It certainly wasn’t his skilled guitar playing – it must have been the pink suit that set Colin Tooley on the road to fame!
Although born in Winson Green in 1943, Colin Tooley soon moved with his parents to Chipperfield Road in Hodge Hill. He attended Hodge Hill Primary School on Stechford Road (now known as Colebrook School), but on passing the 11+, Colin went to Saltley Grammar School, living at that time in Lea Village where his parents ran Allen’s the grocers.
Back in Hodge Hill in the late 1950s and now living with his parents on Bromford Road, Colin formed a skiffle group, the G-Men who played in church halls and schools. Colin played bass guitar but his skill as a musician at that time is dubious.
New Name, Group and Image
At 18 Colin Tooley turned professional joining the established Birmingham band The Vikings as lead singer and took Carl Wayne as his stage name (Wayne allegedly after macho cowboy John Wayne and Carl to match the group’s Scandinavian name). Wearing a distinctive pink suit on stage (at a time when the usual attire for pop singers was a sobre grey lounge suit), the band soon became Carl Wayne & the Vikings.
After a stint in Germany in 1963, the Vikings returned to quickly become one of Birmingham’s top acts with other local groups such as the Spencer Davis Group and Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders. They were signed by Pye Records the following year but had no success with a number of singles. Taking with them a new drummer, Bev Bevan, formerly of local group Denny Laine and the Diplomats, they set off once more to perform on the gruelling German circuit.
Back home again in Birmingham, the Vikings became a resident band at the Cedar Club in Hockley run by Birmingham impresarios, the Fewtrell brothers. The club was situated in an old Victorian building on Constitution Hill, it was the place to see all the up-and-coming national bands.
In the mid-1960s Roy Wood of Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders, Trevor Burton of the The Mayfair Set and Ace Kefford of The Vikings discussed setting up a Birmingham band with The Who as their role model. They had already performed at The Belfry, but it was apparently at the suggestion of David Bowie in 1965 while performing at the Cedar Club that Carl Wayne should join them as lead singer with Bev Bevan the drummer. The new band was to be called The Move.
On the Move with The Move
In 1966 The Move had their first hit, “Night of Fear with a riff based on the 1812 Overture, followed the next year by the psychedelic “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”. “Flowers in the Rain” was famously the first record to be played when Radio 1, the BBC’s new pop station was opened by Tony Blackburn on 30 September 1967.
The group was managed by Tony Secunda, former manager of The Moody Blues, who had a wicked eye for publicity. Secunda organised outrageous publicity stunts for the group: they dressed in gangster suits with a stripper outside the Roundhouse in London and smashed tv sets and they marched through Manchester carrying an H-bomb. But the stunt that misfired was a Secunda’s publication of a salacious postcard advertising “Flowers in the Rain”. The postcard was based on rumours that Prime Minister Harold Wilson was having an affair with his secretary. Tony Secunda sent a copy to 10 Downing Street and Harold Wilson sued the band for libel. As settlement the band and their manager agreed to devote all royalties from the record to charities chosen by Wilson.
“Fire Brigade” and “Blackberry Way” were subsequent hits, but strains within the group began to tell. Not all the band members were happy with Secunda’s style of management. Furthermore, song-writer Roy Wood wanted to change the direction of the group towards orchestral rock (which would later blossom as the Electric Light Orchestra) and their lack of success on a trip to the USA added to the tension. After witnessing the ungratifying sight of Roy Wood scrapping it out with a drunken member of the audience in a Sheffield night club in 1970, Carl Wayne left The Move.
He was replaced by Jeff Lynne, previously with Shard End group the Andicaps, Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders and latterly The Idle Race, who wrote songs with Roy Wood and also produced the band. They later formed the progressive rock/ classical fusion band, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).
Finds Love at the Crossroads Motel
Carl’s ambition was to make a career in cabaret but it was never to be. His only solo record success was the theme from ITV’s ‘New Faces’ talent show, “You’re a Star”. When Roy Wood left ELO, Carl Wayne recorded some trial tracks with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, though nothing subsequently came of the collaboration.
Wayne subsequently took work where he could working on television with terry Wogan, Rod Hull & Emu, Jim Davidson and Benny Hill. He took the part of a milkman in ATV’s soap,’Crossroads’ which was filmed in Birmingham.
On the set he was to meet his future wife, actress Susan Hanson, who played the motel’s receptionist, usually referred as ‘Miss Diane’. The pair were often to be seen walking their dog over Hodge Hill Common. Carl also found work as a singer on commercials.
In 1991 Carl Wayne began an acclaimed six-year run as the Narrator in Willy Russell’s award-winning musical, ‘Blood Brothers’ in London’s West End. Returning to music, he joined the Hollies in 2000 as a replacement for lead singer Allan Clarke who had retired with problems with his vocal chords. Carl Wayne toured with the group for four years until weeks before his death in Surrey on 31 August 2004 at the age of 61.