Fivepenny Piece FAQ
page lists many of the most frequently asked questions
(FAQs) about The Fivepenny Piece. If you have
any questions, please look here first - there's a
good chance your question may be answered here. If
not, then you can contact us.
a list of the questions answered on this page:
Fivepenny Piece are a five-piece band formed originally
in 1967 in Stalybridge in northern England - all members
of the band were from Stalybridge or nearby Ashton-under-Lyne
in Lancashire. Originally called The Wednesday Folk,
they used to meet up at Ashton's Broadoak Hotel on
Wednesday evenings to entertain the locals. This is
an early publicity photo of the band from January
1969 looking seriously folky! Click on the small
picture to see the full-size version.
original band members were:
Meeks (guitar, vocals)
Meeks (vocals) - John's sister
Crotty (guitar, vocals)
Radcliffe (bass, vocals)
Radcliffe (guitar, vocals) - George's brother
Radcliffe and John Meeks formed a prolific songwriting
partnership and penned many of the band's songs, although
the other members also contributed material, notably
Eddie Crotty's humorous Lancashire-style songs.
band continued with the original line-up until 1981,
when John Meeks departed, to be replaced by Trevor
Chance. A year or two later Lynda left and was replaced
by Andrea Mullins (a former member of The Caravelles).
The band broke up in 1985, but it was subsequently
reformed and is still occasionally gigging today.
By 1996 the line up still included Andrea, Eddie and
George, with the addition of Pete Brew and famous
Lancashire singer/actor/comedian Bernard Wrigley.
Sadly, George Radcliffe passed away in December 2002,
leaving Eddie as the only member of the original band
in the line-up. Even Eddie has had health problems
and for a while Norman Prince (formerly of the Houghton
Weavers) stood in for him at gigs. The Fivepenny Piece
continued to perform for a while with the last recorded
line-up being Eddie Crotty, Andrea Mullins, Alan Taylor,
John Eatock and George's replacement Paul Johnstone.
Although the other three original band members Colin,
Lynda and John had retired from the music business;
in 2004 came the great news that John Meeks had returned
to the studio and recorded a new CD, with some old
favourites from the Fivepenny Piece days, plus some
brand new songs.
one to answer, is this! The Fivepenny Piece are usually
categorised as "folk", but this is misleading,
as they rarely played true folk music - whatever that
is! They played mainly original material which covers
a broad spectrum of styles which makes them difficult
to pigeon-hole. The music ranges from what might be
described as 'pop-folk' (typified by The Seekers),
to Easy Listening/Pop, to 'Lancashire' music - songs
in the Lancashire idiom reflecting their roots.
apparent simplicity of the songs and the accompaniment
is belied by the complexity of many of the lyrics
which are by turns meaningful (as in folk protest
songs); humorous (Lancashire humour, of course!);
surreal (occasionally verging on being nonsensical);
and romantic (love songs) - but even that doesn't
cover the full spectrum of their work. The variety
of material nearly always makes for interesting listening.
Particular strengths of the original band were the
Lancashire humour illustrated best by Eddie's vocal
contributions; the strong songwriting partnership
of John and Colin; Lynda's pleasantly agreeable -
oh, go on then - gorgeous voice; and George's excellent
bass playing at the heart of the rhythm section -
not to mention his lugubrious expression and famous
floppy hat! The excellent harmony singing of the whole
band on many of their songs should also not be overlooked.
The current band has a multi-talented line-up and
features Andrea, Alan, John and Eddie variously on
vocals, with Alan on violin and mandolin adding a
bit of musical colour to the guitar-based sound. As
ever, the humour comes from everyone in the band!
Fivepenny Piece are best known and remembered in their
home territory of Lancashire and nearby areas of the
North-West of England, but they were widely known
across the UK during their heyday in the 1970s, thanks
to their many TV appearances in those days. Their
big break came in 1968 when they won the popular TV
talent show New Faces, still under their original
name Wednesday Folk. As well as getting a new name,
they were signed up by the prestigious Noel Gay agency
and given a recording contract with EMI records. Their
public profile was enhanced by a residency on Esther
Rantzen's weekly BBC-TV programme That's Life,
which was watched by huge numbers at its peak. They
also had their own BBC TV series, following one they
shared with fellow "Lanky" funny man and
singer Mike Harding. For more details of their
TV appearances, see the 5PP on TV
band may not be quite so well known these days, but
they have still got plenty of loyal fans all over
the world, who remember the Fivepenny Piece's music
and Lancashire humour with great affection.
