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).
came into existence in September or October 68,
mainly because the name wed 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,
hadnt helped us to get the big one.
We started to think that maybe the name was holding us
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 werent many in those days)
was playing the record and suddenly wed 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
wasnt around for long though.
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 wasnt 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.
Theyd 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.
and low vocals
was a Castaway for only a short
time before the name changed to Harmony Grass, and so
didnt 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!
Its worth pointing out, that we played on all
our records, even when accompanied by an orchestra,
AND RHYTHM SECTION, this wasnt always the
case in those days, some bands didnt 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.
drums and vocals
returned (again). All the
drummers we used, had to be able to sing, and Brian was
very good. He wasnt 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.
Hes married to ex -Nolan Sister, Linda.
drums and vocals
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 80s (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.
guitar, piano and vocals
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. Its Kens voice you hear
hitting the high notes on everything, an essential part
of our vocal sound.
It wasnt 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
He was also my writing partner on the odd song.
bass, just listen to those bass
lines, and sound.
He was the original from the days of the
Cutaways. Along with me, hed 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
Back in the early sixties, we used to meet up with the
High Numbers(the Who), at Jim Marshalls
shop on Uxbridge Rd. Ray told him he got his
sound, by boiling (Im 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 dont suppose a little heart problem, was
likely to get him!
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. Hed then
come back, and wed carry on as before!
H was responsible for the vocal arrangement
of Tom Dooley on the album (based on
the Freshmen version).
It didnt take long for him to return to us though,
once hed heard about the hit!
We were happy to have him back, hed played his part
over the years as a regular, and very important , though
intermittent, Castaway, its a pity he wasnt
on the recording of the single. Hes on just about
everything else on the album.
Its 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
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, Ive 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, Im Nearly Famous. Id
lost my voice after one of the sessions for the album. We
were halfway through Its No Use Pretending,
when the session ended for the day. The next day I couldnt
sing so I got H to go and do my bit for me,
hes in the backing vocals, near the end of the song.
Tony ‘H’ Harding
lead guitar and bass vocals.