Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009
X Factor 60's style - beginnings
The Ravons
The Ravons' win earned them an appearance on Opportunity Knocks.

In the 1960s there were keenly fought Battles of the Bands, held at the Malvern Winter Gardens - and some of the winners ended up on television.

The contests were originally by a local man, Doug Webber, to settle an argument between two of his daughters.

The idea caught on, and Doug was able to get some winners onto TV shows, including Opportunity Knocks.

His daughter still has a wealth of memorabilia from the shows.

Winners - original trophy
The Playboys - Dec '63
The Cossacks - April & Dec '64
The Early Birds & The Barons - April '66
The End - March '67

Cath Shinton (nee Webber) told BBC Hereford & Worcester that her father, Doug Webber, had an unusual reason for organising the very first contest:

"They came about through an argument at the breakfast table with my elder sister, who insisted that the band she liked were far better than the band I liked.

"My father decided that he would book The Malvern Winter Gardens, have the two bands along, and some others, and see who came out on top."

Regular event

The first contest was so popular that Doug decided to make them a regular event.

This meant a lot of work and organisation, so much so that the family had to have a telephone installed at home - Cath says her dad even made the trophies himself:

"He designed it in a typewriter case, and the first trophy was made of a bread board, and some metal discs he had made at work, and a wooden replica guitar.

The original trophy was made by Doug Webber, the promoter.

"The idea was that the bands could have this typewriter case, and take it to their gigs, and have it on stage."

He had to make a second trophy, after the Musicians Union insisted that their members couldn't appear on stage with non-members.


Cath says that competition was fierce amongst local groups to win the competition - some even produced 'fliers' telling their fans to turn up and vote for them on the night.

She says her dad was determined that everything would be fair and above board:

"He decided in the first instance that it would be audience voting, they would all have a voting slip and vote on the night.

Flier for a group
The Cossacks won twice, in April and December 1964.

"But when it came to the Grand Final, there was so much campaigning going on with the bands that were in the final, to get their hordes of fans in to vote for them, he decided that perhaps it would be better to have a totally independent panel of judges.

"He asked five people to be judges on the night, and they arrived at The Winter Gardens, nobody knew who they were, and he asked them to judge on appearance, musical ability, vocal ability - about seven different categories - so it was all done perfectly fairly."

She still has the original judges voting slips, filled out on the night of the contest.


One of the reasons that competition was so fierce was that the winning group stood a good chance of appearing on television, thanks to a deal struck by Cath's dad:

"He'd actually arranged with the TV company that they could make an appearance BEFORE the final had actually taken place - they'd take them without audition.

"It was called For Teenagers Only - it was a 20 minute programme on a Thursday night, but they'd normally got two or three bands on.

The Cherokees
The Cherokees stage outfits and live act got them a TV appearance.

"The first band we took there were The Playboys, who won the first contest, and when we went to record that, Dad took photos of The Cherokees with him.

"They used to dress in full Red Indian regalia, and looked very colourful on stage, and on the strength of that we got an audition for The Cherokkes, and a girl singer called Jackie Pantin.

"ATV said they would use them, and gave us four days notice of The Cherokees and Jackie Pantin appearing together on the programme."

Opportunity Knocks

One of the winners, an all-girl group called The Ravons, got an even bigger break - the chance to appear on Opportunity Knocks, the X Factor of its day:

Young Groups Challenge Trophy winners
The Ravens - July and Dec '64
The Knak - Dec '65
The End - Dec '66

"They were girls of my own age - 15 or 16 at the time - and they had a really good chance when Dad got them an audition for Opportunity Knocks.

"They were accepted onto the programme and they did extremely well.

"It was a postal vote system, and unfortunately at the end of the week they did come in second."

Understandably Cath has great memories of the contests, particularly as it gave her the chance to rub shoulder with some stars:

Scoring card
Five mystery judges had to mark each group.

"When dad took one of the bands to a studio in Birmingham, I met Dave Berry, and if we meet up now we still know each other, even after all this time.

"The first time I ever knew that The Hollies were on at The Winter Gardens in Malvern I asked if I could have some money to go, because I very much liked the look of Alan Clarke.

"I saw him at the bar, so as a 15 year old I just wandered up and said hello."

If you have any memories of the Battle of the Bands, or other gigs at Malvern Winter Gardens, send them to:


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