Hello,  Billy J. Kramer was born William Ashton on August 19, 1943 in Bootle, Merseyside, England.  He is a pop singer who became famous durin.g the British Invasion of the mid 1960s.  He came to the attention of Brian Epstein, who was on the look-out for new talent to add to his roster of local talent.  Billy’s backing group were known as the Coasters (not the famous R&B group), they were not as thrilled as Billy about the chances of signing with Epstein, so they were replaced by The Dakotas a Manchester group that included members, Michael Maxfield, Robin MacDonald, Ray Jones and Tony Mansfield.

The Dakotas signed their own contract, once the deal was set both act were signed to Parlophone Records under the legendary George Martin.  The group’s name then became, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas.  Once The Beatles broke through, the gates were wide open for other Merseybeat artists.  Bill was offered the opportunity to cover a Beatles tune,  DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?  a tune that was on The Beatles first LP,  “Please Please Me”.  Billy accepted and George Martin produced the record…the result was a #2 hit record on the UK Singles Chart in 1963.  The single was backed by an un-released Beatles tune,  I’LL BE ON MY WAY.  The record did not chart in the US.

The single was followed with another Lennon/McCartney tune,  BAD TO ME  with  I CALL YOUR NAME  on the flip side,  the single charted at #1 on the UK Singles Chart, sold over 1 million copies and was awarded a “Gold Record”.  Billy and The Dakotas first hit in the US charted on April 18, 1964 on Imperial Records.  LITTLE CHILDREN  became a huge hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and his biggest hit in both the US and the UK.  The single climbed to #7 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the UK Singles Chart.  The single released in the US on Imperial Records (Imperial 66027) was coupled with the groups first #1 hit  BAD TO ME, it also became a Billboard Hot 100, Top 10 hit, charting at #9.  Their follow-up in the US made its Hot 100 debut on July 25, 1964…I’LL KEEP YOU SATISFIED  charted at #30, and remained on the chart for 7 weeks.  Their next record was released less than a month later on August 22, 1964.  Another Lennon/McCartney tune,  FROM A WINDOW charted at #23, it remained on the Hot 100 for 10 weeks.  In the UK the record became a Top 10 hit.

Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas last hit in both the US and the UK was their 1965 recording of  TRAINS AND BOATS AND PLANES.  The ballad charted at #47 on the Billboard Hot 10 and #12 on the UK Singles Chart.  After recording a few different tracks, the group dis-banded.  Billy went on a solo career working with his new band, from the Manchester area.  He would eventually move to the USA.  The Dakotas re-formed in the late 1980s and still perform.  Kramer recorded the song COW PLANET  a children’s song in 2005.

Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas charted just 7 hits in the US, but 2 of them  LITTLE CHILDREN  and  BAD TO ME  became Top 10 hits.  The group’s music was a huge part of the early years of the British Invasion and can still be heard on oldies radio…great hits from the “GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL”.

YOU CAN LISTEN TO…BILLY J. KRAMER WITH THE DAKOTAS HITS…ON THE…”GOLDEN ERA OF ROCK AND ROLL JUKEBOX”

Till the next time—Joe

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