Guide to British Music of the 1960s


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Van Morrison - vocals, Alan Henderson - bass, Billy Harrison - guitar, Jackie McAuley - organ, Patrick McAuley -drums

Them was formed in Belfast in 1963. The original line-up was short-lived although Morrison and Henderson survived to produce the best-known and longest-lasting incarnation of the group. They signed to Decca soon after arriving in London. The first single, Don't Start Crying Now, was unsuccessful but, with the second release, the classic Baby Please Don't Go, the band reached the top ten. The single peaked at number 10 and was on the chart for 9 weeks. It was later used for a car commercial. The b-side was the Van Morrison song Gloria which has also gone on to become a classic, inviting covers from artists including the Doors. For many years Jimmy Page was rumoured to have played the outstanding lead guitar part on the a-side, this may not, in fact, be the case. What is not doubted though was that Page was involved in the Them recordings as were other session musicians at the time. Page may have contributed some rhythm guitar to Baby Please Don't Go with Billy Harrison playing the famous "lick."

Them reached number two with the follow-up Here Comes The Night. After this success, the two McAuley brothers returned to Ireland and were replaced by Peter Bardens on keyboards and Ronnie Millink on drums. After this point the group's line-up became much more fluid although Van Morrison remained constant. Some of the singles were made by just Morrison and a series of session men including Jimmy Page. While these remaining singles failed to chart, they were strong tracks, most notably Mystic Eyes and the Paul Simon track Richard Cory.

Two albums, Them (also known as The Angry Young Them) and Them Again showed just good the band was although neither of them charted in the UK.

The band split in June 1966 after a tour of America. Alan Henderson retained the name and, with different personnel, recorded four albums that were not initially released in the UK although they are now available on CD. The new line-up comprised Henderson, Keith McDowell on vocals, David Harvey and Jim Armstrong.

Van Morrison went on to have considerable success as a solo artist.

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