Bruce Welch was the first rhythm guitarist in England to achieve stardom in rock & roll -- and as of 2008, he is, along with his bandmate Hank Marvin, among the relative handful of British rock & roll stars to enjoy a half-century of rock & roll stardom. He was born Bruce Cripps in Bognor Regis, Sussex, England in 1941. Following the death of his mother in 1946, he was raised by his aunt Sadie, and spent most of his youth in Newcastle. He took up playing the guitar as a boy and in 1956 he formed a skiffle group called the "Railroaders." Fate took a hand when a schoolmate named Brian Rankin, who was also proficient on the guitar, joined the group -- Rankin later took the stage name Hank Marvin. The Railroaders were good enough to make the finals of a talent content in London, in early 1958 -- they didn't win, but they ended up joining with the members of two other competing bands and forming the Five Chesternuts. They recorded a couple of songs in that guise, and Welch and Marvin also occasionally played as the Geordie Boys ("Geordie" being a term for Newcastle).