Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Reflected People - The Beatles!

Chapter 4

The Dawn of the Hunter Band

One band has had such an impact on the young that it is necessary to look at how they came about in greater depth than any musical act in this book, hence the lack of dates to this chapter heading. Two members of this band also created a more spectacular impact that still benefits every popular music artist since they tried it. Their stimulus and all four members together, is the stuff that legends are made of rather like them. The legend starts with an elusive search that fuels even modern kids.
People in the entertainment industry and in general as well, make light of the man who refused to sign the Beatles to Decca Records. He is seen as a fool, and a warning to those with talent to keep trying, for someone will recognise your worth eventually. The idea that the music industry people are searching for someone (or persons) with a new talent that will make them a lot of money is thus generated. Is this all true? Is that why, since the Beatles, we have had fads and trends in music, different styles, superstars and pop idols, with girls going crazy about David Cassidy, George Michael; boys lusting after Whitney Houston or Madonna? Or any of the countless acts, which nobody born to later generations as heard of?
Actually it’s baloney. It’s a myth. Pure fantasy! The reality, apart from the obvious ones of these things being done to make some people very rich and that the music industry is only into profit, is that talent isn’t often present. Broadly speaking the education culture has created this hogwash, however most superstars might claim that without the Beatles they wouldn’t have ever been famous. That is not true if you are a solo artist. You could have been famous in every decade, even before the Beatles. ABBA, Duran Duran, Sex Pistols, Boomtown Rats, Oasis or any singing group needed the Beatles. Not for the musical style, just to be a singing group! And the Beatles got where they were from sex.

Beatles Have Talent... But Who Cares....

If you look at the UK top 20 before the release of the Beatles first proper single release Love Me Do, you can begin to see why the A & R man from Decca, Dick Rowe turned them down. If you can’t spot the reason, try looking for UK groups. Actually you’ll see hardly any groups from anywhere! The only one having hits were the Shadows or other instrumental acts. Singing groups like The Four Seasons for obvious reasons were not getting copied. You know what I mean? Well I don’t think many young heterosexual men sing Walk Like A Man in karaoke clubs today! Also they were often billed as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The Shadows too had started out as the backing band as Cliff. It seems that if they wanted to put a vocalist on a track they asked Cliff. More likely they were told to do so. Record companies could use much cheaper session musicians, few of them were considered special or very talented. A vocalist however could make a song. Therefore there was considerable reluctance from the music industry to have singing groups at all. They were the 50s, the 60’s would be different, the music industry argued. Rock and Roll was dead or dying. Skiffle was dead too. Both radio and television liked to talk with only one member of the band. And talking was essential for the reason that talk was cheap! Well cheaper than paying the artists to perform. For instance try watching the recording of The Ed Sullivan U.S. show (from 1957) where Buddy Holly and the Crickets sing That’ll Be The Day. Sullivan, you will see, speaks only to Holly and refers to the band being Holly’s.  I keep trying to put the clip of this interview on the blog, but Youtube keep deleting the videos. So here is the audio only version!  
Shows like this derived from Music Hall and their compares then infill between the acts and the introducer of them. TV picked up the practice and its presenters had a few minutes to talk to the act, just like the Music Hall man would. This ruled out “long” talks with other members, who tended to stay silent, apart from when the host made a glib remark at one of them. In fact Holly did not want to stand out from the band and they called themselves “The Crickets” only, on their records. Columbia Records man Mitch Miller told Holly once that he was wasting his time on this band. The other most likely reason for this lack of groups is money. As the Beatles found out, the standard royalty rate at Electrical Musical Industries (EMI.) the largest record company at the time, was one penny per copy on a single. Solo artists, of the time, such as Cliff Richard and Pat Boone, got the penny all to themselves, whereas Paul, John, George and Ringo had to split it between them. They also had a manager, Brian Epstein, and thus each penny was split five ways. As most performers are satisfying their egos the temptation to break from the band is big. Little wonder groups were short on the ground. This doesn’t explain why they broke big, or why the Decca man ignored the Beatles’ style and the way the band played.
What was going on was an opportunity for a revolution, that nobody had any knowledge of whatsoever. Certainly nobody at Decca or EMI had any idea of it. The Beatles themselves did not realise it, they didn’t think that a singing group was the way ahead, they just wanted to be like their hero- Buddy Holly/Crickets; hence their own band’s name. What was causing part of this revolution was where they had started! They had mostly met at school and through a love of music. The record industry had no idea of this sub-culture. Brian’s motivation was money and compensation for a thwarted acting career. He even thought the band were German, importing records they had made in Germany, to their home town of Liverpool to sell in his shops. Err actually not completely true. As the Beatles became a legend, many false notions have become imbedded in the stories that are told about them. These also block the real breakthrough they created. The rest of the revolution was in the acts the public could buy and is reflected in the chart, which would see more balance between solo acts and groups. The catalyst for this change wasn’t the music or the way it was played but sexual innuendo.
Popular songs, dating back hundreds of years have often carried sexual references to them. However television was now breaking uncensored into people’s home. Musical performers stopped smiling into the television cameras and shook their bodies. As we have seen with Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, they had transfixed teenagers’ eyes to the box as the shook, or moved it, to their songs. Education culture was changing things best left unsaid as people at the time would say. However in the UK with only two channels broadcasting, seeing pop stars on TV was a problem for that age group. Nowadays records are called hits before they have even been released. Then a host on a television show announcing the hit record performance of an act was certain the record was a hit, for it had to have been in the chart at least a week and probably in the top ten. For the shows wasn’t interested in new material by new acts. Not even the Beatles! The problem was parents who didn’t want what they called ‘noisy rubbish’ on, would turn over. This was the attitude of working class parents, middle and upper class parents saw these acts as beneath them and their kids were expected to be like their father (for the boys) and mother (girls). They also sent them to boarding schools or day school, where this view of their culture was reinforced. The TV companies therefore would target pop at between 5pm and 7pm, when ‘dad’ was having tea or still at work. Most music was heard not seen therefore. The artists who made pop records tended to have hits on musical ability not on how they looked. Those like Elvis and Cliff, with higher profiles got on TV and were screamed at by young girls for their good looks. Those that didn’t get on were not. Going back to those pre-Beatles charts, you will see a lot of American solo artists. Some of these acts would be never seen by the English people who bought their records, unless they saw them in a music paper or the act made a long playing record. Today not seeing a picture of the artist somewhere is near impossible for a modern teenage. The only way of finding out about new music then, was the radio. Going to see them was in many areas near impossible. Clubs largely were absent from most other cities; except of course London. Any that did set up were playing Jazz. Parental control was much more powerful; there was no need of curfews. Little Johnny, out on the street after 8pm, was brought home by a policeman, with the same attitude that Jack Warner had on BBC’s Dixon of Dock Green, at least that’s what most people thought would happen.
There was however money to be made out of the young, plus the education system was making this practical, although nobody understood the real reason why. Therefore the only way to see anyone perform pop music was to go to a club. These were often the same places that theatre types and comedians appeared at, like working men’s clubs or the British Legion. But public swimming baths had also become venues, along with church and community halls and centres.

