Articles

A SUBURBAN MOD'S FORGOTTEN STORY Part 3

 

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

Pete Townshend  may have been good at putting Mod feelings into words (the first couple of years anyway), but his group were never big favourites of my generation (pardon the pun).  When it came to British bands, for us it was always Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Zoot Money & The Big Roll Band or Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds that we would go out of our way to see. 

Later,  Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, Geno Washington's Ram Jam Band and Herbie Goins & the Night Timers (lead by the great Mick Eve) were always good value and did their best to give us their versions of the soul music we were all listening too by that time.  All of them featured brass in their line ups and all of them swung like crazy.  They also dressed like us, in band uniforms of sharp mohair suits or matching jackets, always with collar and tie, no matter how hot is was on stage.  By contrast, the Who and, later, the Small Faces, were really just good pop groups. 

 OUT ON THE FLOOR

Apart from Georgie Fame's albums, I don't remember buying records by any of the British based bands.  From an early interest in Blues and R&B, my taste had widened to include the soul music of Memphis, Detroit, Chicago and New York, as well as Bluebeat and ska.  45s were 6/8 each (33p), so you could buy 3 for a quid, and LPs were about £1.50. 

We were obsessive about our music and, with the weekly assistance of Record Mirror and sometimes Billboard, constantly searched out the new sounds - the more obscure and rare the better if it meant no one else had heard it !  It was not often that the music we liked bothered the British charts, but if one of our sounds did hit the Top Twenty, that was the last you heard of it in the Clubs. 

Then there was Radio Luxembourg with its late night programmes sponsored by record companies and the Pirate Radio Stations accepting payola to push obscure sounds, which also helped spread the word.

Malc and I also spent a lot of our spare time rooting through the piles of 45s and LPs that you could still find in Junk shops, searching out discarded copies of those elusive late 50s and early 60s R&B gems.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

By 1966, the next generation were ready to take over.  The Guildford Ricky Tick closed in February 66 (the Plaza management decided that Bingo would make them more money !), although it did continue for a few months at the Harvest Moon.  Windsor Ricky Tick limped on until early 67 and featured early appearances by Cream, Hendrix and Pink Floyd.

The original Guildford Mods were growing up and settling down,  and my crowd began to feel like elder statesmen at the Harvest Moon as the place filled up with kids a year or two younger than us. 

Where we spent a month's wages on a suit made to measure to our exact specification, the local shops were now flogging readymade mohair 2 pieces, often in garish gold or bronze, for only a few quid.  Carnaby Street, which helped start the whole movement, now made clothes for tourists which were copied and sold to this generation of Mods - cheap materials, bad design, badly made.  As long as they thought they looked something like the Who or the Small Faces, they were happy.

YOU'D BETTER MOVE ON

In July 1966 (the weekend of England's World Cup victory) Malc, Will, Nick & I went to the Isle of Wight for a summer holiday.  I remember seeing Blueslogy with little Reggie Dwight, at the Disco Blue Club, but I also remember nearly getting in a fight with some other Mods.  The newer breed of 'Hard Mods' were now making their presence felt, getting ready to morph into skinheads in a few years time.  As far as I was concerned, this wasn't what Mod was about.

Soon after we got back, a crowd of us (including David B of 'South of London Mods' article) made our way to the South Coast for the weekend - the reason it sticks in my mind is that it was the last time I can remember our crowd all being together. 

Possibly the Mod thing had run its time for us (or perhaps just for me) and the Times really were 'A-Changin'.  I can't remember seeing Nick again after that weekend and only occasionally saw Will.  I met a girl soon after and stopped going out 'with the lads' so much, but  Malc and I remained close friends and still are today.  We've both still got our record collections too !

 FOOTSTOMPIN'

In 1967 Malc & I went to a new club in a Guildford pub backroom to see an up and coming group called Pink Floyd.  Not too impressed, mainly because they blew the fuses and ended up singing skiffle songs acoustically !  As there was no music before or between their sets there was a great lack of atmosphere that night and we convinced the promoters to take us on as DJs for all their future club nights. 

That's how we started as DJs and got to support some of the bands we'd previously paid to see - Herbie Goins & the Night Timers, Ronnie Jones & the Blue Jays, The In-Crowd and others.  We packed up after a couple of years, but then I started again on my own in the early 70s. 

By '76 I was resident at the Wooden Bridge - the same pub that the Guildford Ricky Tick had started at in 63 - I started out there playing classic Soul, and was soon found by a crowd of local Northern Soul fans, who used to take over Sunday evenings on their way back from Wigan.  A lot of the Northern sounds were those same 'rare' records I'd bought when first released, so I had the good basis for a playlist and this was augmented by reissues, bootlegs and any new tunes that the guys had bought over the weekend. 

Slowly this crowd got into the Funk-Soul of the late 70s, which suited me fine.  Black American music was always moving forward and in all its forms has always been my thing - Blues, R&B, Soul, Jazz, Funk - and I'd always bought and listened to the latest sounds - if it's good I'll listen to it, and I was only too happy to play it. 

A few years later the second generation Mods took over (The Jam were from Woking, just up the road and Squire, the mod revival band, were from Guildford) and once again, my original 60's records formed the backbone of my set.  Lots of fun for a year or so, but in those days they wanted the same records played every week, and I could only listen to 'My Generation' or 'My Boy Lollipop' so many times, and finally hung up my headphones in 1981.

FUNNY HOW TIME SLIPS AWAY

Unless you were there in the 60s, it is impossible to comprehend how fast things changed - whether it was fashion, music or life in general.  New fashions would spring up overnight, someone would have a suit made slightly differently or discover something in an obscure clothes shop (or girls would make their own clothes on mum's sewing machine) and if it looked good, next week others would be copying and then it would spread through all regions in a few weeks.  Mod fashion wasn't dictated by the Fashion Houses or the major retailers until later.     

As for the music - imagine hearing 'Smokestack Lightnin' for the very first time, or 'Walking The Dog' or 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag' or 'Midnight Hour' or 'I Can't Help Myself' or 'Respect'.   All being cooked up in greasy little studios across the USA as Blues changed to R&B to Soul to Funk and all totally different to what you'd heard the week before.   

Meanwhile, the Beatles, Stones, Who, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Phil Spector and so many others were experimenting in the bigger studios, stretching the possibilities of popular music (it may not necessarily have been what we were buying, but it formed the background music to our lives).   

On top of all that, there was a constant stream of new Jazz sounds or the latest release from Jamaica on Blue Beat or Island Records.                                                                     

Everything seemed to change by the month then, whereas now I can't remember which decade it was that I last heard or saw something original or groundbreaking - but perhaps I'm not listening or looking any more.

AMEN

During those fabulous, brief, years of Mod, dozens of young men and women entered my life and my memories, whether they knew it or not.  Some were/are long time friends, some were only in my life for a week or so, some for just one weekend or one night.  People disappeared or moved away, and too many died before their time.  

I still keep in contact with a few guys from those days and we all seem to remember different things about different events or different people.  Things that only happened a couple of times are now remembered fondly as a regular occurrence.  It's called getting old ! 

This is just my (probably faulty) memory of the days that shaped my life. 

 

Now read Part 1 and Part 2

TRACK LIST

The Kids Are Alright                The Who (1965)

Out On The Floor                    Dobie Gray (1965)

You'd Better Move On             Arthur Alexander (1962)

Footstompin'                            The Flares (1961)

Funny How Time Slips Away   Joe Hinton (1964)

Amen                                       The Impressions (1964)

Email me when people comment –

You need to be a member of The Mod Generation to add comments!

Join The Mod Generation

Comments

  • Just read one two and three.........It reads like the story of my life .....So true.......Many thanks for taking the time to put this together and posting it...Cheers Jimmy N an Old London Mod....
  • Another excellent 'spot on' series of recollections. I particularly like the reference to 'The Who's' music not really being part a of Modernist life. The '79 movement seemed to 'swallow' that Pete Townsend's music was almost essential. Strange because you didn't find any women listening to The Who at all, they were a blokes band amongst their fan base.

    You have to appreciate ( as I've stated previously ) that 'cool' Jazz was the precursor of Modernism, so too was the rise of amplified Chicago blues-music. Two UK records, that I think of as being iconic in the '62-'63 period were, Georgie Fame's Hammond organ-jazz influenced L.P. 'R&B at The Flamingo' and the powerful n' seminal Cyril Davies & The R&B Allstars E.P. release, 'Country Line Special'. I first saw "Squirrel' Davies and his amazing band ( Long John Baldry on deputy vocals), back in May '63, bought a harmonica the next day, took it to Art-college and teamed up with a guitarist pal,...and am still playing with blues bands 50+ years later!
  • Great memories with vibrant echoes through time. Long live mod, hallelujah!
This reply was deleted.

All Articles