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During the ‘60’s beat boom many bands were content with taking their cue from the Beatles or the Stones,
but Tony Rivers and the Castaways drew from American acts like the Beach Boys and harmony outfit,
the Four Freshmen. As the sixties progressed,
Tony enthusiastically picked up on the American harmony-pop influences such as,
the Association, Harpers Bazarre, The Peppermint Trolley Company and
Spanky and Our Gang, turning the Castaways into the UK's foremost ‘soft rock’ outfit.

Kieron Tyler (Record Collector 2001).

Harmony Grass came into existence in September or October ’68, mainly because the name we’d had for many years, Tony Rivers and the Castaways, had earned us a great reputation, as a ‘live’ band, but apart from a few visits to the low end of  the ‘Top 40’, hadn’t  helped us to get the ‘big one’. We started to think that maybe the name was holding us back.

The first record we released under the new name ‘Harmony Grass’, was a hit! Sadly, this spelled the end for ‘old’ name, but  this record received the one thing the ‘Castaways’ records had never had, and that was serious airplay!!
Every station (and there weren’t many in those days) was playing the record and suddenly we’d made the charts, and were on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and all the other TV shows, and even recorded our own show, in the ‘Colour Me Pop’ TV series.
The record was ‘Move In A Little Closer Baby’.
In reality, we were still the Castaways, except that when we made the record, there was a different face (Tony Ferguson) on lead guitar, instead of Tony Harding. He wasn’t around for long though.

Tony Ferguson lead guitarist, and a very good one. He was a serious musician (too serious for us) more than a harmony singer/entertainer, and it became obvious he wasn’t right for us. When ‘H’ came back, it felt a lot better. ‘Fergie’ did come back into the picture after I left the band in 1971. They’d  decided to change their name to ‘Grass’(in retrospect, not a great idea) and started to go ‘heavy’ musically. Eventually  they became Capability Brown,  were signed to Tony Stratton-Smith, made a couple of albums, and started to get a pretty good reputation, but no real success and slowly disappeared. The British public had never really got round to appreciating ‘harmony’ music in a big way, so ‘harmony’ music with ‘heavy’ guitars was probably asking a bit too much at that time I think. Could be they were ahead of their time, I mean ‘Yes’ seemed to make it work eventually, and of course the ‘Eagles’ did quite well.

Tony Ferguson
lead guitar
and low vocals
Bill Castle was a Castaway for only a short time before the name changed to Harmony Grass, and so didn’t have the years of struggling, to get a hit, that most of us had gone through. His first record that he played on was a hit! It’s worth pointing out, that we played on all our records, even when accompanied by an orchestra, AND RHYTHM SECTION, this wasn’t always the case in those days, some bands didn’t have a choice. Bill was the latest in the line, of ‘singing drummers’ from Essex, to join our ranks. He was around for a while, until he bought a house in Devon, and eventually went into business down there.
A tall handsome bloke who the girls loved.

Bill Castle,
drums and vocals
Brian Hudson returned (again). All the drummers we used, had to be able to sing, and Brian was very good. He wasn’t on the single but played and sang on most of the tracks on the album. He was so keen to join the Castaways back in ‘65/6, that he even agreed to work for nothing for a while. He always had a great attitude, and was a good harmony singer, and he loved doing it. Brian was probably the best in the line of singing drummers from Essex to work with us, he was also the last.
He’s married to ex -Nolan Sister, Linda.

Brian Hudson
drums and vocals
Tom Marshall played rhythm or lead guitar, and piano, and had quite a high range vocally. He was always a really nice bloke. Was married to Sheila the keyboard player from Episode Six, at one time. Many years later, Tom joined ‘Bucks Fizz’ on piano/gtr, and unfortunately, was in the band, when their coach  crashed, in the North of England, sometime in the early to mid 80’s (I think).
He was badly injured, but pulled through. Some years later I booked him on 2nd piano, as part of the ‘Oh Boy Band’ backing  Cliff Richard at ‘the Event’, at Wembley Stadium in 1989.

Tom Marshall
guitar, piano and vocals
Kenny Rowe high vocals, and former bass player with ‘Steve Marriotts Moments’ Ken was out front with me on stage, and was a very important member of both Harmony Grass and before that, of course, TR & the Castaways. It’s Kens voice you hear hitting the high notes on everything, an essential part of our vocal sound.
It wasn’t a smooth, Brian Wilson sort of falsetto/high voice, in fact he looked like he was going to burst when he hit those notes. He also looked like he was trying to take off, with his arms flailing everywhere. Ken actually has a really nice, sweet voice when he sings normally, but with us it was all systems go, take no prisoners!
He was also my writing partner on the odd song.

Kenny Rowe
‘high’ vocals.
Ray Brown bass, just listen to those bass lines, and sound.
He was the ‘original’ from the days of ‘the Cutaways’. Along with me, he’d survived road crashes, (he went through the windscreen), changes in members, managers coming and going, roadies coming and going, but that ‘fantastic’ bass sound could always be relied on.
I think John Entwhistle from the Who got his sound from Ray.
Back in the early sixties, we used to meet up with ‘the High Numbers’(the Who),  at Jim Marshall’s shop on Uxbridge Rd. Ray told him he got his sound, by ‘boiling’ (I’m serious!) his bass strings in a saucepan, to get that ’twanging piano’ sound.( It also saved money, quite important in those days!) Take a listen to ‘My Generation’!
These days Ray is 20 stone weakling, with a zip in his chest (from a quad heart bypass), to match the one on his head. (From the time he went through the windscreen of the ‘Castaways’ van, back in December 1964.) Ray, and I, survived the crash, and everything the ‘music biz’ could throw at us, so I don’t suppose a little heart problem, was likely to get him!

Ray Brown,
Tony ‘H’ Harding was on one of his ‘many’ periods of absence from the band, when we became Harmony Grass. He was always leaving, either to join the Parachute Regiment or the Submarine Corps, or to form his own 60 voice choir, to perform his ‘Four Freshmen’ type vocal arrangements. He’d then come back, and we’d carry on as before!
‘H’ was responsible for the vocal arrangement of  ‘Tom Dooley’ on the album (based on the Freshmen version).
It didn’t take long for him to return to us though, once he’d heard about the hit!
We were happy to have him back, he’d played his part over the years as a regular, and very important , though intermittent, Castaway, it’s a pity he wasn’t on the recording of the single. He’s on just about everything else on the album.
It’s him singing  the lead vocal on ‘I Think Of You’ on ‘This Is Us’, and a few years earlier was the lead voice on ‘Charade’ by Tr/C’s.
‘H’ as he was known, was also a really good guitar player, had a great bass voice, and was an ace harmony singer. If anyone has heard the a capella version of, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, that I, along with my son Anthony, Mick Clarke, did for Gerard Kenney, well, ‘H’ sings the bass voice on that. ‘H’ also sings on a Cliff Richard track from the album, ‘I’m Nearly Famous’. I’d lost my voice after one of the sessions for the album. We were halfway through ‘It’s No Use Pretending’, when the session ended for the day. The next day I couldn’t sing so I got ‘H’ to go and do my bit for me, he’s in the backing vocals, near the end of the song.


Tony ‘H’ Harding
lead guitar and bass vocals.