It all began in 1961 with a group of guys from Leeds, Yorkshire, England who formed The Cherokees with band members, John Kirby Woollard, lead singer; Tez Stokes, lead guitar; David Bower, Rhythm guitar; Mick Sweeney, bass guitar; Jim Green, Drums and Jeff Hale roadie. They moved to Golders Green, London in 1963 and signed to the Roy Tempest agency, where they met Paul Servis playing with Johnny Milton and The Condors, this band was also signed to Tempest. The two bands became firm friends at the time. The Cherokees attained a record contract with Decca and later Micky Most produced some of their hits "Seven Golden Daffodils" and "Dig a Little Deeper". It must be said at this point that Jeff Hale was the bands roadie and he also took lots of pictures of the band.
The band changed the name to New York Public Library in 1966, with new drummer, Mick Ibbotson and released "Land Of A Thousand Dances" and "I ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore". They worked at the The Starclub in Hamburg between 65-67 where they met and became close friends with The Londoners from London, where else. (Another history).
In early 67 Mick Ibbotson and Mick Sweeney left the band and a reshuffle took place employing the services of Topper Clay(The Knack and The Londoners) and Paul Servis (Johnny Milton and the Condors). It was during this period, that the band played at an open air gig in Taunton Cricket Ground, Somerset. They were dying a death and so Topper got up to the mike and sang "Seven Drunken Nights". This incited a riot and they were dragged off the stage by the police. The official offence was "Causing an affray"
In 1968, John Woollard, Paul Servis and Jeff left and Brian Morris (The Londoners and The Knack) joined, on Rickenbacker Twelve string guitar and lead vocals. Jeff Hale was replaced by Les Brown as roadie and also at this point, Karl Rylander did some roadieing. They also did gigs with Karl as "Sid and Berts Thrift Club". This NYPL line-up toured the Halls, Universities and the clubs of the day, had two releases on MCA, "Gotta Get Away" and "Love Me Two Times". They recorded another two of Brian's songs "Clown" and Friends". They recorded some great stuff courtesy of Danny O'Donavon, "Come Away Melinda and" If I were a Carpenter", both very long and freaky, but unfortunately never released. The played at The Revolution Club, London on a regular basis and at one of these events, Crosby Stills and Nash were in the audience. Afterwards Graham Nash came up to Dave and told him he was leaving The Hollies and that he would make an excellent replacement and should go to audition. Dave never bothered and Terry Sylvester got the gig. This line up also did a gig at The Newcastle Mayfair supporting Led Zeppelin's very first British gig on Friday 4th October.1968. According to Topper, the gig was actually in Cardiff and not Newcastle. After all, he drove there and he says, he's never played in Newcastle. A mystery indeed. It was quite common then for venues to change at short notice and for old posters to remain up.
Brian Morris left in August 69 to pursue a solo career as Brian Parrish, recording with George Martin. Peter Morrison joined as his replacement. (It was at this time that Topper and Dave did a closed session for Robin Gibb, after a brief Bee Gees split. The singlethey played on, "Saved By The Bell" , went to No 1 in the UK charts.) The new NYPL line-up recorded an album of Buddy Holly songs, but contractual difficulties and court orders ensued. Without any say in the matter, the album was released as "Raw Holly" in 1971 in the US and Germany. After a meeting with Brian Parrish in The Giaconda, Denmark Street, the studio owner, asked him to sing lead vocal on the single "Raining in My Heart", which became a BBC record of the week. When asked to perform on BBC's TV program, "Top of the Pops", he promptly but stupidly; refused after saying he wouldn't do it without NYPL. The band went on to record and release "Wheiling Ty Loo" b/w "Boozy Queen" for B&C Records as well as "Live On" b/w "Make Me Take Me" (unreleased), but not before manager Danny O'Donovon arranged studio time in the US to record the album (The Boston Tapes) in Boston, Mass. with close friend and engineer, Richard Berred Ouellette and session guitar player Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Mike Martineau produced it and according to his present day online biog, he was 12 at the time.
The band split in the Spring of 1973 and Dave Bower and Tez Stokes carried on as a songwriting duo while Topper and Pete formed "Hogpond" with Kirk Riddle from The Stormsville Shakers and Dickie Middleton, From House and Mungo Jerry, who both hailed from Guildford. Tez and Dave finished a record started by NYPL "Make Me Take Me", taking Pete's voice off and putting on John's. Sounds familiar.
