All the pop fans wanted to see Kenny when their record made the charts. But when the group was invited to appear on Top of the Pops, it’s creators were in trouble – for there wasn’t any Kenny . . .
Songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter had used session musicians to record their hit The Bump. So the two men looked around for some young faces to fit their music.
They found what they wanted in the cold storage department of a banana warehouse in Enfield, Middlesex. A group called Chuff (whose lineup at one time included future Swap Shop star Keith Chegwin and his brother Jeff) was rehearsing there and the songwriters signed them up – replacing original vocalist Ross Pringle with Rick Driscoll in the process.
Chuff became Kenny, appeared on the TV show and shot to overnight success on the record they didn’t make (The Bump was, in fact, simply the backing track from The Bay City Rollers‘ version – itself the work of session musicians – with new vocals).
Chris Spedding and Clem Cattini were among those heard anonymously on Kenny’s four UK smashes.
All inconsequentially catchy and topped with a trademark falsetto in unison with Driscoll, these were The Bump (a dance craze ditty that fought off competition from a B-side version by the Bay City Rollers), Fancy Pants, Baby I Love You OK and autumn 1975’s Top 20 swansong, Martin and Coulter’s Julie Ann.
This chart run was rounded off neatly when the hits and some makeweight tracks were lumped together on a self-titled album which bubbled under the Top 50 in January 1976.
Despite Mickie Most‘s suggestion that the band members should fight for the B-sides of their Martin/Coulter singles – and Yan Style (born Ian Stile) and Rick Driscoll did compose Happiness Melissa which was the B-side of Nice To Have You Home – the guys in the band were struggling to make any money out of their deal.
They struggled for independence from the famous production team, but Martin and Coulter were adamant that Kenny was their creation and they were entitled to keep hold of the name – regardless of what individual band members did.
A week in court resulted in a victory for the band and Kenny signed a new deal with Polydor.
They released a single, Hot Lips – which ironically was almost a carbon copy of a Martin and Coulter composition – and a second album, Ricochet, before disappearing without trace.
The band later provided the backing to the theme tune for UK Television’s popular Minder series, sung by Dennis Waterman, and soldiered on with live appearances, particularly in Germany.
But when Yan Style was seriously injured in a car crash, paralysing his arm, Kenny called it a day.
Chris Redburn became a successful road haulage businessman (he owns music transportation company, Redburn Transfer) and continued to gigs with Andy Walton as The Legendary Old Brown Growlers. Stile set up his own PA hire company.