Charles James McDevitt was born in Glasgow on 4 December 1934. Glasgow seemed to be a catchment area for future skifflers; Lonnie Donegan, Nancy Whiskey, Jimmie MacGregor and Jimmy Jackson were also born there. After moving south to Hampstead, the McDevitt family decamped at the beginning of the war, to Camberley in Surrey. Chas' father was a master tailor and business in the shape of the troop concentrations at Aldershot and Sandhurst were close at hand.
During a prolonged illness in 1950-51 Chas started playing the banjo, a gift from the local baker. His interest in jazz and the blues developed during this period and he was corresponding regularly with such blues artists as Josh White and Lizzie Miles who was singing with Sharkey Bonano's Dixielanders at the Mardi Gras Lounge in New Orleans. As soon as Chas returned to college he began playing with the local Dixieland band, the High Curley Stompers, often featuring within the band a small ensemble; piano, bass, banjo or guitar and drums or washboard. Then it wasn't called skiffle, just barrelhouse music. They played songs like; 'Down by the Riverside', 'It's Tight Like That' and 'Trouble in Mind'.
At the end of 1954, Chas had moved back to London and in 1955 he was playing banjo with the re-formed Crane River jazz band. The only link with the seminal band of 1949 was Sonny MorrisOne of the few groups to have come through both the jazz club and coffee bar environment, the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group was the only other British skiffle group, along with Lonnie , the original second trumpet to Ken Colyer. Sonny occasionally fronted the band together with the regular leaders, Neil Millett and Mole Benn.
By day Chas was working at Unilever House in Blackfriars and during his lunch break would rehearse the skiffle group in the basement archives. Marc Sharratt, a pal from the early High Curley days played washboard and various guitar wielding mates would augment the floating personnel; John Summers on guitar, Ken Aggus on mandolin and Reg Linay on guitar and piano.