In 1974 Dave Bower, John Woollard and Peter Morrison formed a new band called "Little Big Man", recording an album in 1974 in Quinvy Sound, Sheffield, Alabama, with Swamp Dogg producingand David Johnson engineer, who changed the name to Broadway Studio after buying out Quin Ivy's shares. Here is where lots of great stuff was recorded including "When a Man Loves a Woman; Percy Sledge and JJ Cale's "Really" album. During this period "Bower, Morrison & Woollard entered the song "Round and Round" for The Tokyo Song Festival. Susan Anton (The Miss World runner up) sang the song. We came second behind The Three Degree's "When Will I See You Again" The US album was not released. Another unreleased album produced by David Mindel, for Polydor was recorded in 1975-76 and the track "Time & Tide was pulled off as a single release. The 1st band consisted of Bower, Morrison, Woollard, Keith Purnell, Ld Guitar and Jeff Rich drums. Jeff and Keith rejoined The Jackie Lynton Band and after Jeff joined Staus Quo. Band 2: Bower, Morrison Woollard, John Danter Ld Guitar, Andy Hill, Keys, Graham Walker, Drums. Andy and john went on to write "Making Your Mind Up" Bucks Fizz's Eurovision Song Contest winner in 1982. Andy went on to produce and write all their subsequent hit records. Graham joined Gary Moore's band.
After that little excursion, Little Big Man split. Dave Bower, John Woollard and Peter Morrison carried on as an acoustic outfit, together with Howard Fullbrook and toured the folk clubs as BMW, playing all originals.
Eventually Topper Clay, from the original NYPL, came back and a new NYPL emerged. Dave Bower emigrated to Canada and Tez Stokes opened a recording studio. The new line up for NYPL started as: John Kirby Woollard, Vocals: Topper Clay, drums: Peter Morrison, guitar, vocals: Paul Servis, Bass: Karl Rylander, acoustic guitar, vocals: Dave "Lofty" Reng pedal steel:. This line-up recorded the album. "Take Some Music". Shortly after finishing it, Paul was tragically killed in car crash on the M1 after returning home from a jazz gig in the north of England. Paul studied at The Royal College of Music as a mature student, attaining a degree. He became Head of Music at a 6th form college in Loughton, North London. We lost a giant of a musician and friend that day.
This was a tough time, but we started up again after recruiting Bob Doughty, who had already played with us when Paul was away playing jazz. Eventually we recorded "Keep a Clear Head", which included 17 tracks. The most poignant being the song John wrote for Paul, "Today Is For My Tears."
In May 2007 John died of Leukaemia. This left the band devastated, without the will to carry on playing. They once recorded a song called "Time is a Healer" and as these words are being typed; they reflected the thought of John knowing full well that he would not have wanted the band to pack up.
In May 2008, a year after John died, the band played their first gig without him. This was a benefit concert for John's charity "For-get-me-not" for Leukaemia.
John could never be replaced and so the band enrolled a young 19 year old guitarist Sam Clark, with an idea of trying to change the sound, leaning towards a more acoustic element.
Present band; Topper Clay, Drums, vocals: Peter Morrison, various acoustic instruments, lead vocals, clap: Karl Rylander, acoustic guitar, lead vocals, harp and maybe clap: Dave "Lofty" Reng, pedal steel: Bob Doughty, bass, vocals: Sam Clark, electric guitars. We occasionally go out and test the stages of local venues in and around Farnham Surrey, playing songs we like, in the country folk vain with some Rock n Roll thrown in out of spite.
February 2010, Just for the record, we started to piece together and record another record. This record has been 2 years in the making. We should have been cathedral builders. It will probably ready by the next Dissilution of the Monasteries at the second coming. We'll keep you posted
January 2012 Thats That Then is the final NYPL album now finished.
It is now April 2017 and the That's That Then has been on the shelves for some time as have NYPL
Topper and Pete recently did a charity gig with Hogpond after 42 years.
Topper and Pete have put together an album of ballads John recorded with NYPL
All proceeds of its sales are going to Leukaemia Research. We made 50 copies and they sold out within a week. I guess we'll have to do some more, a lot more