Them (band)

Them (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Them

Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Alias =
Origin = Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Genre = Rock, blue-eyed soul, garage rock, blues-rock
Years_active = 1964- 1971
Label = Decca, Parrott Records
Happy Tiger (reissues)

Them was a Northern Irish group formed in Belfast in April 1964, most prominently known for the garage rock standard "Gloria" and launching singer Van Morrison's musical career. The group was marketed in the United States as part of the British Invasion. [cite web|url= |title=Chapter 6. The Second Insurgency||accessdate=2008-09-11]

The band featured Van Morrison on vocals and harmonica, Billy Harrison on guitar (born William Harrison, 14 October 1942, in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland), Eric Wrixon on piano and keyboards (named the band, but never played on any published albums or toured the States), Alan Henderson on bass (born 26 November 1944, in Belfast), Raymond Sweetman on bass (born Dermot Robert Sweetman, 1 January 1948, in Holyhead, Anglesey, North Wales) and Ronnie Millings on drums (born c 1937, in Belfast), with other musicians replacing or contributing during the life of the band. Henderson was the only constant member of the band from inception through their 1972 breakup, and 1979 reunion.

Formation of the group

When Van Morrison formed an R&B club with the entrepreneurs Jimmy Conlon, Jerry McKenna and Gerry McCurvey (known as the "3Js") at the Maritime Hotel in April 1964, he gave notice to the Golden Eagles, the group with which he performed at the time. This left him without a group. With an anticipated opening night for the new R&B club approaching, he embarked on a mission to find his ideal line-up. He had recently been introduced to The Gamblers, a Belfast East group formed by Ronnie Millings, Billy Harrison, and Alan Henderson in 1962. Still a schoolboy, Eric Wrixon had been recruited as piano player and keyboardist. Morrison soon joined up with this group playing saxophone and harmonica and sharing vocals with Billy Harrison. The group rehearsed together in a room over a bicycle shop in preparation for their debut at the Maritime. Deciding the group now needed a new name, they followed Eric Wrixon's suggestion, and The Gamblers morphed into Them after the 1954 sci-fi horror film. [Rogan, No Surrender, pp. 79-83]

The Maritime Hotel days

In an enigmatic manner, the very first announcement of the band Them transpired on 14 April, 1964 with an ad in a Belfast newspaper asking: "Who Are? What Are? THEM" followed with similarly curious ads and building interest, until the Friday ad before the gig announced that Them would be performing at the Maritime Hotel (Club Rado) that evening. Their initial club attendance in the two hundred capacity venue grew very quickly; within a week, people could be seen queuing well down the street hours before the show.

Them performed without a routine, and the act absorbed their fuel from the crowd's energy. Morrison ad libbed, creating his songs live as he performed. Their debut of Morrison's "Gloria" took place on stage here. Sometimes, depending on his mood, the song could last up to twenty minutes. Morrison has stated that "Them lived and died on the stage at the Maritime Hotel." The records and tours never adequately captured the true spirit of Them, as they fed off one another and the energy of the audience. Only the most rudimentary of recordings of the performances survive.

One of the fan's recordings of "Turn On Your Love Light" made its way to Dick Rowe with Decca Records. He was notoriously known for having turned down signing The Beatles after listening to a badly recorded demo. Not anxious to repeat this type of mistake, Rowe rushed over to the Maritime to hear Them and then rushed them into the Decca studios to sign away their rights on a standard two year contract. The minors had to have their parents' signatures and when Eric Wrixon's parents refused to sign, he was replaced with Patrick McAuley.Hinton 1997. pp39-46.]

Recording with Decca and touring

The first recording session took place in London England in Decca Records' recording studios in West Hampstead on 5 July 1964. Dick Rowe brought in session musicians Arthur Greenslade on organ and Bobby Graham on drums. Six songs were recorded during this session: "Groovin'", "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover", "Turn on Your Love Light", "Don't Start Crying Now", "One Two Brown Eyes", "Philosophy" and "Gloria". This session was remarkable in its employment of two drums tracks, which can be clearly heard in the stereo mixes of "Gloria" and "One, Two Brown Eyes". [Turner, Too Late to Stop Now, pp. 48-51]

