leader Of The Sect, Insecticide ad nauseam . . .
An abundance of material was issued, from an independent EP to three Columbia albums and a pestilence of singles. Yet apart from a Swedish Number One with a gleeful Little Egypt, they missed everywhere else.
Nevertheless, they had a devoted following and could utilise an audience’s time interestingly, but their confusing mixture of styles did not reconcile easily on disc.
Ray Sone left in 1965 to be replaced by Pip Harvey who played guitar and banjo.
Terry Gibson (Clemson)
Keith Grant (Evans)