The Dakotas' name came from an engagement at the Plaza ballroom in Oxford Street, Manchester. The manager asked the group to return the next week dressed as native American indians and change their name to "The Dakotas"! 
They were also one of the first Manchester bands to appear at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool.

In 1961 the line-up was Mike Maxfield (guitar), Tony Bookbinder (drums), Robin MacDonald (guitar) and Ray Jones (bass).  
Along with singer Pete Maclaine, they played the club and ballroom venues of northern England.

In 1962, at the suggestion of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, Brian Epstein asked The Dakotas to back Billy J Kramer. 
It was an offer too good to refuse. 
Sadly, singer Pete Maclaine was the casualty of this arrangement.
 He is still a fine frontman, and is still rocking today!

Billy J Kramer with The Dakotas' first hit was "Do You Want to Know a Secret".

 It reached No.2 in spring 1963.

Next came "Bad To Me" which made the No.1 spot, then "I'll Keep You Satisfied" and
 "From a Window".  They  were all Lennon/McCartney songs, and they all went into the Top 10. 

The Dakotas and Billy J Kramer each had separate recording contracts with Parlophone,
and they were billed as "Billy J Kramer WITH the Dakotas".

The Dakotas' guitar instrumental "The Cruel Sea" was also a chart hit.

It reached the Top 20 around the same time as "Secret".  
This Mike Maxfield tune was released in America as 
"The Cruel Surf" to coincide with the surf craze.

The first Billy J Kramer with the Dakotas album, "Listen”, was released at the end of 1963, and reached No.11 in the LP charts. Early in 1964, the group felt they needed to release a single that wasn't written by the Beatles and Billy chose "Little Children" as the next record.
This move paid off, and the record went to No.1 in Britain in the spring of 1964.

Later that year, both "Bad To Me" and "Little Children" made the American Top 10, and the group visited the USA, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Billy J Kramer with The Dakotas’ last chart entry was "Trains and Boats and Planes" in 1965. 
Following the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967, the Dakotas disbanded.

Nearly 20 years later, The Dakotas reformed.

Mike Maxfield and Tony Mansfield (Bookbinder) along with new bass player/vocalist Eddie Mooney, invited Toni Baker to join the band on keyboards.

Along with Billy J Kramer, they toured the UK in 1996. 

After the tour, Billy J went back to his home in New York, and Tony Mansfield left the band. 
Long time friend Pete Hilton took over the drum seat.

The Dakotas returned to the US and performed at the prestigious Foxwoods Casino on a British Invasion weekend, which was televised on PBS nationwide. 
Over the next 3 years, the band performed in Fayetteville, Wilmington and Topsail Island NC, appearing alongside legends Johnny Preston, Ronnie Dove, Randy & the Rainbows, 
The Miracles, Brenda Holloway and Shadows of Knight.

A Cruise aboard P&O’s Oriana followed, sharing the bill with
 Joe Brown and his Bruvvers.

The 2002 “Riverfest” in Ottawa Illinois too was an amazing event, where The Dakotas' crowds  broke all previous records of Budweiser sales!

In 2003 the Dakotas toured the UK on a "Solid Silver 60s" tour alongside
 The Searchers, Wayne Fontana, 
Dave Dee, Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, and Barry Ryan.

Later that same year,
The Dakotas were part of another hit -
"Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights."

Toni Baker wrote the title theme and all the incidental music.

In 2004 the Dakotas appeared with Peter Noone,
Wayne Fontana, Bryan Hyland 
and John Walker of the Walker Brothers.

After the tour, Toni Baker started writing music with Peter Kay for his next TV series
"Max and Paddy's Road To Nowhere".

The comedy series featured Tony Christie singing the theme song, written by Toni & Peter Kay.
The Dakotas also appeared in one episode dressed as various 80s characters and backed Peter Kay singing "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues".

In August 2004 original guitarist Mike Maxfield suffered a stroke and had to stop performing, but he is still actively involved behind the scenes today.

Richard Benson, who had done some work with Toni on the Max & Paddy recordings, joined as lead guitarist for a short time. He now tours as “Bjorn" in Abbamania.

Alan Clare has been the band's lead guitarist since December 2006.

Eddie left The Dakotas in 2008 to join The Fortunes and Paul Rafferty temporarily took his place.
In spring 2009 the Dakotas again toured the UK along with The Searchers, The Merseybeats,
John Walker and Wayne Fontana on the 24th Solid Silver 60s Tour.

The "Destiny" CD was released to coincide with this tour,
and featured many new tracks including 3 new original songs written by the band.

 The Dakotas also undertook 2 more major tours with the legendary
John Walker of the Walker Bros. 
 A planned third tour was sadly not to be.
Our dear friend John died on 7th May 2011.

It was a pleasure to have spent time with John Walker both on & off stage. He always looked and behaved the true star he was, and was ever the consummate professional, always having time for his fans. He was one of the good guys. 
It was a privilege and a pleasure to have known him 
as a musician, singer and friend.
R.I.P. John.

John & his lovely wife Cynthia.

In 2010 the band decided to once again become a 5 piece outfit, adding long time friend 
Marius Jones as the Dakotas' bass player,

and Ronnie J. Ravey as their frontman/lead vocalist.

 His amazing voice and  personality on stage added much to an already tight, professional outfit.


The Dakotas today are still thrilling audiences both young and old with their excellent live stage show, and have the crowds up on their feet clamouring for more wherever they perform ........

The rest ..... is history!

Blog Archive