QUICKLY, Tommy  (Quigley)  [b. 1945]

In 1963 Brian Epstein went to the Queens Hall, Widnes to check out a group called the Challengers. He thought the group was ‘ugly' but was enthralled by the lead singer, an 18-year old Liverpool youth called Tommy Quigley. Epstein was convinced that with the right guidance and material he could make this good-looking lad a worldwide star. Ditching the other group members he tweaked his surname to Quickly and teamed him up with the Remo Four. Then came the first record release, a Lennon-McCartney penned song Tip Of My Tongue. Everything seemed in place for success but the song was a complete flop. His next four singles also disappeared without trace until a cover of the country music hit Wild Side of Life spent eight weeks in the Top 40. He was then offered another Lennon-McCartney song, No Reply, but when he failed to record it they took it back and it featured on the Beatles For Sale album. In an article in the Daily Mirror (7.11.1964) Epstein announced that he was going to spend £25,000 promoting Quickly as he was about to embark on a coast-to-coast tour of the USA. But success proved elusive and Tommy Quickly’s  career soon unravelled, Brian Epstein announcing that his contract had been ended in March 1966. . He left the music industry and, apart from a brief spell hosting the children’s show The Five O’Clock Club he disappeared from public life. In 1966 mental health problems led to his being an in-patient in Walton Hospital.

Many have speculated on the reasons why Tommy Quickly did not enjoy the success that came to most of the Epstein stable of artistes. There seems general agreement that psychologically he was ill-prepared for the fame which descended upon him, particularly as he lost the protective environment of the Challengers. David Bramwell, who was in and around the music management scene in Liverpool at the time and knew Tommy suggests the reasons for his lack of success lay in the fragility of his character - he was immature for his age, almost illiterate and something of a rabbit. One of our main problems was keeping him out of the hands of irate fathers! He, himself, had a domineering father, Pat Quigley, who was something of a bully and it was impossible for Tommy to do anything without counting on him. Tommy was, in fact, quite physically frightened of him. In the Challengers, however, he found a refuge amongst a group of better educated people: Rob Gilmour was up at Liverpool University, Ray Pawson and Pete Wilson were both grammar school boys and all three (unusual for the groups of the time), could read and write music.

In 2020 an independently produced short film, directed by Liverpool-born actor and director Stephen Walters was released, featuring Andrew Gower as Tommy Quickly. Entitled Humpty Fu*king Dumpty, the film depicts his breakdown after his career failed. It is a harrowing depiction of mental illness and I have not been able to track down the sources used in its creation, Quickly himself has never given an interview since he left the music business. The 20 minute film can be viewed on the humptyfilm website (warning there is a good deal of strong language)

Tommy Quickly was born Thomas Quigley on 7th July 1945.(Trivia point – this is also Ringo Starr’s birthday, he being born 5 years earlier). His parents were Patrick Thomas and Dorothy née Gower and the family lived at 63 Swallowhurst Crescent L11 in Norris Green. Tommy had a twin sister, Patricia.

63 Swallowhurst Crescent L11

The Quigley home in Norris Green

The Daily Mirror announces the end of Quickly's contract with Brian Epstein. [4th March 1966]


The Wikipedia entry gives some basic facts. The aforementioned David Bramwell's recollections of Tommy Quickly can be viewed on the Merseybeat website. A video of Quickly singing The Wild Side Of Life on the US TV show Shindig in 1964 can be viewed on YouTube