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Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (1964)


Main image of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (1964)
For Big Beat '64, ITV, tx. 10/5/1964, black and white
DirectorMark Stuart
Production CompanyABC Television
Concert PromoterMaurice Kinn

Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas perform 'Little Child', their then current number one hit single.

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Recorded at the Empire Pool in Wembley on 11 April 1964 as a showcase for the winners of the NME popularity poll for 1963-4, this performance captures Billy J. Kramer at the very peak of his success, though few would have suspected it at the time.

Born William Howard Ashton in Bootle on 19 August 1943, he initially worked as an apprentice fitter for an engineering firm. Under the name Billy J. Kramer (the surname chosen at random from the telephone directory, and the middle initial added at John Lennon's suggestion), he also sang in various Liverpool rock clubs, and quickly came to the attention of The Beatles' manager.

Brian Epstein signed him up, and gave him a John Lennon/Paul McCartney composition to release as his first single. 'Do You Want To Know A Secret' reached number two in the charts, another Lennon/McCartney song unrecorded by The Beatles, 'Bad To Me', hit number one, while a third, 'I'll Keep You Satisfied', managed number four. All were released in 1963, his first year as a professional performer.

Although Epstein would have been happy for him to continue covering Lennon/McCartney creations, Kramer was conscious that his initial success drew heavily on that of The Beatles. Accordingly, after trawling through music publishers' catalogues, he decided to release the US composition 'Little Children' as his fourth single. Released in March 1964, it was his second and final number one hit, and also the only one of his singles to have an impact in America. He performed it, the B-side 'They Remind Me Of You' and his earlier hit 'I'll Keep You Satisfied' at the Wembley concert.

But as the popularity of Merseybeat faded, so too did Kramer's, with only two more singles even charting, and those well below his earlier achievements. After splitting with his backing band The Dakotas, Kramer emigrated to the US, where he continues to perform to this day.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
'Little Child'
Billy Fury (1959)
Beatles, The
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