The Bachelors Biography

Formed in Dublin, Eire, in 1958, the Bachelors were originally known as both the Harmony Chords and Harmonichords and featured brothers Conleth Cluskey (18 March 1941), Declan Cluskey (b. 12 December 1942) and John Stokes (b. Sean James Stokes, 13 August 1940). The Dublin-born trio initially worked as a mainstream folk act, all three playing harmonicas. In 1961, they were discovered in Scotland by entrepreneur Phil Solomon and his wife Dorothy. After a further period of struggle Solomon introduced them to Decca Records’ A&R head Dick Rowe who recalls: ‘They all played harmonicas and sang folk songs. They weren’t an act you could sign to a pop record company. We went backstage afterwards and there were these three boys who looked at me as if I’d come from heaven and was going to open the door for them to walk in. I said, “God be with me at this moment”, and I meant it.’ After signing the trio, Rowe suggested a name change: ‘I said, “What do girls like, Philip?... Bachelors!”.’ With the assistance of producer Shel Talmy, the group enjoyed a UK Top 10 hit with a revival of the Lew Pollack and Erno Rapee song ‘Charmaine’ in the summer of 1963. After three unsuccessful follow-ups (‘Far Away’, ‘Whispering’ and ‘I’ll See You’) they struck again with a string of easy listening pop hits including several revivals suggested by Rowe: ‘Diane’, ‘I Believe’, ‘Ramona’, ‘I Wouldn’t Trade You For The World’ and ‘No Arms Can Ever Hold You’. In 1966, they revealed their former folk roots and, surprisingly, completely out-manoeuvred Simon And Garfunkel by taking ‘The Sound Of Silence’ to number 3 in the UK charts.

Working primarily with agent Dorothy Solomon, the Bachelors achieved great success on the cabaret circuit with a line-up that remained unchallenged for 25 years. However, in 1984, a dispute arose between the members and John Stokes was asked to leave. He duly took legal action against the brothers and the company Bachelors Ltd. During the hearing, Stokes’ voice was likened to that of a ‘drowning rat’ but he received compensation and left with plans to form a duo. He was replaced by Peter Phipps who was inducted into the second generation New Bachelors, staying with the Cluskey brothers until 1993. The brothers have continued to tour and record as a duo. As Phil Solomon concluded: ‘The Bachelors never missed a date in their lives. One of them even had an accident on their way to do a pantomime in Bristol and went on with his leg in plaster and 27 stitches in his head. That is professionalism.’

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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