January 20, 2000 – Ray Jones was born October 22nd 1939 in Liverpool, England. In 1963 Brian Epstein signed The Dakotas to be a backing band for Billy J. Kramer. Billy had been friends with John Lennon for some time and John gave the group a demo of a new song, “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, which they perfected whilst working in Hamburg at the Star Club. On returning to Britain, the song was recorded at Abbey Road studios, with producer George Martin. It stormed up the charts and reached No.2 in the spring of 1963.
This was followed by a No.1 hit “Bad to Me” c/w “I Call Your Name”, and was awarded a gold disc, followed by another hit with “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”. In addition to backing Billy J on his hits, the group itself is perhaps best known for their instrumental single called “The Cruel Sea”, which reached No.18 in the UK charts in July 1963.
Ray Jones had joined the band as bassist replacing Ian Fraser and Mike Maxfield joined the band in February 1962 as lead guitarist replacing Bryn Jones after being with a Manchester band called the Coasters. The group first backed Pete MacLaine (February 1962 – January 1963). However, Brian Epstein, who was managing Billy J. Kramer, made the Dakotas an offer to become Kramer’s backing band, which they accepted. Epstein insisted the name was Billy J Kramer with The Dakotas, not “and”. The group and Billy J Kramer then went to Hamburg to perfect their act.
In addition to backing Kramer on his hits, the group itself is perhaps best known for their instrumental single called “The Cruel Sea”, a composition of Maxfield that reached No.18 in the UK charts in July 1963. The track was re-titled “The Cruel Surf” in the U.S., and was subsequently covered by The Ventures.
The band released by “Magic Carpet” by George Martin in September 1963. It was not a hit. Their next single, “Oyeh” (November 1964), was not a chart success either.
After a row with Epstein, Ray Jones left the group in July 1964. Robin MacDonald moved to bass to make way for a new lead guitarist, Mick Green from Johnny Kidd and The Pirates.
Ray Jones never went back into professional music and died from an undisclosed cause on January 20, 2000 at age 60.