A small advert placed in the Cornish Gazette nearly 15 years ago has revealed that not only had Port Isaac Fisherman’s Friends never been ‘friends’ at the time the close harmony band formed but most of the line-up had never actually met before.
In fact, prior to the first auditions held in the village hall most of the boys thought a sea shanty was a short thrusting spear made from whale bone like the ones used by Zulu warriors to slaughter British troops at Rorke’s Drift.
Brothers Reg and Danny Birtwhistle from Braintree in Essex had been market traders while at the time of the auditions baritone Dave Collins was an unemployed brick layer from Selly Oak.
And despite claims on their website that they were all old sea-dogs, the only band member to have had any connection with the sea was tenor Bob Davies who had worked as a steward on Britanny Ferries between Poole and Cherbourg for part of the 1987-88 summer season but had to give it up following a particularly unpleasant bout of seasickness.
Another of the boys had appeared in Swedish porn films during the 1970s and another had been a nightclub bouncer in Redcar.
But one thing they did have in common was their love for drinking heavily and singing in bars until way past midnight.
That was 15 years ago and the boys have come a long way since those first nervous auditions. They are about to release their third album of Cornish maritime songs and continue to sell out gigs from pubs as far afield as The Tavern at the top of the high street in the picturesque fishing village to The Tumbling Sailor half way down.
The boys have never let fame and fortune turn their heads and still to this very day they can be found either propping up the bar in the snug at The Old Crab and Falstaff or sleeping it off in the doorway at the local Spar.
(I have a feeling something like this may have been done before)