1950’s Yorkshire’s Pop Musicians

The 1950’s was a great era for Yorkshire popular musicians before the American and Liverpudlian invasion of the 1960’s. Post war music was finding its own brand and style of entertainment that had moved on from big band and Jazz.
I have chosen 4 Yorkshire born figures to highlight the spectrum of new entertainment as we moved from 78’s to 45’s and radio to television as a medium for appreciating Pop music although we hadn’t started to call it that.

David Whitfield 2 February 1925 — 16 January 1980

  • David from Hull has a career that predated and ran through the rock and roll era. As a performer he was more old fashioned that the other Yorkshire born performers we are looking at.
  • Cara Mea, The Rudder and the Rock ‘The Book’ and ‘My September Love’ were some of the ballads and songs that won him fame. He had 2 number ones and many other top ten hits
  • He recorded for Decca, earned the first UK gold disc by a male vocalist and was the first Brit to sell a million copies of one record in USA
  • David entered the talent contest ‘Opportunity Knocks’ when it was a radio show on Radio Luxembourg and was quite a hit. Hughie Green then helped him get more bookings that eventually led to 3 Royal command performances. The 1954 Royal Command Performance included Bob Hope, Frankie Howerd, Guy Mitchell, Norman Wisdom, Dickie Valentine, Max Bygraves, Frankie Laine, Howard Keel, The Crazy Gang, Joan Turner, Jack Buchanan, Al Read, Jimmy Wheeler, Richard Hearne, Gladys Cooper and David Whitfield.
  • Sadly David died whilst touring and performing in Australia in 1980 when aged 54.
  • Ronnie Hilton 26 January 1926 – 21 February 2001

  • “No Other Love” was his one and only UK Number One hit in 1956 but ‘The Wonder of You’ sold well in 1959 only to be topped in 1970 by the Elvis Presley version
  • Ronnie covered the ballads of many American singers including Perry Como, Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis
  • Ronnie Hilton took part in the inaugural A Song For Europe contest in 1957 with “For Your Love”. He also appeared in three subsequent Royal Variety Command Performances.
  • Ronnie’s last chart entry was in 1965. ‘Windmill In Old Amsterdam’ took him away from the romantic ballads of his earlier years.
  • A true Yorkshireman born in Hull but brought up in Leeds, Ronnie Hilton always remained loyal to his roots and especially to Leeds United
  • Don Lang 19 January 1925 – 3 August 1992

  • Together with his band the Frantic Five they recorded “School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell)” Rock a billy and Witch Doctor in 1957.
  • The theme tune of Six Five Special was performed by Don.
  • Rock and Roll Blues and Sweet Sue were solo records for Don.
  • Don was born in Halifax as Gordon Langhorn and was an accomplished jazz and session musician.
  • Later in his career Don Lang played trombone on the Beatles White Abbey album
  • Marion Ryan 4 February 1931 – 15 January 1999

  • From 1956 Middlesbrough born lass Marion was the regular singer on Spot that Tune a TV programme that morphed into name that tune with Ted Ray
  • Working part time at the Locarno in Leeds she met and made her debut with Ray Ellington.
  • Marion had twin sons, Barry and Paul Ryan who also had musical careers including the hit ‘Eloise’
  • Her top records included “Hot Diggity” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”
  • Yorkshire did its bit for entertainment in the 1950’s contributing the music of these artists to radio shows like Two Way Family Favourites. Then along came TV and shows like Six Five Special, Oh Boy, Dig, and Juke Box Jury the theme tune for which was written and performed by another Yorkshireman, John Barry.

    Amazon Supply music, books, posters etc from these links

    David Whitfield
    Ronnie Hilton
    Don Lang
    Marion Ryan

    Read more about Yorkshire’s 1960s Music and Club Scene


    Yorkshire Rocks – Musically

    When we say Yorkshire Rocks we are not talking about Brimham Rocks or the Cow and Calf.
    No we are talking about Rock Up and Sing.

