Old Mods Die With Their Desert Boots On - Memories of a First Generation Mod – Part Two of Two
A crowd of us attended the 5th National Jazz and Blues Festival, at the Richmond Athletic Grounds on August 7th 1965. The bill featured Georgie Fame, Graham Bond, Gary Farr & the T-Bones, and Ronnie Jones & the Blue Jays. I also attended 7th National Jazz and Blues Festival on the 12th and 13th August 1967, at the Royal Windsor Racecourse.
On the 12th, the bill included The Nice, Paul Jones, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Zoot Money's Dantalian's Chariot, Aynsley Dunbar, Ten Years After, Amen Corner, and Time Box. The 13th, had a slightly better line up, which included Cream, Jeff Beck [with Rod Stewart], John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, PP Arnold [with The Nice], The Alan Bown Set, Chicken Shack, Fleetwood Mac, Donovan, Denny Laine's Electric String Band, Blossom Toes, and Pentangle.
Another great show was the Blackheath R 'n' B festival on the 1st July 1967, which was local and I could get blotto. The bill was a good 'un, The Small Faces, Georgie Fame, John Mayall, Manfred Mann, Roy C, and the Kinks. There were also a couple of local bands, which included The Loose Ends. The Faces played a great set as did Fame. Roy C only sang five songs, he opened and closed his set with 'Shotgun Wedding' and for the encore, what else but 'Shotgun Wedding'.
Manfred Mann cut short their show because of an incident that occurred, when they played, 'One In The Middle'. Whilst Paul Jones was noncing about on stage during the song, someone chucked a bottle at him, though it missed by miles. The band copped the hump and stormed off the stage in a huff. We had a good laugh and didn't care as Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames came back to do a second set. The roadies dropped his Hammond organ off the stage and he played the set on guitar. I also recall that Jack Bruce was on bass for the Manfred Mann gig.
1966 was a big year for me and my mates, as our parents had consented for us to go on a two-week summer holiday, unaccompanied. We booked a deluxe chalet at a holiday camp in Paignton, but whoever booked the holiday [probably me] coal boxed it, as we travelled down on the 30 July; the day that England played West Germany for the World cup. We listened to the game on a transistor radio, trying to conjure up the images and leapt about when it was all over. In the brochure, the chalet came with a TV and Radio and we were looking forward to watching the highlights; boy, were we in for a disappointment.
The holiday camp turned out to be in the middle of nowhere, miles outside Paignton, and the deluxe chalet was more like a large shed with windows. The beds were so small that I had to put my feet in a cupboard, at the end of the bed. There was a Belling 'Baby' Electric cooker and no radio or TV, which teed us off. We went to the office to complain, but the manager waffled on about the chalet not being finished, and there was nothing he could do. I never saw the whole match until the BBC re-showed it in 1985.
Disappointed, we walked to the nearest pub, the Blagdon Inn and when we arrived at the bar, the publican asked; "How old are you?" I replied "18," which wasn't true, as I was 15 days shy of my 18th birthday. Being a bit of a mouthy git, as he walked away, I sarcastically said; "Next time I'll bring my passport," and I don't think it helped that I was wearing my maroon mohair. On hearing my comment, the publican turned around and said; "I'm having none of your lip sonny, you're barred." He served my mates, but not me, so we decided to change pubs and relocated to The Parker's Arms. Unfortunately, it was over a mile away, but we made the hike.
We celebrated England's victory and on the way back, nicked a petrol station's revolving sign; don't ask me why, we just did. It was just after midnight when we arrived back at our chalet and parked outside, were a couple of metal dustbins. I grabbed the large lids, banged them together and shouted England, England. After a few minutes of this din, lights came on in the other chalets and we withdrew into ours, laughing loudly. The next day the site manager came round and gave us a yellow card.
One night it was raining heavily, so we decided to stay on camp and drink in their bar, where they were holding a talent contest. My mates volunteered me to do a turn and I got up with the Ted Taylor Trio and sang Georgie Fame's, 'Yeh Yeh'. Even though my voice was lousy and I sang a couple of bars behind the band, the audience gave me a small ripple, and I won the prize for being the worst turn that night.