Away from the conservative South of England, the school system was already breaking down the moral fibre. Gangs had grown strong and began to cause problems for the authorities. Gerry Marsden says he grew up fighting, having to avoid 25 rival gangs. At the same time money making individuals had cashed in on the school based youth culture and set up clubs for them to dance in. In the multi-cultural, multi-income mix of Liverpool this was producing seeds for our revolution. Fighting was encouraged at the local schools as well. Some even had organized fights among male pupils, where they could win a cup. Educationalist believed it let out the boys emotions. Yet this was simply to let them get on with their school work, or to reduce conflicts within schools. When the gangs (all of which originated from going to school, even though many of the members may well have left school) clashed with the money based activities; tales were bound to spread. The local swimming pool became known as the “Blood Baths”. Others The Grosvenor “Brawlroom”, and the Iron Door, as the wooden door was smashed down by axe maniacs after black singer Derry Wilkie. But, the soon to be famous, club in Liverpool had realized that teenagers would come into town (or were in already as they were working) during the lunchtime and wanted to listen to performers playing pop tunes. Originally it had discouraged pop/blues/rock musicians and was only interested in jazz entertainers, but found it was profitable. This is how Alistair Taylor knew about the club. He too
was a Jazz fan when he went to work at NEMS in 1960 aged 25. This was the case with many clubs and explains why the Beatles had gone to Germany to make money. They gained sufficient popularity there, so much so that Deutsche Grammophon records had given them a contract. I say them in a loose way for the record company saw Paul, John, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best as merely session musicians for the vocalist Tony Sheridan. Rather like Cliff and the Shadows, only Deutsche Grammophon had no plans at all to record an album of the Beatles alone. Sheridan himself had been in Germany several years, yet he came from London. George Harrison wanted him in the band permanently. Imagine that a Cockney in the Liverpool band! When they got back to Liverpool the Cavern Club change its mind, the club didn’t just have live acts; it also employed a disc jockey, to play 45 rpm records. This also got young school kids coming, because it didn’t have a liquor license. There were also a lot of young people turned out at 15 from the Secondary Moderns who had got jobs in offices (girls only) and building and other trades (connected with the port). Strangely these types of school would do a lot to create the fan base of many pop stars. The music industry certainly benefited from these academic underachievers.
The Beatles may have taken with them, back to Liverpool, copies of the German single of a recording of them playing with Sheridan. Presumably the Beatles hoped a talent scout would see them playing and give them an English contract. Artist and Repertoire people were as rare as the blue moon, outside the regions. Despite the fact that Bob Wooler, the Cavern DJ and art college student Bill Harry counted some 300 bands in Liverpool alone. Another problem was
Bill & Vigania Harry
that the Beatles were not really playing any decent tunes and were even singing and playing jazz classics or skiffle, to please the club, such as The Saints or No Other Baby the only skiffle number they knew. Most of there numbers were restricted to the type they played in Germany anyway. Gradually the club relaxed its attitude as they were growing in popularity. Even singing and playing old tunes the kids loved it and were going around asking record shops for My Bonnie by “The Beatles” or as turned out the “Beat Brothers”.
Only one record shop propriety was interested enough to find out who those pesky kids were on about. He had a chain of shops called North End Music Stores; he was a smartly dressed manager called Brian Epstein. Even though he didn’t want to be a record shop owner, he made a good job of it. Singles were always in his shop before anybody else. He made all the staff put up with awaked customers and even myths were spreading about him. From a Jewish background, I find it hard to believe that Epstein would order records of Hitler’s speeches, yet stories say that he did.

These myths were spread, partly because he was Jewish, largely because of the reputation his shops had for getting anything a customer wanted. One lad, Raymond Jones, nearly beat the store’s policy by asking for the Beatles single on the 28 of October 1961. Despite the fact that Brian had a great deal of conversations with the editor (Bill Harry) of Mersey Beat, since it came out in July that year, which had on it’s cover and splashed all thru it, ‘the Beatles’ Brian did not connect the song with the same band. At least that is what I think, though Brian may have wanted to take all the credit for their discovery all to himself, precisely what Bill Harry thinks, doubts creep in when you find out that he wanted to put reviews of Broadway Musicals in this Beat paper! Though Epstein was interested in what young people were buying, Bill was perhaps not taken to seriously by the record shop man, judging by what people (who knew Brain well) have said. They place importance on the views of young people influencing Epstein and older ones not having the same effect. Raymond therefore would have been a different kettle of fish. In that he was young and wanted to buy music, not sell papers! Whereas Bill admits he had switched from Jazz to support the Beat Music; thus taking him perhaps out of the age range that Brian tuned into for views. But with Epstein A plus B equalled C. Liverpool being a port meant that records could easily be got from around the world and Brian made sure he got them first! This one he couldn’t see in any catalogue list produced by any company. He chased everyone in the import trade to get copies of the Beatles disc. So when Raymond came back Brian nearly admitted defeat. But the lad then mentioned that it was on a German label. And so the myth that Brian thought they were German was born! Then spending a huge amount on phone calls contacted Deutsche Grammophon. They had not heard of the Beatles, yet they did have a record called My Bonnie by Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers, who where from Liverpool. So Brian ordered a box of 25 singles, which he had to, and sold the single to Raymond for 6 shillings! A few days later all 25 where gone and he order 50 more. A and B were in place! Bill came in again and Brian asked where these Beat

