The British Beat Boom

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Peter Cowap - guitar (born June 29th 1944, Midd;eton, Manchester, died July 16th 1997)

Nick Duvall/Rod Clare - bass guitar

Leo Laherty - drums

Alan Doyle/Terry Morton/Geoff Foot - rhythm guitar


The Country Gentlemen were formed in Manchester in 1963 by Peter Cowap. He had already been with the skiffle group The Moonrakers in the late 50s, before joining the rock ını roll group Deke Bonner & The Tremors in 1961. The following year he was recruited to play with Jimmy Justice, a reasonably successful British recording artist at the time, with hits like "Spanish Harlem" and "When My Little Girl Is Smiling". Cowap and Justice didnıt seem to get on too well, though, and after a row Cowap left to form his own group, The Country Gentlemen. The name was derived from the guitar played by Cowap, a Gretsch model produced in the U.S.A., known as the "Country Gentleman". Initially a trio, the group comprised Cowap on lead guitar/vocals, Nick Duval from Deke Bonner & The Tremors on bass, and Leo Laherty on drums. With a repertoire of R & B and beat music the group soon rose to local fame by playing clubs in and around Manchester. Notably they opened for The Beatles at "The Three Coins" in Manchester and "The Co-op Hall" in Middleton, as well as playing "The Cavern" in Liverpool and following in the footpaths of the "fab four" to Hamburg, Germany.

Cowap, had extraordinary ability as a guitarist and developed a unique sound, a fusion of the Chet Atkins and Buddy Holly styles. He just lived for playing and practising, and according to other Manchester musicians at the time, there was nobody to touch him. He was the ultimate rock ını roll player. Groups used to travel from Liverpool to go and watch Cowap playing, and you could see their jaws drop when they saw what he could do.

The Country Gentlemen secured a deal with Decca in May 1963 and cut a single with Mike Smith as producer. This coupled a pulsating beat rendition of "Greensleeves", arranged by Cowap, with the R & B styled flip "Baby Jean", written by Hawkins-Magill-Helm. Released in November 1963, the single represented high energy beat music at its best and was an excellent debut for the group. However, their very unusual and aggressive version of "Greensleeves" was regarded as showing disrespect to an almost sacred tune, and the BBC quickly banned it from being played on the radio! Without airplay the single had no chance of making the charts, but Cowapıs unusual and powerful arrangement of "Greensleeves" was later copied by fellow Mancunians The Scorpions, who reached No.22 with the song in Holland in 1965. That same year a German beat group called The Lords also "stole" Cowapıs arrangement for their version aimed at the German market.

With Alan Doyle (ex-Johnny Masters & The Mastersounds, ex-Rainmakers) in as temporary rhythm guitarist, The Country Gentlemen toured around the UK in late 1963/early 1964, as backing group for Billie Davies, who had just had a big hit with "Tell Him". Doyle later went on to play with The Toggery Five, but the group kept the augmented four-piece line-up with rhythm guitar duties being assigned to Terry Morton (ex-Wayne Fontana & The Jets) after the Billie Davies tour. Morton only lasted for a brief time, though. In mid 1964 he left to join The Scorpions, who shortly afterwards found fame in Holland with a series of chart hits including "Hello Josephine" and "Ann Louise" in 1965.

Graham Gouldman came to a Country Gents rehearsal and played them a demo of his song "Look Through Any Window". Cowap & Co. really loved the song and wanted to record it and release it as their next single, but unfortunately for them The Hollies had the priority, and their version reached No. 4 in the UK charts in 1965.

Undaunted by their bad luck, however, The Country Gents did resurface on record that same year, backing female singer Little Frankie (ex-Chimes) on a trio of singles for the Columbia label. All the songs, several of which were written by Silverman-Lisberg-Gouldman, bear the unmistakable stamp of the deft Country Gents arrangements and style, with Cowapıs guitar craftsmanship as a key factor. Despite strong support from Charles Silverman and Harvey Lisberg (the management team of Hermanıs Hermits) and the songwriting & production skills of Graham Gouldman, none of Little Frankieıs releases managed to enter the charts.

1966 saw original bassist Nick Duval leave the group. He was replaced by Rod Clare, who had previously been with Jerry Lee & The Staggerlees and also The Emperors Of Rhythm. Frank Dwyer came in on keyboards, and Geoff Foot later joined as rhythm guitarist. The group continued to work with Little Frankie until 1967. Sadly, no more Country Gents or Little Frankie records saw the light of day, but Peter Cowap had gained recognition in the business for his musicianship and songwriting skills. He wrote songs and played sessions for a number of artists during the 60s, including The Measles, The Downliners Sect, The Tony Jackson Group, The Magic Lanterns, The Pop Art and Hermanıs Hermits. For Graham Gouldmanıs group, The Mockingbirds, he originated "How To Find A Lover" in 1966. He also appeared with Gouldman in the two studio groups High Society and The Manchester Mob that same year. Cowap later became a solo artist on Pye, before joining the Hermits in 1971. The mid 70s, 80s and 90s saw him mainly doing cabaret and country & western shows as a solo act, as well as doing sessions for other artists. He died of pneumonia on July 16th. 1997.



The Country Gentlemen Single

Nov '63

Greensleeves/Baby Jean

Decca F 11766


Little Frankie with The Country Gentlemen UK Singles

Mar '65

The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget/I'm Not Gonna Do It

Columbia DB 7490


May '65

Make-A-Love/Love Is Just A Game

Columbia DB 7578


Sep '65

It Doesn't Matter Anymore/Happy That's Me

Columbia DB 7681



Little Frankie with The Country Gentlemen US Single


The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget/I'm Not Gonna Do It

Capitol 5416