In 1962, The Beatles changed the face of British music. Bands comprising of enthusiastic youngsters emerged in almost every town and city, eager to climb the ladder to success and stardom. York was no exception, producing around twenty-five groups who would entertain their fans in the pubs and clubs in the city. In the autumn of 1963, lead guitarist Paul Blanchard got together with his vocalist friend Alex Bladen-Hill and formed ‘The Cheavours.’ They were joined by Don Gargett on Rhythm Guitar, drummer Dave Crabtree, and Pete Allen on Bass Guitar.
The group had only been together for four months when, on 30th January 1964, they entered the local final of the ‘National Beat Contest’ at York’s Mecca-Casino. One thousand fans flocked to cheer on their favourite group and enjoy their music. Until then, few people had heard of The Cheavours. The contest was a great success for the band, and – though just pipped by one point to first place by ‘Tony Adams and the Viceroys’, their performance put them firmly in the limelight.
Throughout 1964, The Band made their mark on the local music scene. They became the resident group at York’s leading night-spot ‘The Boulevard,’ and played lots of gigs at pubs and clubs city-wide. On 3rd July 1964, when she was number one with her hit record ‘Shout,’ they were the support act to the now-legendary ‘Lulu’ with her band ‘the Luvvers’ when she performed at York’s Assembly Rooms.
On Saturday 5th September 1964, The Cheavours headlined the evening’s entertainment at The Assembly Rooms. They had now become York’s favourite Group. They were supported by ‘The Morvans’ and ironically ‘The Viceroys,’ who earlier in the year had only marginally beaten them at the National Beat Contest. The following Friday evening however, on 11 September 1964, The Cheavours were firmly installed as York’s ‘number one’ group: after completing their usual gig at The Boulevard night-spot, they then travelled to headline the ‘Five Star Beat Ball,’ held in a disused aircraft hanger in nearby Shipton-by-Beningbrough. At the time, the event was the largest gathering of music fans in York, and having previously been billed as a supporting act for the event, their popularity was such that they closed the gig to the delight of their many fans.
In the autumn of 1963, the five members could not have envisaged that within one year of getting together, they would become part of York’s music history.