Tony Sheridan
Brothers or Beatles could be found. Even though the Cavern was not far from a branch of NEMS, Brian had never been there or so he claimed. However Alan Sytner the owner of it says that Brian was often in. Nevetheless that doesn’t mean that Epstein saw the Beatles there, as the Cavern would target it’s customers to come in at different times. So you could have gone to the club and seen a Jazz band and never met the Beatles or even those who liked them. As Alistair Taylor (Epstein assistant) knew the Cavern and with the intention of having a drink and launch the two men (dressed in suits) arrived at midday on the 9th of November. The club even made an announcement that Brian had come to see the Beatles! The band looked rubbish; chewing and smoking during the stage act and of course had been drinking, which they did by going to the nearest pub, before and during breaks! They/one would sneak out, as they would do later in their career, for instance in the film Hard Day’s Night. The place was full of beehive haired junior secretaries and young rockers. Valerie Dukes a student nurse, recalls that the club was split into two sides. At one side were grammar school kids and the other side had the normal school kids. They two sides didn’t mix. Launch was not on the cards either, for all they had was soup, cheese rolls and tea! It was also very much a clique; another side effect of the education system, which Stuart James the singer with the Mojos recalls. The two men stood out like a sore thumb! The placed smelled, was full of smoke, water dripping and the Beatles had guitar amps. “What a fucking racket” recalled Geoff Davies, who went on to join Probe Records, but still saw them 78 times! Epstein spoke with the band after five songs. Taylor says that Brian talked about managing them straight away. Taylor was still a Jazz man, admits that he didn’t like pop music and had no talent in spotting a hit single. Many years later Alistair Taylor tries to take a lot of the credit for the Beatles discovery away from Epstein. The real truth is that he doesn’t want to say that he thought the Beatles were crap at that time. In his book, A Secret History which confuses even more the discovery tale, he invents the name Raymond Jones, after being pestered by Beatles fans. So why didn’t he put one of them in? He also fails to take into account the German record company’s help, which only He approached, and doesn’t explain why Brian is sent on their sales course later, which Taylor knew about. He rules out that they were announced at the Cavern, making no mention of Mersey Beat paper either. Many years later

Raymond Jones in the 60's
Spencer Leigh tracked down Raymond Jones, who had retired from owning a printing company and now lived in Spain. He recalled the conversation with Epstein and the fact he used to go into to the shop buying Carl Perkins and Fats Domino after the Beatles had played the material.
It wasn’t Brian’s last visit! He market tested them on his female staff, bringing them to the Cavern. Rita Shaw also recognized them as
they had hung around his shops, very rarely buying anything, though they would hear the music from America. Brian was told they were the ones he had got the music off the ships for, sending all the assistants “crackers”. So much so the Beatles were singing and playing it, for strangely enough they didn’t seem to be trying to break the hold that U.S. acts and songwriters had on Britain. As we will see they were simply trying to copy them and break into the market that way. Epstein still saw there popularity, stage presence and that they were good looking too, which wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by the gay Epstein. He was convinced they would make money and knew as well that they were good actors, if you like. Brian of course loved the theatre, which is why he did not want to sell records. With the requests he was getting for the single, by the band’s groupies he knew he was on to good thing and now he had C. Or was he? The Beatles were duly invited to NEMS head office; they took Cavern man Bob Wooler along to help them. Explaining the high sales for their single with Tony and told them he wanted a 10% cut of their earnings, rising to 15% when they passed £100 per week as their new manager. His first shock was that the band seemed to have a manager. Allan Williams was also the manager of the Jacaranda Club, (where Brian went to see him) however he was pig sick of the lads, their jokes and sarcasms, plus the chip on the shoulder of John Lennon. It was also true that the music industry favoured solo vocalists, such as Tony Sheridan, so Alan might have believed they were not going anywhere. Ironically Williams, who Paul describes as a small Welsh man who managed all the bands in Liverpool, got them the job in Germany, yet only on the condition they were a five-piece-band. They had no official drummer at that time and George Harrison happened to be friends with Pete Best. Epstein discovered that a lot of Williams’ anger was due to him not getting his fees from these German gigs. Still he told him not to touch them with a “fucking barge pole”.

Brian after seeing Williams thought it would be easy to get them out of the contract. With Alan it was! Getting them gigs was all that he did, so Brian did that. Only when they went to more up market places than the Cavern they were being laughed at! The ‘Gene Vincent’ style of leather clothing they all wore, seen in the film they got their name from, The Wild Ones, was the cause
of this mockery. Brian had seen that the instrumental band - the Shadows - had started dressing in suits, ditching the leather made the Beatles look presentable. Epstein himself was always smartly dressed; the record store staff called him “Mr Brian“. According to Alistair Taylor who at least doesn’t take credit for this idea, Epstein paid £40 each for the Mohair Suits. Trying to persuade them not to smoke and eat was a different matter. They were working class, with thick accents, who would take them on. Getting gigs was one thing and as their manager now, Brian told them only the best music was to be performed on stage. The band was also in debt to £200 at Frank Hessy’s music store for their guitars and amps. So Brian paid off that as well. Their manager worked out nobody from the record companies was even thinking about the talented people, that Brian knew in Liverpool, and

