Masterminds

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One of the more promising late-era Merseybeat bands, the Masterminds never managed to translate their potential into serious record sales, although one of their members, Joey Molland, was destined for…
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One of the more promising late-era Merseybeat bands, the Masterminds never managed to translate their potential into serious record sales, although one of their members, Joey Molland, was destined for some international success less than a decade hence. Formed in Liverpool even as the big wave of Merseybeat sounds was cresting, the Masterminds consisted of Joey Molland on guitar and vocals, Chris Findley on keyboards, George Cassidy on bass and vocals, and Jay Rathbone on drums. For a time, Dougie Meakin played rhythm guitar and sang in the line-p as well. Molland, at 16, had already played with two earlier bands, the Assassins and the Profiles, when he joined the Masterminds. They had established a successful residency at a Liverpool club called the Blue Angel and lucked out one night when the Rolling Stones, with manager-producer Andrew Loog Oldham along, came to the club after playing a gig at the Empire Theatre and saw the Masterminds doing Bob Dylan songs.

This was in late 1964 when not a lot of British bands were covering Dylan's songs, much less doing it well. The fact that they were a Liverpool band made it even more startling because apart from the Searchers, the city wasn't known as a fertile field for folk-rock impulses to take root. The band was duly signed up to Oldham's fledgling Immediate Records label and they cut "She Belongs to Me," their one and only single, in the spring of 1965.

Despite getting an appearance miming to the single on the British rock & roll television showcase Ready! Steady! Go!, it sank without a trace along with the group's prospects for breaking out of Liverpool. (Curiously enough, the song itself would take on a life of its own at Immediate, as a focus of versions by the Nice and Joey Vine). The group broke up soon after, with Jay Rathbone jumping to the Almost Blues, while Molland, Findley, and Cassidy joined the Fruit Eating Bears, a Liverpool band that got its biggest exposure backing the Merseys, the harmony group formed by Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley -- who had been one half of the Merseybeats -- who enjoyed a huge hit with "Sorrow." Molland later jumped to the Iveys, replacing original lead guitarist Ron Griffiths, and enjoyed three years of international rock stardom in the early '70s after the latter group was re-christened Badfinger.