Teddy boy cuttings

People were moving on from the struggle of life during the Second World War. Britain was rebuilding itself and by the mid-1950s there was plenty of work across Northampton. Young people had access to money like never before – and they wanted to spend it on fun. Their parents may have listened to the likes of Dickie Valentine and Frankie Laine but the teens wanted something new and exciting. A glut of American stars like Billy Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and Duane Eddy delivered just ​what they were looking for.Films were hugely important at the start, delivering new music to a large audience and creating an idea of teenage identity. The Girl Can’t Help It, starring Jayne Mansfield and Tom Ewell, was little more than a passable comedy about a gangster who hires a down-and-out press agent to make his blonde bimbo girlfriend a singing star.The movie was forgettable, but the musicians who provided the soundtrack will be remembered for ever – Little Richard, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.And it was the music that made The Girl Can’t Help It such a big hit.Blackboard Jungle had a massive impact simply because of Rock around the Clock. “Blackboard Jungle took a long time to come to Leicester,” remembers Malc. “The local authority had a group called the Leicester Watch Committee who would meet and decide what films we could see.“They banned it at first. But eventually they finally let it be shown in Leicester.” The music was hugely important to them. But it was the clothes that made the teddy boys stand out from the crowd. They were the first teenagers to take pride in what they looked like, dressing for show at every opportunity. Most distinctive was their long drape jackets – which had been inspired by the tailors of Savile Row who were keen to reintroduce the Edwardian style after the war. Some of these jackets had velvet collars and would be sold in many colours. This, coupled with a high necked white shirt collar, a ‘slim Jim’ tie and a brocade waistcoat shocked the adults and turned the heads of the girls.The clothes were tailor-made and could be paid for in installments. John Kenney, 70, of Goodwood, Leicester was desperate to be part of the scene and buy his first suit. His mother accompanied him down to Reynolds in Belgrave Gate to keep a careful eye on the suit he was buying.“Everyone went to Reynolds,” he says. “You could pay ‘on the knock’ there. There were others too – Jacksons in Gallowtree Gate, near to where Boots now stands. Leicester was a brilliant place at that time. “My mother came with me to the tailors, and on the way there she had tried to talk me out of it so I would buy a more traditional style suit. But as soon as I was in the shop she said ‘well… you better tell the man what you want’.”John left with his first drape jacket, but he would soon be back buying an array of styles and colours, ice blue, Burgundy and green among them.From Reynolds, it was a short walk to Irish Linen in Humberstone Gate for a teddy boy’s essential accessories.“We went there for our string ties,” says John.The teds, having spent time and money on their look, were not prepared to hide away. In fact they loved being on show.“People looked at us in amazement,” says Malc. “Our parents were surprised and disapproving, at the style and the music.“They couldn’t understand it, it was alien to them. Looking back, I suppose it’s no different to how we see kids today. We don’t understand their music either.”Having got the look, the teds established several hang-outs. The main location in the early days was the cafe at St Margaret’s Bus Station. It was an ideal meeting place. “The mods had their scooters,” says Malc, “the rockers had their motorbikes, we had the bus or Shanks’s pony!“We did a lot of walking about. The 1950s in Leicester was a different world, there were not that many places to go, especially on a Sunday. On a Sunday afternoon in Leicester you would see 70 or 80 teddy boys, just walking about.”They may have caught the eye, but in the main, the teddy boys insist, they stayed out of trouble. “If we had a fight, it was between two individuals, nothing to do with being a teddy boy,” says Ron.“There was a great camaraderie among us,” adds Malc. “We just loved talking about music – we weren’t targeted by other gangs.“The mods and rockers came later. People were shocked to see us and not everyone liked us because of the way we looked but we did not really attract any trouble.” The media, however, did not see it that way. Local and national headlines screamed controversy and implied they were hooligans. The Chronicle reported security was put on at Leicester’s New Walk museums to keep the Teddy Boys out.But the teenagers of the time were not that interested in the city’s collection of antiquities.They were more likely to be found in Sam’s cafe in Southgate, the York Road cafe, off Oxford Street, and the Spinney Hill Park cafe.These cafes and some of the pubs were installing jukeboxes which were playing all the new rock’n’roll records. The teds would gather round as the latest imported record spun.“The first few chords and first few words were distinct to that artist,” remembers Ron, “and we would know the singer straight away.“Once we heard something that we liked we had to go and get it.” But getting hold of the hits took a little time.“We got our singles from Breeze Records in Belgrave Gate,” adds Ron. “A single was 3s and 6d and an LP cost us 30 shillings. Often you had to order the song you wanted and it would take a week to arrive.” The popularity of the songs spread via the jukeboxes, word-of-mouth and reviews in New Musical Express.Malc remembers that the weekly music newspaper was showing pictures of teddy boys almost two years before they arrived in Leicester.“They had pictures of teddy boys in London in 1953,” he says. “I don’t think we saw one in Leicester until 1955. When we did, we just thought ‘wow’.” As the teenagers grew with the scene, they moved out of the cafes and into the pubs. Not all the bars wanted the teds hanging around, but some did, The Jolly Angler in Wharf Street, The Black Lion and the Nelson in the city centre and the Champion (now the Hansom Cab) in Charles Street made them welcome. They were particularly at home in the Three Cranes in Humberstone Gate. At that time it was ran by a team of old ladies – known to the teddy boys as Hilda, Ivy and Mrs Lovett.“One day Ivy said ‘I hope you boys don’t think we are three old cranes!’” says Ron. “But they were very good to us.” At that time De Montfort Hall was attracting some of the biggest names around to perform their songs live.“We saw Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the Everly Brothers and Duane Eddy there,” says John. “All the big acts would come. The names that perform there now just don’t compare.”And if there were no live performances there was a weekly event at the Palais de Dance, where the Life nightclub now stands in Humberstone Gate.Malc says: “It was 1s 6d to get in. We would meet girls there. They would be impressed by our clothes, especially if you had a velvet collar – they really appreciated the style.”Times moved on and fashions changed, along with Peggy Sue, many of the teddy boys got married.But more than 50 years since they heard their first rock’n’roll record, Ron, Malc, John and all the other Leicester teds still have the music in their blood.In fact their children grew up listening to the sounds that they loved.Ron said: “My kids grew up listening to it. They loved it. In fact my 10-year-old granddaughter rang me the other day to say she was listening to Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino.”​

The hey-day of the teddy boy fell in that five-year period from 1955 to 1960. By the turn of the decade, other youth cults had formed. But it was a group of lads wearing clothes styled on a forgotten age who became the city’s first teenage subculture and who had enjoyed Leicester’s first taste of rock‘n’roll.

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Murder of a police constable

Constable Raymond Henry Summer​                                                                                                                                               Donald Marwood

Donald Marwood – 1959 murder of a police officer.Many people would associate the name of Marwood with the word hangman rather than with the words hanged man. Both are correct however. William Marwood was Britain’s principal hangman from 1874 – 1883 and Ronald Henry Marwood was hanged on the 8th of May 1959. He was one of 29 men hanged in England and Wales after the passing of the 1957 Homicide Act which differentiated murders into capital and non-capital. A further three men were executed in Scotland in this period.Ronald Marwood (photo) was a 25 year old scaffolder who lived in Huntingdon Street, Islington London who had been convicted of the capital murder of 23 year old Police Constable Raymond Henry Summers during a gang fight outside Gray’s dance hall in Seven Sister’s Road in Holloway, North London on the night of Sunday the 14th of December 1958.
It is claimed that Marwood had drunk ten pints of beer on what was his first wedding anniversary, having gone out alone as his wife preferred to stay in and watch television.
The fight had broken out between two groups of Teddy Boys armed with a chopper, knives, knuckle dusters and broken bottles. Constable Summers happened on the scene and began to intervene to stop the fighting. He took hold of one of Marwood’s friends, Michael David Bloom and was then attacked by Marwood. In a statement, Marwood claimed that he had been hit by one of the youths with a chopper and felt dizzy and sick. He then saw Constable Summers with Bloom and approached them from behind. He claimed that as he got to them Constable Summers told him to “go away” or clear off” and punched him. He related that he had his hands in his pockets and that he struck out at the policeman with his hand. This hand unfortunately held an underwater swimmer’s knife and the blow caused Summers to collapse and die at the scene. Marwood said he then ran away and threw the knife over a garden wall. He claimed that he had not intended to use the knife and only intended to push the policeman away from his friend. He further claimed that he did not realise that he had the knife in his hand.
​Police arrested a number of the youths in connection with the disturbance and eleven came to trial in February 1959. Nine pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly with intent to disturb the peace and possession of offensive weapons. One was convicted only on the unlawful assembly charge and one only on the possession charge. They received prison sentences of between 6 and 15 months.

