Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas

Billy J. Kramer  (born William Howard Ashton; 19 August 1943 in Bootle, Lancashire) is an English pop singer.  In the 1960s he was managed by Brian Epstein, who also managed The Beatles, and he recorded several original Lennon and McCartney compositions.  When Kramer turned professional, Epstein sought out the services of a Manchester-based group, the Dakotas, a combo then backing Pete MacLaine.  Even then, the Dakotas would not join Kramer without a recording contract of their own.  Once in place, the deal was set and both acts signed to Parlophone under George Martin.  Collectively, they were named Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas to keep their own identities within the act.  (More from Wikipedia)

Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas had numerous hit songs, including several Lennon/McCartney songs in Britain (Billy J. Kramer was also managed by Brian Epstein) and a major U.S. hit, “Little Children” in March 1964.  They used “with” rather than “and” so as to keep separate identities for the singer and the band.  The Dakotas by themselves had a hit instrumental in the U.K. with “The Cruel Sea”; for its U.S. release, it was retitled “The Cruel Surf” and was later covered by the Ventures.  A curious song by the Dakotas called “7 Pounds of Potatoes” – “ . . . come between me and my love”, according to the lyrics – is included on English Freakbeat, Volume 2 (both the LP and the CD)


(May 2015)


Last edited: March 22, 2021