Express & Star

Founder member of popular sixties band The Montanas dies aged 79

Guitarist Bill Hayward a founder member of the swinging sixties Wolverhampton band The Montanas has died, aged 79, after a short illness.

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The Montanas with Bill Hayward on the right of the group shot and, right, in his later years

The once popular rock group rubbed shoulders with the Beatles and went on the road supporting The Rolling Stones, T Rex, The Hollies, The Searchers and The Move among others.

In 1967, The Montanas in their heyday with Jake Elcock (seated) and Vivienne Cunnington at Wolverhampton's Scholl Shop

Friend of 60 years and former bass guitarist Jake Elcock said Bill, a retired salesman from Codsall, passed away at New Cross Hospital on Monday morning four weeks after they returned from a holiday in the sun.

The Montanas were formed in 1964 along with Graham Hollis and the comedian Ian 'Sludge' Lees, and saw some members later form a new band known as The Crockers.

In 2011 - The Crockers band Alan Clee with Graham Hollis, John O'hara, Jake Elcock and Bill Hayward.

Jake explained that his good friend had previously received cancer treatment in the last decade and had been cared for by his wife Carol. an ex-nurse.

"Bill had been in New Cross for two weeks and we thought he was improving as he phoned me to say he was okay. Unfortunately he passed away.

"He'd always had a positive outlook. He couldn't walk very far due to breathing difficulties. I actually went on holiday with him to Turkey just four weeks ago. We had a very nice time, which will be a lasting memory for me.

"He liked a good laugh and was very funny. He was very much the comedian of the band. When we were away he made everybody laugh in the hotel.


"We go back 60 years from when we started playing in The Montanas. Bill was a great character and became a top window salesman after our life on the road. He had his own window firm."

montanas on swings.jpg

"His wife Carol was devoted to him and was his carer."

Despite being a popular name on the gig circuit and scoring a minor hit in the United States in 1968 with the song You've Gotta Be Loved which was number 30 in Billboard chart and number one in New York state, The Montanas never hit the big time.

Bill is also survived by son Carl, daughter Lisa, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. His funeral will be held at 11.30am on December 8 at Bushbury Crematorium, Bushbury, Wolverhampton.

The Montanas