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Vipers, The

The Vipers Skiffle Group, featuring a young singer called Wally Whyton, became the first group to earn a residency at the famous 2i’s coffee bar in London’s Soho.

The group formed in the spring of 1956 in central London, originally as a trio of singer-guitarists comprising Whyton, Johnny Martyn (John Martyn Booker) and Jean Van den Bosch, who was replaced in 1958 by Freddy Lloyd.

Later that summer they added a rhythm section, Tony Tolhurst (bass) and John Pilgrim (washboard), and took up residency at the 2i’s. In September 1956 they were offered an audition with George Martin at Parlophone Records and won a recording contract.

Their second single, Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O, reached #10 in the UK Singles Chart in early 1957.

The Vipers’ version of Cumberland Gap also made the UK Top 10 and was followed by their last chart hit, Streamline Train.

The Vipers Skiffle Group continued to record, and for a time were second only to Lonnie Donegan on the skiffle scene in the UK. They finally disbanded when their recording contract ran out in 1960.

Whyton was also a successful TV presenter, appearing on The Five O’ Clock Club, Small Time and Tuesday Rendezvous. He died from lung cancer in January 1997.

Wally Whyton
Vocals, guitar
Johnny Martyn (John Martyn Booker)
Vocals, guitar
Jean Van den Bosch
Vocals, guitar
Freddy Lloyd
Vocals, guitar
Tony Tolhurst
John Pilgrim

The 2i’s. 59 Old Compton Street, Soho.