Fivepenny Piece made more than a dozen albums throughout
the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as a number of
singles. Their first single was issued in 1969 on
EMI's UK Columbia label. Their EMI records were initially
produced by Bob Barratt, who seems to have specialised
in regional acts - which is what The Fivepenny Piece
were - such as the West Country's favourite sons The
Wurzels. See the Fivepenny
Piece Discography for a list of all their records,
with full track listings, release dates, etc.
Fivepenny Piece's chart career was brief - none of
their singles got into the national charts, but they
did make the Top Ten UK albums with their 1976 magnum
Cotton, and the earlier 1973 album Makin'
Tracks made the top 40. However in the early
and mid-1970s their records sold in large enough numbers
to satisfy EMI, especially in their home area of the
North-West, where the locals were happy to buy recordings
of songs with titles like Stalybridge Wakes,
I'm Powfagged and The Ashton Mashers.
in the 1970s the group's popularity outside their
home area appears to have tailed off, and their EMI
contract is assumed to have not been renewed. The
band switched to Polygram where they had a couple
of albums released. Following the departure of Lynda
Meeks, the album Here
We Are Again was issued on a small independent
label. This consisted of some new songs, some covers
and reworkings of some of their previous records,
such as Big Jim.
much sought-after record Lanky
Spoken Here!, issued on EMI, featured The
Fivepenny Piece with other Lancashire artists including
Gary & Vera Aspey, Bernard Wrigley and Bob Williamson.
The record was a Lancashire dialect tutorial, interpersed
with humorous songs. The 'Lanky' words and phrases
were 'translated' into English by the posh-voiced
former BBC newsreader Robert Dougall, among others.
short answer is - yes, but not enough of them! Although
the band in their 1970s heyday made over a dozen albums
for EMI and Polygram (not including compilations),
only two compilation CD of this prodigious output
is available at present.
recording featuring the Fivepenny Piece and also available
on CD is the 1978 recording Lanky
Spoken Here! - a must for anyone learning
the Lancashire dialect!
The shameful lack of availability of the Fivepenny
Piece's material is something the band and their fans
are pledged to rectify - if you have any influence
over the record companies concerned, please try to
put pressure on them!
Meanwhile, it's not all gloom - we are pleased to
announce that founder member and leading composer
John Meeks has brought out a CD in 2004, with
new versions of some of the old songs, plus some brand
new ones. The CD is available exclusively from the
band at out online shop.
the band properly known as "The Fivepenny Piece"
or just "Fivepenny Piece"? The band's correct
name has always been unclear - other variants are
"(The) Five Penny Piece" (with "Five
Penny" as two separate words) or even "5
Penny Piece". Many people have asked this question,
as the confusion makes it difficult when searching
for information about the band on the Internet.
hasn't been helped by the band themselves or the companies
issuing their records. Both Fivepenny Piece and The
Fivepenny Piece have been used by the band members,
and all of the variants above have been used at different
times on record covers or labels, right from the very
start. The demo version of the band's first
single gave their name as Five Penny Piece whereas
the regular issue label showed Fivepenny Piece. Then
the group's first album
was titled The Fivepenny Piece, and the four LPs following
were credited to the same. After that, the rest of
their EMI albums reverted to Fivepenny Piece. To sum
it all up, the single Save
Your Last Kiss For Me showed The Fivepenny
Piece on the sleeve, and just Fivepenny Piece on the
label. Confused? You should be!
the answer is that either Fivepenny Piece or The Fivepenny
Piece is correct, but the other variants are not.
5 Penny Piece was used as a kind of logo for the band
on the covers of three of their albums issued in 1977-1978,
which is probably how this particular one started.
However a glance at the labels show that the band's
proper name was Fivepenny Piece - at least, it was
at that time! The name 5PP is simply an unofficial
shorthand for the band's name.
you know anything of interest about The Fivepenny
Piece, want to point out any errors in this website,
or simply want to 'e-natter' about the band, then
contact us. We are
particularly interested in knowing about any records
not listed in the Discography.