Southport art students Peter ‘Ollie’ Halsall, Clive Griffiths, and Chris Holmes formed a group called Take 5 which ended up touring Britain in support of The Kinks, Small Faces, Tommy Quickly and Lou Christie in 1966.
The addition of American vocalist Richard Henry prompted a name change to Timebox, a record deal with Piccadilly and a debut single, the jazz/soul-tinged I Will Always Love You (1967).
Unfortunately, Henry was forced to return to the US and drummer Geoff Dean contracted tuberculosis. As a result, their follow-up single, Soul Sauce – now a Northern Soul classic – was an instrumental track.
Mike Patto (ex-Bo Street Runners), joined as vocalist and songwriter, with John Halsey replacing Dean on drums.
A superb performance at the Windsor Jazz Festival on 12 August 1967 caught the eye of Decca producer Gus Dudgeon, who signed the band to the label’s subsidiary Deram.
Their first 45, a version of Tim Hardin’s Don’t Make Promises (1967), was backed by the even better original composition Walking Through the Streets of My Mind, combining blue-eyed soul vocal harmonies with a psychedelic arrangement.
The follow-up was a stunning cover of The Four Seasons‘ Beggin’ which reached #38 in the charts in 1968.
Unfortunately, Deram viewed Timebox as a pop band and their more experimental psychedelic songs were left in the can while the silly sing-a-long tune Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye (written for fun when the band members were drunk) was the next single release in March 1969.
The final release, Yellow Van (1969) was banned due to the nature of the lyrics which brought about the end of the road for Timebox, with the key members forming the group, Patto.
A slew of unreleased tracks were compiled on The Deram Anthology album (1998).
Peter ‘Ollie’ Halsall