Norwich reunion brings stars of the skiffle scene back together
PUBLISHED: 10:37 18 August 2011 | UPDATED: 10:37 18 August 2011
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The mystery surrounding the life of a female singer from the late 1950s and early 60s has been solved thanks to an old photograph and a former CNS boy who taught The Beatles how to rock, says Derek James.
The Golden Years has helped to reunite so many of the bands and singers from the birth of the beat boom in Norwich and across Norfolk half a century ago.
Most of the stars from those early years of jazz, skiffle and then rock ‘n’ roll have been tracked down or we have discovered what happened to them.
But mystery surrounded one girl singer who captured the hearts of so many people back in the late 1950s and early 60s with her great voice, her charm, her looks and her stage presence.
Her name was Mireille Grey.
Time and time again people told me how they loved listening to her, dancing to her music, and asked whatever became of her.
Well now we know.
She returned to Norwich from her home in Newcastle to meet up with an old friend – former CNS boy Tony Sheridan, the man who taught The Beatles how to rock.
He was the rebel-rouser they called “Teacher.” Tony was back in the city from his home in Germany so it was a great opportunity for Mireille to make a flying visit to meet him again – and take a look around her old home.
She was the singer with Tony and the rest of The Saints when they won a competition for being the best skiffle group in Norwich of 1956 – the kids loved them.
This old photograph of them performing with another talented Norwich band called The Jailbirds was taken at the Industrial Club, now The Talk.
The Saints and The Jailbirds had some talented young musicians.
That’s Tony in the centre of the picture at the back, Mirielle is on the right and another guitarist in the picture is the great Kenny Packwood, who went on to become one of Marty Wilde’s Wildcats.
CNS boy Tony – real name Anthony McGinnity – would leave Norwich soon after this picture was taken for the bright lights of London and then the even brighter lights of Hamburg.
Always a rebel and his own man, he was regarded as one of the top young guitarists in the country and he toured with Eddie Crochan and Gene Vincent. He was part of the tour which ended when Eddie was killed in a car crash.
He turned down the chance to became one of The Shadows – backing a young singer called Cliff Richard – and headed across the Channel and ended up in Germany where he still lives.
“My reunion with Tony was a memorable experience. We simply drifted into songs without any effort or rehearsal,” said Mirielle.
Tomorrow: What happened to Mirielle and how her career as a professional singer shaped up.
Plans by Alan Mann, who was at school with Tony, to write a book about his life have been put on hold for various reasons. “I would just to thank everybody who helped me with their memories,” said Alan.