Mike Hurst and Chris Brough were involved with recording and managing Showaddywaddy at the time of their first meeting at Phonogram with Shirley, John & Mel on 24th October 1972. (Tony Rivers was also there). Mike loved harmony groups and had himself recorded a couple of singles with session band ‘Summer Wine’ (including a re-make of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers ‘Why do fools fall in love’). After leaving The Springfields Mike was a prolific producer working with many top acts of the day including Cat Stevens and Marc Bolan. He worked with Shirley, Mel and John (name shortened to Wheeler, St. James) on two singles for Fontana before producing S&J’s final single on Decca in 1977. Sadly there were NO HITS!
Johnny met up with Mike for the first time in thirty years on 12th July 07!
We’re of the opinion that Shirley and Johnny released more records (13 + an album) without a hit than almost any unknown pop act.
If you know differently, please let us know.
The final tour as ‘Wheeler St.James’ started on 5/5/74 at Basildon Arts Centre supporting ‘The Peddlers’. Taking in Canterbury - Marlowe Theatre, Leamington Spa - Spa Centre, Ramsgate - Granville Theatre, Bournemouth Winter Gardens, Hastings - Rock Pavilion, Worthing - Pavilion Theatre, Hemel Hempstead- Pavilion, Nottingham - Albert Hall and concluding at Lewisham Concert Hall on 19/5/74.
It must have been soon after this that they finally came to terms with the fact that they probably weren’t going to be pop stars! Now just into their thirties and with the music scene dominated by bands like Sweet, T Rex & The Bay City Rollers, they appeared ‘un cool’ I guess and consequently not too many offers of work were forthcoming. Although they were still recording with Mike Hurst (as you will see from their discography) plus the occasional gig e.g. tours with The Peddlers and Jose Feliciano, the decision was made to go earn a living! Inevitably Shirley, Mel and John drifted apart musically as the day-to-day monotony of a ‘normal’ life kicked in and by ’76 John had formed a band back in his hometown, High Wycombe to do clubs, weddings and ba mitzvahs. He played with that band, ‘Free Man Banned’ until about five years ago then forming his current band The John Wheeler Band. With John on guitar and vocals, Steve Wells on Keyboards and vocals and Roy ‘the boy’ on drums.
Peddlers tour flyer
Jose Feliciano in Budapest
Free Man Banned 1976 (nice shirts)!