"Billy J. Kramer" (born William Howard Ashton, on August 19, 1943, in Bootle, Liverpool, England) was a British Invasion / Merseybeat singer. He is known today primarily as the singer of various Lennon-McCartney compositions that The Beatles did not use.
Billy J. Kramer
The performing name Kramer was chosen at random from a telephone directory. It was John Lennon's suggestion that the "J" be added to the name to further distinguish him by adding a 'tougher edge'. Billy soon came to the attention of Brian Epstein, ever on the look-out for new talent to add to his expanding roster of local artists. Kramer turned professional but his then backing band, The Coasters were less keen, so Epstein sought out the services of a Manchester based band, The Dakotas, a well-respected combo then backing Pete MacLaine.
Even then, the Dakotas would not join Kramer wihout a recording deal of their own. Once in place, the deal was set and both acts signed to Parlophone under George Martin. Collectively, they were named Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas to keep their own identities within the act. Once the Beatles broke through, the way was paved for a tide of "Merseybeat" and Kramer was offered the...