Wayne Fontana was born Glyn Ellis in Manchester, England in 1945. He held many jobs after leaving school, but music was always in the back of his mind and in his future. He took the name Wayne Fontana from Elvis Presley’s drummer who was D.J. Fontana. In 1963, he organized the Mindbenders as his back up group. The first version of the Mindbenders consisted of Bob Lang, Ric Rothwell, and Eric Stewart.
They were first known as the Jets and played at local clubs until one day, they got a chance to audition for Jack Baverstock, a producer for Philips/Fontana Records. And, yes, it is just a coincidence that the label Fontana Records was the same name that Glyn (now Wayne) used professionally. They began recording for Fontana Records in 1963 and mostly recorded covers of American songs, but had little success. They had a mild hit in England with a cover of the Major Lance song “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” which was a number five hit in the United States but Wayne and the Mindbenders didn’t make a ripple with it over here.
The next song they recorded did the trick. It was written by Clint Ballard, Jr. Ballard was one of those people nobody has heard of, but who made an impression on early rock and roll. He was the manager of the Kalin Twins in the Fifties (they recorded the hit “When,” number five in 1958) and then in 1963, he wrote “You’re No Good” which was first recorded by Dee Dee Warwick and then covered by Linda Ronstadt in 1975 who took it to number one. For our purposes here, he wrote Wayne Fontana’s one and only number one and his most famous hit, “Game of Love.”
“Game of Love” was Wayne’s only hit. By the end of 1965, differences of opinion caused the group to split up and Wayne went one way and the Mindbenders went another. The Mindbenders recorded one more Top 40 song, “Groovy Kind of Love” which hit number two in 1966. After that, they faded away. Wayne continued to record in England and hit the chart occasionally until 1966 and then nothing charted after that. The Mindbenders didn’t last much longer, disbanding in 1968. None of them are working in music today.
Wayne still performs in oldie shows when the occasion arises. Today he is 72 years old and lives in England.
“Game of Love” debuted on the American pop charts on March 27, 1965 and spent just one week at number one.
The syncing of audio and video is horrible on this video, but I wanted to use one that showed the group as they were in 1965.