Ronald Marwood was questioned by police on the Monday morning but released. It was reported that he had a telephone conversation with Mick Bloom on the Monday evening and told him that he was frightened and wanted to stay out of the way. To this end he left his wife and went on the run.
On the evening of January the 27th he went to Caledonian Road Police station with his father and under caution, confessed to the murder, telling the detectives “I did stab the copper that night. I will never know why I did it. I have been puzzling over in my mind during the last few weeks why I did it, but there seems no answer.” He was therefore arrested.

Following committal proceedings at the North London Court Marwood was remanded in custody to stand trial at the Central Criminal Court. His trial opened at the Old Bailey before Mr. Justice Gorman on Wednesday the 18th of March 1959. The prosecution was led by Mr. Christmas Humphreys and his defence by Neil Lawson and Mr M Levene.
Marwood was charged with the murder of a police officer in the execution of his duty to which he pleaded not guilty. This was a capital crime under the 1957 Homicide Act. In evidence he told the court that he and Mick Bloom had been drinking heavily on the Sunday evening, firstly in Spanish Patriot’s pub and then later at the Double R Club, before going with some others to Gray’s Dancing Academy. As they arrived there some young men came out and one of them attacked Marwood with the chopper injuring his hand. He later said he saw the policeman talking to Bloom and went up to them. He claimed the constable told him to clear off and punched him to which he responded by punching back. His barrister, Neil Lawson QC asked him if he had anything in his hand when he did so to which Marwood replied “No sir”. Marwood suggested to the court that the statement he had made at Caledonian Road Police station was made up by the police and that he had signed it without reading it after being there for 10 hours. This was denied by Det Supt Robert Fenwick. Evidence was given of Marwood’s previous good character and of his successful two years of National Service. His Discharge Book was quoted as saying “He is a thoroughly reliable man has undoubted ability” Summing up his barristers told the court that the only evidence linking Marwood to the crime was his alleged confession. The defence invited them to find Marwood guilty of manslaughter if they thought that the Crown had proven that he was indeed the person who had stabbed the constable, if he had done so in a drunken and befuddled state.

The jury deliberated for 2 ½ hours before reaching a verdict of guilty to capital murder. They would no doubt have found the principal plank of his defence – that he didn’t realise that he had the knife in his hand and had no intention of killing Constable Summers, rather less than credible. To convict they had to find both the actus rea (guilty act) and mens rea (guilty mind) proven. To this end they had his confession, alleged phone conversation the night afterwards with Bloom and the fact that he was carrying a knife. In the Teddy Boy culture of the day that may have seemed quite normal behaviour to London’s youths but it was hardly likely to go down well with a jury because it can be taken to show premeditation to an act of violence. It is not known what weight, if any, they gave to the amount of alcohol he claimed to have consumed, nor to the effect of the injury he received at the dance hall. After the guilty verdict had been delivered Mr. Justice Gorman sentenced Marwood “to suffer death in the manner authorised by law.” These were the words of the death sentence after 1957 and made no reference to hanging.
Marwood was taken to Pentonville prison and his legal team lodged an appeal. This was heard by the Lord Chief Justice, Hubert Parker, Mr. Justice Donovan sitting with Mr. Justice Salmon on the 20th of April. The appeal was dismissed. The execution was then set for Friday the 8th of May.
The Labour MP for Islington South West, Mr Albert Evans had got up a petition for a reprieve signed by 150 MP’s (mostly Labour) which he presented to the Home Secretary.
On the 7th of May the Home Secretary, Richard Austen Butler, announced that there would be no reprieve. Butler also wrote to Albert Evans telling him that Marwood had had a full trial and that having carefully examined the case he could find no reason to recommend a reprieve.

Thursday morning saw an attempt by Marwood’s family to get the Attorney General to intervene on his behalf. They presented a document requesting his fiat to appeal to the House of Lords but this was ruled to be out of time as it should have been presented within seven days of the Appeal Court decision. On the Thursday evening there was a noisy demonstration within Pentonville by other prisoners lasting around 30 minutes. Burning materials were seen being pushed out of cell windows. Some 500 demonstrators had assembled outside the prison on Thursday evening and this grew to an estimated at 1000 by the Friday morning. Some had banners inscribed with “Save Marwood” and “hanging is no deterrent”. Mounted police were used to disperse protestors and several arrests were made.
Inside Pentonville Harry Allen assisted by Harry Robinson carried out the execution at 9am.
Marwood’s case became a rallying cause for the liberal left.
On Sunday the 10th of May, Cannon Collins gave a sermon in St. Paul’s Cathedral in which he said that the Homicide Act of 1957 should be amended. He told the congregation that “Surely the offence against Christian principle committed on Friday morning must make us do more than wring our hands in despair.” “In a democracy we are all guilty. In our determination to abolish the death penalty we must see that all that can be done is done to safeguard police and prison officers in the exercise of their duty. It should be the state’s duty to treat generously the dependents of victims of murder.”

The 12th of May saw Sidney Silverman, the left wing MP for Nelson and Colne and a noted abolitionist introduce a motion in the Commons to abolish capital punishment in the wake of Marwood’s hanging and the anomalies of the 1957 Act. Another MP, Mr. E L Mallalieu drew up a motion to disallow the use at trial of confessions made by a person to the police unless they were made in the presence of a magistrate.
Although not related to her fiancée’s murder, sadly 21 year old Sheila McKenzie who had been engaged to Constable Summers collapsed and died in a night club in September 1959.

Comment.

Marwood was hanged because he murdered a police officer but had he murdered another youth or a member of the public intervening to stop the gang fight he would only have been guilty of non-capital murder and sentenced to life in prison, unless he had used a gun. Was this fair and just?

A month after Marwood’s death, 19 year old Terrence Cooney stabbed Allan Johnson at the Woodward Hall in Barking in the course of a similar gang fight. Cooney was a member of the “Dagenham Boys” gang and Johnson was a member of “The Canning Town Boys”. Cooney got a life sentence although did not spend the rest of his life behind bars.

 

Nostalgia

We were the first teenagers says Birmingham generation

Oct 11 2008

Today’s teenagers are rarely out of the news, but Jill Emburey, from Kings Heath, Birmingham, reckons her generation was the first to coin the word in the early 1950s. Here she recalls the birth of the ‘teenager’, growing up in Birmingham, shopping for records at Lewis’s and listening to the likes of Nat King Cole and Connie Francis. Jill went on to have a successful musical career herself, appearing on TV, and is pictured singing in her first band at the Tower Ballroom and at Butlins Skegness in 1953 with her boyfriend Don, who is now her husband.

THE year was 1952 when the word ‘teenager’ started to be used, probably originating in America. Elvis Presley had not yet come on the scene but jiving and be-bop was the in thing (rock ’n’ roll and Elvis didn’t come on the scene until 1956).

Frankie Laine, Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell and Nat King Cole were nearly always in the Hit Parade along with Connie Francis and Kay Starr heading the female list. It was in November 1952 that the Hit Parade was born. Up until that time, only the sales of sheet music were recorded, and so began the first British Hit Parade, still thriving today.

In those bygone days of yesteryear, it was customary in the lunch hour, especially on Wednesday early closing, for a lot of the shop and office workers to converge on the local high street store – Lewis’s, which had a large record department in the basement where the top 20 would be played over a loud speaker.

 

If I could afford it, I would buy the current number one and feel really smug as I walked through the throng of teenagers brandishing my 5s 11d hit record (29p in today’s money).

My weekly wage at the nursery was about 25 shillings, which was supposed to be a good starting wage for a 15-year-old. I gave £1 for my board and lodgings and so only had five shillings left for pocket money and bus fares.

I had to save for weeks, and sometimes walked to work so that I would be able to afford a record, even though I didn’t posses sa record player, so it was great to be able to listen to the top 10 being played in Lewis’s store.

Afterwards everyone would make a bee-line for the local Kardomah (which was near to Lewis’s). It was the ‘in place’ for coffee and meeting up with friends. We would sip our coffee, making it last as long as possible, while making eyes at the opposite sex, hoping that one of them would pluck up the courage to speak to us and maybe even make a date.

Nearly all the girls would be wearing the customary pencil skirt with a slit at the back and sloppy Joe sweaters, and sometimes, if they could afford it, a suit with a drape jacket just like the boys, which we all thought was “the very end”. I was determined to save up enough money to be able to buy myself one (which, to be authentic, had to be tailor-made from a men’s outfitters).

The “Teddy Boy” look was just starting to take off for the boys, and a lot of them sported Tony Curtis or DA haircuts.

It was seven years after the end of the war and the boys were determined to make the most of it before being called up for National Service. But our voices were beginning to be heard, at last. We were no longer called adolescents, we were “teenagers” with an identity of our own and we wanted our voices and viewpoints to be heard.

Bolton Teddy Boy. 1957-1960 – A story.

In 1957, there were still the old original Teddy boys, and girls, from the early ’50s. The boys wore grey or pale blue drape suits, with black or navy velvet collars, usually smothered in
dandruff and Brylcreem! They had black or white shirts with thin ties or bootlace things with a metal pull-up thingie to adjust them. Some were almost strangled with their own ties after the inevitable fights, or risked their legs being broken running for the trolley bus to Farnworth Monaco Dance Hall, and getting their knee caught in the plethora of buttons, sometimes one, sometimes 12, in a space of 6 inches, at the bottom of the jacket! They all had acne, due
to the amount of grease they smothered on their D.A.s Brothel creepers completed the outfit.The gals wore calf-length black tight skirts, white or blackslash-neck sweaters,ridiculously-padded pointed bras, nylon stockings with seams and flat black ballerina shoes. Their hair was like the boys, but they wore big white button earrings.They all slapped on Max Factor Panstick makeup, so consequently most of them also had acne.

They frequented the Monaco, which was quite posh, but that didn’t stop the fighting, Swinton Palais, the Academy,(‘Cad,|) in Salford, and the Lyndale in Eccles, plus The Horseshoe and Shamrock pubs in L. Hulton, and The Gas Tavern, Peeping Tom, and Fox on Regent Rd.They’d drink pints of mild, and the girls’d have halves.There would be a fight every Friday and Saturday night,usually over a girl, or because someone criticised another’s dress sense.They would reputedly,use coshes, knuckledusters or stilettoes, but all that was exaggerated and stuff of B-grade films.
They usually kicked, punched and bit one anothers’ ears!
The cafes de rigeur were the soda and sarsparilla sweet shop in L.Hulton, and Hurleys Milk Bar on Eccles New Rd. in Salford.They danced a very tight jive, hardly moving, with the girls doing the work, but still quite restrained, except for some nutters, like Lol, a fairground worker who wore a red drape suit and just threw himself all over, shaking. Everyone used to stand round him and clap to the beat, but it was not dancing, more like status epilepticus! (Perhaps it was-poor bugger!) There was also the “Routine”, which ONLY the boys were allowed to do, a bit tribal when you look back. It was a bit like the steps The Shadows with Cliff Richard used to make, but 12 of them in a row.Sometomes they used to get a bit carried away doing that, and jump about a bit.
They were the old brigade and liked Johnny Ray and Guy Mitchell, then Elvis, Tommy Steele, Eddie Cochran, Chuck and Bo, the Platters, Bill Haley, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,Larry Williams, and some old jazz/blues singers.Johnny Ray came to Manchester and there were riots outside the Midland, with several hundred teddy girls screaming.The girls began the change by becoming Bobby-soxers, wearing same as above, but with short white socks, which started the American trickle, which then became a flood.I was one of the Sweet littleRock’n’Rollers, being 14, whilst the older ones were the Rebels Without a Cause. I only had 2 teddy boyfriends, one of them Fred the Ted, from Farnworth. That was a short-lived rapport as I couldn’t understand his ees and aars, and he called me “Luv” all the time.Fred disappeared back to the wilds of Farnworth after my Mum waved an umbrella at him, because I was 5 mins late home. (9.05pm!) The other was Tony, who was a “proper” tall, thin, ted. He was dark and greasy and had a scar on his chin from the army.(Think he’d cut himself shaving!) He was the one my Mum thought was wearing an overcoat in Summer, but it was just his mega-long jacket.He had a motorbike, a BSA, but told me he was getting a Norton Dominator, so I stayed with him for a while, until he didn’t get theND. Anyway, he was a bit cross-eyed, but quite attractive with it in a strange way, as it went with the gear. My Dad said he was shifty, so I ended it and started going out with Duffy.Duffy was like me, in mid-1957, one of the new rock kids. He and his mates wore black sweaters with a white stripe down the sleeves and music notes on the front, over a white shirt with the collar turned up, black jeans and black suede beetlecrushers or white tennis shoes.They had “hybrid” haircuts, a bit teddy boy DA and a bit American crew cut. Crew cuts eventually seemed to take over. The girls, myself included, wore rolled-up jeans, white t-shirts and check or white shirts worn outside and open, with white socks and tennis shoes. We wore our hair long, with pony tails and fringes, and chewed Wrigleys Arrowmint whilst riding past the boys on our bikes, with a “proper”bottle of Coca Cola nonchalantly held in one hand, the other on the handlebar.We went to Bolton Palais, the Monaco, The Co-op, and St Edmunds Youth Club, where Father Loran used to come and bop a bit,trying to bond with us. Whilst the teddy boys had been totally the bosses in a relationship, we were ever so slightly more easy-going, and a girl could be
the most popular and influential person in the gang. My friend  Jean Brannie and
I used to compete for that in our gang. For going out bopping, (we no longer called it jiving, and we said hip instead of hep,) the boys wore black pants slightly too long, so that they creased a bit over their 14 inch bottom pants and white socks and black suede slip on crushers, and a white jacket over a white or black shirt, buttoned up, but no tie. The girls wore black felt full-circle skirts and frothy white nylon petticoats, which crackled and gave you electric shocks in the knees, with white lace sleeveless tops and thick black belts.Our dancing was more energetic and boppy, with a bit of throwing around, and we had the singers named above, but
also newer and younger ones, doowappy groups like Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Little Anthony and The Imperials, and Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy,Little Richard, Fats Domino, Rick Nelson, Frankie Avalon etc. The girl singers were only really Connie Francis and Brenda Lee.We used to try to go to the Shamrock but were usually thrown out quite swiftly, as the look was different to teds, much more youthful and, let’s face it, we were kids. I remember once
that my mate and I dressed up in trench macs, with belts pulled tight, high heels, and fags hanging out of our mouths, (trying to look French,) and went into the Shamrock. I didn’t know what to drink, so I ordered a pint of cider,(unheard of for a female in those days!) and we were again shown the door. We used to instead, buy bottles of Babycham or Cherry-B from the off licence, and drink them behind the youth club.In 1958, there was a huge Italian influence on fashion, although the only songs were Come Prima, and Volare! The boys began wearing suits with short, boxy jackets, tapered knife-edge trousers, waistcoats and winklepicker shoes, with white button-down shirts and red thin ties and a matching handkerchief, (usually a bit of red cloth on a white card, which slipped into the top left-hand pocket of the jacket.)
Their hair was side-parted and very short, called a flat-top.That was when the music died, as Don McLean sang.Music became more middle road and poppy, rather than
rock, and I didn’t like most of it, preferring to stick with Chuck, Bo, L. Richard, Fats etc.I did embrace the fashion though, polo neck sweaters, tight skirts to just on or above the knees,pointed white shoes and Brigitte Bardot hair, with pale makeup and lips, and very black eyes.The dancing changed with the music and the dress, and became more “sophisticated”, a bit more restrained, as it was hard to move with the tight skirts and suits, and The Twist evolved with the Italian look.The singers became more like the ones in the early 50s, with no wild childs,or very few, and although the hot Summer of 1959 loosened people up a little, there was nothing of any great note in that year, Bobby Darin,(Mack The Knife,) Marty Wilde, (Teenager in Love,) but some good black American stuff like Ben E. King, Santo and Johnny, and someone called Johnny Tillotson .The music from then on didn’t change, and although there were still some old die-hard teds in the dance halls, they were becoming a bit of a joke to the new Italian-suited younger ones of my years.The refreshing person of that year in the UK was Adam Faith, with “What Do You Want?” which caused a stir by his music style and his dress style.
By 1960, we had Fabian, Bobby Vee, and a load of pretty American boys very similar, singing pop and schmaltzy songs which were good to smooch to. Smooching was very popular, and music becoming more sexual, in words and nature, but no longer rawly-sexy, as rock’n’roll had been, in a completely innocent way.I was then frequenting different palais, as was everyone who was anyone, including lunchtime dancing in Manchester, at The Plaza, with Jimmy Saville as a young DJ, then we’d go back to work. I was at the CIS at the time. Our cafes were becoming “continental”, with the Bodega club-cafe in Portland St. and The Casablanca, in Bolton, which was painted white brick walls, with candles in Chianti bottles, and cafe espresso.Nothing changed much, boring singers like Helen Shapiro and Susan Maughan.(Please Don’t Treat Me Like a Child0, and Bobby’s Girl, you get the idea?) Rock’n’Roll had become first, respectable, and was now completely controlled and becoming bourgeois, with rich kids who couldn’t sing getting on the bandwaggon.For example, Lesley Gore, a yank millionaire’s daughter, sang a puerile song called, “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to,” Her father apparently said, that if nobody bought the record, he’d buy a million copies, so that she’d get a gold disc.And she did.
The sad thing was that the public bought the song, because there wasn’t much else, and the words appealed to teenage angst,to which were devoted a lot of songs in those days, but all false.The only one I can think of hat I like at that time was wonderful, but still poppy, The Shirelles, Will You Still Love me Tomorrow, oh and Blue Moon by The Marcels.I’m afraid that this was how it stayed until late 1962, when I was sitting with Michelle on my knee,watching Scene at 6.30, and Bill Grundy introduced a new group, The Beatles, singing Love Me Do.After that, there was a revolution, which made the teddy boy era, although hugely innovative, look like
a drop in the ocean. No, that’s not fair, The teds were the first ones after the flappers of the 1920s, to go against dressing the same way as your parents.So the teds did play a big part in the direction in which music and fashion combined at the time, and have done, ever since.

 

Last modified on April 8, 2013

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