James Crawford

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British guitarist Jim Crawford is remembered as a member of the Gamblers, a combo that anted up in Newcastle in the early '60s and eventually drew a recording hand with the well-known Decca label in 1963.…
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British guitarist Jim Crawford is remembered as a member of the Gamblers, a combo that anted up in Newcastle in the early '60s and eventually drew a recording hand with the well-known Decca label in 1963. The latter firm became interested when singer Billy Fury lost his temper with his previous backing group, the Tornados, whirling around and betting on the Gamblers for a replacement. The collaboration resulted in a film appearance, although the number of people who have seen I've Gotta Horse could probably be mounted on the back of one. Once in the recording studio, the first move of Crawford and bandmates such as saxophonist Ken Brady and the multi-talented Tony Damond, handling both rhythm guitar and trumpet, was to cut a cover version of the Miracles' "You Really Got a Hold On Me."

Emboldened with the at least slight grip this single had on the listening public, the group decided life would be calmer devoid of Fury. Crawford and company became the resident band at the Majestic Ballroom in their hometown, using the base to refine new songs. Between 1964 and 1966, the Gamblers spun the hit parade wheel with the pleasant "It's So Nice," the inquisitive "Find Out What's Happening," and the worthless "Dr. Goldfoot." The latter attempt to cash in on an extremely weird American International teen movie starring Vincent Price inspired a foot out the door from Decca executives. The real title song to the film was recorded by the Supremes.

Parlophone was the next label to put Crawford in the studio; an excellent version of "Cry Me a River" resulted in 1967, then not even a trickle of new material for this band. The Gamblers continued working for a few more years on the British club circuit. There are other bands with the same name, including the surf music session band behind the "Moon Dawg" single and a garage rock outfit in the Pacific Northwest. At the close of the decade, Crawford performed and recorded with Johnny Almond's Music Machine.