There was one highlight, when we went to Torquay for the day, Cream were playing at the Town Hall [6 August], and we decided to attend the gig. It was their third gig and when we returned home, I attended their show at the Ram-Jam club in Brixton on the 27th August. When they came on stage for the first number 'NSU', they were wearing leather flying helmets and goggles.
The summer that year was much like the weather has been in 2012, cold wet and damp. It rained for most of the holiday and we came back a couple of days earlier than planned. A week later, the postman delivered a letter from the holiday camp, and inside was a bill for £12, for damages done to the chalet during our stay. We were indignant at this demand, if you chucked a hand-grenade in; it would only have done a couple of quid's worth of damage. Next year we decided to go abroad.
At the time, there were many groups and artists around that never quite made it. The Action had one of the best drummers in Roger Powell, and Reg King had a voice and a half. Tony Rivers & The Castaways, were the only group I ever heard, who could sing the Beach boy's songs, and I liked Bern Elliot & The Fenmen, who were a local band. I loved The Undertakers version of 'Just A Little Bit', and there was The Alan Bown Set and Jimmy James & The Vagabonds, who were big favourites with the Marquee crowd. Herbie Goins an American R 'n' B singer and The Mark Leeman 5 were both good. Another good band was The Creation, as well as Fleur De Lys, The Downliner Sect, Winston's Fumbs, A Thin Red Line, and the Shakey Vick Blues Band. There were many local bands on the southeast London circuit, including Edwick Rumbold, who I recall, because my mates were in this band.
There's one person who had a huge influence on me, and that's Georgie Fame; he was the 'Guv'nor' as far as I was concerned When a mate played me the 'Fame At Last' album, it knocked me out and I went to see him whenever he was playing. I saw him three times in seven days, once at that Black Prince and twice at The Ram-Jam club in Brixton. On the second night, a Sunday, the show was being filmed for French TV and it was free to get in. We had to wait a long time for the band to come on and we nearly missed the last train home, but it was a great gig.
On stage, Fame wore the pink and blue check button down shirt that he wore on the front cover of 'Sweet Things'. The line up consisted of Pete Coe (ten), Glen Hughes (Bari), Edward 'Tan-Tan' Thornton (tp), Nii Moi 'Speedy' Acquaye, (perc), and Glen Barton (bass). The drummer was Mitch Mitchell, who would later join up with Jimi Hendrix. Incidentally, Barton was a top bass player at the time and died tragically young from drugs, as did Glen Hughes.
Another time, I could have got tickets to see the Beatles at the Lewisham Odeon, but that night Georgie was playing at The Witchdoctor. It was a no-brainer and I went to see Fame. A few years ago, I mentioned this to one of my mates who went to see the Beatles and he reckoned, I had made the right decision. As soon as they started singing, the girls in the audience started screaming and drowned out the rest of the concert.
I was so into Fame that I bought a Hammond L100 organ, and started to take weekly lessons. After two years, I gave up and sold it. I could read music, and my teacher wanted me to take the exams and go to a music school. However, by then I'd discovered girls, and I didn't think I was going to make it. Mates have said, I should have carried on and joined a band, but it wouldn't have made any difference. Do I regret this decision? No, although, if I hadn't ended up in the record business, I might have.
For me, Fame has never really received the accolades he's due. Mick Talbot always reckoned, he should be in every music hall of fame, and he's right. He was one of the first musicians to play the Hammond Organ in the UK. He fused jazz with rhythm and blues into a unique sound of his own and he played Blue-Beat [Ska], before the 'Two-Tone' crowd were swinging in their Dad's trousers. Fame recorded with the Harry South Big Band , and in 1967, played a gig at the Royal Festival Hall. That year he also played with Count Basie's big band at the Albert Hall. Yet, he his paid lip service for all of these achievements, and only recognised by those in the know. If the 'Brits' gave an outstanding contribution to music award [sic] to Robbie Williams, they ought to give Fame a dozen.
I remember the parties round my mate's houses, where we played records on the Stax, Atlantic, ATCO labels, and I recall the sounds of Solomon Burke, The Bar-Kays, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. There was Tamala Motown, which made the best pop music of the '60's, and far superior to anything we 'Brits' produced. 'Smokey' Robinson and the Miracles, The Supremes, Martha and The Vandellas, and The Marvelettes. I can remember 'bopping' to 'Going-To-A-Go-Go and 'Dancing In The Street'. 'When they played 'When You're 'Young And In Love', you knew it was your last chance to pull a bird. The Marvelettes 'I'll Keep Holding On' was a big favourite; the Action did a great version and much later The Chords covered this song.
