15 March 1975 – Series Three (26)

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Vocal harmony trio, Fresh Aire. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

After moving aside for Nicky Martyn the previous week, regular host Derek Hobson was back for a show that featured a panel comprising of Jack Parnell, Mickie Most, John Robins and George Elrick.

The seven news acts looking for the votes of the panel and the public this week were;

  • The Soulettes (vocal group)
  • Mike Felix (comedian / vocal)
  • Flaky Pastry (five-piece folk group) – photo
  • Pat McClusky (comedian)
  • Colin Anthony (vocalist)
  • Davy Lee James
  • Fresh Aire (vocal harmony trio)
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Show winner, comedian Mike Felix. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Comedian Mike Felix was voted the top act and would appear again in the fourth All Winners Final on 3 May 1975. Mike was heard on the phone to his wife, after the show, starting very casually, he said; “It went all right. I suppose … I won!”

Eleven years before his appearance on New Faces Mike Felix was enjoying success with a UK Top 10 hit with the Migil Five.   The Migil Five’s origins were as a backing group for club singer Lennie Peters (later one half of Peters and Lee) and had a series of stand-in drummers, including Charlie Watts (later drummer of The Rolling Stones).

Mike Felix became the groups permanent drummer and when Lennie Peters left to pursue a solo career he also took over vocal duties.  Originally named the Migil Four (the name derived from a combination of Mike Felix and pianist Gilbert Lucas) they became the Migil Five when former Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames tenor saxophonist, Alan Watson , joined the group.

It was with this line-up they secured a residency at the Tottenham Royal dance hall, replacing the Dave Clark Five, and in March 1964 had that previously mentioned UK Top 10 hit single with Mockin’ Bird Hill.  Mike Felix left the group in 1966 to pursue a solo career as a vocalist and comedian.

In June 1977 Mike was one of the New Faces acts selected to appear in the new ATV comedy and music show Make ‘Em Laugh.  The former boxer, talented singer, drummer and pianist also turned his hand to acting with appearances in Widows and The Bill. Mike was still performing in 1998 when he supported cockney duo Chas and Dave on their 25th anniversary show at the Pavillion Theatre in Worthing.

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Folk group Flaky Pastry. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Hertfordshire part-time group Flaky Pastry were social worker Andrew Morgan (guitar), music shop managers Geoff Ide (guitar) and Pat Rogers (mandolin), school teacher Dave Doddington (guitar) and design draughtsman Doug Jones (12-string guitar).

They got their name when while having tea one night, which included some delicious sausage rolls, they all commented on how nice the flaky pastry was.

Just a few days after their appearance on the show mid-Anglia folk group Flaky Pastry made their first solo concert appearance when they played the St. Ivo Centre in St. Ives. near Cambridge.  They had previously played at the Norwich Folk Festival in 1974. Their Norwich performance was recorded and was broadcast on BBC Radio Two in August 1975.

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Grand Prix Night of the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall featuring Flaky Pastry. With thanks to Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

In January 1976 Flaky Pastry were signed by DJM Records and released their first single Guaranteed in April 1976.

By 1977 the band were voted top contemporary vocal group in the Melody Maker folk poll and their popularity was spreading so fast they were in constant demand all over Britain.  They released their debut album Ingredients and appeared at the August Bank Holiday Monday Silver Jubilee Jazz and Folk festival in Reading.  Acts also appearing at the festival were Chris Barber, Richard Dignance and Humphrey Lyttelton who was joined by special guest Elkie Brooks.

One of their biggest appearances was in Grand Prix Night of the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall in July 1978.  They appeared on the show, held in aid of the Lord’s Taverners’ charities, that also featured Lulu, Georgie Fame, Chris Barber, Eric Morecombe, Dickie Henderson, Brian Rix, Willy Rushton and Jimmy Tarbuck.

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Comedian Pat McClusky. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

After appearing on the show, Irish comedian Pat McClusky went on to secure the compere role at Wakefield Theatre Club and was chosen as the first Northern Clubland artist to receive the Tony Whyte Award as “Entertainer of the Year.” 

The family Pat McClusky had been entertainers for several generations.  Pat’s father was the original Irish minstrel, known as Dusky Dan. Pat was previously in The Bell Brothers, a musical comedy act with his brother Tommy, before starting his solo career.

His son Stuart was bass guitarist for Jamiroquai and was the former partner of Melanie Blatt from All Saints. His daughter Jackie was also in the music business and his youngest daughter, Philippa Hanna, reached the top three in the Northern Star Talent Competition on Yorkshire TV and was on the reserve list for BBC’s Fame Academy. He also has a niece, Sandy Kelly, that has a career as a country singer.

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Fresh Aire with their new line-up of Tony Harding, Chris Black and Spike Cowlard. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Before appearing on the show Fresh Aire had already supported Liverpool singer Cilla Black on her 1974 concert tour. Their style fell somewhere between the King’s Singers and the Carpenters and featured three lads singing in harmony.  They were Mike Hudson, Spike Cowlard and Chris Black, however in March 1976 a throat infection hospitalised Mike Hudson and replacement Tony Harding was recruited so the act could fulfil their Wakefield show with Johnny Mathis.

In May 1976 the new line-up won the Cabaret Group of the Year Award at the Midlands Variety Command Performance held at the New Cresta in Solihull. Their subsequent support appearance on the Johnny Mathis concert tour was so successful it lead to a booking to support Tony Bennett for some of his shows. In the 1980s they provided support for Gloria Gaynor and provided a backing group for Lena Martell.

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