Cochran and Vincent
wasn’t going to go there. He would now use his knowledge from the business of record retailing and contacts to get them a record deal. What he didn’t know he would soon pick up, he perhaps thought. Unfortunately he nearly blew it for the band. Yet his saving grace was something he had no idea of. Having built up an empire of nine shops in a few years would make anyone in the music business sit up and take notice. Mr. Epstein went a lot further than that. Record sales reps had noticed that Epstein’s orders were predicting major hits in the rest of the country. If NEMS ordered more than average the news went back to head office NUMBER ONE! Even if NEMS didn’t, reps were sent wanting to know why. Nobody ever told Brian that in the record companies. With that in the background, he began to increase the band’s publicity. He contacted the Liverpool Echo, which he thought didn’t produce a result. But Tony Barrow, from the pool, was writing both for the paper and sleeve notes for Decca Records. He told Decca that Epstein was saying the Beatles would be bigger than Elvis. What’s more interesting is that Decca now distributed Elvis’ records. So Decca were on alert and possibly on the defensive. Armed with copies of My Bonnie Brain went to see the Marketing Manager of EMI on the pretext of getting discounts for EMI products. Ron White heard the record but was never in a position to act and he told Brian that the A&R people would have to cast judgment, yet as a favour Ron was also going to get the department to translate the German record contract. So Brian by the sound of things was also picking the brains of the record bosses. What he found out was that German deal was really lousy to the lads and that they were still under contract to produce records for several years to come. The Beatles had been taken to the cleaners! It would have stopped any chance of fame. Fortunately the head of Deutsche Grammophon was the bandleader Burt Kaempfert, so knew what it was like for artists trying to hit the big time.
Any modern collector knows that they did record further songs for the Germans, Epstein and Burt agreed this for them to be released from that contract. Doing this takes them back to Germany and are largely absent over the English deals.
At EMI Ron had played My Bonnie to “all” the A&R men. Normal practice it seems was to play the demo and not mention who the acts were, however in this case, they were told only to listen to the backing group and not the lead vocal (Sheridan). As you can imagine that was very difficult to say the least. What they had to go on was the music. Not the voices, the image, the appeal, which Epstein picked up on. “Another Shadows” would have been the verdict. And it was. The band the ‘Shadows’ were big at this point they must have been flooded with demos of groups who thought they were the next Shadows. The EMI A&R men had strict fields of operation, they were not to compete. The man that Brian and the band needed was Norrie Paramor. They fitted into his department only. Yet he had the Shadows, did he need to have another act to compete with them? Of course not! Walter Ridley might have been more interested in Tony Sheridan. Others were the musical and piano man Norman Newell. Brian was told the bad news on the 18 December. If only Brian had taken the band to a recording studio! Maybe Norrie would have signed them up. Then again perhaps not! This is where the Decca man answers why.
So another trip to London was the only option for Epstein, which occurred on the run up to Christmas 1961. I dispute Taylor’s claim that Brian went at the same time to Decca as EMI, as Brian was an ethical man, as Taylor admits. The same tactics as EMI, to the marketing man for Decca with a slight change though, a licence agreement and NEMS buying up 5,000 singles. Same response nearly as EMI, Dick Rowe (A&R) had to come in. After a lot of persuasion the A&R man agreed that, Mike Smith would be sent to see the band at the Cavern, to Mike’s surprise they were good. They were making an audition tape, in the first days of the New Year. Brian insisted they use the stage act and the 15 tracks consisted of mostly of rock and roll hits plus Tin Pan Alley songs. With tracks like To Know Her Is To Love Her by Spector and Take Good Care Of My Baby by Goffin-King, the Beatles were trying to break into established areas not change it. Only three tracks were Lennon/McCartney compositions. To be fair Lennon wanted more heavy tunes on it, while the best of those chosen, which is deemed by Beatles fans to be Hello Little Girl. The Fourmost version, however recorded a few years later, is still recognized by fans as being better. Little wonder they were not greeted with much enthusiasm by Decca. It was like trying to sell seventies cover versions to modern record companies or Sci-Fi novels to Mills and Boon! The fifties were dead to record companies; they were looking for something knew or more likely what was being dished up at the time. It’s worth saying again that Rock and Roll was dead or dying! Singing groups were out! Had Paul or John decided to have to be the leader of the band (one not both) then like Joe Brown they might have got the record contract. But there was no leader. The famous response from Decca was clear and harsh “not to mince words, Mr Epstein, we don’t like your boys sound. Groups are out; four piece groups with guitars particularly are finished.”
Lennon thought it was the songs, sadly it wasn’t. Brian didn’t help he told them that they would be bigger than Presley! You tell EMI today that you will be bigger than the Beatles, if you’re after a record deal and see how fast you will be out the door!
“Put them on television you’ll have the biggest thing ever” said Epstein. “Stick with your record shops” said Rowe. Epstein wasn’t in the record club! Some of us would have given up with that reply, not Brian, well he nearly did. Lennon, who you can tell thought the world of Epstein, described him as “intuitive”. He was right there! Brian now had a 15-track tape of Beatles songs. With that he tried all the other record companies, probably not to much effect, as word would have got around from Decca blacking the band’s name. Though of course the people that work, selecting new acts, for record companies move and are trained in the same circles as everyone else ‘the record club’. All results ended the same way every time, with rejection.
It wasn’t all bad news for the lads and their boss. Burt’s record company branch in England Polydor had been contacted about the sales of My Bonnie by head office. They agreed to release it throughout Britain in January of 62. And Brian had gone on record sales training courses with the company.
Epstein at the Cavern
Fortunately for the Beatles, one person had a slightly different background to all the rest. He had no problem with competition between A&R men. Unfortunately for Epstein, that person was conceivably on holiday, when he went with the record to EMI. Brian sent the Beatles back to Germany to complete their contract. There they had other problems. Pete Best was becoming difficult and wasn’t turning up for gigs. McCartney called him mean and moody. If he did this to his face, Paul hasn’t let on. Richard Starkey had already got quite a reputation as a drummer. He was being brought in by the band when Best was absent.

Here’s Martin’s Vision

Brian, still in London and still trying to find ways of getting the Beatles signed up, went to a record shop in Oxford Street. Myths and facts then merge together of how Epstein and George Martin get to meet. Most writers are pretty unclear on this subject. So someone, either the store manager of the HMV shop, or an engineer, or the people in charge of the song publishers (above the shop) told him to see Martin. Brian may have just gone in to see what ideas he could use in his shops. One thing that I think is for certain is that he had been on that sales course with this manager Robert Boast. What did Brian expect from him? Apparently he did take the demo tape into the shop and had acetate discs cut from the master tape. To some the disc cutting man, Jim Foy, was a friend of George Martin. Unless Martin says he was, then some other explanation has to be found. The story gets confused further when Martin says the engineer was an ex EMI man called Ted Huntley! Indeed other writers/historians might have got their facts wrong, for Syd Coleman was the man that Martin knew. Another factor is that some of the songs were Lennon & McCartney written.
At that time songs were written and artist were found to sing them. This meant that real power in the record industry were the music publishers. Songwriters were probably drawn from middle-class backgrounds with schools that had very good music departments. The type of school that accepted pupils whose parents wanted them to have an education above the rest. Music lessons were thus an extra cost! Songwriters thus knew nothing of the industrial cities, they didn’t write about them anyway. However with the cost elements gone from music education, it was possibly to learn to write songs, if you came from somewhere like Liverpool. Clearly Lennon & McCartney were more important as songwriters than the band would be at that time. Brian would have known that too. A strange coincidence then that he should go into a shop that on the upper floors has the music publishers of Ardmore & Beechwood, the same company that worked for the largest record company in England. Martin also picked up the story that he was going to see the Music publishers. Thus had Brian gone to them to flog the songs of Lennon & McCartney, getting in the back road way? The Coleman connection with Martin, and he is part of the story, is that he worked for the publishing firm as its boss. Jim or Ted told him to see Coleman above the shop. Again if Brian wasn’t trying to get the songs published, instead of the band signed, more than likely, he thus went up to see the music publishing company for contacts. “Have you tried? Yes” seems to have been most of the conversation between the two men, till it came to George Martin. The thing is that talent seems to have been put on the back burner. And now the old adage ’it’s not what you know, but who’ positively comes forward. Coleman passed him on to see George Martin; this may explain why Northern Songs comes about later. I’ll deal with Northern Songs shortly.
George Martin could clearly see that a singing Shadows might just catch on. The Shadows were also on the same record company as Martin and he was jealous of Paramor’s success with the group. It did not matter to him about loyalty as he had to improve his own label. At no point did Epstein mention that EMI and Paramor had turned them down. George however was no expert on the music that was in the top 50 charts. He had worked more or less with comedians like Peter Sellers and also was responsible for a recording of the Laughing Policeman. He admits that even the serious stuff, he brought to the demo meetings and with other A&R people brought fits of laughter from them. He confessed also that he didn’t know where Liverpool was! What Martin knew about was music. He wasn’t impressed with the 15 songs, though had a feeling about the band itself. The drumming however he hated! It was still Pete Best. The Beatles were thus given a second chance to perform on the 6 June 1962. Martin made it obvious to Brian to ditch Pete Best and he would bring a session drummer in. Afterwards, knowing how the three remaining Beatles moaned about Best’s lack of commitment to the band, Brian phoned Richard Starkey (who was being called Ringo) telling him that he was now the new Beatles drummer. So Ringo turned up for the band’s recording of Love Me Do and George Martin said no-way! The two men still have ‘friendly’ chats on this subject even now! Pete Best himself tried to have a solo career, but mostly failed. He was reported to be not resentful, unlikely story, for he much later joined the Employment Service persecuting young unemployed! Nevertheless Best’s departure caused a stink with the Cavern fans. They also didn’t like them in suits! Yet also there was a element of local pride in this band developing in the Beatles and Liverpool wasn’t too keen on him going. Many people thought that Best was better looking than John and Paul and that was why he got the push. Gerry Marsden recalls that things got so bad that Epstein got thumped by some member of the mob!
The first release by the Beatles, Love Me Do, was viewed by the music business with deep suspicion.
It’s chart the Record Retailer

