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The Dakotas


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The Dakotas were formed in Manchester, England, in 1960, the name being suggested by a local promoter who wanted the band to dress up as native American Indians! By early 1963 the Dakotas were now signed to Brian Epstein’s NEMS agency, and, thanks to the success of the Beatles, signed up to EMI records subsidiary label, Parlophone.
Billy J Kramer had been friends with John Lennon for some time and John gave the group a demo of a new song, “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, which they perfected whilst working in Hamburg at the Star Club. On returning to Britain, the song was recorded at Abbey Road studios, with producer George Martin. It stormed up the charts and reached No.2 in the spring of 1963. It must be remembered that the Dakotas and Billy each had separate recording contracts with Parlophone, and that they were billed as “Billy J Kramer WITH the Dakotas”. To maintain the group’s identity, the Dakotas’ guitar instrumental “The Cruel Sea” was released as a single, and it reached the Top 20 around the same time as “Secret”. This Mike Maxfield tune was released in America as “The Cruel Surf”, coinciding with the surf craze.

The first Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas album, “Listen…”, was released at the end of 1963, and eventually reached No.11 on the LP chart. Early in 1964, the group felt they needed to release a single that wasn’t written by the Beatles (!) and chose “Little Children”. This controversial move paid off, and the record went to No.1 on the British charts in the spring of 1964.


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