I Was More Than a bit Surprised….
The Original “Them”
The original Belfast group, “Them” formed in 1964 and included Van Morrison, Alan Henderson, Billy Harrison, Ronnie Milling, and Eric Wrixon who was quickly replaced by Pat McAuley.
In September of 1965 Group reforms as Them with Morrison and Henderson and three new members. A competing faction using the same name includes original members Billy Harrison and Eric Wrixon’s replacement from 1964 – Pat McAuley. In November, Billy Harrison returns to join Morrison’s Them for a short time before departing once again in the same month.
Many personnel changes occur throughout 1965, especially in the rival Them lineup. In March of ’65, the rival Them lose a legal proceeding in the U.K. and change their name to “Some of Them”. Meanwhile, Van Morrison does one final recording session with the group but remains on for live appearances.
“Some of Them” appears in Blackpool under than name in May of 1965. They then travel to Denmark where they once again perform as “Them” and continuing in this vein for several months in Europe. During this time (fall of 1966) Morrison’s group is working in the United States at various venues in California.
Morrison becomes disgruntled and departs the band in September of 1966 forming “Them Again”. In very short order, the band falls apart and Van is off on his own pursuing a solo career.
As a side note, Them enjoyed very modest chart success, with their anthem, Gloria, only reaching a very disappointing number 93 in May of 1966. The record experienced a brief second life in April of 1966 but still only climbed to number 71. Their biggest “hit” in the U.S. was “Here Comes the Night” which managed to reach only number 23 on Billboard in later May of 1965. Their 3rd and final “hit” record was “Mystic Eyes” which topped out at number 33 in October of 1966. Amazingly “Baby Please Don’t Go” failed to chart altogether,
With the “Them” name relinquished by Morrison, the remnants of the bogus group once again assume the name of “Them”. And so in early 1967, the group is introduced to a Texas record producer Ray Ruff head of the “Ruff” record label. The group, which is now headed by Pat McAuley and his brother, are performing now as “The Belfast Gypsies”. On some European releases they are called “Them Belfast Gypsies”.
In August, of 1967 they move to Amarillo, Texas to work with Ruff. The lineup is now Ray Elliott, original Them member Alan Henderson, Dave Harvey, Ken McDowell and Jim Armstrong show below.
In Texas, they cut their first ‘garage group’ 45 on the Sully label, with former Coloradoan Marty Cooper and label owner Ray Ruff producing. In September of 1967, they hit the road, touring west coast of the U.S. and into Canada. Cooper, who spent much of his youth in Denver, also worked with the Colorado group “Tuesday’s Children”. Ray Ruff recorded both the Trolls and Patti Jo of the Teardrops, both acts being from Pueblo, Colorado.
In November they release their second 45, this time on the Ruff label. The tracks would later be released on Tower Records as would “Dirty Old Man” from the Sully release. They hang on for a considerable amount of time, living and working out of Texas, before several members give it up and return to Belfast.
Henderson however stays on migrating to Los Angeles retaining the “Them” name and continuing to work with ray Ruff in California. He takes on a couple of Texas musicians from a group called The Kitchen Cinq”, Jim Parker and John Stark.
So many musicians passed through the various configurations of these bands, coming from everywhere including The Cheynes, The Blues Messengers, The Melotones, Shotgun Express, Camel, The Pink Fairies, The Fairport Convention, Taste, Trader Horn and so many more.