Formed in Weybridge, Surrey – and at least 4,000 miles from Tennessee – ‘The Nashville Teens’ were the product of a merger between two local bands. The rather splendid result was that group boasted two lead singers – Ray Phillips and Arthur Sharp. Sharp was primarily the manager at AERCO Records -but spent his spare time gigging with the band. (AERCO – The Addlestone Electrical Radio Company – was based in Chertsey Road, Woking. They had an earlier HQ at Station Road, Addlestone.)
The ‘Nashville Teens’ original line-up also included John Hawken (piano), Mick Dunford (guitar), Pete Shannon Harris (bass) and Dave Maine (drums). Dave Maine was to be replaced by Barry Jenkins in 1963 (after a short stint from Roger Groome.) Jenkins went on to work with ‘The Animals’ in 1966 – leaving the space available for Groome to return.
During their time working their rock ‘n’ roll apprenticeship at the Star Club in Hamburg, the ‘Nashville Teens’ played alongside the ‘Spencer Davis Group’ and cut their first recordings as a backing band for Jerry Lee Lewis. They then performed on Carl Perkins’ hit single “Big Bad Blues” (May 1964).
They were spotted by Mickie Most at one of their live gigs; Subsequently, Most was chosen to produce their début single in June 1964 – an inspired interpretation of the John D. Loudermilk song “Tobacco Road”. The single was successful on both sides of the Atlantic and reached No.6 in the UK charts. Both “ Big Jim “ Sullivan and Jimmy Page played guitar in the studio for this recording. The follow-up single – another Loudermilk song titled “Google Eye” – reached number 10 in the UK.
After returning from the German clubs , ‘The Nashville Teens’ settled back into the Surrey landscape. In 1966 pianist John Hawken joined Keith Relf of The Yardbirds to form ‘Renaissance.’