The world’s FIRST recording Beatles Cover Band !


Whenever Embassy is mentioned on the radio or in articles, the question always comes up:  Who were The Typhoons and how did they come about?  Usually followed by a wooly answer that they were whoever was booked for the session that day. 

Well, now we can do a bit better than that.

Using Ray Pilgrim’s diaries and session listings from 1963-65, plus Stuart Ralls’ uncanny capability to recognise and pick out individual voices, even within a group of singers, here’s about as definitive an answer as it is possible to get.  The quick answer is that they were mainly Ray Pilgrim, Mike Redway, Ken Barrie and Tony Crane, although Joan Baxter occasionally provided the female content and Paul Rich did do one Typhoons track.  Plus of course the ever-present Mike Sammes Singers in the background.

                 (Cover of South African compilation - actually includes some Jaybirds tracks)

The Typhoons name was coined in February 1963 as Embassy found themselves covering increasingly more records by beat bands rather than the more traditional solo singer recordings that had dominated the hit parade in previous years.

Ray and Mike recorded the first Typhoons track for Embassy on 7th February 1963 ... which probably made them the world’s very first recording Beatles tribute band!

Embassy’s parent company’s name was Oriole, which was of course the name of a bird.  So they decided to invent some group names using other bird names such as: The Eagles, The Jaybirds, and The Starlings.

Unfortunately, they found that The Eagles name was already in active use.  This was at a very late stage in February 1963 when they were just about to release their first Beatles cover.  So out went The Eagles and the Typhoons name was chosen instead.  So ... it wasn’t a bird; it was a ‘plane!  And it stuck, becoming one of the best remembered names on Embassy.

The Typhoons only existed as a studio band.  The actual singers involved were in fact chosen from Embassy’s existing roster of artists.  From 1963 to 1965 there were 62 songs credited on the label as The Typhoons.  Ray Pilgrim sang on 29 of them, Mike Redway sang on 20, Ken Barrie on 13, Tony Crane on 19, Joan Baxter on 3, and Paul Rich on 1.