Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders comprised a 60's British Invasion group that, with or without Wayne Fontana, had two giant hits in the United States and a number of other hit records in the UK as well as other countries.
Wayne Fontana was born Glyn Geoffrey Ellis in 1945 in Manchester, England. Like others growing up in England in the late 50's and early 60's, he became interested in skiffle music, and joined a group of schoolmates as lead singer of their group, the Velfins. He changed his name professionally to Wayne Fontana and later sang with a more high-profile group called the Jets. According to some stories he showed up to audition at a recording session but for some reason his group did not, and another group that came to be known as the Mindbenders was formed on the spot. This beat group consisted of Eric Stewart (born 1945) on lead guitar and vocals, Bob Lang (born 1946) on bass, and Ric Rothwell (born 1944) on drums, all from Manchester. Wayne Fontana assumed the role of lead singer. The group took its name from the 1963 Dirk Bogarde film The Mind Benders.
They had some minor hits in 1963 and 1964 before gaining some notice with a cover of Major Lance's hit from early 1964 Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, later in the same year, which went to #5 in the UK. Recording on the Fontana label, they made a record of a song written by American songwriter Clint Ballard, Jr., who had written songs recorded by the Kalin Twins, Jimmy Jones (Good Timin'), the Hollies, and many others. This one, Game Of Love, was released as by Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and in 1965 it went to #2 in the UK and #1 in the USA, Canada, and Australia. It was a rocker that suited the times well. Game Of Love was the first of two records to reach #1 in the USA for songwriter Ballard, who later achieved the same distinction with Linda Ronstadt's 1975 recording of You're No Good.
Wayne Fontana continued recording with the Mindbenders and the group released records on the Fontana label throughout 1965, but none went higher than #20 in the UK and none reached the top forty in the USA. Singer and band blamed each other for the lack of success since Game Of Love, and the lead singer left the group in October of that year. Fontana recorded as a solo artist and had a couple of hits in the UK with Come On Home and Pamela Pamela, as well as a 1966 album Wayne One. But without the Mindbenders his music seemed to lack something, and he retired from the music business for a time. In later years Fontana was active on the oldies circuit, particularly in the United States.
The Mindbenders remained together and in the spring of 1966 released the group's second and final giant hit, A Groovy Kind Of Love, also on the Fontana label, which went to #2 in both the USA and UK . The group by this time was known simply as The Mindbenders, and it was Eric Stewart who handled the lead vocals. A Groovy Kind Of Love was a cover of the Toni Wine/Carole Baer Sager song (and it would later resurface as a hit for Phil Collins in the 1980's). The Mindbenders put two other songs on the UK top forty chart that year. They appeared in the 1967 hit movie To Sir, with Love. Graham Gouldman joined the group and they recorded two more albums, mostly covers of R&B songs, before calling it quits in late 1968. Stewart and Gouldman later played with Hotlegs, and both were still on board when that group evolved into 10cc (which had hits with I'm Not In Love and The Things We Do For Love in the 70's).
The Mindbenders, with or without their fine lead singer Wayne Fontana, are primarily associated with their two enormous hits from the mid-60's, Game Of Love and A Groovy Kind Of Love.
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