The Swinging Blue Jeans came out of Liverpool as one of the first British Invasion bands. The band held on for many years, although they managed to reach the top forty only once on the US charts.
The band was formed as a skiffle group in Liverpool in 1959 known as the Blue Genes. The original members were Ray Ennis on guitar, Paul Moss on banjo, Les Braid on bass, and Norman Kuhlke on drums. They admired the work of other popular musicians of the 50's such as Lonnie Donegan and Gene Vincent. By 1960 Moss had been replaced by Ralph Ellis.
They performed at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany and at the Cavern, which was to become a legendary nightclub in Liverpool. By the early 60's the Swinging Blue Jeans had become an established act at the Cavern. They were gracious to some of the up-and-coming bands in the area which would perform on the stage at the Cavern on guest nights. Some of these bands included the Beatles, the Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and others.
The Swinging Blue Jeans began recording, primarily on the HMV label. Some of the songs they did included covers of work from other artists, such as Good Golly Miss Molly, Don't Make Me Over and You're No Good. Their biggest hit -- one that reached number 24 in the United States shortly after the Beatles appeared there in February of 1964 -- was Hippy Hippy Shake. The Swinging Blue Jeans had other hits in the UK and in other countries, including It's Too Late Now and Promise You'll Tell Her.
The band could have used more original material but that was somewhat hard to come by. Some who had attended their shows at the Cavern felt that their recordings did not do justice to the terrific live act that they had become. There were further personnel changes in the late 60's, including bassist Mike Gregory (Les Braid continued with the group, on keyboards) and banjo player Terry Sylvester, both of whom had played with the Escorts. Billy Kinsley , formerly of the Merseybeats, replaced Gregory on bass in 1970. Terry Sylvester later played with the Hollies.
In the 70's and 80's the Swinging Blue Jeans worked in clubs, where they remained a popular act. Personnel changes continued over the years, but Ray Ennis and Les Braid were the mainstays of the act, right up until Braid's death in 2005.
The Swinging Blue Jeans were still going strong in 2006 and have their own web site at www.swingingbluejeans.co.uk. It is their rocking hit from 1964, Hippy Hippy Shake, for which they are best known.
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