A book written and compiled By Andrew Phillips
What a nice surprise to discover a book dedicated to this much-loved pop group from Birmingham, who were the first from that city to have a big hit record - and this was during the height of "Beatlemania"
The Applejacks time as a hit-making group was short, but no less significant in the story of Birmingham's rich and varied contributions to the world of popular music.
My own experience writing about The Applejacks for the BrumBeat web site has shown there is still much interest in the band from around the world, especially when considering the popularity of their web page on BrumBeat that's consistently in the "Top Ten" due to the number of views it receives each month. They still have many fans out there! I was also very fortunate to have been contacted a few times over the years by their bass guitarist Megan Davies who shared wonderful memories and was interviewed by BrumBeat contributor Bulls Head Bob.
Andrew Phillips is a long-time Beatles fan from the day he went to a Beatles concert in 1964 when he was only ten years old! Since then, he's gathered a large and valuable personal collection of Beatles memorabilia that I'm sure has made him an expert on the subject. He's even got an original copy of their first UK single 'Love Me Do' that's signed by all four members of The Beatles!
Now retired from his long career in the nuclear industry as a safety consultant, Andrew has devoted some of his extra time into researching and writing his first book, only it's NOT dedicated to The Beatles, but to The Applejacks. He explains that his interest in this Birmingham group also began at a young age when his father brought home autographs obtained from the band members whose tour bus had stopped by the service station where his dad worked.
Since then, Andrew (who was born and grew up in Southampton) retained an interest in The Applejacks that only increased over time until he'd all but exhausted whatever sources of information that was available about them. It was at that stage he decided to write a book dedicated to the band under the incentive; "If you want something done, then do it yourself!"
Andrew Phillips began his Applejacks book project by finding and contacting the individual band members who fortunately are all still alive today and in relatively good health. Perhaps even more unusually for many pop groups who were around back in those days, they've remained in contact with each other over the years and are still "good friends".
Andrew was able to organize not one, but two "Zoom" live video re-unions of the original Applejacks members. These took place during the global pandemic and lockdowns during which they all happily shared memories of their time in the band and provided much information to help fill the gaps in their amazing story. The video reunions were very much enjoyed by all involved.
At a generous 328 pages, this book is obviously a labour of love. It's written with consent and co-operation of the original band members by a fan of the group, who spares no expense in including everything relevant to their story - and then some.
The Applejacks connections to "The Beatles" is also explored by the author who references their many instances throughout - it must have been a struggle to decide what the title for the book should be; "Tell Me When" after their big hit single, or the equally catchy follow-up "Like Dreamers Do" composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The many pages of Applejacks memorabilia are presented in a "scrapbook" style, reminiscent of the home-made albums that young fans lovingly put together dedicated to their favorite pop groups and music stars. These consist of newspaper and magazine cuttings, photos, autographs, advertisements, posters, concert tickets, singles and LP covers, and all in full colour too!
The book layout and design is very pleasing to look at. Most rock biographies I've seen other than the coffee-table variety are very "dry" in appearance with little in the way of colour, but this one is literally packed with full-colour images arranged in an interesting layout. It does remind me of the pop music and fan magazines of old, now sadly mostly replaced by on-line digital media available anywhere and anytime. Aside from expensive tour shirts, there's few physical items these days that fans can hold on to.
The contents of the book is as follows;
Chapter 1 Why The Applejacks?
The Applejacks Story Part 1: 1961-1964, Like Dreamers Do
Chapter 2 Meet The Applejacks
Chapter 3 Formative Years, 1961-1963
Chapter 4 Tell Me When Story
Chapter 5 Becoming Professional
Chapter 6 Like Dreamers Do Story
Chapter 7 Applejacks Movie and Other 1964 Recordings
Chapter 8 Hello Josephine - 1964 Gigs
Chapter 9 1964 Television and Radio Appearances
Chapter 10 1964 Publicity Events, Pastimes, and Megan and Gerry's Wedding
The Applejacks Story Part 2: 1965-1969, Wishing Will Never Make it So
Chapter 11 Bye Bye Charts, 1965 Recordings
Chapter 12 1965 Gigs, Movie and TV/Radio Appearances
Chapter 13 1965-1966 Publicity Events and Other Pastimes
Chapter 14 Make-up or Break-up - Personnel Changes 1966-1967
Chapter 15 1966-1969 Recordings and Gigs
Chapter 16 Cunard Contracts, December 1965-1969
The Applejacks Story Part 3: Post-1969, Memories of You
Chapter 17 I Wonder, Post-1969
Chapter 18 Why Did The Applejacks Not Become Huge? - Beatles Fan Perspective
Chapter 19 Down Memory Lane with The Applejacks
The Applejacks Story Appendices: As a Matter of Fact
Appendix A Brief Overview of The Beatles Story
Appendix B Selection of Author's Beatles Memorabilia
Appendix C The Applejacks Discography
Appendix D The Applejacks Gigs Listing 1964-69
Appendix E The Applejacks Television and Radio Appearances
Credits and Disclaimer
As you can see, most probably everything you've ever wanted to know about The Applejacks is included here. This also makes the book an excellent reference as the "definitive work" on The Applejacks. I doubt if something more informative about the band can ever be produced again, and certainly not with co-operation from all the original group members.
Applejacks lead singer Al Jackson likely says it best in his remark; "When you read through this book and see how hectic a life it was for us and others at that time and you ask 'What was the 60s like?' perhaps the answer you get 'I don't remember most of it' has nothing to do with sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll."
At the very least, this book "Like Dreamers Do" is a great snap-shot of the times and a more innocent age. A time free of the constant distractions and stimulus of today's information overload. A time when you actually had to go out to the shops to buy a record and take it home to play (both the A and B sides of course). It was a time when pop stars and hit singles were engraved on teenage hearts forever, or at least until the next big thing came along!
To see more about this book and how to order your copy, visit; www.theapplejacks.co.uk
Review © John R Woodhouse 2022
Images shown in this review are copyright © Andrew Phillips 2022