Top 50 saw the single get to number 17. The talk was that Brian, who owned record shops, was buying or fiddling the books, simply because the group were the only singing group in the chart. But even Brian said that 100,000 copies had been sold more than could be got by fiddles. Even if the North of England had bought it a million the chart would have levelled it sales to reflect those of other hit records. It would have gone to number one, but the record company didn’t bother to promote it. Ardmore & Beechwood who published it, thanks to Martin wanting to give some credit for bringing the band to his attention, also didn’t do anything promotion wise. This wasn’t the company being against the band; simply it had more invested in the artists of the Columbia label, then those of the Parlophone label that the Beatles were on. Even George Martin however thought that the rest of EMI were against the band. The Chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood strangely had something to say about Epstein and his Beatles. He told the Press Officer to make Brian ’feel important’. This was not meant, as flattery as he and them was very important to EMI’s music business. Sir Joseph is also keen that EMI beat Decca at Pop Music, which more than likely is due to Brian telling him about what they said to him. This has to be the result of Brian going to see the Chairman after all the problems he’s had, such as only 250 copies were pressed of the demonstration (red & white) single. To add insult to the injury; Paul’s surname on the writers credit is spelt “McArtney”. Some of these promotion discs were sent to where John Lennon heard Elvis Presley for the first time - Radio Luxembourg!

It’s Big Up North!

The Beatles had taken rhythm and blues, from Black Americans and combined it with a sugar lyric for rock & roll, a black slang word for sex. Getting sexual messages across to teenagers was full of difficulties. Direct references were not allowed. The songs would not get on the radio; record shops would not sell them. So the lyrics were entwined up in innuendo. The other reason the first single was not a big hit, was because it was to well disguised. So the writing team of Lennon & McCartney came up with Please Please Me with sexual references by the score, just the sort of stuff that would trigger teenage chat about sex. The record would have been number one, were it not for record shops and industry moaning that Epstein had been fiddling again. It was certainly number one in other charts. Maybe the industry chart had more shops from the South of England, where Radio Luxembourg was at its weakest? Certainly it did not use that many, as even in the seventies it was only 250 shops strong. The news that it was number one in some charts was greeted with silence at the Cavern! The clique’s secret was gone forever. Brian Epstein dream was now coming true, but he wasn’t happy with the record company having failed to promote both singles. If Ardmore & Beechwood had rejected the Lennon & McCartney song writing team, now their songs were going to them for publication! Worse still they had no enthusiasm for the act. Martin suggested that Brian saw Dick James a newly set up publisher, having left the actress Eleanor Bron’s father’s publishing company. Small world, she would act in a Beatles movie and she was the inspiration for the name Eleanor in the song Eleanor Rigby. Dick James however was more famous for singing the TV Theme to Robin Hood, the series best remembered for Richard Green as Robin and the title shot
were arrows hit a target.
The sound of which is still used by some radio stations to indicate a hit/new entry on the chart!

In his forties, so a bit out of his depth, Dick asked his son about the band. You can guess what he thought. Next day Dick played the single of Please Please Me down the phone to the producer of ITV’s Thank Your Lucky Stars and they were on the show the first Saturday singing it. Brian, Dick, Paul & John set up Northern Songs to publish all future recordings. After Brian’s death, Dick James sold, for 10 million pounds, Northern Songs to ATV, the same company that made the Robin Hood TV show. Incidentally both John and Paul would have got money for each song they wrote and since they wrote more songs than George and Ringo did; made more money than they did! Nevertheless doing this changed forever the system and Music Publishers lost their influence to make hits, by the end of the sixties. A sort of karmic effect for rejection of a great song writing team!
John and Paul did something else. They made it possible for any artist (from any background) who could write and sing their own songs, to do precisely that and prevent others from singing them, if they wanted to. In the fifties and early sixties, this was as rare as hens’ teeth.

Four Elvis or Four Cliff

Girls were now in heaven, four Cliff's, to scream at. The top show on telly Sunday Night at the London Palladium had to have this band, they were English and they could get them cheap, cheaper than Frank Sinatra anyway. Bernard Delfont’s daughter was also one of these

Bernard Delfont
screaming nutters and he could get them on the show. The good looks and innuendo songs assured them fame and 2,000 girls screaming! “WE WANT THE BEATLES”. Epstein’s revolution hit that Sunday night! Police vans and John Lennon nearly saying “rattle your fucking jewellery” to members of the Royal Family
and a quote from the doorman commenting nothing like this since 1955 and the Yank Johnny Ray; all good copy for the press. Fleet Street became Beatlemaniacs on Monday. But is this talent? What was that good about She Loves You or From Me to You. Pete Waterman thinks that using the words Yeah Yeah had a massive effect on music. Yet a solo artist could have sung these. Nevertheless these records still help to create the revolution in the charts, balancing between solo acts and groups which we have today. No they didn’t! The Beatles themselves were terrified that they wouldn’t last. They needed to go bigger than Elvis Presley! Like their manager believed they would.
America ignored Cliff Richard and stacks of British acts; they were going to ignore the Beatles too! Unlike our sales charts the US Billboard chart wasn’t bothered too much if a record had sold only a few thousand copies. And although there were other charts, because of the free market system, they were not very different from one another. Billboard was sought of and still is the industry chart. If radio stations liked the music and single it was played to death! So Billboard asked all the crucial stations to tell them which records were being played the most. With this information they would compile their chart. The idea being that the American public would go out and buy these records. The problem with this system is that the radio stations have to be broad-minded about what they play and more importantly the type of music they select. Now you can see what I mean about sex. The American culture has never been keen on that subject. Therefore with sex references by the load the US frowned on the Beatles first few songs. There were other less direct prejudices that the Americans have. First the Beatles were British, war of independence you know! They were working class too! You shouldn’t believe that the American system ignores this. Black people in America are often working class. Let’s not forget Native Americans. There also is protectionism, keeping the culture of the USA free from outside influence. Of course it’s full of outside influences, they just come from inside! Though craftily EMI bought Capitol Records and were selling records to the Americans. Only they were not British acts. Capitol thus had its own control and to survive in the business world of the US needed it. It wasn’t therefore taking risks over English acts it knew wouldn’t get radio airplay.
Thus EMI and Capitol were arguing over the Beatles! EMI knew that the Beatles were good now, after She Loves You topped over one million sales; even on the figures produced at that time. In fact in 1963 Parlophone alone made over two million profit and cost only £50,000 to run! Capitol wouldn’t budge. Accepted theory then and even to this very day was that you had to tour and promote yourself to the US public. This of course means getting on crucial chart radio stations, plus perform at various venues that are ’hip’. The Beatles were not doing that, they had seen Cliff Richard and others do that and still not make it. They told Epstein no tours and we’re not going there till we have a big hit! And Epstein was also getting phone calls out of the blue for gigs at the Classical Music only Carnegie Hall in New York. Over there, Sid Bernstein an agent at General Artist Corporation was reading the Fleet Street Press for a social work course. He, without ever hearing their music, watched the Beatles grow in column inches. Offering the Hall and three times the rate that Brian suggested, for the two performances for only one day! This fuelled the row with Capitol. George Martin must have been pig sick of the company that his own record company owned. Polite as Martin is, he virtually told them to get stuffed. Martin made arrangements with smaller independent labels Vee-Jay and Swan, Tollie, to get the records out. The first few early Beatles hits did make the Billboard Chart, though none got them into the top twenty. Martin knew that this would be the case. It did however build a following for the band. Of course there is another reason that Capitol didn’t want the Beatles. The US had got its own singing group and signed to that label. They were singing songs about the California coast and what people did there. Though all but one didn’t practise what they preached. They also hit the top twenty with their first release in the US in the same year and two months before the Beatles did in Britain. Getting three places higher with Surfin’ Safari and they were the BEACH BOYS. However they didn’t have a number one single, even Surfin’ USA failed
and reached the third position. Brian Wilson got the idea of the song from a Chuck Berry composition, the rest where about his brother’s Dennis early rock & roll lifestyle (sex and drink), that their father disapproved of. Although they were a five-piece band playing and singing, Wilson was in charge, eventually after his father was dropped as their manger. Like the Merseyside lads he wrote their songs, but unlike them, they had no producer and did have a leader. A fan of Phil Spector, Brian got rid of the Capitol Record’s producer and did the job himself. Wilson did not however create the surf style sound they used. Legendary guitarist Dick Dale created that. The sound was done by making the guitar sound like drums, yet he also added an Arabic musical influence. This sound was not unique to the Surf Scene, as it can also be heard on some records of the English band The Shadows. They were mostly good looking, one reminds me of John F. Kennedy, and didn’t dress in suits. Before 1964 they had some top twenty successes, but were still waiting for their first number one. But Capitol was now under pressure from American disk jockeys as well as the public, who had got hold of independent label release of Beatles material. The “Beatles Craze” had swept through Britain like a plague. In Germany, far less narrow-minded to English music than America was, they had sung She Loves You in German, so it was a number one there! And the rest of Europe fell under their spell. Even France, that had an actual blockage against both English and American culture, fell. They continued to keep that support when Paul McCartney wrote a song about an American millionaire's daughter named Michelle! Plus the French words of course!!

They were so huge that Capitol ended up releasing the none offensive I Want To Hold Your Hand, along with five million badges and a $20,000 dollar add campaign. It made the US top 20 on the 25 January 1964 going to number one the following week. True to their words the Beatles were in America seven days later, greeted by thousands of screaming American girls! American radio had gone mad and made sure that a public holiday was there for the fans that day. The Beatles played to a jam-packed Carnegie Hall, their first US concert, its first pop band, within a week. Wonder if they played Roll Over Beethoven? Many Americans might have thought he would. Nevertheless around 73 million of them watched the four lads on the Ed Sullivan Show on the 9th of Feb. So many that the US police said even criminals stayed at home!
Brian Wilson was amazed! “The girls were screaming at them” Presumably they were not when the Beach Boys performed. It wasn’t that bad for them, for singing groups were now in. Yet the backlog of Beatles songs, that the Yanks needed to catch up on, took all the top five positions in Billboard’s chart. Still the paper wasn’t that keen on the Beatles, yet it had to admit the US public was! Nevertheless the Beach Boys finally got the number one in the US they needed, in July of that year with I Get Around. Their summer songs also did well in Britain, not due to the weather, but being on the English owned Capitol label.
Others were not so lucky. The same system that kept British acts out of the US charts was now on the American acts. Radio stations would only play the British songs and the music publishers sent their songs to Britain. Thus the British music industry covered black music and sent it back to the States. Being white performers the narrow-minded music stations turned against the black artists US acts performing their own same songs, which were covered by the British acts. Phil Spector’s work as a producer suffered most. His singers were interchangeable but therefore not fan based, unlike the Beach Boys and Beatles. Record bosses could only moan that once you have heard one Limey act, you’ve heard them all! Be that as it may, the Singing Group was thus here to stay, especially when the Beatles released the film A Hard Day’s Night thus making them actors; Brian Epstein dream was complete with that. The final factor in keeping them strong as a group was that they were the jack of all trades together, as far as their musical style was concerned; apart they were no such thing. Another of life’s ironies is that the money issue and egos, which brought them together, ultimately split them in 1969. But London and South of England would never ever be the centre for music talent exclusively. A&R men got on their bikes!

