Stockton Town Hall, at the heart of High Street
The Shadows are the most popular instrumental pop group in the UK. They began in the late 1950s, had many changes of line-up, changed their name, became a backing band for the famous Sir Cliff Richard, and had a string of #1 hits, including “Apache," "Kon-Tiki," "Stars Fell on Stockton," "Dance On," "Foot Tapper," "Wonderful Land,” and “The Breeze and I,” as well as many other hits which seriously climbed the charts.
The band first released a record way back in the 1950s when they were known as The Drifters. They changed their name to The Shadows, because the American Drifters in the USA were already an established act.
The Shadows faded into the shadows after the 1960s, then popped up again when, in the 1970s, they recorded tunes from films and musicals. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from Evita
and the theme from the movie The Deer Hunter
are two examples. “Alice in Sunderland” is another tune from The Shadows. Sunderland is a city in the northeast of England not far from Newcastle [and Stockton] where some of the original members of The Shadows grew up. Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin went to school together. Hank was so successful that his style of guitar playing became known as ‘hanking,’ which was a sort of forerunner to air guitar competitions held today.
Viaduct on the River Tees
The Shadows reformed for a comeback tour in 2004 and again in 2005, but band members today are doing their own thing.
They did take well-known tunes and use such titles with their own twist. “Stars Fell on Alabama” was huge hit for Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra long before “Stars Fell on Stockton.” In 1965 they came up with “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Arthur,” a follow-up to a hit tune from 1919 called “Shimmy Like My Sister Kate.” The song was written by then-bass player John Rostill, who, tragically, electrocuted himself in his home studio.
As far as the “using of names” routine, Bruce Welch, one of the band’s long-serving members, played in a sort of cover band to The Shadows called The Moonlight Shadows. He also formed the group Bruce Welch’s Shadows. Hey, if it works once...
Welch wrote many songs, including “Summer Holiday,” which was one of the greatest hits recorded by Cliff Richard and his backing band, The Shadows.
Hank Marvin also wrote a number of songs for The Shadows, and later with Jean Michel Jarre. But Marvin was the odd one out. His real name is Brian Rankin, he moved to Australia, he refused an Order of the British Empire (OBE) when it was offered to three prominent members of The Shadows, and he is an outspoken advocate for his faith as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Infinity Bridge from River Tees
Hank had a hand in the creation of “Stars Fell on Stockton,” complete with whistling, written by The Shadows when blond-coiffed bassist Jet Harris pranged his motor after a gig in Stockton. Nothing to do with the town, but the car crash triggered the title. It was the B-side to “Wonderful Land,” which remained at #1 in the 1960s longer than any other hit – including those from the boys in Merseyside.
Stockton is a city in the northeast of England. Its full name is Stockton-on-Tees. The River Tees flows through Stockton, hence the name. In Britain the term "high street" refers to the main shopping area in the town. Stockton’s High Street is said to be the widest in the UK.
The river Tees is a fine location for a town. There are fabulous restaurants, markets, cinemas and theatres beside and near the Tees. Late July sees the International Riverside Festival with more entertainment than you can possibly see in a week. If you enjoy exploring country parks, Stockton has parks galore. But meteor showers are not guaranteed, so don't set your heart on seeing too many stars over Stockton.