The Echoes have been echoing away behind star singers since 1959. They've made six records on their own (the latest, "Got To Run," is just out) and today they work as Dusty Springfield's accompanists.

It was a long and star-studded trail to Dusty as Duggie Reece (leader of the Echoes and the only original member of the group) told us:

"We began as accompanists on a tour for Conway Twitty and Johnny Preston. In those days we were Chris Wayne and The Echoes. Chris was a very fine singer, something like Matt Monroe, but I guess he didn't have the right image for teenagers. Anyway, he doesn't seem to be around today; wish I knew what has happened to him.

"Then we went on an eight-weeks tour backing Gene Vincent, just over from America and then at the height of his popularity. After Gene we toured with Jerry Lee Lewis. There followed accompanying jobs with various stars--including the Four Seasons, Susan Maugham, Matt Monroe and the Mudlarks.

More recently, Bert Weedon took a great interest in us and we went on several tours and ballroom dates with him. We appeared at the Palladium with him and were residents on the children's television show Tuesday Rendezvous, thanks to Bert.

"Last year we did a summer season in Jersey. When we came back to London there didn't seem to be a lot of work around for us. My mother said, 'Do you know Dusty Springfield is looking for a backing group?' My mother keeps up a great interest in the pop scene, knows about all sorts of artistes I've never heard of, and is always ready to say whether or not a disc will be a hit! Well, when she told me about Dusty I didn't take a lot of notice, reckoning that Dusty would probably have made up her mind about the musicians she wanted.

"Since there wasn't much work about, our organist sold his organ. Then my agent rang up and told us to get down to the Granada, Kennington for an 11 a.m. audition--with Dusty! He added that we must be sure to bring the organ because that's what Dusty particularly wanted to hear. Just our luck that we'd had one for four years but it had just been sold. It meant we had to get another organist in a hurry. We knew a boy called Mickey but we'd never rehearsed with him. We just had to take a chance.

"At the rehearsal Dusty gave us some Ray Charles material and said, 'Play this.' We figured we'd have to cover up for the organist as best we could. But Mickey turned out fine. Dusty liked us, we were in. It was gratifying to know she'd auditioned dozens of other groups but liked us best. Probably it was our experience with all those other singers that helped us."

The Echoes' working life with Dusty has been quite a whirlwind. They've been to Australia, New Zealand, USA, Hawaii and have been deported from South Africa. One drummer got so agitated by the strain of rushing about all over Britain and other countries that he quit with a nervous breakdown. Two of the boys flew for the first time in their lives when they boarded a jet for Australia. Said Duggie: "They didn't look too happy at the start of the flight so I began to worry about the way they'd look when we finally got to the other side of the world. After a few minutes in the air one of them said, 'Isn't it hot in here? Can't we open a window?' I had a vision of us all being sucked out into the stratosphere!"

But the Echoes didn't go into orbit after all. They consist of Derek Andrews ("we call him Ursula because a plane ticket to Ireland listed his name as Andress") and Ted Warburton on trumpets, Derek Wadsworth on trombone, Mickey O'Neil on organ and piano, Gary Boyle on guitar, Peter Woolfe on drums and Duggie on bass guitar. Sometimes they use Tony Scott on comga drum.

"We recently augmented, adding the brass because we feel it's time for pop music to change in that direction. There are several groups with a brass lineup but no one has yet come to the fore. The Fortunes have recorded successfully with brass but they don't travel with it and can't reproduce their recorded sound," Duggie pointed out.

For their new disc the Echoes have added a vocal trio--girly voices provided by none other than Dusty, Madeline Bell (the Fontana recording artiste) and Lesley Duncan. "I didn't know Doris Troy was in the country at the time or I'd have used her too," said Duggie. "Must say we owe a lot to Dusty--she banged an ashtray and bashed away on tambourine for us during the recording session. She was also a vital factor in helping me pick the number. I asked a publisher to give me a hit tune and he replied 'They're all hits here,' and so I thought 'Here we go!' But he insisted that 'Got To Run' was hit potential. I liked it. Played it to my girlfriend--she didn't like it. Played it to Dusty--she said, 'That's a hit!'"

But Duggie's girl has nevertheless got onto the disc--she's written the words for the B side, Duggie's own composition.

David Griffiths
Record Mirror
April 9, 1966