Tony Jackson and the Vibrations

by Peter McCormack

"Just Like Me"
Tony (Blake Jake) Jackson

Jackson Holds Auditions for The Vibrations

After Tony Jackson left The Searchers he placed an advertisement in the New Musical Express and the Melody Maker urging musicians to audition for his new group. The auditions were held at the Roaring Twenties Night Club on Carnaby Street and many well known studio musicians applied for the job. When all the auditioning was said and done, all of the members of Tony Jackson's group would hail from the London area.

Paul Francis of Soul Detectives (2001)

One of the musicians to successfully make the first cut was Paul Francis, a drummer for Bobby Rio (Bobby Christo), who had a recording contract with Joe Meek at the time. Apparently Paul Francis had also drummed for Rolf Harris and the Diggeroos.

The response to these auditions was overwhelming in that it took three days to select the finalist from what would be hundreds of applicants. In the end, Paul Raymond, once with The Westminster Four, was to be the keyboard player while Ian Buisel got the nod as the guitarist. Ian Buisel, known to his friends as "Rocker", had grown up with Jeff Beck and was considered by Beck himself to be every bit as good a guitarist. Ian had once played with The Hot Rod Gang. Tony would become the first, but not the last, bassist for the group.

"Stage Door"
Tony Jackson and Vibrations (1965)
Francis, Jackson, Thompson and Buisel

Release of "Bye Bye Baby" and "Stage Door"

Tony Jackson and The Vibrations released their first single "Bye Bye Baby" which was to become a minor hit. This was followed by "Stage Door", a nice vocal rendition by Tony but unsuccessful on the charts. After Tony Jackson's third single fizzled, he decided to front the band and hence was looking for a bass player. Paul Francis recommended Denis Thompson, perfoming with Bobby Rio, and after the audition Denis became the fifth member of The Vibrations. The group was then comprised of Tony Jackson (frontman and vocals), Paul Francis (Twizzle) on drums, Ian Leighton (formerly Ian Buisel) on guitar, Martin Raymond (formerly Paul Raymond and known as "Hands") on keyboards and Denis Thompson on bass. Denis was present for the recording of the fourth single.

"You Beat Me To The Punch"
Tony Jackson and The Vibrations (1965)
Francis, Buisel, Jackson and Thompson

Tony Jackson and The Vibrations Tour Europe

Although Tony Jackson was not destined to have a hit single, his group toured Europe extensively and was well recevied by fans. In addition to being popular in Northern England and Scotland, the group was extremely popular in Norway, Germany and Portugal. In fact, Tony Jackson and The Vibrations did several television shows in Norway and even headlined at the famous Star Club in Germany.

Martin (Paul) Raymond became increasingly more difficult to work with and according to Denis Thompson seemed that "he felt the need for more success." Tony decided to give him his walking papers and the band continued with Tony and three musicians for approximately one year. At this time the group continued to have considerable popularity in Germany and the demand kept them afloat. The musical direction of the group began to change at this time with Tony, Paul Raymond and Denis Thompson all being fans of the blues. The all guitar band also allowed Ian Leighton (Buisel) to demonstrate his great guitar playing. Before long, however, the group met and hired keyboardist Ian Green. He played a Hammond organ which immediately got the attention of the Group, however, his tenure was short. Apparently the appeal of the Hammond over the Vox did not hide the fact that Ian Green was not the keyboard talent of Paul Raymond. Tony Jackson and the Vibrations would once again revert to an all guitar band.

A most significant event occurred for The Tony Jackson Group in Portugal. Ian Leighton's brother Jimmy was dating the daughter of the owner of aradio station, and it was the groups' good fortune to have an EP recorded. This EP is rare and a is a highly sought after recording from the late 1960s. Ian Leighton sangs lead on "Shake." This record of covers also included "He Was A Friend Of Mine" popularized by The Byrds, Paul Revere and the Raiders' hit "Just Like Me" and The Small Faces' "Understanding."

Estudio Records, Portugal

Rare Estudio EP

Final Days at The Star Club

Tony Jackson and The Vibrations landed a job as the house band at the Star Club in Hamburg. It was their job to open up the big acts that came to the Club. While visiting a couple of other German cities to perform at this time, in Denis Thompson's words "It became obvious that we were winding down to nothing."

There was just not enough work to keep the band going. At this time Tony Jackson's wife and baby were traveling with the band and the performances rumoured to be waiting in Spain turned out to be but a couple of gigs in reality. Denis Thompson had his family send money from England and relatives of Ian Buisel managed to line up performances for the group in Portugal. Tony Jackson opened for Sylvie Vartan and Johnnie Halliday which were famous stars from France. According to Denis Thompson "It was here that Rocker, Paul and myself relaized that Tony was not going to make it - too much drinking and a huge temper that ended the band right there. The group drove back to England except for Tony who flew. The group disbanded upon their return to England.

Click On Paul to Visit The Soul Detectives

"A Soul Detective"
Paul Francis at the Drums
Photo 2001 Paul Francis

So Where Are They Now?

Following the disbanding of The Tony Jackson Group, Paul Francis went on to be a session drummer and worked with a number of well known musicians such as Bill Wyman, Screamin' Lord Sutch and Gilbert O'Sullivan. He toured the USA with Tranquility and the USA and Europe with Maggie Bell. In 1990 he joined Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel. At the present time he performs with the Soul Detectives.

Denis Thompson with Steve Marriott and The Frantiks

Denis Thompson joined a band called the Parking Lot and made a recording called "Carpet Man". He also recorded with Mick Jagger and Steve Marriott following his days as a "Vibration". Thompson eventually formed a band with Steve Marriott which became known as Steve Marriott and The Frantiks. He is currently employed as a Director of Human Resources in the United States. By his own admission he is still a "rock and roller" at heart.

Tony Jackson currently resides in the United Kingdom and although he has performed from time to time, he is no longer actively involved in the music business.

Sadly, Paul Buisel passed away in 1988.

Tony Jackson in 1994

"Walk That Walk"
Tony Jackson in 1994

References & Acknowledgments

Clough, Roy - Personal Communication July 2001

Francis Paul, - Personal Communication July 2001

Francis, Paul - The Soul Detectives.

Hoffman, Richard - The Tony Jackson Site.

McCormack, Peter - The History Of Tony Jackson.

Thompson, Denis - Personal Communication July 2001

Viney, Tim - Personal Communication July 2001

Special thanks goes to Denis Thompson, the bass player for Tony Jackson and The Vibrations. Without his generosity and assistance the writing of this article would not have been possible.

 July 7, 2001 - Revised July 26, 2001
2001 Peter McCormack. All rights reserved.

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