Almost everybody was in a band in the 60’s. The Fugitives hailed from Bromham, and rhythm guitar and BV’s were provided by a young Denny, having just left school. This band became The Half Dozen, and Denny was retired from guitar to take front-stage providing lead and harmony vocals. The material was (as you’d expect) the chart sounds of the times… Beatles, Kinks, Hollies etc.
During the late 60’s Denny fronted the Bedford-based Stonemakers, featuring a young Dave King (Mojo) often guesting on keyboards. Gigs around the Bedford area were hard to come by, so when the call came to join The Johnny Cousins Combo, Denny moved onwards and upwards, fronting a full soul band, complete with 2 Sax players! Happy with the work, Denny developed his craft for over 4 years in the early 70’s mainly working the American airbases circuit.
At the same time, depping with the Jackie Stewart Show band provided an introduction to Steve Williamson (Gtr) and corporate gigs so broading his vocal styles and range.
A Band with no name was formed, and began rehearsing…. Dave King on guitar, with Denny on lead vocals. A contact with Ian Southern of ATV resulted in a recording session, and a record deal ensued. The band was (hastily) named Baby Ruth and a single (Rupert’s Magic Feather!) was cut. Denny’s comment on this single: “It was based on the trad tune Bobby Shaftoe! The best thing about it was Dave King’s ‘Flood’ on the B-Side!”
“McCafrey” was Denny’s next project, with the recording of a single (Bridges, Motorways & Dams) for Jam Records. This was played extensively on radio 1.
A band named “Chopyn” was next, with Anne Odell (Blue Mink), Ray Russell, and Simon Phillips (Now Toto), co-managed by Don Arden. A record deal with Jet Records ensued, and the album Grand Slam was released. A single (In the Midnight Hour) was also produced. The band toured extensively around GB and Europe, supporting The Electric Light Orchestra. The band was formed in 1974 by Ann and Ray and they split eventually after experiencing management problems, Simon Phillips then going on to become one of the best drummers on the world music scene.
After the split of Chopyn session work for Capital Radio and Station idents/jingles kept the wolf from the door for a while.
In early 1976 Denny was introduced to Bruce Baxter and a number of tracks for Hallmarks’s Top Of The Pops albums were put down. Denny continued to work as a session vocalist on these albums whilst gathering material for his own project.
Denny’s album, Come On In was recorded in the summer of 1976, but after contract difficulties Denny made a few tape copies for his friends, took another deep breath, put the album to the back of his mind and launched into the next musical adventure.
Amazing how twists of fate change things… Denny was rehearsing with a new line up of Quantum Jump, including: Big Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones), Jeffrey Richardson (Caravan), Trevor Morais (The Peddlars) and Alan Spenner (Kokomo)… when Kenny Everett’s TV show took off, big-time! The theme (The Lone Ranger – by the original Quantum Jump) was hastily re-released and entered the chart on 2nd June 1979, rising to #5 and staying on the chart for 10 weeks. Who could ever forget that catchy line:
Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu ? (That’s easy for you to say)!!!!
The problem was that Trevor had been the drummer on the original number and was therefore in immediate demand, the old Quantum Jump reformed, and **BANG** went the burgeoning band! (Ooh! That was close)!
In 1977 Denny joined a band quaintly named “Quiet The Dog” (He still doesn’t know why)! This band featured Clive Bunker (ex-Jethro Tull), Kit Morgan and Ron Chimes (well known nowadays for magnificent Hammond Organ sounds with JBQ) playing “Little Feat” type stuff!
Ray Russell cut an album (late 70’s – Ready or not”) and the track “Slave” co written by Denny and Ray was included with Denny on vocals.
Then a call came out of the blue from Tony Morton, asking Denny to front a new band in the Bedford area, which subsequently turned out to be the first incarnation of Ocean. Masses of gigs followed all around the country. They were in big demand for American Bases, and had a great time playing and touring. Ocean had an alter ego – The Mark James Band. They took it in turn to be the non-existent band leader, this band was formed purely to do corporate gigs. (What a laugh)
Ocean ran its course, going through many personnel changes until morphing into “Take A Break” also at this time the Oblivious Brothers 4 piece was formed as a sideline, so as to give Denny, Max (Milligan), Tony Morton and Bassist Dave Harvey a different musical avenue to explore.
During the 90’s the Oblivious Brothers duo was formed with Denny and Max then able to do smaller venues, Midnight Express was also formed with Hayley Anderson and Lucy McCaffrey involved to do larger corporate work, Annie McCaffrey replacing her older sister Lucy when she left, also between 1992 – 1998 Denny was singing the blues every Thursday at Matts Place Bedford with Dave King, Tony Morton and John Moray (Mojo).
In 2003 3’s Company was formed with Denny, Hayley & Annie involved.
Barbara (Tony Morton’s ex-missus) was fast approaching a milestone birthday, and longed for the days when she used to dance round her handbag to a fresh-faced bunch of young lads (Ocean!). She asked the band if they would re-form for one date… her birthday party, and they agreed.
After the birthday bash, (once the alcohol had worn off) the guys got together and someone asked the question… “Does anyone want to carry this on?” The answer was a resounding “YES”, as it felt so good! In the fullness of time, Max Milligan stood down, and Nicky Slater stepped in.
Towards the end of 2006, Bob Peters (kbd) decided to call it a day, and Ocean finally folded. are currently rehearsing with Mark Ayles on building a new set.
Denny is like a dynamo – he never stops! He’s currently working with Ocean, various duo’s and trio’s and having great fun with an amalgamation of Ocean and Mojo named The Subtractions, playing Rocking Rhythm and Blues. I have it on good authority that the band name comes from Tony Morton’s (dr) desire to open the set with the words:
“Take it away, boys!
The Denny McCaffrey Band was born in late 2009 after a suggestion from Tony Rawson (Soul Patrol ) that the material from the ' Come On In ' album which had never seen the light of day in a live situation should be launched upon the world. Denny contacted musicians from far and wide that he admired and put it to them that the project which he believed in had no financial promise, and would they like to join him in it.To his delight they came on board and after some initial changes the band continues to go from strength.
I’ve got to know Denny over the past 6 years, and I can honestly say that he’s a marvellous singer and a great showman, but most of all, he’s a really nice guy! Never has a bad word for anyone, puts his heart and soul into his music, and genuinely enjoys the people interaction you get from both an audience and his fellow musicians.