Carl Wayne died aged sixty-one a few weeks after he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He was survived by a widow Susan, and their son Jack. Carl, birth name: Colin David Tooley, was born in Birmingham, U.K. He was
later inspired by the American rock'n'roll of Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent and joined local band the Vikings, where his powerful baritone and pink stage suit helped make them one of the leading rock groups in the Midlands of their time. His change of name was inspired by the movie star John Wayne, with the suitably Scandinavian name 'Carl' which fitted the 'Vikings' theme. In 1963 they followed in the footsteps of the Beatles by performing in the clubs of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, etc. On returning to Birmingham, in the wake of the Beatles' success, record companies were keen to sign similar guitar bands. The Vikings went with Pye Records, but all three of their singles failed to chart.
A major career highlight saw Carl representing England at the prestigious Golden Orpheus Song Festival in Bulgaria. In front of a live and televised audience of over twenty million people, Carl won first prize. They cheered and encored him until it seemed impossible anyone else would be allowed on stage.
In December 1965 Carl joined the Move, a Birmingham beat-group drawn from the top local bands. They included three members of the Vikings, bass guitarist Chris Kefford, drummer Bev Bevan and Carl Wayne himself, alongside Trevor Burton and Roy Wood. They enjoyed three years of hits with singles including "Night of Fear", "I Can Hear The Grass Grow", "Flowers in the Rain", "Fire Brigade", and their only number one success "Blackberry Way". In their early years the Move had a stage act which occasionally saw Carl Wayne taking an axe to television sets, or chainsawing a Cadillac to pieces at the Roundhouse, London, during "Fire Brigade", an escapade which resulted in the Soho area being jammed with fire engines, and the group being banned for a while from every theatre venue in the UK.
But by the start of 1968, the group began breaking up as a result of personal and musical differences. Carl Wayne's increasingly MOR style, and aspirations towards cabaret, were at odds with Roy Wood's desire to experiment in a more progressive and classical direction, which would lead to the foundation of the Electric Light Orchestra. As Roy Wood not only wrote all the original material, but also assisted Carl as the group's lead vocalist from the "Fire Brigade" on, Carl Wayne felt sidelined and left the Move shortly after their number twelve hit "Curly" in 1969.
Carl went solo and made several singles and record albums, some including songs written and produced by Roy Wood. Among his singles were "Way Back in the Fifties", "Hi Summer" backed with "My Girl And Me", both written and produced by Lynsey de Paul, the theme song to an ITV variety series he co-hosted, "Maybe God's Got Something Up His Sleeve", the John Lennon song "Imagine", plus a cover version of the Cliff Richard hit "Miss You Nights", and Roy Wood's "Aerial Pictures". He was originally offered the chance to record "Sugar Baby Love" but rejected it as "rubbish"; it was promptly given to a new band, the Rubettes, and it launched their career with a number one hit. As well as "Hi Summer", his work on TV included singing the theme songs to the talent show New Faces, one of which, "You're a Star!", was a minor hit for him in 1973. In 1977, Carl Wayne took part in the Song for Europe contest, hoping to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. His song, "A Little Give, A Little Take" finished in 11th place out of 12 songs.
Carl Wayne also made a few recordings with the Electric Light Orchestra as guest vocalist, though these remained unreleased, until they appeared as bonus tracks on a remastered re-issue of the group's second album, ELO 2 in 2003. He never made the charts after leaving the Move, but still enjoyed a steady career in cabaret and on TV, recording versions of songs from the shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, as well as voiceovers and jingles. He sang backing vocals on Mike Oldfield's Earth Moving, released in 1989.
In his acting career he had a small role in the Birmingham-based soap opera, Crossroads, and in 1974 married Susan Hanson, another member of the cast. His most acclaimed stage role was as the narrator in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers between 1990 and 1996. Later he became a presenter on BBC Radio WM, in the course of which he interviewed several of his former colleagues from the Move, among other guests. He was also a tireless fund raiser for leukaemia research, and ran several London marathons for charity. He also made an appearance on The Benny Hill Show in 1985, in which he played the "Face" character in a parody of The A-Team.
In 2000, on the retirement of lead vocalist Allan Clarke, he joined the Hollies, touring Europe and Australasia, with them as well as playing venues all over the United Kingdom. They recorded a new song, "How Do I Survive", in February 2003, which appeared as the only previously unreleased item on a 46-track compilation CD of the Hollies' greatest hits later that year. In addition to most of the Hollies' songs, they also included "Flowers in the Rain" and "Blackberry Way" in their live repertoire. Their drummer Bobby Elliott described him as "a fearless performer and powerhouse singer".
Carl Wayne played what turned out to be his last concert with the group on 10th July 2004 at Egersund, Norway.
<<go to top>>