Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
KRAMER, Billy J. and the
Dakotas UK beat group of '60s. Kramer (b William Ashton, 19 Aug. '43, Liverpool) was lead singer with a local group the Coasters; the story has him stepping up to the mike when his guitar was stolen: anyway he was spotted and signed by Brian Epstein, who moved him to Manchester band the Dakota, signed them to Parlophone: lineup was Mike Maxfield, lead guitar; Robin McDonald, rhythm guitar; Ray Jones, bass; Tony Mansfield, drums; Maxfield's Shadows-styled instrumental "The Cruel Sea' was no. 18 '63. George Martin thought Kramer's voice too weak, but suggested covering Lennon-McCartney song to get a hit: "Do You Want To Know A Secret' reached no. 2, with help from judicious double-tracking and Martin's piano; "Bad To Me' with same formula was no. 1, "I'll Keep You Satisfied' no. 4, all '63. Lennon-McCartney's "From A Window' (no. 10 '64) was joined by songs from USA writers: Mort Shuman's "Little Children' (no. 1 '64), Burt Bacharach's "Trains And Boats And Planes' (no. 12 '65), but they inevitably slipped, though in the USA on Imperial "Bad To Me'/'Little Children' saw both sides in top 10, top 30 entries for other Beatle songs: they basked in reflected glory. They split '66; Kramer's solo "Sorry' flopped and he was dropped by Parlophone '67; he never charted again but continued recording (on Recation, NEMS, MGM, Decca, several others) and remained an active club performer.