Short Story of a Young Mod in The Mid 60's

(Part 1)


Being born and growing up in London’s Eastend it was inevitable that I would come across the great music and fashion called Mod. The music could be heard in any Church Hall Youth Club that we attended. People would bring their records along to play on the club's record player - usually a Dansette. The records would be 7" singles, they were the order of the day. 6s 8d each of 3 for a £1 - priceless (still got loads now 45 years on). The next step was to venture to London to hear this great music first hand and live...

I used jump on the train at Ilford station and in next to no time we were in the heart of London. I remember standing outside the Whiskey A Go-Go or Flamingo, listening to Georgie Fame and whoever was playing on a Saturday night. We couldn't get in - too young - but that sound and watching the older mods going in still sends shivers up my spine. They looked like gods to us (14/15 year old wanna be's).

Walking around soho in my dark blue leather 3/4 coat, levis/hush puppies/ fred perry I thought I was the dogs bollocks. The leather coat cost £20 bought with my Birthday and Christmas tips from my paper round - not bad for a 14 year old.

The music was we listened to was nearly all American R&B and the live British bands doing covers of them. Geno Wasington, Zoot money, Herbie Goins, Jimmy James, The Action, The Eyes and loads more.

In time I upgraded to Monday night at the Ilford Palais, from the Saturday afternoon session. I remember walking in, holding my breath thinking the bouncers wouldn't let me in, but they did. As I went through the doors, paying my money, Harlem Shuffle by Bob and Earl was playing - I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

During the next couple of years, seeing the Small Faces, The Who, Lee Dorsey, The Herd, Jr. Walker and The All Stars, Desmond Dekker, Geno Washington and loads more.

By now I was coming up to 16 and a scooter was the next step. Off to Eddie Grimstead at Newbury Park. £80 later I was a proud owner of a Vespa GS150. £20 deposit and repayments monthly (Dad signed HP papers). I wheeled it home on 30th nov 1966. My birthday was 1 December - I got up, ran downstairs, parka on and straight out on my scooter.

I now had the final piece in the jigsaw I was 'MOD' and the 'in crowd' beckoned. The mod scene (in Ilford and surrounding areas) took a major turn, the British bands playing covers of American songs started to change and start recording their own songs, this led to a break up of the mod scene as we knew it, some went into psychedelic music and the others to become skinheads. That’s a story for another day...

Peter Heed

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  • Peter, can i use this quote in an article i'm writing on mod culture?
  • Much similar experience for me Peter, except being the younger brother of an original Stamford Hill mod I got a bit of a head start ( and not a few cool cast-offs!) ... nice to read your own wxperience.
  • That story resonates with me too, I was in Wiltshire and 16 in 1966, so my story runs parallel to yours Peter.  Well told and well remembered.

    To those great UK exponents of US Soul you listed as UK club regulars I can add The Alan Bown Set, Mike Cotton and Lucas, Heart and Soul, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound before they went Psychedelic and The Lurkers ( from Bristol).  I look forward to the next installment.

  • Great stuff Pete...i can't get enough of these original Mod stories - post some more please mateI hope you are well and hopefully catch up soon .All the best Richie

  • Good tale Pete! That's how it was indeed!

  • Your comment about the west end clubs bought back memories, I remember my first visit to La Discotheque in Wardour street when I was 14 or 15, two things hit me immediately, the first was Fingertips by Stevie Wonder, the second was I had walked into a huge fight, I ran back up the stairs quicker that I had walked in.

  • About time you started writing down these great stories and keep spinning those decks mate.

  • Fantastic Peter, when's the next chapter? : )

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