Rock Follies?

Rock and pop music is so fabulous in the way it can practically get away with anything at all sartorially. I’ve always been interested in how some bands assume a ‘uniform’ to accentuate their image. Way back to the 1950s’ doo-wappers and through the 1960s’s with such huge luminaries as The Beatles themselves with their collarless jackets and mop-tops. The seventies provided some rich fodder of course via the conduit of glam-rock and punk rock in particular. It’s easy to recall too, the New Romantics of the 1980s’ wth their foppish fringes and attitudes. Sometimes things can get seriously over the top of course. Here are one or two examples of the more memorable examples.

Here are a few oddities amongst a cast of simply thousands…

Some excellent example to choose from but firstly one can easily see
how these boys might go down a bomb.
Appearing at an arena on the Gaza Strip near you.
“Are we not men – we are Devo”
Perhaps Devo are on of the first bands that come to mind
when we think of slightly…erm avant gard apparel?
Some local boys now from Nottingham. The excuse ‘The Nerve’ might use might be that this was a typical period piece from the date of this publicity shot in 1967. I’m just trying to figure out the thinking behind this one though,
‘hey guys, know that important publicity shot today? You know the one that’s going to propel us to world stardom? Well I’ve got this idea – let’s all dress up from head to toe in see-through plastic suits.’
Band (together): ‘Yes, lets’.
I have to confess to liking this band at the time.
New Zealand’s, Split Enz were funny and original and
showed their quality when Crowded House were formed
from their midst.
Strange hairstyles and even stranger facial expressions.
The Residents were surely king of all the weird bands.
There’s just something nightmarish about those huge eyes isn’t there?

13 thoughts on “Rock Follies?”

  1. Me again Stu. We really do seem to have more than a few coincident interests! From 1967 to about 1971, I was a DJ with the legendary (:)) Magic Roundabout Mobile Disc Show, which originally comprised Dave Pickering, Dave Cartwright ( now living in Gedling) and a guy called Ian Gregory from Doncaster, who disappeared back there around 1968.
    After humble beginnings at the White Hart in Glasshouse street, we quickly became quite successful, having residencies at the Carlton Hotel,Robninson’s Hill Social Club and most memorably at the 360 Club Bulwell. We were also busy on the weddings and funerals circuit. The name was quickly abbreviated to The Magic R. At the 360, we used to book bands and had some top bands from the local area. Regulars were the likes of The Clockwork Toys, Carl’s Fables, Mickey’s Monkey’s (from Sheffield) and the oddly named ‘Lambs of the World’, featuring Nottm’s answer to Screaming Lord Sutch. (Can’t remember the chaps name),and a young and annoyingly good lead guitarist called Mick Vaughan, who went on to brief fame as lead with Paper Lace. Also ‘Whichwhat’, whose cover of Crazy Elephant’s ‘Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ (Beacon Records) actually got a play on Fluff Freeman’s ‘Pick of the Pops’.
    We also booked Sons and Lovers and The Nerve. Nerve’s minor hit ‘Magic Spectacles’ is still to be found on obscure compilations of British Psychedelia. The main line and sentiment of ‘Magic Spectacles’ runs “With my magic spectacles, I can see everything……” Possibly the transparent suits are an allusion to this?
    We booked some bigger bands too, memorably Baker St Limited who became Samson (Not the heavy rockers.. but an completely different earlier band) My claim to fame is that on the cover of their debut and I think only album ‘Are You Samson?’, the drummer is wearing a green lambswool sweater. That sweater was mine… nicked from the dressing room at the 360! I loved that sweater.. ’til I got it back about 6 months later, stretched out of shape and bleached white under the arms from being drummed in by an overweight rocker. Swine!
    We got stung once… we were able to book Root and Jenny Jackson, who’d had some minor soul/R&B hits and were on a sort of come back. IIRC they cost us £170. Nobody believed we’d got them and nobody turned up, so we lost a small fortune.

    I walked away from my ‘career’ as a DJ way back,and quickly regretted leaving all those rare singles with Dave. Dave Pickering carried on and as far as I know is still associated with DJ ing via Pulse Disco, which has/had some association with’ve guessed it.. Bestwood Miner’s Welfare.
    Dave organised a few re-unions at the welfare in the late 90’s which I went to and enjoyed tremendously, but we’ve lost touch. Pity.. those few years of making a living from enjoying ourselves hugely every night and doing very little during the day, were among the best of my life.

    Col B

  2. We certainly do, Colin. I’m very interested in hearing your views and comments on these subjects. Thanks very much.

    Sounds like some happy memories for you there? Whereabouts was the 360 Club in Bulwell? Of course I know the White Hart which is still there though I haven;t been in for quite some years. It became known as ‘Owd Boots’ for a few years before changing back. What a name eh?

    Interesting stuff about some of the bands there. Wonder if you remember a local band called ‘The Fabulous Beatmen’ at all? They’re still kicking around apparently. I recall them all living in a little terrace house near a school I went to in Arnold and also seeing them at appear at the Saturday morning ‘ABC Minors’ at The Metropole in Sherwood!

    Being as you’re an ex-DJ, I wonder if you have looked in at the ‘Nottstalgia’ website linked on my front page? On there are two or three ex-DJ’s who’ve done the rounds a bit over the years. One is Craig Strongman ‘Craig Strong’ and another is Ian who labels himself ‘Beefsteak’ on there. Might be one or two people you formerly knew?

    Thanks for your interesting and amusing comments again!


  3. Hi Stu,
    No,sorry, I don’t recall the bands you mention. The 360 Club was the former Bulwell Liberal Club. Situated on Highbury Road/Vale. As you come up Highbury from Bulwell Market Place, the club is situated immediately after St Mary’s Church on the left. We ran disco’s and sometimes as many as three bands in one night, From memory we had Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun.

    Another band, which included an old school buddy of mine called Graham Wyville, was ‘Rainbow Sunset’. He’s apparently still living in Sherwod and still playing in bands
    I’ll have a look at the Nottstalgia thing!

    All the best

    Col B

  4. Ah I know where you mean, Colin. It’s just that I worked around around Bulwell for some years and was curious.

    Don’t know too much about the bands you mention but obviously the aforementioned Paper Lace were well known. One of the band members came from not far from me on (I think) Coppice Road in Arnold. They certainly got their fifteen minutes of fame didn’t they?

    It’s always been a source of wonder to me why Nottingham hasn’t made more of a dent on the music world than it has. One struggles to think of more than odd individuals that have ‘made it. I guess the foremost for me will always be the fantastic Ten Years After with Alvin Lee from Mansfield. We’re talking some time ago now though!

  5. Ahhh ‘Ten Year’s After’. Around 1970/71, I woz doing a bit of tunnelling, ‘neath Bestwood Estate… for a new sewer… as you do. A site engineer type approached me and asked if I was in a band, because I ‘looked the part’. I explained that I wasn’t, but did a bit of DJ’ing. He explained that his son was in a local band. I must admit that, knowing most of the local bands, I was a little dismissive in my reply of ‘Oh yeah?, who is he then?. They call him Alvin… said the bloke..

  6. Great story!

    I reckon Alvin Lee could squeeze out more notes per second than any other guitarist I’ve ever heard, including Hendrix.

    TYA conquered the world for a little while didn’t they. Went down a storm at Woodstock and apparently were the best selling band in the States after The Rolling Stones at that time.

    There’s was a fabled return to Nottingham wasn’t it – playing The Palais! Apparently the queues to get in the door reached down to Clumber Street!

  7. Sorry Stuart, a very belated reply to you on the subject of TYA. A lot has happened since I last came here! I had a strange episode in around March 2008 which was later diagnosed as a stroke. Typing away.. as is my wont, late at night. Next thing I was aware of myself face down on the keyboard and my right arm totally useless. Also affected the right side of my face and bits of my right leg/foot. I just went to bed, but as the paralysis continued next day I was eventually diagnosed as having a stroke. Anyway, I’ve regained almost all of the feeling and function in my right side, but I do get a lot of pain from my arm. Apparently it’s called ‘central post-stroke pain’ and isn’t really pain, but just your brain thinking it can feel pain.. so that’s allright then!…. 🙂 It also affected my memory and organising ability, which makes life a bit difficult, but I’m still working (no choice!)and really very active (swimming/walking/weights) for an old Git!

    Hoping to walk the length of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in May 2009. Also had some cardiac issues throughout 2008, but it seems I have developed ‘natural by-passes’ around a blocked left ventricular artery, so I’m still hanging in there.

    I don’t recall the TYA return, but by then I was either living in the south, or up here in the north-west.

    I agree about the lack of musical success for Nottm. There was a fabulous music scene in the 60’s. We once booked a band called Pete and Billy Campbell and the Mighty Sparrows.
    Pete and Bill were black guys. Presumably 2nd/3rd generation Carribean. The Sparrows were a pretty basic white four piece band of three guitars and drums. Pete and Billy did a mix of Sam and Dave and Otis Redding/Wilson Pickett stuff and they were exceptional. They came to us for £12 on the first gig. We immediately re-booked them, but soon they were demanding money way out of our league. I don’t know what happened to Pete, but Billy appeared on that big TV talent show.. the one with Hughie Green, or maybe New Faces.. don’t remember. Heard nothing after that. A real pity.

    Do you remember the Beachcomber Club?.. or the three boat clubs by the Trent? The ‘Boat’ (Nottingham Boat Club), The ‘Brit’ (The Britannia Rowing Club) and the ‘Union’ (Nottm & Union Rowing Club.. I think) These were along the embankment down the side of the Trent Bridge Inn. I have no idea whether they are still there.
    They were all built along the same pattern. A boat house underneath, and a bar area upstairs, with a small dance floor and stage further in. They each had their character. The Union was definitely a soul place. The Boat was more blues and the Brit was somewhere in between.

    The bands I saw there.. you wouldn’t believe….. Jethro Tull, Linda Lewis and Ferris Wheel, Tim Rose, Long John Baldry, Fleetwood Mac (at least three times), Ainsley Dunbar Retaliation, Geoff Beck Band feat. Rod Stewart,Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, Prince Buster. Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds and many, many more. There was a smell about those places which, on reflection was probably stale beer and perfume, but it was so evocative of a good time……..


    Also saw Junior Walker at the Palais, Cream at the Tech College in Shakespeare Street (Now Nottm Trent, I believe)

  8. Hi Colin

    Sorry for my belated response to you very welcome message. It’s good to hear from you again. I’m sorry to hear about your health difficulties of late and hope have made a half-decent recovery. That must have been extremely frightening for you.

    Interested to hear about your proposed jaunt along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, that sounds great. I think you’re familiar with the little project I did along the Grantham Canal and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every single yard of that walk. There’s such a lot interest on the way along the old canals, I think they’re much neglected.

    That’s some really great info you have about the local music scene there – thanks very much! I was particularly interested to hear about Cream playing in what I assume would be the Student Union Building on Shakespeare Street! That’s pretty incredible! I remember in the mid-seventies Queen playing in the same building! As a coincidence I often work in that building with my job with Nottingham Trent University.

    I never did any of the clubs by the Trent, I’m not sure why really. I think I missed out on a lot there as several of my friends talk affectionately of them just as you do.

    Best wishes for a continued recovery, Colin. Good to hear from you.


  9. Hi Stu!,
    I’m still here and just turned 61! A lot better than last time we had contact and thanks for your good wishes.
    I came to look for the Pic of the Nerve in their plastic suits. It’s not that I’m strange.. more that someone on YouTube seems to think the Nerve were a West Country band and I’m pretty certain they were from Nottm. I’d like to post the pic to show them. Is it still here? I just can’t find it.


  10. Wow! Thanks for the link Stuart. And the Clockwork Toys are on there! Useter book them into the old 360 club a few times. A good line in Drifters covers if I recall.


  11. Hi – just discovered this site, what a fantastic nostalgia trip!

    I was a “rowing” – as in oarsman, not argumentative – member of the Boat club, and as such gained free entrance in the evenings to the two other clubs, a very good mutual arrangement. Many top bands played there, often having been booked just at the right time, ie just before they hit the big time, such as Status Quo playing when their first hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was riding high in the charts. Similarly Honeybus with ‘Can’t let Maggie Go”. They used a piece of vacuum cleaner hose to get the horn sound in the intro, IIRC.

    Also saw Cliff Bennet and the Rebel Rousers, Herman’s Hermits, The Herd, and The Impressions, one of the few US bands. They were brilliant.

    So many memories, such as the previously mentioned Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, with AD playing what must have been a 15 minute drum break. I was playing drums in a local band (The Mason Dixon Line, based in Bestwood/Arnold area)at the time, and it just blew me away.

    I’ve now moved ‘down South’ but still play in a band, now on bass, and with real musicians(!!) at a big church in Herts, rehearsing last night for a big Easter celebration on Sunday.

  12. Sounds like you have some fantastic and treasured memories, Malcolm, hold on to them! Great stuff. I live in the Arnold area myself, incidentally.

    Enjoy your music and I hope your Easter celebration goes really well.

    Cheers. Stu

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