Reflected People 1960-63

Previous chapters dealing with the 1950's are too small in length to put on the blog yet so we move forward several years to the 1960's.

1960 TO 1963



A huge event occurred in 1960 that only record shops owners were bothered about. The Top Thirty was nearly just history! A magazine that was only available to the trade would print something that the British public would either rave or be utterly sick of. Record Retailer on the 10th of March 1960 started a top 50 chart that was to become the British King of Pop Charts. But not without a fight! The New Musical Express kept up its top thirty, plus was used by Radio Luxembourg, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Evening News and regional papers in Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Birmingham. One can assume that the use of this new chart caused confusion between the public and shop assistants over the actually position of a record in the two charts, however as far as most people were concerned the N.M.E. chart was the “official chart”. That isn’t so now and you have to look hard to find the charts positions of acts that made it’s charts after the March cut off date. How the Retailer chart became the “official chart” we will find out at the end of the decade. But even the conservative BBC started to take notice of the charts, though it would have nothing to do with the NME charts or any other music paper’s chart. So it came up with an hour long radio show called ‘Pick of The Pops’. As its name suggests this was no countdown show like the Americans had on their radio stations. It was a selection of records that were in the charts instead. Eventually the BBC decided to iron out the strange happenings that occurred in the various music paper charts by putting them all together and thus making it’s own chart. At first it avoid playing them in order on the new show that first aired in 1962, presented by David Jacobs, but eventually let the rule lapse. It was mostly done to avoid playing any records that were marked restricted and because records were thinly disguised about sex, they were lapped up by teenagers and thus made charts. But sex wasn’t the only reason that a record couldn’t be played on the BBC, they didn’t like records that were religious or that could be linked to the occult. Records that featured the words “black magic” for example, nevertheless once the BBC had accepted the notion of chart music and was having to broadcast them, things were looking good for the charts. Meanwhile charts would become more important to the music industry as it was after as much teenage cash it could get its hands on. It had the leading edge in getting a lot of the 500 million pounds that the Financial Times reported young people were spending in 1960. The rest of this money was being eaten by the rag trade. Only it would become more popularly known as the fashion trade. Clothes designers were being spued out of fashion courses at the colleges running them, only due to art schools only becoming popular from the 1944 Education Act. Ex students Mary Quant, Tommy Nutter, Doug Millings set up shops in London. At the centre was Carnaby Street. A chap called John Stephen had started selling clothes from shops with gay names, yet he picked up trade from pop star clients. But his clothes made strong looking men look weak and thanks to the Mod culture young men earning £10 a week were spending £14 on a shirt. Within five years he owned 18 shops there. His success proved a magnet for other entrepreneurs, like two brothers calling their shops ‘Lord John’.

Chelsea Set

Mary Quant was a product of education and in her case it was literal. Her parents were teachers. Typically she rejected their advice to teach art and teamed up with Alexander
Plunket-Green fellow art student, the type that turned up for lessons when he felt like it, walking around with a film script because it was cool. They spearheaded a movement called the ‘Chelsea Set’. Pyjama Parties, ethnic clothes, and jeans or defined by one of their number as “spoilt and tiresome”. Mary wasn’t satisfied with the Set and she had started selling her own designs at a shop called Bazaar in 1955. Her clothes distinguished young women from there elders. This was just the sort of thing that teenage girls needed. Clothes make the man, or in this case adolescent girls’ image. Nevertheless clothes are all-right, but if your hair looks like mum! You went to Vidal Sassoon. Unlike Quant, Sassoon was told to do ladies hairdressing by his parents and did. So Mary was having a bad hair day in 1963 and Sassoon gave her a “Bob”. Now all that was needed was some publicity for the hair cut.

One of the three known as the “terrible three” photographers was Terence Donovan. Actress Nancy Kwan knew Quant, Sassoon and Donovan and all four came together in a photo, using Quant’s clothes and the Bob cut. Women’s hairstyling was never the same again. Another one of the ‘terrible’ was David Bailey, who helped take the class out of fashion. Fashion magazines
like Vogue kept pestering him to do fashion shoots. Most models were generally aristocratic wives. Few middle-class women wanted to look like that and even lesser down the scale. On the other hand modelling school became more open to younger and less well off women. Since cosmetic surgery was still in its infancy, models were selected on their natural beauty. One such girl was Jean Shrimpton. Cameras like the 35mm Pentax gave people like Bailey more creativity in their shoots. Jean could thus be captured on film pretending to be an erotic dancer. The future model was born. Of course if you couldn’t go to Carnaby Street, you went to C & A Casual.

