Mike Patto was born Michael Thomas McCarthy on September 22, 1942 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Mike was often referred to in the press as Mike McGrath, a false public name given presumably to help maintain his family's privacy. When Mike started writing, he didn't want to have a name that sounded like McCartney or a number of other similar sounding names of writers of the time. Mike once played at Butlin's Holiday Camp with a group that had a lead guitarist named Johnny Patto. He thought Patto was such an unusual surname that he decided to make it his own stage name.
He began singing during his school years with a skiffle group called
the Skyliners in Hingham, Norfolk. Mike sang and played guitar,
and his brother, Phil, played the washboard. Mike was very
talented as a singer and a dancer. He was a great amateur boxer as
well. He left school to become a
garage mechanic apprentice, but eventually he decided to become a pro musician.
|Article: Recollections From a Fellow Skyliner||Mike's brother, Phil, shares some recollections with the Patto Fan Site!|
|He began his professional music career in 1962 with a band called The Fretmen playing pop covers. In 1963, they had a new guitarist and were called the Breakaways. The flyer to the right is for a Fretmen gig in 1962.|
|Mike's next band was a popular rhythm and blues band called The Bluebottles. They were based in Norfolk and would at times back up Graham Bond. The ad at left is from the March 27, 1964 issue of New Musical Express.|
When the Bluebottles split up, Jack Barrie (who also managed Boz Burrell) took Mike down to London to cut a demo disc and audition for Robert Stigwood. Instead of becoming a recording artist, Mike was hired as compere for a Robert Stigwood package tour including (in the order in which they performed) The Five Dimensions, Winston G., The Graham Bond Organization (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker), Long John Baldry, the Moody Blues, and Chuck Berry. The tour took place in January of 1965.
The shows opened up with Mike singing three songs with the Five Dimensions, who also backed up Chuck Berry. According to the tour program, Mike was to release a single sometime early in 1965 -- that may be a reference to a single for a song titled "Thinking of You". The McCarthy family owns an acetate of Mike singing this song, but nobody seems to know with certainty if the single was ever released.
Article: Source unknown, circa January 1965 Lynn singer compere for Moody Blues show
The tour turned out to be a great experience for Mike, and for a time after the tour he lived with the Moody Blues rubbing shoulders and partying with the likes of the Beatles.
Article: Eastern Evening News, April 3, 1965
Norfolk Pop Singer Going Places
Out of money, Mike returned to his parents' home in Norfolk. He played with the red-jacketed Continentals, including Ivan Zagni on lead guitar who later would co-write a Timebox B-side with Mike and play in Tim Hinkley's Jody Grind. After some personnel changes, they became The News. They backed up the Bo Street Runners at a gig in Norfolk, and before too long Mike would be leaving East Anglia to become the new lead singer for the Bo Street Runners.
The Bo Street Runners played straight rhythm and blues. Though self-admittedly not very polished compared to the pro groups, the band soon found it easy to get good gigs after the bass player's mum submitted their demo tape to Ready Steady Go! and the band won RSG!'s 1964 competition. The band released several singles that went nowhere, the third of which included Tim Hinkley on keyboards and Mick Fleetwood on drums. Shortly after the third single release and the gig in Norfolk backed by The News, Mick left the band as did the original vocalist, John Dominic. Needing a vocalist, the band remembered being greatly impressed by Mike Patto, got his number, and convinced him to come down to London to join their group.
The Bo Street Runners recorded one final single on Columbia which featured Mike (Too Much) Patto on the A-side. This time they decided to get on the Beatles bandwagon and do a cover version of "Drive My Car", released in April 1966. It was a great effort, but it failed to generate much interest with the record buying public. The band called it quits sometime around June of 1966.
Mike and Tim went on to form the short-lived Patto's People with Viv Prince
(drums - ex-Pretty Things), Mike Fellana (trumpet - Graham Bond), and Louis
Cennamo (bass). They changed their name to Chicago Line Blues Band before
recording their only single (on the Philips label) in 1966. They
chose the dance tune, "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop", for the A-side and a
Rufus Thomas tune "Jump Back" for the flip. It didn't get
anywhere on the charts and soon after its release Viv quit the band. I
don't think Mike is singing
lead on these tunes, though it sounds like it could be him singing backups in "Jump
|December of 1966 saw the Columbia records release of Mike's "Can't Stop Talkin' About My Baby" single. The A-side was a bouncy sort of pop tune but not terribly memorable. The more respectable B-side, "Love", was actually a Bo Street Runners leftover track with Mike on vocals. Both tracks are credited to Mike Patto and B. Dean.|
In 1967, Mike began singing with the London Youth Jam Orchestra, a 24-piece big band. Can you imagine Mike singing Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé songs? The members of Timebox, then in need of a vocalist, came to see Mike with the orchestra at London's Marquee club. Supposedly, Mike was asked to join the group after a jam session at the Playboy Club. Mike accepted the offer and started working with the band circa July of 1967.
The first Timebox single with Mike, "Don't Make Promises", was released in October of 1967. John Halsey came to sit in with the band (audition along with one other drummer) at a Scotch of St. James's gig in London. Mike was playing drums and Ollie was still singing lead! John was offered the drummer position and the final lineup of the band was realized: Mike Patto (lead vocals), Ollie Halsall (vibes, guitar), Chris Holmes (keyboards), Clive Griffiths (bass), and John Halsey (drums). They had one minor chart hit with a cover of the Four Seasons' "Beggin'" in the summer of 1968, peaking at #38.
Article: Source unknown, circa 1968 Loves & Hates of Mike Patto
Deram eventually allowed the band to record original compositions,
and the Patto-Halsall songwriting partnership was born. The final lineup of the
group released 5 additional singles for the Deram label, one released in France
only. They tried various rock styles and even released a novelty
song. None of their singles were very successful, but they established a
cult following in London with their shows that included a mix of rock, jazz, and
rhythm and blues. They also began developing their humorous on-stage
antics known as "looning." Chris Holmes left the band after the
last single was released in 1969. More information on Timebox can be found
in the Timebox section of this web site.
|The band changed their name to Patto in 1970 and began playing a heavier mix of rock and jazz styles. In 1970, they released their debut self-titled album on Vertigo Records. At least in terms of recordings, it was with "Patto" that Mike began to really show the full versatility of his voice. He could handle smooth ballads, screaming rock and roll, and the middle ground as well. It was a hit with the critics and fans but reportedly only sold about 5,000 copies.|
|Here is a ticket stub from a December 1971 show at the Rainbow Theatre in London - the final live performance of "Septober Energy".|
Patto was known for playing great live shows. The entire band was quite respected as musicians and entertainers. Their looning antics are the stuff of legends -- what a shame that none of their shows were filmed. Patto worked hard but never achieved a great amount of success. They did tours with The Faces, Ten Years After, Joe Cocker, etc. They went down particularly well with the Cocker audiences, but it didn't provide them with any exposure in the press or significantly effect their record sales. They rated well with fans and critics but, as with Timebox, they failed to break through to the record buying masses.
They began to record a fourth album in the Spring of 1973. It is usually referred to as "Monkey's Bum", and still begs for an official release. For this album, producer Muff Winwood wanted to focus more on Mike's songwriting and record songs that were more commercially accessible than the Patto-Halsall material of the first three albums. They even covered a Randy Newman song. Mike was growing as an independent writer and as a keyboard player as well. Ollie decided he wasn't happy with the new direction and quit before the album was finished in May of 1973. More information about the band can be found in the Patto section of this web site.