The Silkie was a male-female English folk music group that became famous during the mid 1960s. The group's name came from an Orcadian song, "The Great Silkie Of Sule Skerry," which they sometimes performed. The Silkie is best known in both the U.S. and U.K. for its cover of the Lennon/McCartney-penned "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," a folk-styled ballad from The Beatles' album and soundtrack to the movie of the same name, "Help!" (1965).
The Silkie was formed in 1963 in Kingston upon Hull by four students at the University of Hull. The lineup consisted of Sylvia Tatler (vocals), Mike Ramsden (guitar and vocals), Ivor Aylesbury (guitar and vocals), and Kevin Cunningham (double bass). After graduating in 1964, they performed locally at various venues and were signed the following year by famed Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, who appointed Alistair Taylor as the group's manager. In June 1965, The Silkie released its first single, "Blood Red River," which reached #14 on the Wonderful Radio London Fab 40.
The Silkie debuted on the U.S. charts in late 1965 with their rendition of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," which became a Top 10 hit and also made the U.K. Top 40. John Lennon produced the recording session for this song, Paul McCartney contributed guitar, and George Harrison added percussion. This smash was followed in 1966 by two minor hits which bubbled under on the Billboard charts: "Born To Be With You" and the Ivor Aylesbury-penned "The Keys To My Soul." The group released two albums in 1965: "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "The Silkie Sing The Songs Of Bob Dylan."
After having gotten off to a promising start, The Silkie was scheduled to tour the U.S. in December 1965 and had been booked to appear on both The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand, but the group was unable to obtain the necessary visas and work permits so the tour was subsequently cancelled. The group recorded several more singles through 1966 before finally disbanding later that year. Mike Ramsden (June 21, 1943 - January 17, 2004) and Sylvia Tatler, who married in January 1966, continued to perform as a duo version of The Silkie for another 35+ years, sometimes with their children.
- The Independent remembers Mike Ramsden and includes excerpts of an interview from 1998 in which he described his time with The Silkie.
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