A Sound of '67: Winchester Cathedral
A Journey into '67
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"Winchester Cathedral" was released in late 1966 by Fontana Records, whereupon it shot to the #1 spot in Canada on the RPM 100 national singles charts and shortly thereafter in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was released by The New Vaudeville Band, a British novelty group established by the song's composer, Geoff Stephens. Stephens was a big fan of tunes from the British music hall era (or what Americans would call "vaudeville"), so he wrote "Winchester Cathedral" in that vein, complete with a Rudy Vallée soundalike (John Carter) singing through his hands to imitate a megaphone sound. Although the song was recorded entirely by session musicians, when it became an international hit, an actual band had to be assembled, with Fontana trying unsuccessfully to recruit the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The band toured extensively under the tutelage of Peter Grant, who later went on to manage The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin.