The Gojos - History
By Gary P. Rose
Jo Cook studied at the Pitt Draffen School in Northampton before attending the Royal Academy of Dancing, where she obtained a qualification in ballet. She began her professional career in the late 1950's as a member of The Silhouettes, who performed regularly on television in The Billy Cotton Show. By 1964, she was performing with a dance troupe called the Beat Girls, who were best known for their weekly appearances on the television show The Beat Room, transmitted by BBC2. The Beat Girls, which also included future Pan's People dancer Babs Lord, became very popular with television audiences but soon ran into problems with the BBC. Due to a dispute over contracts, the group split into two - while Babs remained with the Beat Girls, Jo decided to leave and form her own group, the Gojos, hence the "jo" in the title.
In late 1964, the Gojos were hired by producer Johnnie Stewart to perform regularly on Top of the Pops. The programme only required three dancers so Jo decided to concentrate on the choreography and recruited Pat Hughes, Linda Hotchkin and Jane Bartlett to perform on the show. Both Pat and Linda were former members of The Silhouettes and had worked with Jo on The Billy Cotton Show. Jane had trained with the Royal Ballet Company and had performed in several classics at the Royal Opera House. The Gojos made their debut on Top of the Pops on 17th December 1964, dancing to Baby Love by the Supremes.
Pat decided to leave the Gojos after only a few performances and Jo took her place. For the next two years, the Gojos performed as a threesome but then Jo decided to give up dancing in order to concentrate on the management and choreography. She also decided to make the Gojos a foursome, recruiting dancers Barbara von der Heyde and Thelma Bignell. Barbara had been a dancer in West End plays and Thelma had trained at the Arts Educational School in Tring.
In 1968, the group transformed into a six-piece with Lesley Larbey and Wendy Hillhouse completing the line-up. Lesley had studied ballet, modern dance and tap at the Bush Davies School and Wendy was another graduate from the Arts Educational School. She had recently returned to England after spending many years working on cruise ships. But the new-look Gojos was to be short-lived because, in June of that year, they left the show. Their final performance on Top of the Pops was dancing to Simon Says by the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
Because they had spent three successful years on one of Britains biggest music shows, the Gojos were nationally famous and were much in demand. They had appeared on The Val Doonican Show occasionally since 1966 but, upon leaving Top of the Pops, they were offered a regular spot on the show. When the Gojos were offered other engagements, Jo decided to form other Gojos groups to fulfil them. Among those she recruited for the new groups was Bebe Robson and Dolores Bourne. Bebe had previously worked with Jo on the Billy Cotton Show when they were both members of the Silhouttes and Dolores had recently finished a West End tour of Hello Dolly! With several Gojos groups working at one and the same time, they were ubiquious, appearing on television, in the theatre and in cabaret. In 1969, they appeared in the film Moon Zero Two with Jo, again, providing the choreography,
Throughout their career, the Gojos appeared in all the popular programmes of the period and worked with all the top artists.
When the Gojos split, Jo staged a successful pop concert in New York and, later, opened her own dance school, the Jo Cook School of Dancing.
(c) G. P. Rose 2011. On approval of Jo Cook
Archive: Radio Times: Those Fabulous Gojos.