    Rock Up and Sing

    This is a Yorkshire choir with a difference. ‘ROCK UP’ is unlike any other choir in Yorkshire. The organisers say it is for ‘those people who want to be a part of a choir but dislike the exclusivity that often comes along with it. There is no auditioning for ROCK UP and no need to read music and no previous experience is necessary.’
    Rock Up has the reputation of singing some modern classics of Rock, Motown and Gospel. I am waiting for them to tackle the Kaiser Chiefs’ Ruby Ruby but they sing Cold Plays’s Viva la Vida and also perform I’ll Stand by You; Don’t Stop me Now; Pinball Wizard;Lean on me; He ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother, Oh Happy Day and U2’s One!
    I doubt they will be singing the Arctic Monkeys’‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ or ‘I bet You look Good on the Dance Floor’, any time soon but you never know.
    Last year Rock Up performed at The Royal Albert Hall but if you keep your eyes on Harrogate venues you will find local performance.

    Following the success of Rock Up a spin off sister choir for ladies (or sisters) was established. It was named Rock Up and Swing with the focus on music and songs of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

    Contact Details

    The Rock Up and Sing web site has more information
    Rehearsal times
    ROCK UP AND SING! – THURSDAY 7:30pm-9:30pm
    ROCK UP AND SWING! – WEDNESDAY 12:45pm-2:45 pm
    Rhiannon Gayle is the musical director of this Harrogate based choir.
    There are over 300 members

    Continue Reading →


    Leeds Utd F.A. Cup Shock

    Regular readers to this Yorkshire site will remember our recent post – The Rise and Fall of Leeds Utd

    So it’s only fair to praise this pre-eminent team of Yorkshire for their magnificent win over arch-rivals – Manchester United at their own ground – Old Trafford. 1-0.

    In the next round, Leeds United have been drawn away to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, but, now no team will be unbeatable for this promising Leeds team.

    Good Times Returning?


    Yorkshire Heather Moors Need Protection

    The glens of Scotland and the Moors of Yorkshire were covered with purple flowering heather. This picture was taken above Dick Hudsons on Ilkley Moor. The route is part of the Dales Way Bradford Link and the Leeds Link also traverses Ilkley moor to get to the start of the Dales Way proper. According to the Yorkshire Dales National Parks Authority ‘The dry heaths of the National Park are usually dominated by heather particularly on intensively managed grouse moors.’

    There is an interesting and amusing History of Heather on Gardener’s tips

    Types of Heather

    • Bell heather also known as Erica cinerea has dark pink or purple flowers and generally flowers first in late July.
    • Cross leaved heath has leaves arranged in crosses of four on its stems. It has pale pink flowers and can often be found in boggy areas.
    • Ling Calluna vulgaris is the most common type of heather found on the North York Moors. It has very tiny pink flowers and generally flowers in mid to late August

    Uses of Heather.

    • The Moorland Association, whose members manage about 90% of England’s heather moorland host thousands of bee hives. Pollen from heather makes excellent honey and the scent is excellent.
    • Heather moorland is one of the rarest habitats in the world. Ilkley moor is crucial for ground nesting birds.
    • Red grouse eat young heather shoots but they like to shelter and build their nests in taller, older heather. Gamekeepers therefore have to make sure there are some patches of young heather and some patches of old heather on the moors if they want to have enough grouse to shoot.
    • Local people used to use heather to make a type of broom called a besom to sweep their cottage floors.
    • Heather is available in many varieties and they contribute to ornamental or specialist gardens.
    • White Heather is said to be lucky but count yourself lucky if you can walk through a purple flowering moorland Yorkshire landscape.

    This photo shows two of the twelve Apostle Stones, 1260 feet above sea level, on Ilkley moor looking towards Yeadon and the airport. The planes were flying higher than the horseflies but not by all that much. There is a specialist web site for Stone Circle visitors here and a more comprehensive article by David Raven.  For comments about heather on the uplands 15,000 years ago look at The Moorland Association site

    See Walks around Ilkley

    That is not to say that the other tracts of moorland and heather in Yorkshire are not in great condition. I particularly like the area around Goathland.

    Yorkshires top Twelve Birdwatching Sites
    Midhope Moor and Langsett reservoir


    Review of Recent Showjumping Events


    In summer 2011 Bramham horse trials had some good weather for a change and record crowds of over 50,000 attended to see a German winner Kai Rueder. The only solace is that he is trained by a Yorkshireman Chris Bartle from Markington

    In the European championships Yorkshire folk came home with a couple of bronze medals. Nicola Wilson and John Whitaker will now be looking forward to the Olympic selection and competitions

    The Hull show in East Park organised by the British Showjumping area committee was an unqualified success in August when over 20,000 visitors attended the show. Yorkshire riders did particularly well with Karl Fuller of Otley winning twice in the grand ring. He was riding his own horse Wet Wet Wet.