The group released its first single "Don't Start Crying Now" b/w "One Two Brown Eyes", in August 1964, which did not prove to be successful. Phil Solomon, the band's manager, and Dick Rowe then hired session musicians Jimmy Page, Peter Bardens and Bobby Graham to back Morrison on a cover of Big Joe Williams's "Baby Please Don't Go". (Though Page was present, the lead guitar playing was the work of Billy Harrison.) It was released in November 1964, and in December Them made their television debut on Ready Steady Go!, joining The Rolling Stones on the same bill. [Turner, Too Late to Stop Now, p.51] Solomon used his connections to have Baby Please Don't Go played as the weekly signature tune for the television show and within two weeks it was #26 on the charts. The single, which featured the now-legendary "Gloria" as its B-side, turned into a smash hit in the UK, finally peaking in the Top Ten on the UK Singles Chart. [Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence, pp. 100-101] In January 1965, Them toured England for a second time, staying at the Royal Hotel, which disc jockey Jimmy Savile used as his London base. As with many other groups of the time, Savile helped to promote the band with write-ups in his column for The People. At this point, Them needed a dose of positive publicity as they soon had earned a reputation for bad manners and sarcasm in their interviews. Billy Harrison said the attitude problem may have been caused by anti-Irish sentiments on the continent at the time. But, when they were interviewed by a reporter from the Irish Independent, the reporter remarked, "They were the most boorish bunch of youngsters I'd come across in my short career". They even managed to accord an attractive female reporter with arrogance, causing Phil Coulter who witnessed this interview to remark, "They would just sit and mutter monosyllabic grunts to themselves and give her off-the-wall answers". (Van Morrison as a solo artist later raised these tedious and combative interviews to a "negative art form".) [Rogan, No Surrender, pp. 108-111]

Their record label Decca released an EP with a recording of "Philosophy" from an earlier session. They next released Them's biggest hit in the UK, "Here Comes the Night" b/w "All for Myself". Phil Solomon had brought in Bert Berns, an American, who had co-written the hit "Twist and Shout". Berns hired session musicians Phil Coulter on keyboards and Andy White on drums to play on this song, which was one of his own compositions. Three weeks after it was released it charted at #2 in March 1965 in the UK and it went to #24 in the U.S. that same May. [Turner, Too Late to Stop Now, pp.51-52] Their management promoted Them by scheduling appearances on "Ready Steady Go!" and "Top Of The Pops" where rather than performing live, they were expected to mime and lip snyc. Morrison said of this appearance, "It was ridiculous. We were totally anti that type of thing... and we had to get into suits and have make-up put on and all that...". He also revealed how the band had until that time considered the programme a complete joke, and, then, Them had to appear on it. [Rogan, No Surrender, pp. 111-112]

On 11 April, 1965 Them made a guest appearance at the NME Pollwinners Concert at Wembley Empire Pool. Jimmy Savile was MC for this event and perhaps was responsible for their appearance, as their newfound fame was too recent to have figured into that year's readers' polls. The 1965 concert remains the finest gathering ever of British pop acts, with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Animals, The Searchers, The Moody Blues, Dusty Springfield et al. The bands had been expected to keep to their current hits but Them audaciously sequed from "Here Comes the Night" into a seven minute version of "Turn on Your Lovelight". [Heylin, Can you Feel the Silence?, p.104] At the time, Derek Johnson with NME characterized Them's lead singer as generating "more genuine soul than any of his British contemporaries".Hinton 1997 .p53]

Them released their next single, "One More Time", chosen by Phil Solomon, in June 1965. This single bombed according to Billy Harrison because it never constituted single material. [Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence, p. 105] The band released two albums: "The Angry Young Them" released by Decca in June 1965 (UK) and by Parrot Records (US) in July 1965, and "Them Again" released in January 1966 (UK) and April 1966 (US). Later that year "Mystic Eyes" released as a single in the US reached #33. "Them Again" had charted in the US, and so they began a tour in May 1966. [Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 65]

In June of this two-month tour, Them had a three-week run at the famous Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. For the final week, The Doors (with lead singer Jim Morrison) opened for Them (which was the first time the Doors played at the Whisky). On the last night, the two bands and the two Morrisons jammed together on a twenty-minute version of "Gloria". [cite web| date=2006-01-23|url=|title=The History of the Whisky-A-Go-Go| |accessdate=2008-08-07] Them went on to headline at the The Fillmore in San Francisco, California, and then in Hawaii where things went awry, with disputes erupting among band members and with management over financial arrangements. The band broke apart, with Van Morrison and Alan Henderson returning to Belfast, while Ray Elliot and David Harvey decided to stay in America.Hinton. 1997. pp69-54]

Van Morrison has placed the Them break-up in context: "There was no motive behind anything you did [back then] . You just did it because you wanted to do it and you enjoyed doing it. That's the way the thing started, but it got twisted somewhere along the way and everybody involved in it got twisted as well, including me." (1967) "You can't take something like that, put it in a box and place a neat little name on it, then try to sell it. That's what they tried to do. That's what killed Them." (1973) [Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence, p. 112]

