Carl Barron (Colin Smith) lead vocal (left in 1963)
Euan Rose drums
Nigel Wright guitar
Rodney Wright bass guitarlead vocal (joined in 1964)
This West Midlands group were one of the five to be signed up by
Columbia Records producer Norrie Paramour at the famous Moathouse Club auditions in 1963.
They were previously known as The Eko’s, a group originally put together in Longbridge
by the brothers Nigel and Rodney Wright.
The Eko’s had formed in 1961 and that group had also included bass guitarist Roy Austin
who left to join the Birmingham group The Rockin’ Berries over in Germany.
After lead vocalist Bobby Ash also left the Eko’s in 1963, the remaining group members
enlisted singer Carl Barron from Jimmy Powell’s old group
The Detours to be the group’s new front-man. Carl Barron (real name Colin Smith)
was previously the singer for the Dominettes (see The Uglys)
and his place in that group was taken by Steve Gibbons.
Bobby Ash meanwhile, joined the Diplomats for a short time before being offered
the job of singer for the Plazents, a group that would later be signed to a record deal
by the Decca Records label and change their name to the Brumbeats.
As well as getting their new singer, the Eko’s decided that a new image for the group
was required to make them stand out from all the other groups
so they hit on the idea to have stage outfits made from a leopard-print material.
This new appearance on stage certainly got them noticed more and soon after,
a name change was decided upon to go along with the new visual image
and so they became Carl Barron and The Cheetahs.
It was not long before Carl Barron and The Cheetahs were finding bookings
all over Birmingham and their popularity grew to a point that they were able
to make an appearance on the popular BBC television show For Teenagers Only.
The groups’ big chance for fame came in June of 1963 when they were auditioned
and signed by Norrie Paramour to a Columbia Records recording contract.
Their first release was a single in January 1964 entitled Only The Beginning
(a recording sometimes mistakenly attributed to Carl Wayne of the Vikings).
Despite this success, the Cheetahs front-man Carl Barron unexpectedly left the country,
never to return, soon after the release of the single.
With their future now in doubt The Cheetahs were unceremoniously dropped
from their EMI/Columbia contract but undaunted, the Cheetahs
decided to carry on with Ray Bridger recruited as the group’s new vocalist.
The suitably abbreviated Cheetahs – still sporting their leopard print outfits
then managed to attract the attention of the Phillips Records label who fortunately
saw the potential of the group and signed them to a contract in 1964.
The first record release from the new line-up of the Cheetahs was a Gene Pitney
cover entitled Mecca that managed to gain a No. 36 chart placing in October of 1964.
The next single release Soldier Boy, also managed a chart placing,
but subsequent records including Whole Lotta Love which was an original composition by the group,
made little impact. and the Cheetahs had retired their act along with the leopard-print suits
for good before the end of the 1960’s.
Cheetahs drummer Euan Rose remained involved in the music business
and has recently collaborated with well known Brummie personality and Brum Rocked!
author Laurie Hornsby in writing the music for and staging the theatrical production
Wallop Mrs. Cox which has been performed successfully in Birmingham.
With Special Thanks to
Copyright -© John R Woodhouse
Compiled by Keith Law