Ray & The Teenbeats

Ray & the Teenbeats at Kirkby Stephen Youth Club in 1961

Ray Alderson is the vocalist with the Teenbeats and provided the following history of Ray & the Teenbeats -

It all started in a council house in Kirkby Stephen back in 1960 when a group of young lads decided to form a band. Little did they realise that 50 years on, they'd still be playing those songs of the sixties. We called ourselves Ray and The Teenbeats, we still do today. The original line up consisted of Garth Steadman (drums), Rex Lund (bass guitar), Alan Sowerby (lead guitar and vocals) and myself on lead vocals. Our first gig was at the Kirkby Stephen Youth Club. In the early days we were influenced by the likes of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. 

We practiced as much as we could and used to get paid £2 a gig. Considering the PA system and amps we had to hire cost £1.50, we weren't in it for the money. We just all loved the music. We are all self-taught. None of us could read music. When new singles came out, we would ring up Frank Walton's Music Shop in Penrith and order the records. He used to put them on the bus and when we got them, we would learn them straight away and include them in our act the following weekend.

Our first gig outside the youth club, was the annual British Legion week in August 1961. From there we went on to play at all the local youth clubs and village halls around, what was then Westmorland and also in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire . We obtained our first state of the art Vox 100 watt amps and PA System from JP Dias, in Botchergate, Carlisle , on hire purchase of course, which cost us around £20 a week. As we only got £15 a gig by then, we had to find the rest out of our own pockets. If we had weekends where we had no bookings, we used to go to Morecambe to the Winter Gardens and the Floral Hall and watch groups like The Hollies, The Kinks, The Troggs and many more. We would go backstage and meet them. That gave us an even bigger incentive to keep rehearsing.

We did play in beat group contests in Carlisle , Workington and Whitehaven but we mainly played around Kirkby Stephen, Kendal, Appleby and surrounding areas. The  halls were always packed out and we were often booked a year in advance. We did play in Liverpool once in the beat group contests there and visited the famous Cavern club before it was all changed.

Ray & The Teenbeats in the 80's

Over the years the band's line up changed from time to time. We were sometimes playing three times a week and one lad who'd moved up to our area from down south called Rick (forget his surname) had played in the early days with The Yardbirds. Another lad, Howard Condor from Darlington ,  who was a brilliant drummer, came over the odd weekend to play with us. He ended up playing for The Barron Knights and Joe Brown and The Bruvvers. We also backed The Pretty Things at Milnthorpe Town Hall on their return from one of their European tours. The stage was not big enough for both their equipment and ours, so they decided to set up their gear and let us use it.  It was great for us using the state of the art equipment they had. The hall was packed out that night and everyone had a brilliant night.
That, I'm afraid though, is our only 'claim to fame'.

By the end of the 1960's and into the early 1970's one or two of the lads decided to call it a day, much to my disappointment, but in the early 1980's we reformed again for a charity do in aid of Cancer and the British Heart Foundation. It was a sell-out. For this gig our line-up was Keith Thompson, (drums), Alan Sowerby (lead guitar/vocals), Archie Peatfield (rhythm guitar), Jimmy Hamilton (lead guitar/vocals),Trevor Braithwaite (bass guitar) and myself on lead vocals.

Since then we've played at many more  local charity gigs. We've done a couple to raise funds  for the Kirkby Stephen Primary school where we managed to raise between £3,000 - £4,000 on each occasion.

Our biggest gig though was Millenium night in our home town of Kirkby Stephen . The Millenium committee got permission to close the main road through the town and the town was packed with revellers. There were a few bands but we headed the line-up. It was a brilliant night, enjoyed by all, from children in push-chairs to senior citizens. Helpers were still clearing the road at 6am in the morning in time for it re-opening at 7am.

Ray & The Teenbeats today

Nowadays we still play at functions, weddings, parties, etc and still call ourselves Ray and the Teenbeats, although some of our 'friends' nickname us the 'Deadbeats'. We still have our love of 'live music' preferring it to karaoke and discos.

The current line up is  Ian Smurthwaite (drums) Martin Dents (bass) Graham Potter (rhythm and vocals) Jimmy Hamilton (lead) and myself on vocals.

We've had a lot of great musicians playing with us over the years, Ernie Wilson (ex Wee Willie Henry and the Wanderers), Mel Scott, Malc Ratchford, Keith ‘Sugar' Thompson, Ian Stewart, Garth Steadman (ex Hellions) and finally Sandra Slee (nee Howard), a brilliant vocalist who went touring abroad with Penrith band The Harlequins.


I'd like to thank all these band members for their involvement with the band, the  current band members and a special thank you to all the fans who have supported us over the years.
Thanks for the memories