Tony, 73, lives on the Wirral and has two children and four grandchildren. His wife Carole died in 2003.
“Music was all I ever wanted to do. I played the trumpet in my church band and then my sisters took me to see Elvis in the film Love Me Tender and that was it. I pleaded with my parents to buy me a guitar.
“I formed The Mavericks with Billy Kinsley and we played the clubs, including The Cavern where we met Bob Wooler who booked the acts. He said he only had ‘jazz bands and The Beatles’ as regulars and offered us a residency there. We became a four-piece called The Merseybeats and John Lennon said, ‘I like your new name.’
“The Beatles took us under their wings; they advised us about songs we should do and we appeared on the same bill with them at The Cavern. We turned professional and were managed by Brian Epstein for a time, but it didn’t work out because he was so busy with The Beatles.
“Fontana Records, who saw us at The Cavern, signed us and we had our first hit with It’s Love That Really Counts in 1963, followed by others, including I Think Of You and Wishin’ And Hopin’.
“We enjoyed being successful, played every night of the week and kept our feet on the ground.
“Our last big hit was Sorrow in 1966, which remains a highlight for me. So many people, including George Harrison and David Bowie, told us how much they liked our version, which we added new lyrics and harmonies to. David later recorded the song.
“A year later, Brian Epstein re-signed us and arranged our tour with The Four Tops to re-launch us; we were due to go back in to the recording studio with Brian just before he died.
“Last year, I was awarded the MBE for services to music, charity and the community.
“I’ve lived on the Wirral ever since we had hit records and my community means so much to me. Another highlight of my life is saving several historic buildings in and around the Wirral.
“This year and for the future, we’ll continue doing what we enjoy, which is touring as a band and as part of the Sixties Gold Tour where we meet up with The Searchers, PJ Proby and Wayne Fontana, who are old friends.”
Visit themerseybeats.co.uk and sixtiesgoldtour.co.uk for The Merseybeats tour dates.