    The Great Yorkshire Show introduced a new Mini Major class to add to the existing highly acclaimed show jumping competitions. Sponsored by Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream it is open to junior riders aged 12 and under. It gives an opportunity for the winning pony riders from three Yorkshire qualifying shows to partner up with some of the (major) top riders in the country.

    A first for Yorkshire when Eldwick Riding Club won the quadrille of the year title at the British Riding Clubs event with their Riverdance routine. Read more background and see an international Quadrille below.


    Steven Beane from North Allerton captured his third consecutive global title at the Calgary Stampede’s 32nd annual World Championship Blacksmiths’ Competition during 2011. Steven has joined the elite as a competitor who has won back-to-back-to-back world crowns at Calgary. He picked up the winner’s cheque for $10,000, as well as a gold-and-silver Stampede championship buckle.

    Due to a lack of sponsorship and poor ticket sales the international showjumping event planned for April 2011 at Sheffield arena had to be cancelled.

    For details of forthcoming events check out the Riding Diary
    Port Royal EEC, claims to be the premier northern equestrian center at Holme on Spalding moor with two main arenas. For events see

    Show Jumping at Olympia

    Safe by Katy Wrathall CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Quadrille by Princes Milady CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Show Jumping at Olympia by Jessicamulley CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Jill Armstrong at Yorkshire Post for inspiration


    Otley Recognises Our Diamond Queen

    Glen Folk

    A celebration of the written and spoken word will take the form of a competition on the theme of Diamonds to recognise ‘The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee’ in Otley, West Yorkshire.
    The closing date for entries is 20th January 2012 so get your poems or short stories in to good order. ‘To take part in the free-to-enter competition, all you have to do is polish up your writing skills by entering a short story of up to 600 words or a poem of up to 60 lines on the theme of ‘Diamond’. Diamonds are renowned for their brilliance and rarity, but you don’t just have to stick to the jewel, any interpretation of the word and its associations is fine.’
    Adult winners will receive two free tickets to the ‘Grand Opening Feast of Creative Writing’ on March 9th plus a mystery gift and an opportunity to read their winning work. Younger winners will receive Amazon gift vouchers from the Otley town mayor.

    Otley Creative Writing Word Feast

    The Word Feast will be a weekend series of events in March and Grand Opening Feast is planned for Korks wine bar on Friday the 9th March 2012 with lots of other events over the weekend.
    Come to Wetherspoon’s at The Bowling Green to discuss how you get from the blank page to the finished manuscript or poem. Local writers will be starting off the discussion.
    On the poetry front Pat Borthwick ‘will use a variety of starting points to inspire ‘sensational’ new writing. There will be published poems available as models and the session will include some quiet time to develop one or two of your starting points further. The last hour will be set aside for readback/feedback time so that your poem gets its first public airing. Constructive comments will be encouraged so that writers take home from the workshop ideas for ways to further improve their poems’.
    That is not all with events to suit all ages and skill levels.

    Other Otley Events and Activities

    Besides this inaugural writing festival Otley hosts a very popular Walking Festival, Agricultural Show, Carnival, Cycle Races, Street Festival, Vintage Transport Extravaganza, Folk Festival including a ‘poems and pints’ event, Beer Festival, Science Festival and Victorian Christmas Fayre.
    Keep an eye on Otley as a lively community is always bringing new ideas to locals and visitors.

    otley show hostas 025

    Other Contacts

    Otley Courthouse
    Otley Word Feast
    Otley Town web site
    Otley Film Society


    Hillbilly of Yorkshire

    Yorkshire can rightly boast about the ‘three peaks’ but little did we know that they hid the Yorkshire Hillbillies. The group have escaped from the set of Emmerdale Farm and The Commercial at Esholt. That is why they are called the Woolpackers with Zak Dingle on drums, Lisa Dingle on fiddle, Terry Woods lead singer and Vic Windsor.

    Sadly the video has been blocked in the UK due to copyright rules.

    Hillbilly Rock should have a minty red sauce on the outside and Emmerdale written through the rock. At least that is what the rock of Whitby, Scarborough and Filey tastes like.

    American Hillbillies obviously were not named after Yorkshire emigrants as the term has derogatory connotations. US Hillbillies tend to live in the rural sticks and enjoy homemade hooch and a reputation for low educational qualifications.