Post Morrison

In mid-1966, after Van Morrison left Them, he pursued a highly-successful solo career. The rest of the band regrouped back in Belfast and recruited Kenny McDowell (ex-Mad Lads) as singer. They continued touring and recording steadily after relocating to the USA in early 1967. Two of these post-Morrison albums, "Now and Them" and "Time Out! Time In for Them", found the band experimenting with psychedelia. This line-up then disbanded, after which Henderson hired session musicians for two later, and much more considered efforts, where Them settled into a hard rock vein not too dissimilar from Uriah Heep. Sadly for the group, these efforts met with consumer indifference, and by 1972 the band had dissolved. Henderson went on to contribute to the "Truth Of Truths" rock opera, produced by Them producer Ray Ruff in 1971. Ray Elliot, Jim Armstrong and Kenny McDowell re-united in Chicago in 1969 as "Truth" and recorded a number of demos and soundtrack songs later released as 'Of Them And Other Tales'.

After a band break-up in 1965, Billy Harrison and Pat McAuley formed a rival Them, competing with the Morrison/Henderson line-up and leading to legal action between the two groups. The latter won the rights to the name in March 1966, while the former, now without Harrison, were only allowed to use 'Other Them' in the U.K. The McAuley brothers became, unofficially, The Belfast Gypsies, who recorded two singles on Island Records (one released under the name "Freaks of Nature") and one Swedish-only album, all produced by Kim Fowley. During this time they toured Europe billed as "Them", and released a French E.P. under that name; the band never actually performed billed as the Belfast Gypsies. Afterwards, Jackie McAuley formed "The Cult" in Dublin with Paul Brady before forming folk duo "Trader Horne" with Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention).

Van Morrison went on to great success and fame as a solo artist, but Them's combination of garage rock and blues proved a major influence on the next generation of rock musicians, and the group's best-known singles have become staples of rock and roll.

Them reunited briefly in 1979, without Morrison, and recorded another album, 'Shut Your Mouth'.


*In January 2007, "Gloria" by Them was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
*"Gloria" by Them was rated at #69 on Dave Marsh's 1989 book, "The Heart of Rock and Soul, The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever" and "Mystic Eyes" was rated at #458. [web cite |url= |title= Dave Marsh the 1001 greatest Singles Ever | |accessdate=2007-04-08]
*"Gloria" by Them was #208 on the 2004 Rolling Stone magazine's feature, The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.



*"The Angry Young Them" - (1965) (with Van Morrison)
*"Them Again" - (1966) (with Van Morrison)
*"Belfast Gypsies" - (1967) (cd release 2003 as "Them Belfast Gypsies")
*"Now And Them" - (1968)
*"Time Out! Time In For Them" - (1968)
*"Them" - (1970)
*"Them In Reality" - (1971)
*"Shut Your Mouth" - (1979)


*"Them" - (1984) UK #5 (with Van Morrison)


*"The World of Them" (1970) (UK Decca- PA/SPA-86) (with Van Morrison)
*"Them featuring Van Morrison "- (1972) - A double LP consisting of 20 cuts from first two US albums -
*"The Story of The"- (1977)
*"Them" featuring Van Morrison - (1985)
*"The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison" - (1997) — To be remastered, re-issued in January 2009.


*Don't Start Crying Now/One Two Brown Eyes] - (1964) (with Van Morrison)
*Baby, Please Don't Go/Gloria - (1965) UK #10 (with Van Morrison)
*Here Comes the Night/All For Myself (1965) UK #2 (with Van Morrison)
*One More Time (Them song)|One More Time/How Long Baby- (1965) (with Van Morrison)
*(It Won't Hurt) Half As Much/I'm Gonna Dress In Black - (1965) (with Van Morrison)
*Mystic Eyes/If You And I Could Be As Two - (1966) US #33 (with Van Morrison)
*Call My Name (Them song)|Call My Name/Bring 'em On In - (1966) (with Van Morrison)
*I Can Only Give You Everything/Don't Start Crying Now - (1966) (with Van Morrison)
*It's All Over Now Baby Blue/I'm Gonna Dress in Black - (1966) (with Van Morrison)
*Richard Cory/Don't you Know - (1966) (with Van Morrison)
*Friday's Child/Gloria - (1967) (with Van Morrison)
*The Story Of Them, Part 1/The Story Of Them, Part 2- (1967) (with Van Morrison)




*Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
*Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074169X
*Rogan, Johnny (2006). Van Morrison:No Surrender, London:Vintage Books ISBN 9780099431831
*Turner, Steve (1993). Too Late to Stop Now, Viking Penguin, ISBN 0-670-85147-7

External links

* [ Them the Band]
* [ All Music biography] Them
* [ The Music Collector's Guide-Them/Van Morrison]

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