the guardian, 3rd september 2004

The rock singer Carl Wayne, best known for his work with 1960s group The Move, has died aged 61. Helped by Wayne's vocal skills, The Move caught the mood of the psychedelic era and enjoyed a string of hits in the late 1960s. These began with Night Of Fear (with its borrowed motif from Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture), I Can Hear The Grass Grow and Flowers In The Rain, and culminated in Goodbye Blackberry Way (1968), songwriter Roy Wood's homage to John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever; it was one of Wayne's most memorable performances.

He was born Colin Tooley and grew up in the Hodge Hill district of Birmingham. As a schoolboy he was entranced by the American rock'n'roll of Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. He formed the G-Men group in the late 1950s and at 18, Tooley, now renamed Carl Wayne, joined Birmingham group The Vikings, where his powerful baritone and pink stage suit helped the Vikings to become one of the leading rock groups in the Midlands.

In 1963 the group followed in the footsteps of The Beatles and other Liverpool bands by performing in the clubs of Hamburg's Reeperbahn red-light district. They played seven 45-minute sets each night between 7pm and 2am. When the group returned to Birmingham, The Beatles had broken into the charts and record companies were on the lookout for other guitar bands. The Vikings eventually signed with Pye Records, but their three singles were not commercial successes.

Undeterred, Carl Wayne joined The Move, a Brum beat supergroup drawn from three top bands. It included three members of the Vikings (bass guitarist Ace Kefford, drummer Bev Bevan and Wayne himself), Trevor Burton, lead guitarist with Danny King and the Mayfair Set, and the flamboyant Roy Wood from Mike Sheridan And The Nightriders.

Their dynamic and determined manager Tony Secunda kitted out The Move with gangster-style suits and secured a residency at London's Marquee Club. He encouraged Carl to construct a stage persona that regularly smashed or set fire to television sets, effigies of politicians and on one occasion the Marquee's stage. This resulted in the streets of Soho being jammed with fire engines. The band's controversial image led to a recording deal. Secunda's most outrageous prank was to publicise the release of Flowers In The Rain, the first record to be played on Radio One, with a postcard containing an image of the then prime minister, Harold Wilson, in a compromising position. The resulting furore, including a successful libel suit against Secunda and The Move, led to a split between group and manager.

The following year, The Move itself began to split as Kefford and Burton left the band. This was followed by clashes between songwriter Wood and singer Wayne that resulted in the the latter leaving in early 1970. His successor was Jeff Lynne from the Idle Race, another Birmingham beat group.

As a solo performer Carl Wayne carved out a career as a singer and actor from the early 1970s until his death. He sang in cabaret and on television, recording versions of songs from the shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. He recorded numerous voiceovers and jingles and had a small role in the Birmingham-based soap opera Crossroads. He later became a presenter on BBC Radio WM. His most acclaimed stage role was as the narrator in Willie Russell's Blood Brothers between 1990 and 1996.

For the past five years, he had been the lead singer of the current version of the great Manchester group The Hollies, touring Europe and Australasia with them. The Hollies' drummer Bobby Elliott described him as "a fearless performer and powerhouse singer".

A fundraiser for leukaemia research, Carl Wayne is survived by his wife, the former Crossroads actress Sue Hanson, and son Jack.

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