Originally known as Johnny Theakston & the Tremeloes, the original line-up included Theakston on vocals, ex-miners Jerry Wilcock and Mick Eyre on guitars, Bill Bonney on bass and Tony Hinchcliffe on drums.
The Mansfield (Nottinghamshire) band recorded an audition tape for the BBC radio Light Programme in 1960 and posted it off under the name Shane Fenton & The Fentones (Theakston chose “Shane” from the TV cowboy series and appropriated “Fenton” from the name of a local printing workshop.
Sadly, 17-year-old Johnny Theakston died shortly thereafter as a consequence of the rheumatic fever he suffered as a child.
The band were planning on calling it a day when the BBC responded to their audition tape and invited the band to play on the Saturday Club radio pop show. Theakston’s mother asked the group to continue as a tribute to her son, her one request being that they retain the old band name.
A close friend of Johnny’s, Bernard Jewry (pictured at right), became the new ‘Shane Fenton’ and before long had become regulars on Saturday Club. The programme’s musical director, Tommy Sanderson became their manager and landed them a recording deal with EMI’s Parlophone label.
The band released its debut single, I’m a Moody Guy (produced by George Martin) in September 1961, making their television debut on Thank Your Lucky Stars. The single peaked at Number 21 in an eight-week run on the charts.
Unfortunately, their subsequent singles – Walk Away, It’s All Over Now and the instrumental Lover’s Guitar – did not perform well, and while Cindy’s Birthday returned the group briefly to the Top 20, by the time they ventured on a second Parnes tour in early 1963 they were at the bottom of the bill.
Shane Fenton & the Fentones broke up in April 1963. The group ironically appeared collectively for the last time on Saturday Club before going their own ways.
Fenton went solo with limited success, before re-emerging as a bona fide pop star in the 1970s as Alvin Stardust.
Bill Bonney (Bonney Oliver)