The Four Pennies (formerly The Lionel Morton Four) hailed from Blackburn (Lancashire) and infiltrated the Liverpool scene to such an extent that they qualified for a spot on Radio Luxembourg‘s Sunday Night At The Cavern.
The band used to rehearse in a music shop in their native Blackburn, which is how Miss Marie Reidy – the owner of the store – sent a recording of the group to Philips Records who signed them up.
Their debut single Do You Want Me To crept to the edge of the charts, and the band scored a notable UK #1 hit in 1964 with Juliet – co-written by guitarist ‘Fritz’ Fryer (born David Fryer), singer Lionel Morton and bassist Mike Wilsh (real name, Wilshaw) in the back room of Miss Reidy’s music shop.
Philips initially released it as a B-side to Tell Me Girl but quickly flipped it when they realised the ballad’s potential.
The quartet enjoyed three further Top 20 entries with I Found Out The Hard Way, a cover of Leadbelly’s Black Girl, and Until It’s Time For You To Go (all in 1965).
The group bowed out in October 1966 with Tom Springfield’s No Sad Songs For Me. Lionel Morton announced he was leaving after a residency in Turkey.
When the Pennies failed to find a replacement for Morton, Fryer formed Fritz, Mike and Mo with Mike Wilsh, but when this act foundered he turned producer, notably for Motörhead.
He died in September 2007 in Portugal, from pancreatic cancer. He was 62.
Lionel Morton married actress Julia Foster and made frequent appearances in children’s television programs.
After a period at Radio Luxembourg, Buck found freelance employment in the music industry at management level.
He was most interested in reforming the Pennies for cabaret work in the 1970s but this was scotched by Morton’s desire to try new numbers.
David ‘Fritz’ Fryer
Mike Wilsh (Wilshaw)