Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 50th Anniversary of Them's 1st Public Perfromance

It was fifty years ago today Them made their debut at the Maritime Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Them was founded by native Belfastite singer and multi-instrumentalist Van Morrison. In the early Sixties Mr. Morrision had performed with various bands in Northern Ireland, including The Monarchs and The Golden Eagles. It was in April 1964 Van Morrison founded a R&B club at the Maritime Hotel with Jimmy Conlon, Jerry McKernan and Gerry McKervey. In need of a band to play at the club he recruited members of the Belfast rock group The Gamblers (Alan Henderson, Billy Harrison, and Ronnie Millings) and keyboardist Eric Wrixon. The new band was named Them, after the 1954 sci-fi horror film Them! (1954).

It was not long before Them was signed to Decca and they made their first recording on 5 July 1964. It was during this session that what may be their best known song, "Gloria", was recorded. They would have a top ten hit in the United Kingdom with their cover of Big Joe Williams' "Baby, Please Don't Go", the flip side of which was "Gloria". It would be followed by the single "Here Comes the Night", which went to #2 in the United Kingdom and #24 in the United States. Unfortunately, while Them met some success, tensions in the band would drive Them apart. The tensions between band members reached the point where there were two competing bands named Them, one led by Billy Harrison and Pat McAuley and another by Van Morrison and Alan Henderson. As might be expected there was a lawsuit, the ultimate result of which was that Van Morrison and Alan Henderson won the right for their band to be called "Them" in the UK. Van Morrison left Them not long afterwards and the band, led by Alan Henderson, persisted in some form until 1971. Them has regrouped since then, although without Van Morrison.

Regardless, Them would have a lasting impact on garage rock and rock 'n' roll in general. The band would have an impact on such diverse artists as The Doors, MC5, Thin Lizzy, The Saints, Elvis Costello,  Nick Cave, and The Hives.

Here is a clip from 1965 of Them performing their signature song, "Gloria".

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