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Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas

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Billy J. Kramer (born William Howard Ashton, 19 August 1943, in Bootle, Liverpool, England) was a British Invasion / Merseybeat singer. He is known today primarily as the singer of various Lennon-McCartney compositions that The Beatles did not use.

The performing name Kramer was chosen at random from a telephone directory. It was John Lennon’s suggestion that the “J” be added to the name to further distinguish him by adding a ‘tougher edge’. Billy soon came to the attention of Brian Epstein, ever on the look-out for new talent to add to his expanding roster of local artists. Kramer turned professional but his then backing band, The Coasters were less keen, so Epstein sought out the services of a Manchester based band, The Dakotas, a well-respected combo then backing Pete MacLaine.

Even then, the Dakotas would not join Kramer wihout a recording deal of their own. Once in place, the deal was set and both acts signed to Parlophone under George Martin. Collectively, they were named Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas to keep their own identities within the act. Once the Beatles broke through, the way was paved for a tide of “Merseybeat” and Kramer was offered the chance to cover a song first released by the Beatles on their own debut album, Please Please Me. The track had been allegedly turned down by Shane Fenton (later Alvin Stardust) who was looking for a career reviving hit.

With record producer George Martin, the song “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” was a number two UK Singles Chart hit in 1963, and was backed by another tune otherwise unreleased by The Beatles, “I’ll Be on My Way”.

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  • britishboy1976

    For anyone who is interested, EMI release on 23 April 2012 'Completely Cilla: 1963-1973' - a 5CD boxset of material by the British pop singer Cilla Black who began her career alongside The Beatles in Liverpool during the 1960s. Cilla went on to chart 18 Top 40 singles during that decade and toured across the world with many of the other sixties greats. The new set contains 139 recordings all produced by George Martin (the man behind The Beatles' hits) and comes with a bonus Region 0 / NTSC DVD of many previously unreleased BBC TV music performances.

    19 Apr 2012 Reply
  • ilsonowl

    Help sort out the pictures on the Amen Corner ... it's been hijacked by some death metal band !

    25 May 2011 Reply
  • BorisBritva88

    It seems to me that correct name of this performer is Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas.

    16 Nov 2009 Reply
  • Sonofthe60s

    They really were good...every song was a neatly packaged two minute gem.

    11 Jun 2009 Reply
  • marcy50

    Amazing group loved them!

    23 Apr 2009 Reply
  • naftallina

    Well said, my friends below me! :) For sure there is something really charming about the 60. just like in any other period. :D

    16 Nov 2008 Reply
  • Twiggystickstoo

    Ahhhhhh the 60's were the best....

    1 Sep 2008 Reply