Johnny Gentle - singer who was backed by The Beatles - dies, aged 87

13 March 2024, 11:03 | Updated: 13 March 2024, 11:36

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By Mayer Nissim

Jonny Gentle was backed on a tour of Scotland by The Silver Beetles.

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John Askew, known to pop fans of the 1950s and 1960s as Johnny Gentle, has died at the age of 87.

Gentle's passing was announced by his family with a death notice in the Liverpool Echo.

"We are sad to announce the passing of our beloved John; loving husband to Jane, brother to Joan (deceased) & Anne, father to Donna & Gavin, stepfather to Katherine & James and Pop to Daniel, Bayly, Ellie, Chloe, Celyn, Tilly & Darcie," read the notice.

"John will be hugely missed by his family and friends in Beckenham/Bromley, Greater London and his birthplace and home town of Liverpool.

"He will be remembered by music fans as the singer Johnny Gentle, one of Larry Parnes' stars of the late fifties, even having the Beatles as his support band on their first-ever tour!"

Johnny Gentle in 1960
Johnny Gentle in 1960. Picture: Alamy

Born on December 8, 1936 in Liverpool, Gentle had apprenticed as a carpenter and even made his own guitar when he started performing.

He performed in local clubs and at sea, and it was Parnes who gave Gentle his stage name and got him signed to Philips Records in 1959.

After some unsuccessful releases, Parnes chose The Silver Beetles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Tommy Moore – to be Gentle's backing band on a tour in Scotland.

It was the first tour of the band that would later conquer the world as The Beatles, and saw the group play Alloa, Inverness, Fraserburgh, Keith, Forres, Nairn and Peterhead between May 20 and 28, 1960.

Gentle sang once with the group back in Liverpool, but by the time of his next tour The Beatles had travelled to Hamburg.

He continued to release singles, including a version of his own 'I've Just Fallen For Someone' – a song he had previously given to Adam Faith – under a new stage name of Darren Young.

After his music career, Gentle worked as a joiner, and later co-wrote the book Johnny Gentle & the Beatles: First Ever Tour, recounting his time with the Fab Four.