Phil Brady was born in the Dingle, a suburb of Liverpool that lies a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Just like his neighbour Ringo Starr, Phil always loved his country music.
Phil Brady’s First Group
In June 1962, the newly-married Phil Brady formed his first group, a trio that he put together with Frank Peters and Sid Chadwick. However, they soon discovered that the balance wasn’t right with two rhythm guitars, and so Sid left. With Phil being the only singer, he wanted a bass player and a steel guitar player too, to thicken the sound. Tommy Bowness joined on bass, with Rae Owens on lead guitar, and Frank Peters playing steel guitar. The Ranchers were born.
1963 – 1964: Phil Brady and the Ranchers
At the beginning of 1963, they changed their name to Phil Brady and the Ranchers, partly because it sounded better, but also because Phil was the only singer, and did all the bookings. They would keep this name for most of Phil’s career. This was the time that they undertook their apprenticeship around the Liverpool clubs.
They gained a residency at the Blue Angel every Monday night. The Blue Angel was one of the most popular clubs in Liverpool, owned by the Beatles’ first manager, Allan Williams. On Tuesday, it was The Chequers Club on Seel Street run by Roy Adams, who later owned The Cavern; Wednesday it was the Four Winds at 1, Manestys Lane, Liverpool. On Thursdays, they played at the Marine Club on the Dock Road and then at the weekend, they played at Brian Kelly promotions around the north end of Liverpool. Kelly, who had promoted The Beatles at venues like Litherland Town Hall and the Aintree Institute, was putting on dances with a mixture of beat music and country, where Phil came into contact with legendary Cavern DJ Bob Wooler and many of the local Merseybeat bands.
Phil Brady, Country, and Merseybeat
“We did a lot of venues with Merseybeat bands where there were country bands also. Freddie Starr,” who became a huge television star in the UK, “used to come to the Blue Angel after he had finished elsewhere. We started at 12 and finished at 2am. Freddie said; ‘can I get up with you?’ and he used to do Elvis impressions and Jim Reeves, playing the fool! Great guy and great performer, and the crowd loved him. Rory Storm used to come in and get up on stage with us too.”
“Over the years, I have played with a lot of musicians, and have been very fortunate that I have had so many great players. We never normally rehearsed, as most of the rehearsals were done ‘live’ on stage, though for complicated songs with lots of chords and complex arrangements.” As with most bands, tracking the changes in musicians is even more complex than some of those songs.
Hank Snow, Willie Nelson and more
Along the way, as well as playing with some great musicians in his band, he met, and toured with, some of the greatest names in Country music, like Willie Nelson, Slim Whitman, Hank Snow, Buck Owens, Hank Cochran and Jeannie Seely, while recording in Britain as the Number 1 Country music band, and also visiting Nashville, where he met many country stars and made several television and radio appearances.
Not bad for a boy from the Dingle, in the town becoming known for Merseybeat and The Beatles.
The Country of Liverpool: The Film
Phil Brady’s story will be one of those featured in the new Country of Liverpool Film. The film is currently being produced by Brightmoon Films, the makers of Looking for Lennon. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for production updates.
The Country of Liverpool: The Book
Phil Brady’s story is told in The Country of Liverpool book. Get your copy from this website today!