The cast

Oral histories




If there's one thing you're likely to know about Tony Burrows, it's that he's the only man to appear on a single episode of Top of the Pops three times with three separate bands. That was in early 1970 when his session-career was at its peak and records by The Brotherhood of Man ('United We Stand'), White Plains ('My Baby Loves Loving'), Edison Lighthouse ('Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes') and The Pipkins ('Gimme Dat Ding') were all in the charts together. All of them featured him on vocals (alongside Sue and Sunny in the case of the original Brotherhood of Man).

To get to this position, Burrows had already put in a decade of work. Through the 60s he had got to know most of the songwriters who went on to dominate the early years of the next decade - writers like Tony Macauly, Tony Hiller, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. The later two he played with in The Kestrels, a band which went back to National Service days and which supported The Beatles in the early days (teaching them, according to Burrows, how to bow in advance of the Royal Variety Show).

He subsequently joined The Ivy League (after their most successful years, unfortunately) and was still with them when they changed their name to The Flowerpot Men and had a hit with the fakeadelic classic 'Let's Go To San Francisco'. Apart from this one-off, the decade failed to reward one of the loveliest and most versatile voices in British pop, and by 1969 Burrows had had enough - he resolved to give up touring and instead made himself available for session-work on the promise that, although he'd promote stuff on TV, he wasn't doing gigs.

He was in instant demand and the series of hits in early 1970 date from the last few months of the previous year when his recording diary was full. The fact that they all hit virtually simultaneously was something of a poisoned chalice for Burrows. At the end of that record-breaking edition of Top of the Pops, he was approached by a staff member and told that he'd been unofficially blacklisted from the show - apparently it was starting to look like a bit of a fix, having him on every other record.

For the next four years, although he continued to sing on countless hits (he reckons it's somewhere around 100 top twenty hits during the 70s), he wasn't invited on TV and found his own records didn't get played on the radio. The record that broke that streak was probably his best: 'Beach Baby' by The First Class, a beautiful recreation of 60s high school pop written by John Carter, another one of The Flowerpot Men. I was also quite fond of the follow-up, 'Bobby Dazzler', which took the piss out of 70s pop manipulation and which was consequently ignored by the industry.

Burrows is still singing, though his love of cricket seems to be even more important to him, and is gradually starting to get the recognition his work deserves. Admittedly there's some ropey stuff in there, but even on the weak material, his singing is almost always worth hearing.

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Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams