Sunday, 5 January 2014

Reflected People 1973 to 1975


1973 to 1975


SCHOOL’S IN FOREVER


Growing unemployment led to the increase in the age that young people left education establishments between 1972 and 1973. The official figure broke the million barrier. It would fuel arguments from trade unions that were getting complaints from their members, over youngsters taking jobs from older people; due to them being paid less, and being more controllable, from the education system, by employers. They had pressed the Labour Party to stop kids entering the labour market, before 1966. The employers also did the same for different reasons, to the Conservative Party, who had taken power in 1970. Employers, under the guise of the Confederation of British Industry (C.B.I.), wanted to put an end to the young people coming to them for jobs. Well not all youths, only the ones who had not learned much at school. Those that left at 15 probably had not taken CSE or GCSE exams. These were now going for jobs that in years gone by they were not expected to take or even get! Once again this was caused by unemployment. Another couple of factors put pressure on to raise the school leaving age. The first has to be local councils, which are budget minded and like all capitalist, want growing amounts of money to use. Even the ones that claim not to be capitalist use the same system, as more than half of any council’s expenditure is connected to education, than keeping kids at school will help their budget. It’s also good news for teachers and their unions, with more jobs for them, when jobs elsewhere were getting harder to find. Though not all teachers wanted this, as it created more work for them and teacher training was perhaps slow to catch up with this created demand. Newly qualified young women teachers also tendered to leave after they got married. Teachers were thus in short supply. This would result in more work and for the same pay, for those already teaching. They too had to put up with the kids that had to stay on for the extra year. Dr Rhodes Boyson, very much on the right of the Conservative Party and an educationalist, thought that schools would become unmanageable. Not all children simply accepted the extra year; one boy even took his own life, by hanging himself in 1974. Parents had to support their kids longer. Poor and uneducated parents often let their child leave, regardless of the law. It’s likely that this was put down to truancy, as Boyson believed. The Inner London Education Authority found in their surveys that 15 being worst for truancy. Many got some sort of job, which was cash in hand. This meant that employers got away with not paying National Insurance and any tax and the rest. Newspaper headlines screamed ONE MILLION TRUANTS, but some benefited - both kids and adults.
Official statistics showed that only 60% left school at age 15. But this was due to the grammar schools, who kept kids till 16 anyway. After the age of leaving discrepancy was corrected some 70% of pupils gave up education, so even some Grammar school pupils were flooding on to the jobs market at 16. The increased numbers of children leaving made the further education figures look good, with 10% more by 1979. However in real terms this was probably a reduction or no change at all, due to the “baby boom” generation. Nevertheless most children accepted the extra year and those parents with children who had left school, were not keen on their other children joining the dole queue. More youths on the dole was making a mockery of the need system of poverty relief that post war government had introduced. Easter and summer leavers flooded the Employment Exchange every time. Most got jobs quite quickly. However the opposition parties used these new high figures to attack any Government and any policies they had. Even if these policies had nothing to do with unemployment. The problem for any government was that these figures and the inflation rate figure were regular read out in the House of Commons. If they fell they were all right, yet if the baseline trend showed increase they were still blamed. News reports of jobless youths committing suicide and the distressed parents put further pressure on MP’s. The truth is that both of these figures were unconnected with most government plans or actions to keep them low. This is because that like medical drugs they work in some cases, don’t in others and have side effects, which are mostly none beneficial to the country as a whole.

The Milky bar Grocer’s daughter

One of these ‘side effects’ was brought about because of the above and the others already spoken of, plus the disrespect of older people to those younger. Most adults those well over 21, during the seventies, think that young people became more disrespectful to the older generation. This was true because of the schooling and yet it was the other way round as well. Many adults became quite resentful of young people, because the young people seemed to have more money. This spending was of course seen in the buying of popular music. Adults paying large bills: from the rent/mortgage to food and heating/light, left them with little surplus cash. This ‘surplus cash’ was then spent on luxury items. Few bothered to save then. It was universally considered that buying music was a luxury item; indeed you could say that most of what young people spent their money on was considered by adults to be a waste of time. In essence the young person, once any board was paid, was free to spend on what they liked. With adults this hardly applied, thus young people had gained a little extra money and being criticised for it. These moans reached government ears and with the other moans eh; should that be concerns, they passed acts needed to keep children at schools for a longer period. The 1972 Local Government Act, though this did not come completely into effect until April 1974, was one such act.
Most of these older people believed that the community sprit was at its height during the war. Mrs Thatcher and others certainly did and she plays a role in what happened. Ironically the seeds of their discontent of the young had also been sown during the war. It was the 1944 Education Act that took the school leaving age to 15, although it wasn‘t raised till 1947. It also had the provision to increase the same to 16, once the Ministry of Education was satisfied it could be practical. And there didn’t need to be another act or parliamentary debate on the subject. There hadn’t been much of one on the 1944 act itself! It went through Parliament ‘smooth but slow’ 1 The Ministry thus thought it was practical in 1972. The minister in charge was Margaret Thatcher. She who stopped free school milk, but what she didn’t know, at the time, she was building up the problems she was deal with as Prime Minister, they were trivial compared with the cost of free milk!
There was no evaluation done, by the scientific communities, on the likely affects that keeping children on at school would have. No economist did any calculations of the withdrawal of large numbers of people from the work place, simply because many of them thought that it would increase productivity to have better educated young people leaving school. To fit in with this, new aspirations about increasing A-Level and O-Level qualifications were being brought in, however the entire Government and all the parties, simply ignored youths/children contribution to the economy. There was opposition to Mrs Thatcher’s plan, but it wasn’t to do with the creation of problems that Britain was to become involved with. The Daily Telegraph called it “little short of Lunatic”.2 Thatcher was seen as being a socialist in this context, simply because she was for-filling Labour’s broken pledge of 1966. The other side effects of rising rates in local authorities and reduced spending by adults having to support their children for longer than before and more tax. They also ignored the effect inflation was based on too much money circulating in the economy. The Church had strongly argued for young people to be in education from the industrial revolution, believing that the young were being corrupted morally by having no or little education. They would probably wouldn’t have accepted (and still won’t) that; teaching reading, maths and so on to teenagers causes and caused a fundamental breakdown in moral standards and social behaviour.
All of these factors came into play again as the results of the jump in the school leaving age had a downside to the financial side of Britain. The first side effect of the extra year was blamed (at the time and still is for many) on the oil price and shortage of 1973; The Yom Kippur War of October 73 quadrupled the crude oil price. Trade unions also took the can for it as well. The Miners led by Joe Gormley and Rail Unions battled with Edward Heath’s Conservative Government about how much people should get paid. Heath had given tax cuts out in his budgets and with cheap credit was causing growth in the economy at 7.4%. Workers thus needed high wages to pay debt. Massive wage rises were seen by the Labour Governments between 1974 & 1979, as responsible for the colossal rise of inflation to its highest figure (since the war) of 24.9%. This was achieved in 1975. Only since this figure, like the record charts positions, were not based on up-to-date figures, don’t refer to that year, but are referring to 1974 and even 1973. Under Dennis Healy time as chancellor, policies were brought in to control wage rises. Pay was therefore only to rise inline with inflation and preferably under it. These ‘contracts’ did not take into account that a firm might be making a profit or the increasing costs of children since they were in school now longer. Unrest among working people grew. While at the same point, bosses increased their salaries even when the companies were not making profits. Trade unions members on TV news tried to defend their union’s actions. They pointed out that inflation had eaten into the workers wagers and that land prices or oil, which had nothing to do with their members, caused inflation. The TV News also would come under attack by the Glasgow University Media Group as promoting a middle ground style of news coverage, in a sequence of books, with names such as: Really Bad News. They showed that TV news backs various opinions and delivered a centre political view of the world. By the end of 2000 it was a centre-right view as the old regimes tried to control the poor morals of the people. With the power cuts of 1972, because Arthur Scargill and others got Flying Pickets to stop coal reaching the power stations, militant unions became the topic of a pop song. The Strawbs hit the top of the chart with Part of the Union. But was it sung in praise or against the unions, you could ask yourselves? Not that most
teenagers were interested in the news or the decline around them. Teenage girls were interested only in seeing the latest pictures of pop stars in Jackie Magazine, which came out Saturdays, Boys were into football and league tables were often pasted onto their bedroom walls. Snooker also had parents rushing off for small tables. Thanks to colour TV and the BBC 2 programme Pot Black, made only because of colour. It doesn’t make sense in black and white! That’s assuming they had a colour set, and the power was on!
If the unions were simply being blamed and had not caused the rise to 24.9%, then was the oil rise doing the damage? I doubt it, because it doesn’t fit with the theory that too much cash is to blame. If any product rises in cost too much, in the market system, the rise can be got round by not buying as much of it. Indeed the Government had a “Save it” campaign on following the crises. Although oil may have contributed to a small rise of less than 10% due to the need still to buy it, something that the Government does every year was the cause of it. The budget! This for 1973 was very different to all the previous years. In that year the budget was set like all the others on the spending and income for the previous year’s total. Yet in 1972 the 15-year-olds that should have left were still there, the following year. The 1973 budget should have taken an amount of the overall budget for that year to account for all these kids not getting paid by employers. However since that figure wasn’t available, due to the kids getting different levels of wages or none at all, the chancellor could not do this. The reason for this being that if the Government didn’t stick to the figures (of previous years) when setting the budget, then Britain could go bust, because employers wouldn’t have the cash to pay people. In 1971 there were about 8 million aged between 16 and 24. Yet that’s not really practical for our purposes. Let’s do some calculations. Since I was at school when they raised it, I can tell you that each class of my school had 30 to 40 pupils in it. I understand that this was about typical around the rest of the country. So my school had 9 classes per year of kids, before the rise, thus it had 3 sets of 9 classes. After 1972 it had 4 sets of 9. Assuming 30 kids per class, then 270 pupils should have left each year. If they all got a job that paid say £16 a week, then the Treasury had to make sure that £4,320 was circulating in the economy for each school. This adds up for 30 schools to £129,600, about the number for Sheffield and so on. Even if the Schools took on extra staff and resources, it still would hardly affect the overall figure that was circulating. A huge amount of money was thus issued in the budget of 1973 that was not needed; however it would remain hidden, as costs had risen, due to oil, a three day working week and all the other faults that hit Britain in 1973 and74. With the crisis that hit Britain a small amount of money left floating went unnoticed. The ship of state had hit the iceberg and no one knew!

Inflated leavers

Therefore inflation hit that high in 1975 due to the budgets of 1973 & 74 not cutting back the cash needed to pay school leavers, who hadn’t left! This left the money floating around, it also explains why inflation has since never gone that high. Ironic that the woman who brought inflation under control, was responsible for the trigger of it going so high in the first place! “Nah!” would have said Alfred Sherman and Alan Walters two bright academics, who wouldn’t shake the hand of Keith Joseph in 1974. “It’s all this subsidising and money supply ripping that Heath’s doing! Let the entrepreneurs have a free run that will solve the problem,” it didn’t and they did.
The next side effect was to make Richard Branson a rich man. Branson was really good at cheating; he was even doing it at school. It turns out most millionaires are, according to those that study them. Branson himself had been tax fiddling the Government by selling records by mail order that were meant for export, thus avoiding purchase tax. Richard himself was helping the down trodden youth also, but made money at the same time.
Getting wind of the postal strikes forced him to set up record shops as well. With 240,000 postal workers led by Tom Jackson on all out strike. Branson had a huge problem thanks to Mr Taxman, who caught up and wanted £38,000 over 3 years! Credit made it easy for Richard, as he didn’t have to pay for the records he got from suppliers for 60 days. Cash or cheque customers paid quick and Virgin staff had gone to America and seen the Tower Records chain selling music from the shelf. Each new store, helped by credit delay, opened to pay off the taxman. Contacts with musicians brought Tom Newman asking for a recording studio and the rest was added to give Virgin its own label in 1971. By 1973 Virgin had signed up Mike Oldfield, who produced experimentally a whole album, with no gaps or voice, called Tubular Bells.
John Peel played it in full on Radio One and it went to number one on the album chart a single was also lifted from the album. The rights were also given to a filmmaker and used on The Exorcist. Within a short time he was a millionaire. The next Branson type who benefited was Pete Waterman. Whereas Richard knew nothing of popular music, Pete knew everything and told Magnet Record company boss Michael Levy that his companies records where “crap”.

No sex please! We’re at school

The other side effects of increased education would be seen in the next decade, but it started to get more problematic in the seventies. This was down to sex. Basic sex education had become a joke! Apart from those in the adult world who disagreed with it entirely, it was being taught before most children were even interested in it. However it concentrated on the “birds and the bees” and the stuff one can see, as Eminem would put it years later “on the Discovery Channel”. As most young people would have left school from senior school around the age of 15, it continued to be taught at before that age. Another reason for it to be taught was the onset of puberty. Teacher thus could answer these questions, which children had about changes to their bodies, to the whole class. Actually as humans are a sexual race, a lot of sexual development takes places a lot earlier than 12. Be that as it may more emphasis takes place after 12. Human reproduction teaching consisted of technical drawings of the male/female body, a film of the birth of a child, the mention of sperm and eggs being released, but no clear description of how the sperm got from male to female. Generally it was referred to as the “fertilisation process”! This was the effect of the permissive sixties, believe it or not! But even Richard Branson had discovered the problems with getting help for teenagers with sexual transmitted diseases as early as 1968, when he placed an advert in his student (anyone over 16 in education) magazine. Breaking the law by putting in the advert, which was for a sexually education centre, the word “venereal” resulting in a seven pound fine.3
This simple form of sex education was (by the Government and Church) of course seen as sufficient for children leaving school at 15 then.4 Equally it was not really; they would have to get details from other people.5 And that’s the crux of the matter. Youngsters after they enter puberty need instructions from a wide variety of ages. Instead they started after the Second World War to get it from other teenagers. Most would agree this was and is a bad way of learning about sex, hence the sex education that is outlined above. Yet as this was a best poor, it was back to teenagers again for the ‘good stuff’, hence the popularity of Sweet’s record “Little Willy” in June of 1972, something to laugh about around the bike-shed.


Another factor then entered, by the early seventies, was comprehensive education. This saw most boys and girls merged into the same school. They also did more merging at the back of the bike-shed, which started to make some of the girls faint in class or in the assembly. Apart from strong catholic schools, keeping the girls apart from the boys wasn’t seen as a problem. Some however did notice that girls didn’t get a good education, because of the distractions. Not all of the girls got pregnant, but some did form permanent (as they thought) relationships and got married after leaving school. However this does all come about from being at school and what they learned there makes them into the parents they would become after the age of 16. A decent education makes a good parent argue politicians. However I would argue that it doesn’t even make a good politician. Most biologists tell us we are merely animals, though members of parliament don’t like that and have become superior to that kind of talk. Only they ignore advice like this, with a perilous consequence. They did with the school leaving age! But then again nobody knew much about that sort of thing in 1944. Mr Butler (whose act it was) went wrong in that he assumed that education of the mind is all young people needed. This might have been true before the school leaving age went past the age of 12. With puberty in full effect, which is by no means a development of our sexual needs and drives, as already mentioned these have been changing since we were born. It’s much greater than that, puberty changes who we are. Our personality develops, how we relate to others, of both sexes, changes. Later also how we will raise children becomes an issue. Everyone in Britain, who left education, before 1947, wouldn’t understand what doing this to the children would mean. Nowadays we do though comprehend this, yet it still is being ignored. Once again if education controls who we are and what is studied; then any kind of talk which makes education itself to blame for Britain's social and moral problems will not be tolerated. All that happens are debates about how under funded education as lead to social problems, by the left-wingers and how private schools make better children, by right-wingers. They all still agree that a decent education makes good parents and blame the parents of children who have ‘bad’ kids and this attitude was common in the seventies.
Youths however were downgraded by adults. The best example of this can be seen in the BBC’s TV series Dad’s Army. Private Pike is a stereotyped young person of the 1940’s. Yet, because he mixes with the other people of the platoon, forms no peer group with other young people so should have been more adult than youths of the decade it was filmed in. However he hasn’t grown up. What his captain calls him rang true with many adults watching in the seventies. Showing there’s also a lot of the attitudes and beliefs of older people in the seventies, in the character. Pike watches too many films, picking up stupid ideas from them. And is idle or incompetent in any task he does. Strike TV for films and you could have anyone who has left school at 15/16. Also it’s Pike that has to do all the dirty jobs, like any apprentice/Youth scheme lad!

Souled Out & Super Bad at Art

The first dramatic effect of the education system that really annoyed most people was graffiti. Although the illegal use of writing or scribbling on things can be found at most times in history, the painting on walls reached epidemic levels by the mid seventies. The spray can of paint was blamed for the increase. There was a simpler reason. Most education in schools concentrated on what had been taught from the early days of teaching. Art was taught at first to inspire young people with culture. Perhaps with a view to make them think how wonderful Art Galleries were and so on. Art Colleges had been set up and with their influence, convinced many teachers to take Art into the classroom. It’s amazing how many people think they can’t draw even today. This is based on the prints of paintings and the originals in the art galleries around the world, which people have on their walls. Few can draw like Constable;6 most can draw like Lowery critics said of him “Matchstick Men and Cats & Dogs”. Yet even his work is hard to produce. Art School graduates often went on to teaching. When you look at some modern art, you soon get the impression that anyone could do it. Some of it doesn’t (to an untrained eye) look like any skill was involved at all. For instance Cy Twombly “untitled” piece from 1959 looks like a very young child had just been allowed to scribble all over the six-foot canvas! Yet nobody would pay over a million pounds for one that been done like that! With this kind of modern art being taught at Art College, then teachers would be able to see any kids with this kind of potential early on and then develop it. To what extent schools were proud of these budding artists can easily be seen it the art classroom and the corridors of the schools. The famous still life image by Andy Warhol of Coca Cola bottles or cans, was picked up by art teaches and haunts schools to
this day most likely. 7 Still it is seen by those thinking education has only positive results, as a thing to encourage young people to escape from the boredom of their lives.
Over in America, around the New York Slums, where Black people were housed, James Brown’s soul music had really taken hold. Groups and solo acts such as: The Isley Brothers, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, the Ojays and Barry White, easily crossed the pond with smooth well produced numbers like If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Back Stabbers and That Lady. In Britain music making was seen as art itself. But Pete Waterman found out, when he went to the place it was made, looking for the magic ingredient that made US soul better than English music, it was a factory! Writers and producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Tom Bell just turned out songs to earn a living.8 The Labour Party could have nationalised them, if they had been in England. The high American crime rates blamed on black people, where influencing the street language. Yet as can be seen the songs were about love, even so the acts were seen as BAD. This soon caught on, the original meaning getting lost in marketing by record companies. These had caught on to impact that television advertising had on selling records. With the stream of acts that were flowing into and off the top 50 at much faster rates than in any of the previous decades, more and more acts were having only a few hits. This was especially true with soul music. A lot of soul groups/acts who made albums couldn’t get them to sell. Once an act became big, it was easy to sell albums, but acts such as Ultra Funk featuring Mr. Superbad, Creative Source, Timmy Thomas and Robert Knight, had little chance of having a big selling album. Because the format of the 12’’ LP limited its playing time per-side to 30 minutes, getting long soul music on them restricted the total numbers of tracks on the album. Average playing times of singles were on the increase throughout the seventies anyway. The 2.30 minutes single was up to nearly 4 minutes by the end of the decade. But soul music was aimed at dancers in clubs and the like. Pete Waterman became an expert picker of hits from his work as a DJ in these clubs. So the 1972 Isley Brothers’ That Lady at slightly over 6 minutes wasn’t untypical for soul music, being long. However if you put a lot of long tracks on one album, you reduce the track numbers down considerable. Unfortunately an album with only 4 or 5 tracks per side was often seen by the record buying public in England as being not good value for money. Enter K-Tel International, with its cheap TV and Radio advertised 20 plus track album. They quickly established their product range of ‘Limited Edition’9 LPs in the market place. Technically they were compressed small grooves, which gave them increased track numbers, but very low sound levels. This meant you had to turn up the volume control to get them to same level as other albums and singles. Music Centres also became popular at this time and if you pushed the radio button after just listening to one of these albums at only a low level, were still blasted out by the radio station, all though they always advertised them as “Original Hits” and “Original Stars”. This being done to prevent confusion with the Top of the Pops LPs (the ones with the pin up girl on the cover) produced by Pickwick International, with session musicians covering the hit songs. These were being sold alongside them in Woolworth’s shops. Together with their rival Arcade, K-Tel had 30% of album sales.10 The need to get 20 tracks 11 on each album meant a further reduction in the running time was needed. Rather than fade them all out early, verses, most likely the second, on pop songs were edited out. However editing was extreme at times with a 3-minute track reduced to 1.45! The artwork on some of these albums is sometimes very good. This brings us back to graffiti! At least 3 K-Tel LPs used the wall with spray can painted names of the acts rather than the usual photos of them. Either this was to do with saving money, on photo fees, or more likely not wanting to put black people on the album, which was believed to reduce sales, or they just wanted the first album that way Super Bad (released in 1972). Then found it successful in terms of sales, which it was, thus releasing Souled Out (1974)12 and Soul Motion in 1976. During these dates however the spray can culture exploded. If you look at British films made before 1976, which feature English streets, subways and bridges, such as Cliff Richard’s 1974 film Take Me High you’ll see little evidence of any paint spraying or vandalism at all!
 

Put all this together and you can see that teaching kids Art at school was going to lead to them, when they got bored, using these skills to express it. Then after 16 they learned about politics and how free speech can be denied, which was taught them too in university, they then expressed these views on the world they lived in! The Irish Republican Army made very good use of their artists to decorate the streets. All the extreme ends of the political movements used the spray can to inform, while you could say the rich political movements paid vast amounts of money for their artists and put it in fashionable places.
Teaching kids art of course doesn’t mean that every child will go out and spray a wall somewhere. Indeed a second ingredient needs adding, yet in schools this was there already, so the final piece is hormones, past age 12 there’s too many of them. The mixture was perfect, artistic expression, peer groups, hormones. Next development was the spray can to be found in the garage of the growing car owners – called dad!
Teenagers, as we have seen already, pick up most of their behaviour patterns from other young people. One woman through research confirmed that children past the age of 12 were picking up more things from peer groups then were learnt from parents. Peer groups are very unlikely to form were there are a good cross-section of ages, although cliques can form.13 But mum and dad are handy to supply the stuff to fuel bad activities, that’s if you have got both of them!

We want mum and dad together!

The liberated sixties had caused in religious and political eyes a breakdown of the family unit. Has they wanted to return to these ideals the growing number of family musical acts might have given them encouragement, but they were not the only ones who needed a family unit. The family bands would get lots of letters from kids whose parents were divorced or breaking up (around 80,000 in the UK at this time). Groups like the Jacksons, Partridge Family and of course the Osmonds all became popular as divorce rates soared. Michael Jackson overtly concern with children might well have sprung from this period, but it was the Osmonds who hit hardest in Britain and I don’t mean in popularity.
Their first real hit in the States, didn’t make the top 50 here. One Bad Apple was a direct rip off of the Jacksons’ ABC. Yet a few years later their Rock ‘N’ Roll number Crazy Horses gave them a top five hit. Instead of having the mellow image they had in the States, they were considered to be like Slade (musical) over here. It didn’t last long! The brothers soon became Teen Idols and Donny began releasing singles aimed at teenage girls, along with posing for photographs for girls’ magazines. The Media were interested from the start when thousands of girls were shouting “we want the Osmonds” at Heathrow in November 1972. However they and Donny were not the only guys breaking girls’ hearts. Splitting from his own fictional family (Partridge), David Cassidy was the other pin-up on girls’ bedroom walls.
The fans (mostly girls) would go to no ends to see their idols. As Top of the Pops audience numbers had grown so huge, TV centre bosses banned Cassidy from coming there on crowd safety issues. However the real reason that the bosses were fed up of not getting their cars in through the gates. Besides this was trash telly and News and currant affairs were the BBC brand image at that time. News people couldn’t get in too! They got their own back on the fans, the BBC reported on the Six O’ Clock News about Osmond fanatics going wild. Watching were the writers of Sweet’s hits and Teenage Rampage was born.

Shout! Let it all out

The rivalry between Donny and Cassidy fans was nothing compared with their combined hate of Bay City Rollers fans. Roller fans went one better they had their own fashion. The Rollers had started in 1967 as the Saxons, a school-based band from Edinburgh. Line up changes and a hard struggle had produced a hit in 1971 thanks to Jonathan King, yet nothing after it, till 1974. This hard time was probably caused by Manager Tam Paton. He was obsessed with image and even tried satin and frilly shirts on them. This didn’t do them a lot of good in the hard Scottish world of entertainment.14 His control was strict. No smoking, no drink and no girlfriend. The members were allowed all of them in truth and did, just not in the public eye. In the end the band and their manager had to target the market they wanted to break into by buying teenage magazines with Osmond/Cassidy fans address in and send them promotional pictures. The results showed up in the four top ten hits of 74. The tartan trousers and scarfs of the band were rushed into production. Girl followers were thus easily spotted. The only really distinctive features of an Osmond/Cassidy fan were a picture badge of the star, possibly a T-Shirt or bag. Some schools were having debates about school uniform wearing. Some allowed normal clothes to be worn. Tartan however was considered unacceptable! Scarf wearing girls were told by teaches that those are for outside not inside the classroom.
The Rollers fans won the battle in the end, when Cassidy pulled out from touring after the death of a teenage girl in a crowd control accident in 1974. He wasn’t happy with his idol image anyway. Tam Paton was very happy with the idol image and with the antics of teenage girls made sure that ‘Rollermania’ was seen on the headlines. The popular press found out that stories of the band increased sales and all were happy. All accept the band. The Rollers were not what they seemed to be, as Midge Ure found out with his band called Silk. Like many proper bands, Silk were so good at playing music they could be mistaken for a record playing. They were, by none other than Bill Martin!
If you look at the songwriters credit on many seventies singles, particularly the Bell/Arista label, you will probably find the names Martin/Coulter. These blokes (the other Phil Coulter) where like Waterman and his gang, or Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh. They were still unknown then and their predecessors were Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. They were next door to Bell Records at RAK Records and were rivals. Martin/Coulter wanted to be like them having lots of hits. They developed a role. Martin came up with ideas and Coulter wrote the tune. However they liked to run the show and market the product, which they aimed at 14-year-old girls. As packaged as Cornflakes or holidays. They even tried the same format with another band called Kenny.15 Their hits included The Bump and Julie Anne. Real bands were a bloody problem to them. So when Midge came to the studio expecting to play instruments on the record, he got a shock! He got a bigger shock when they found out all they needed them for was to sing a chant. Silk walked into the recording of what sounded like a Bay City Rollers track, hardly surprising as the Bay City Rollers didn’t record their own music. Instead the same session musicians were now playing the backing of Silk’s new single. When the group objected Bill Martin raved at Midge (only 22 at the time) “You sing that bloody song if you want a hit”.
Fortunately the band did sing it and made it big time, after a slot at prime time BBC on a new section on TOTP. Four bands without hits played to 15 million people! Well you only need a million to buy a single! They did and Forever and Forever went huge.

They were not however dressed like the other bands. Silk had baseball shirts and James Dean haircuts. However this was another Martin/Coulter trick, they had tried the shirts (only) on the Rollers.16 Nor did they explain to the young Midge that they used the session musicians to ensure that tracks were recorded quickly, thus saving costs on studio time. At least that’s what Les McKeown (lead singer with the Rollers) was told.17 However even the Rollers were caught out by the Newspapers and their record company told the band to play the music, which they did from Bye Bye Baby onwards. Oddly it made the band happy for a while. Not drinking milk! No the still did that. You could say they put up with this rubbish, because of their background. For Les was bullied at his secondary school where there were plenty of beatings, if you didn’t go with the flow. He thus adopted an act of not showing any weakness, he says, all his life.18 Even though you can tell from his Roller experience, he was weak. Tam Paton had them too, it would appear. For the ‘Roller’ merchandise was credited as being “official” “approved by the band” and also made millions. Despite Woolworths having stocked it and C&A’s million square yards of tartan, neither the band nor Tam saw the money.19 Still fashion and music were linked together forever as well. The effects of these fashion urges would have lasting effects and the young girls probably never grew out of wanting to be fashionable, if they got the bug. Males were a bit slower at catching up. But then again even the tartan and beautifully crafted new music like You made me believe in magic couldn’t save the Rollers (or Silk) from the Punk Revolution and it was their last hit in 1977.
Apart from bands that did perform themselves and those that just sang on records, another way to have hits was just let the session musicians do the whole thing. At Polydor records Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington (another Martin/Coulter) did just that! Both the Rubettes and later Racey, were not real groups at all. This didn’t stop Sugar Baby Love spending three weeks at the top in 1974. Not that Wayne & Tony who also wrote the song had a choice; no other act would sing this ‘rubbish’. But few real bands could survive without making hit singles. Most tried to release singles and use them to promote the album. Generally it was because the singles failed to make the Top 50, artists became ‘album bands’ such as Genesis. When they did hit the singles chart in 1977 with Follow You Follow Me, concert fans started shouting “sell out” when it was played.20
For a solo singer not having hits was near to death in the music industry. So we come to other person who stimulated the manic girl fans as the other acts in this chapter, Mr Cook. More bullies at his Secondary school, but he whacked one and the boy’s father as well, so he became one of the gang.21 Time was spent playing drums that got him into a band and a showbiz style agent. The band eventually fell apart and his agent (who couldn’t get him into the actors union with the name Cook) asked the lad called David, where he lived? “Essex” was the reply. Now you all know his name, but this happened in the sixties and David wasn’t well known then. After trying to get singles made into hits, David Essex settled into acting. The American rock music of the fifties effect on British teenagers inspired the film That’ll Be The Day and David got a part, but he never gave up on getting into the singles chart.22 The film and David’s single called Rock On, catapulted him into the charts. A TOTP producer forced David into wearing a white suit, this became his trade mark.23 He was a big star by the time if his number one of 74, which was called Gonna Make You A Star.

Sex and Testosterone

Funnily enough that is what the rivals to Martin/Coulter tended to do their acts. Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman first met up at a London club in 1970. They conned their way into a meeting with Mickie Most, boss of RAK. He had already brought Suzi Quatro over from the States to Britain. Meanwhile over there, bands had been experimenting with make up effects and brightly coloured clothes. By 1973 this had been named ‘Glam Rock’. Naturally the instigators of this style, bands like New York Dolls, were critical of those that followed in their footsteps. Chinn & Chapman embraced this form, TOTP loved it too and it perfectly fitted with the advent of colour television broadcasting in the UK. Although colour sets were expensive and not all that common. I remember a cousin of mine, whose wedding was spoilt because the Hotel had a colour TV showing Great Zoos of the World even though the picture, was all green! Guests still gathered round it like it was the most exciting thing in the world! However I would dispute that Glam Rock was created by TV or TOTP, just because of colour sets, although many costumes of Glam stars were designed with TOTP in mind.24
To make the biggest impact on TOTP they had Suzi dressed in black biker’s leather. It worked his first went to number one. They also penned her, the weird 48 Crash. It didn’t make the top, presumably teenagers couldn’t relate to the song’s subject matter. Being that it was about the male

menopause, which is supposed to happen at 48 years of age.25 Her trade mark was a bass guitar. She had little choice but to become a sex symbol, for most number one acts were male during these years. Apart from Stephanie De Sykes, Quatro was the sexiest woman on the charts, having number ones.
For Chinn & Chapman the bread and butter acts were Sweet and Mud. Hits like Blockbuster and Tiger Feet are the soundtrack of the Seventies, for many people still. They reflect the high level of testosterones swarming around teenage males.


1 Evans P102.

2 Campbell P230. DT 23/4/71.

3 Jackson P21/22.
4 In order to compensate for the problems that education had on young people, sex education needed constent upgrading every few years.

5 Stupid ideas also circulated, such as girls shouldn’t wash the hair during a period. Pressley P21.

6 John Constable actually was self-taught; his late paintings also went on to inspire the impressionists.

7 I remember seeing this image in my school (Hurlfield) and many years later (near the entrance) inside Walthoef School.

8 Waterman PP43-46

9 Some of the albums went on to become best sellers and can still be found very cheaply at car boot sales in large numbers.
 
10 Napier-Bell P155.

11 Most likely a link with the top 20 chart.
 
12 Artwork by Phil Richards.
13 Often these form to stop others gaining power/information, such as the old boy network or glass ceiling; still they have been formed from education establishments in the first place.

14 McKeown P52.
15 Kenny got into trouble with the BBC; they believed the ‘K’ on their shirts was the same as Kellogs!
16 In reality they were probably looking for another BCR as they lost control when Arista told the band to sing and play.

17 McKeown P105.
18 McKeown P29.
19 McKeown P91.
20 Bowler & Day P150.
21 Essex P20.
22 Essex P103.
23 Essex P110.
24 Simpson P40.
25 Read P191.

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