The Cherry Boys

The Cherry Boys was a band from LiverpoolEngland.

The Cherry Boys formed in 1980 in Liverpool. They are most notable for the single Kardomah Cafe, which missed the top 50 in the UK, but was a top 10 hit in Spain. The band consisted of John Byrne (aka John Cherry) on vocals & guitar, James Hughes on vocals & keyboards, Keith Gunson on vocals & bass, and Howie Minns on drums. Icicle Works drummer Chris Sharrock was part of the band early on and appeared on their first single “Man to Man.” Following the band's split in 1984, Hughes and Minns went on to form Exhibit B (most famous for their “It’s Hypothetical” single, and album Playing Dead, which was re-released in Japan in 2007). Hughes is now the main writer/musician in James Clarke Five, whose album Fly My Pretties Fly! was released in 2008.

The Cherry boys achieved a significant local following. This was exemplified in them winning the Radio Merseyside award for Best Local Band in 1982. In the same year they also stripped the board in achieving best band (and individual musician awards) in the local popular magazine, The End. As a live band they were unmatched at the time, each member being highly respected. Attendances at their concerts were nearly always sell out.

John Byrne, the band's chief songwriter, joined The La's following the group's demise and played lead guitar on their international hit "There She Goes". Byrne is now an acclaimed classical guitarist. Chris Sharrock (the original Cherry Boys drummer) joined The La's at the same time. He subsequently went on to play with Icicle Works, Lightening Seeds, The Robbie Williams Band and Oasis.

'Kardomah Cafe' featured on the compilation CD Liverpool Cult Classics Unearthed - Volume Two, which was released by the Viper Label in 2001.

The Cherry Boys' manager, Graham Jones, became a successful author with his first book Last Shop Standing, which was published in 2009. The book deals with the demise of the independent record store, and features a chapter dedicated to his experiences managing both The Cherry Boys and Exhibit B.


“Man To Man” b/w “So Much Confusion” 7″, Open Eye (1981)
“Only Fools Die” b/w “Come That Day” 7″, Cherryoza (1982)
“Kardomah Café” b/w “Airs and Graces” 7″/12″, Crash (1983)
“Shoot The Big Shot” b/w “Falling” 7″, Crash (1983)
“Shoot The Big Shot” b/w “Falling” & “Don't Leave Me That Way” 12″, Crash (1983)
“Kardomah Café” b/w “Airs and Graces” & “Plead Sanity” 12″, Satril, (1984)

John Byrne – Guitar/ Vocals
Jimmy Hughes – Keyboards/ Vocals
Keith Gunson – Bass
Howie Minns - Drums

The Cherry Boys became established in November 1980 and only weeks later their first single came out on the ‘open eye’ label. The first single ‘Man to man’ did well in the independent charts and must have helped the bands popularity throughout the northwest of England.

The band also released a six track E.P entitled ‘Give it rise’ as well as their follow up single ‘only fools die’ written by the bands front man John Byrne (aka John Cherry) and released in fall of 1982. The band appeared many times on T.V promoting the single and also on the John Peel show.

The bands third single ‘Kardomah café’ released in June 1983 was the bands biggest success, especially in Spain where it hit Number 6 on the charts. However the follow up turned out to be commercial failure and failed to make the top 100. ‘Shoot the big shot’ released in November 1983 failed to make the top 100 and left the bands future un-certain.

During the later days of the band Hughes and Minns began writing songs that didn’t quite fit into what the Cherry Boys where about, and the popularity decline possibly may have created friction too. The band split in May 1984 after four years of activity.

The Cherry Boys - Some recordings (1981-83)

Wirral mod band (1979-83) formed by young singer and guitarist John Byrne who, as a recognizable leader of the group, renamed himself John Cherry. The band also featured former City Lights (and future Exhibit B) member James Hughes (on keyboards), Chris Sharrock (on drums, formerly with Young World, later with Icicle Works, La’s, Lightning Seeds, Robbie Williams, Oasis, Beady Eye) and Keith Gunson (on bass). By 1981 Sharrock quit and was replaced by Howie Minns (a.k.a. Howie De Minzo, also a former member of City Light with Hughes, and later with Exibit B – also with Hughes -- and Bamboo Fringe).

