the Four Jays, they appeared regularly at the Cavern with The Beatles
and were the special guests on a Beatles Fan Club night on Thursday
5th April 1962. By mid-1962 an argument resulted in Joey leaving the
group and Mike Millward, former member of Bob Evans and The Five Shillings
replaced him. Redman left the group for three months to play in Hamburg
on the assurance that his position with the group was safe, but on his
return Owie told him they’d decided to keep his replacement, Dave Lovelady.
Later that year the group changed its name to The Four Mosts, having learned that a Southern group called the Four Jays was managed by London impresario Lou Prager. By the time Brian Epstein signed them on 30th June 1963, their line-up had settled at Mike Millward, Billy Hatton, Brian O’Hara and Dave Lovelady. According to Dave, they were the second group that Brian Epstein had approached with a view to managing them. He asked them to turn professional, but they turned him down, preferring to remain semi-professional. He made them a management offer three times and it was only after Gerry and The Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer had their initial chart hits that they decided to sign with NEMS.
Following his usual practice, Epstein placed them with George Martin, but they found they had no original material strong enough for them to record. Owie asked John Lennon if he had a number he could give them and John told him he had one that he’d written while sitting on the toilet. When they appeared with The Beatles at the Queen’s Theatre, Blackpool on 4th August 1963, John told them that the number they could have was called ‘Hello Little Girl’, which he’d penned in his teens and had included in the group’s repertoire since 1958.
Beatles had also recorded it at their Decca and Parlophone recording
auditions. John was to say: “This was one of the first songs I ever
finished. I was then about 18 and we gave it to The Fourmost. I think
it was the first song of my own that I ever attempted to do with the
group.” He also commented that it was loosely based on a couple of old
standards which his mother used to sing to him when he was a small child
and was an attempt to capture the mood of those songs written in the
Billy Hatton told Mersey Beat: “We arranged to go to John Lennon’s house, and they gave us a copy of the words. We hadn’t heard the number before, and George and John gave us a rough idea of it by taping the tune. We received the tape at 4 o’clock on Monday morning. As we had to record on the following Wednesday, we had two days in which to make an arrangement good enough to put on disc. As a matter of fact, when we were recording, we were just learning the song as we went along and were tremendously encouraged by A&R; man George Martin.”
Finsbury Park audience were given an opportunity to see this side of
The Fourmost as Brian O’Hara sang ‘White Christmas’, during which he
did impressions of Elvis Presley, Gracie Fields, Adam Faith, Dean Martin
– and The Beatles. They issued an EP called ‘The Fourmost Sound’ and
appeared in the film ‘Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’, with their NEMS stablemates
Gerry and The Pacemakers and Cilla Black.
Their biggest hit, ‘A Little Loving’, which reached No.6 in the charts, wasn’t by Lennon and McCartney. The Fourmost had gone to Dick James to ask him if he had a number for them to record and he played them several tracks that didn’t excite them.
Then James remembered a song that had come in that morning’s post. He played them the demo of ‘A Little Loving’, written by Juliet Mills’s husband, Russell Alquist, and although Owie hated it, the others liked the number enough to vote it in as their next single.
They had three remaining hits in their career, ‘How Can I Tell Her?’ ‘Baby I Need Your Lovin’’ and ‘Girls Girls Girls’, but they were never to have a hit in America.
From 13th May 1964 they were booked to appear for a four-month season at the London Palladium on a bill with Frankie Vaughan, Cilla Black and Tommy Cooper. It was so popular that the run was extended until December. Sadly, just before the Palladium season began, Mike Millward became seriously ill with leukaemia and needed radium treatment. He had to enter Clattterbridge Hospital in the Wirral, where he died.
special show, ‘A Night for Mike’, was presented at Liverpool’s Grafton
Ballroom on Tuesday 5th April 1966.
Mike’s place was filled by a number of different Liverpool musicians over a period of time, including Georgie Peckham, Ian Edwards and Frank Bowen. Eventually, Joey Bowers, an original founder member of the band, returned to the fold.
The band continued appearing in cabaret during the 1970s, but split in 1978. Three of the members – Joey Bowers, Billy Hatton and Dave Lovelady – teamed up with Joey’s wife to form a quartet called Clouds, which performed on a semi-pro basis in Liverpool clubs until 1993.
Owie found three other musicians and continued performing for a time and then sold them the name The Fourmost for a reputed £1000. He was said to have regretted it. The group then appearing as The Fourmost had no association with the original hit makers and was locally referred to, with typical Scouse humour, as the Fraudmost or the Four Almost.