The Downliners Sect

Don Craine • The Downliners Sect • Charing Cross Road • Summer, 1964


Don Craine tips his ever-present deerstalker while walking along Charing Cross Road during The Downliners Sect's Sunday afternoon residency at nearby Studio 51, 10-11 Great Newport Street, London


The Story

In the early months of 1963, sixteen-year-old Michael John "Mick" O'Donnell formed The Downliners Sect with drummer Johnny Sutton from the remnants of O'Donnell's original combo, The Downliners, which had recently imploded during a disastrous tour of US Air Force bases operating in France.

By July, O'Donnell's mother, Joyce, had taken on the role of group manager. The Sect's lineup stabilized by this time with the additions of guitarist Terry Gibson (born Terry Clemson) and vocalist/drummer Keith Grant (born Arthur Keith Evans), whom O'Donnell, now going by Don Craine, allowed into the group on the condition Grant trade his drums for a bass guitar.

As Beatlemania accelerated full-throttle into 1964, the pop sensibilities of UK record buyers queuing for the latest saccharine sounds of Merseybeat were about to be obliterated by The Downliners Sect's first disc; a snotty, R&B-infused, self-released EP, called At Nite In Gt. Newport Street and recorded live on stage at Studio 51, where the band would hold a subterranean residency through much of the year.

Though only 400 copies of At Nite In Gt. Newport Street were pressed, at least one copy found its way to Sweden, where it was heavily plugged by pirate radio station Radio Syd, gaining the group a rabid Swedish following.

To capitalize on the unexpected attention generated by pirate radio, The Sect quickly pooled their resources and commissioned a follow-up EP, Brite Lights - Big City. But in a befitting twist, several weeks after sending off their master tape, the expectant group arrived at the designated record plant to collect their freshly pressed EPs only to find the plant closed and boarded up; no EPs, no masters.

Forty-five years would pass before the original Brite Lights sessions surfaced via an eBay auction, buried within a horde of other recordings stored and long-forgotten within a recording studio in Chingford.

At Nite In Gt. Newport Street - EP track listing: Beautiful Delilah, Shame, Shame, Shame, Green Onions, Nursery Rhymes

Brite Lights - Big City - (Released in 2011) EP track listing: Brite Lights - Big City, I Need You Baby (Mona), Do The Dog, Rock 'n Roll Music

Photographer unconfirmed

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