About the early line-up of the band Ian McNabb (Young World, City Lights, Icicle Works) remembers:

‘ Chris Sharrock had left Young World and had joined a group that eschewed the cabaret circuit. Featuring a fine guitarist/writer by the name of John Byrne and singer/bassist Keith Gunson, they called themselves the Cherry Boys. They played original material only, and had recently recorded a demo tape at Open Eye studio in town, produced by a guy called Noddy Knowler. I went to see them play at Lincoln’s Inn, a hip new venue just off Mathew Street, and was transfixed. […] Also, good and fresh as they were, they were definitely retro. Aping the Jam on many levels, who were aping sixties bands themselves.’ (Ian McNabb. Mersey Beast. 57; 60)

Sharrock would later leave the Cherry Boys to join McNabb’s Icicle Works, and was replaced by former McNabb’s bandmate Howie Minns in the City Lights. This caused quite a few awkward moments. McNabb recalls:

‘We [Icicle Works] played at Brady’s again in the summer where local promoter Dave C saw fit to put us on a bill with the Cherry Boys, the band that Chris Sharrock had just left. In a development typical of the Liverpool scene, Howie Minns from City Lights was now the drummer with the Cherries. This of course caused much tension backstage. There was a lot a bad blood between us as I had nicked Chris Sharrock from them, and the Cherries sought to throw us off our guard and ruin our night by stealing my precious Korg synthesizer when we went for something to eat after soundcheck. They protested their innocence but I knew They’d done it. It was my word against theirs so I was fucked. We went next door where Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark had a studio and they took pity on us and lent us a synth to get us through the gig.’ (ibid. 74)

Among the first songs written (in 1979) and demoed (in 1981) was Kardomah Café, in honour of one of Liverpool historical parlours, close to the Cavern Club. But the chronology of the group vinyl releases did not follow that of the songs’ coming into being. The first single of the band, released in January 1981 was:

Man to Man (1981)
a. Man to Man
b. Too Much Confusion
In 1982 another single came out (Only Fools Die b/w Come The Day ) and between March and September the Cherry Boys recorded two Peel Sessions mostly playing new material. In June 1983, the band released their third single:

Kardomah Café (1983)
a. Kardomah Cafe
b. Airs & Graces

This proved to be a major success, especially in Spain (where it reached number 6 -- a position above Michael Jackson’s major hit Thriller). In August of the fourth single of the Cherry Boys came out, the (sadly Wham-flavoured):

Shoot the Big Shot (1983)
a. Shoot the Big Shot
b. Falling

Roumors had it that the band demoed and released a tape with 6 tracks titled Give it Rise including Kardoma Cafe, Come The Day, Why Don't You Write, She's So Young, Phone Call, Don't Leave Me That Way, possibly in preparation for an album that was never-to-be. It was during their time with the band that Hughes and Minns began writing songs together which didn’t quite fit into what The Cherry Boys were about and so a decision was made to strike out on their own and form Exhibit B. The Cherry Boys disbanded in 1984.

Cherry Boys (some singles)

(Thanks to our friend Guitarboy for filling in the missing bits of information)

The Cherry Boys - Peel Session (September 1982)

After the release of their first single (Man to Man b/w So MuchConfusion, November 1981) and before the second (Only Fools Die b/w Come The Day, September 1983), the Cherry Boys –John Cherry (guitar, harmonica), Jimmy Hughes (guitar, keyboards), Keith Gunson (bass) Howie Minns (drums) – recorded two Peel sessions which would later be used for a six-track demotape privately released in March 1983 (Give It Rice).
The first session was recorded at Maida Vale Studio 4 on August,16th 1982, with Tony Wilson producing and Anthony Pugh engineering the sound, and broadcast on September, 2nd 1982. It featured the new and still unreleased single and other original tracks, namely:

- Only Fools Die
- In the Dark
- Nightmare
- I'll Keep on Movin'

The Cherry Boys - Only Fools Die (1982)

The second single by the Cherry Boys, released in the Fall 1982, featured a re-recorded version of two of the songs that were performed during the Peel Sessions broadcast in 1982.

Only Fools Die (1982)

- Only Fools Die
- Come The Day

cherry boys - fools

(see also: )

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