    York Mystery Plays Your Chance to Visit 2012

    What are the Mystery Plays

    • The York Mystery Plays are a medieval cycle of the greatest stories ever told from Creation to the Last Judgment. These plays have been performed by the people of York across the centuries.
    • They are gaining an international reputation on the scale of the Oberammergau passion plays.
    • In summer 2012, the biblical stories will be retold in a way that resonates with both past and present and appeals to those of religious faith or none.
    • The plays will be performed in a covered outdoor theatre in the Museum Garden St Mary’s Abbey from 2-27th August 2012
    • Over 1000 local people will help 28,000 visitors and attendees enjoy the plays that were last on show in 2000
    • York Mystery Plays are a magnificent example of medieval drama. Using the colourful language of medieval Yorkshire the plays are made up of a number of individual pageants originally presented by the Guilds of Craftsmen for more info read York Mystery Plays
    • Patrons for 2012

      HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, Dame Judi Dench, Harry Gration and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, have been announced as patrons of York Mystery Plays 2012.
      The Duke of York said: “Having witnessed the enthusiasm and energy created by the York Mystery Plays in 2000, I am delighted to learn that the Plays will be returning to the city in August 2012 and I am honoured to be a patron. I have been impressed by the scale and ambition of the project and how new partnerships have been formed between organisations and businesses across the city. “I am looking forward to seeing for myself what will surely be one of the cultural highlights of 2012.”
      The Archbishop says’This is a very exciting project and will provide a wonderful spectacle for the city. As you prepare to tell the story of God at work in Creation and Redemptions, I pray that you will be inspired by majesty of the story, and that others in turn will be encouraged in faith and hope.’

      York 2012

    • You will already know York is a great place to visit for a day trip or prolonged stay.
    • The Mystery Plays provide another attractive reason to visit during August 2012
    • Locals and visitors can book tickets now from this link

    Embroiderers Guild of Yorkshire


    The celebrations for 75 years the Embroiderers Guild of Yorkshire was led by an exhibition at the University of Leeds Textile Archive. This is located at St Wilfred’s Chapel Moorlands Road Leeds and is open University times.

    Yorkshire is the longest serving branch of the Embroiderers Guild in the country. Yorkshire was fortunate to have as first president, Louisa Pesel who’s notes designs and collection from all around the world features in the exhibition.

    Under the title ‘Natural Fibers are the Fabric of Society’ there are silk shawls from the Qing dynasty, Javanese cottons, Mediterranean embroideries and exhibits from Malaysia, China, New Zealand and Yorkshire.

    There are branches of the Embroiderers guild around Yorkshire including Ackworth, City of York, Grassington & District, Halifax, Hallam, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and East Riding, Lower Airedale, Nidderdale, Penistone, Ryedale, Leeds, Selby & District, Sheffield & District and Skipton. They run competitions and for 2010 they will be judged at Regional Day at Riccall, Selby, on 12th June 2010 the themes include DeDenne Competition for Young Embroiderers – “Imaginary Animals” , Challenge Cup – “My Backyard” and Coats Anchor Award – “Animals”. See more on their web site

    Pontefract Museum, Salter Row, Pontefract, event Going for Gold Textile Art Group Until 28 January 2012.

    York Quilt Museum Embroidered and Embellished Collections to view click here


    Smokie Gets in Your Ears

    Do you sometimes end up with a song going around in your head for ages? Well join the club, the Smokie fan club in this case.

    Smokie Facts and History

      The original members, Terry Uttley, Alan Silson and Chris Norman shared the playground together at St. Bedes Grammar School in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
      Their other musical incarnation included groups called The Yen, The Sphynx Kindness and The Elisabethans .
      During the 1970’s they had hits with If You Think You Know How To Love Me, Don’t Play Your Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me, Living Next Door To Alice, Mexican girl and Oh Carol.
      As with many groups they then had a lengthy lay off.
      ‘It was the local Yorkshire Musician John Verity who was responsible for the re-birth of ‘Smokie’ back in 1986. The Bradford City Football Club had just suffered one of the worst disasters in sporting history when the club’s main stand caught fire during a match with considerable loss of life. A relief fund for relatives was set up in Bradford and because of their local connections, John Verity invited Smokie to reform for a one-off benefit concert. The concert was a huge success not only for the relief fund but also for Smokie personally.’
      Smokie are currently on tour in the Ukraine and are well worth seeing when they return to perform in Yorkshire.

    Apologies if the You Tube gets on your nerves.

    See the exciting new Logo Board game for Christmas 2011


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