Updated March 2015
Danny King vocal, guitar
Danny King was one of Birmingham's best known and respected vocalists during the 1950s and 1960s when he built his reputation as an accomplished rock 'n' roll singer. His backing bands would include members who went on to success in groups like The Moody Blues and The Move.
Danny King's birth name was Arthur Benwell and he grew up near Summer Lane in Birmingham but dropped out of school early. Jive dancing was Danny's original interest in music but one night at a dance he was persuaded up on stage to sing and was encouraged by the positive reaction from the audience.
He formed his first band as "Danny King and The Dukes" who included drummer Roger Sprason, guitarists Alan Hancox and Brian Hancox as well as bassist Albert Eccles who would shortly change his name to "Clint Warwick".
Danny King became interested in rock 'n' roll during the 1950s to an extent that he started collecting imported American rock and blues records to eventually become one of the largest and much envied collections in Birmingham at that time.
Danny King and The Dukes became much in demand for bookings around the West Midlands. In 1958 they were contracted for a season at Butlins Holiday Centre at Ayr in Scotland with this arrangement working out so well, they were able to return there the following summer. By 1960 however, Danny King had split from The Dukes who replaced him with singer Gerry Day, and became front-man for another Birmingham group who he named 'The Royals'.
The Royals consisted of drummer Bob Sheward and guitarists Tommy Owen and Garth Quirke who may have previously played together as 'The Andy Capps' (not to be confused with The Andicaps whose line-up included a very young Jeff Lynne). Danny King and The Royals were soon much in demand for bookings in and around Birmingham.
Danny King and The Royals, like many bands at the time, were contracted to go over to Germany and perform at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg alongside other groups including 'The Beatles' who were then unknown outside of Liverpool. When London record producer Norrie Paramor went to Birmingham in 1963 to check out local groups, Danny King and The Royals were one of the acts to be signed up at the Moat House Club auditions.
Despite a recording contract however, things did not turn out the way Danny King wanted. Norrie Paramor selected the songs Danny was to record and insisted on using Mike Sheridan's group The Nightriders to provide the instrumentation instead of Danny's own band. According to Danny; "The songs were absolute rubbish. I like to sing songs I believe in. For me it was interpretation rather than singing." The Bobby Lewis US million-seller 'Tossin' And Turnin' backed with The Coasters 'Young Blood' was issued as the first Danny King single on Columbia Records in early 1964.
The record failed to chart and somewhat disillusioned, Danny King continued to perform around Birmingham sporadically while looking to start a new project. An opportunity came when Danny King joined up with his former bass guitarist Clint Warwick from The Dukes along with a drummer named Graeme Edge from Gerry Levene's Avengers.
They wanted to form an outfit similar to the Spencer Davis Group and play rhythm & blues, a style of black American music much favoured at that time by college and university students. Gerry Levene was to be their lead vocalist along with vocalist/guitarist Denny Laine from the Diplomats so the new group started rehearsing under the name 'The Soul Preachers'.
Gerry Levene soon left after an argument with Denny Laine. Another vocalist named Ray Thomas and a piano player Mike Pinder - who had both played in a well-known local group called El Riot and The Rebels and also in Germany as part of a group called The Krewcats, then joined the line-up. Perhaps feeling the need to strike out on his own, Danny King lost interest in the project and left (see Danny King and The Mayfair Set). Within a year, the Soul Preachers became The Moody Blues and were enjoying world-wide success with their hit record 'Go Now'.