By 1968, things started to change, psychedelia had arrived, and I started to grow my hair longer. I swapped my 16-inch bottomed trousers for flares, which I had first seen at school in late 1963, though they were called 'bell-bottoms'. It was also time to grow up and face up to the daunting prospect that although, 'life is drink, and you get drunk when you're young'; it was ending.
As well as not having a scooter, I didn't indulge in the Mods drug of choice, 'speed', though I started to smoke marijuana in 1966, and still enjoy a puff to this day. During the '50's, the doctors prescribed Ephedrine for my asthma and getting over this drug, was sometimes worse than getting over the asthma. Later, several of my brother's friends would offer money for my pills, though I never sold them on.
I didn't need a drug to stay up all night, music was my 'speed', which I listened, and danced too all night long. Getting home could be a problem, as I often dozed off and missed Woolwich Arsenal station; one time I woke up in Folkestone.
My stint as a Mod lasted about four years, though it seemed longer and it shaped me into the person I am now. Many of my contemporises wallow in this era, something that I don't. Yeah, I still listen to a lot of the music from my callow youth, but I also listen to music from the subsequent decades. And please, let's not get carried away by saying, the music of the '60's was great, some of it wasn't.
If you don't believe me go and listen to these big hits. 'The Wedding' by Julie Rogers , 'Hello Dolly' by Louis Armstrong , 'Dominique' by The Singing Nun , or 'The Birds and the Bees' by Jewel Akins' . 'A Taste Of Honey' ; no, not by the Beatles, but by Herb Alpert and his Marijuana Brass. Hey, and who can forget, 'They're Coming To Take Me Away' by Napoleon XIV , I soddin' well can.
Recently, I Googled some Mod images and was surprised to see, just how ordinary the Mods in the photos looked. Then, I got out some old photos of our mob and we looked the same, just ordinary working class teenagers. Was there an 'Ace Face' on our team? Not really, we all felt like 'Ace Faces', after all, that's what being a Mod was about. As for being elitist, most teenagers' feel there is something special about them, and their generation, ask any Punk, or 2nd generation Mod. The 2nd generation of Mods were far more elitist that we were; you only have to look at their leader, Paul Weller.
Working in the record business bought me into contact with the next three generations of teenagers, and I could see a bit of me in all of them. Although, I wasn't going get a Mohican when Punk exploded. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I didn't complain about their music or dress, after all, they wanted to 'walk their walk' and 'talk their talk', just like us Mods. I can still recall my father's words, when he saw my maroon Mohair suite, and he once told me that The Stones were rubbish, they couldn't sing and wouldn't sell records. The same thing was said about Punk when it blew in like a tornado.
My recollections of being a Mod are not just centred on the clothes, but the inspirational music that we listened too. Whenever I hear a tune from that period of my life, I go back to where I heard it. Like the Who's 'My Generation, and The Stones 'Satisfaction', which I played on the Lord Clyde's jukebox, on Christmas Eve 1965. I threw up twice that night, but came back for more beer and music.
What was it like being a Mod in the 60's; it was great, and I wouldn't change it for any other period. My father's generation lost their youth in WW2, and some didn't come back. My generation were luckier, as conscription ended in 1960, jobs were plentiful, and we had more freedom than any previous generation of working class teenagers. However, I suspect that if I had been born into a later generation, I would have enjoyed being a teenager just as much. A long time ago, someone I knew summed up what it was like to be a teenager. He stated; 'it's like you're running down the middle of the road with your 'Dick' in your hand'. Roughly translated it means; 'you're up for everything'; I know we Mods were.
My state pension is due next year and I just might treat myself to one last mohair suite. After all, I will need something to be buried in and what better colour than maroon, and a pair of dark blue desert boots. Once a Mod, always a Mod.
©Dennis Munday/ ZANI Media (Ronchi Dei Legionari, Italy)
Part One of This Series – Link Below