Ban The Bomb

If you’ve got the clothes you needed to show them off and so the club scene grew. The Discotheque came out of Paris and was a weird sort of record library. While some clubs were having problems, these cropped up all over the place. Artists began to favour these clubs and produce dance music for them. Most successful of these was Chubby Checker with the Twist, but the Twist could be danced to anything with the same beat and Little Eva’s ‘The Locomotion’ saw the arms brought into play like the gears of a steam loco. But this type of music wasn’t seen as mainstream and it took a BBC radio presenter to sum it up how the music mainstream was heading. Brian Matthew thought the sixties would be labelled the “ten years of Traditional Jazz”. Nothing could sum it up more than record breaking chart run of Acker Bilk’s Stranger On The Shore. Traditional Jazz wasn’t an aggressive sound and appealed to older people as well. Bilk’s tune would be later adapted for the Coronation Street theme and Jazz was also used by another side of the youth movement rejection of authority. As the Cold War accelerated the threat of nuclear attacks became a strong possibility. Church groups and others were horrified at the results of the attacks on the Japanese cities during WW2 and it became clear that the human race could blow itself up! Campaign bodies were often used in universities to debate issues on various subjects. It was a group of these men and women all highly educated, who decided enough is enough and set up the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or CND for short. In February of 1961 a 12,000 strong crowd march into Trafalgar Square under the banners of CND. Though it was meant to be a peace march things got out of hand and the police arrested over 1,000 of them. Nevertheless the movement grew and would become linked with the youth movement itself and even branded and having a logo to boot for them to wear. But even the Traditonal Jazz link would be broken from it and Brian Matthew himself would see the start of what would end its mainstream status.
Government was also concerned about how the young were acting. A report commissioned in 1960 listed those things that caused problems in society. It found that many young people were delinquents, rejecting family life and having no moral values. And that they were living off the welfare state. Although the report found them idealistic it also concluded that they were very sceptical and not surprisingly had no faith in politics or politicians. As the relentless pressure of the school culture pushed change ever forward, those in it looked for something else to blame. Sociologist J. Halloran was blaming it on TV and even the culture of the young was a creation of the media. He pointed out that children copied actions seen on Television. This was of course taken on board by the media and children were told at the end of some programs not to copy what they had seen. So you were not to blow up buildings like Captain Scarlet because ‘you are not indestructible’.
This attitude became common place as the young were consider inexperienced in the ways of life. However TV was driving some change. The broadcasters were putting out a lot of cowboy programs, imported from the USA of course. Wagon Train was very popular although the theme failed to make the chart. Nevertheless groups started to give their bands names associated with the Wild West. Even the Shadows picked up on it with there huge number one Apache. Yet that record had a huge effect on musical instrument shops, as guitars went flying out the doors. More guitars would lead to more bands, but not for a few years would the impact be seen.
Groups, however not at all common in the early 60’s, most acts were solo artists. Helen Shapiro was only 14 when she hit the top spot on the charts. Matt Munro had started off as a bus driver. These are just a few of the solo artists the record companies signed to their labels. The TV show Oh Boy was still running and gave artists the opportunity to sing on TV. They were all contracted to the major record companies’ still and recording songs that even the record label A&R man didn’t like. But if the producer of Oh Boy liked it the single was released. And records such as Adam Faith’s What Do You Want became a big hit even though Norman Newell had pretended to have the flu rather than be at the recording session of it. In the USA it was possible to do the recording of a record by an independent producer, but in the UK EMI and the rest did not like it. Despite this Joe Meek had set up a recording studio in a flat in London. Joe had failed the 11+ exam and was only interested in repairing radios. This led him to experiment with tape recorders, which he did after working hours repairing radio and TV stuff. During the 50’s he worked in studios run by IBC, who were bigger than EMI’s at that time. And he pioneered many different recording techniques. However Meek had a problem at IBC as he was over the top gay. He later on even made a pass at Tom Jones!! So many found him hard to work with and there was a great deal of anti-gay feeling around at that time. He would eventually quit IBC taking their clients to the recording studio flat in London. But Meek was still just an employee of that studio. When he tried to get his own material out via that studio they fired him! But before that happened, Robert Stigwood a close friend of Meek, had a client actor who wanted to be a pop star. His most famous role was the part of Ginger in the kids TV series Biggles. There was only one small problem. The actor, John Leyton, wasn’t a good singer. In fact Robert had sent him to audition at both EMI and Pye, both said no. So Meek was a last resort. By that time in the recording world it was possible to get around the problem of having a weak singing voice. And Meek later hit out at critics of his use of recording techniques, saying that even artist who he did not work with such as Helen Shapiro, were compressed, echoed, used feedback and were equalised on their records. So Meek did what he did best and reworked the sound of Leyton’s voice. A big hit at the time in the USA was Ray Peterson Tell Laura I Love Her and as Meek spent most of his time doing cover versions of USA hit songs it was decided to use this for Leyton. But getting a single to the shops was a big problem. And shops didn’t deal with independent labels. Robert Stigwood had managed to get Top Rank records to take on Meek as an independent producer so the label was able to put out the record. Unfortunately Top Rank was in trouble, so it was taken over by EMI. Now they too knew a good USA tune too when they heard them and had already recorded the single with Ricky Valance. They put no effort into marketing Leyton’s version and lots of into Valance. So Leyton’s version was pulled from the shops. Since the record was about the death of the singer, though not the actual singer. It didn’t go down with the church, nor parents or teachers. Who got it into their heads lots of teenagers would get onto motorbikes or racing cars trying to get themselves killed. The BBC bosses also got the same idea and promptly placed “death” records on the restricted list – or banned them! Of course this increased record sales of them, as they knew they would sell, so song writers produced more. And so when a song came up called Johnny Remember Me that was perfect for John. Meek pulled out all the stops for the production, as he knew it would have to be great to get past the ban. Leyton had not given up acting and played the part of a singer on an ITV drama on TV, where he sang the song. Within a short time it was number one in August 1961.
Meek had found out the hard way of trying to have hit records without having the distribution to send them to shops earlier in 1960. He had in partnership set up a record label called Triumph. Another pop show on ITV called ‘Wham’ had found a new star called Michael Cox. He was signed to Triumph and his first single was called Angela Jones which sold like hot cakes. But to keep 7000 record dealers supplied with copies was just too much. Customers asking for the Triumph label record were told not in stock. A story went around that some even told them “have you tried the chemist?” It turned into a nightmare and Cox didn’t get any royalty payments despite it reaching number 7 on the Record Retailer chart. On the NME chart MGM star Johnny Ferguson also had a hit with the same song.
In the end Meek resorted to cheating with future records. It wasn’t too hard to get a list of the shops that supplied the charts with sales figures. So Meek went around 60 chart shops known to be in London and bought 10 records in each. As it only took around 100 copies to make the charts it would be an entry in the chart. Then he told DJ’s that the record was in the chart or they could see for themselves and the record would then take off. One record he probably didn’t need to hype was Telstar. In July of 62 the Telstar satellite started sending live TV pictures back from the USA. Meek was nuts about the subject and wrote a piece of music about it. Using an electric keyboard called a Clavioline and an organ he mixed a weird sounding instrumental track together. The critics hated the track, saying the only thing that wasn’t distorted in sound was the organ. All the same Meek put a band together and called them the Tornadoes, the single hit the top spot in September of 1962 and went on to become the first number one in the USA by a UK group in 1963.

Give It Five!

ITV at some point saw the need to actually put the young person’s point of view across on some of its shows. One such show was Thank Your Lucky Stars. It was a talent show and musical acts would get points from the judges, the maximum being 5. Presented by none other than Brian Matthew in a pullover and tie! It featured a young teenage girl from Birmingham as a judge. Janice Nichols quickly became popular with the public and the phrase she used “I’ll give it five” quickly court on. It would be used to rate anything for quite some time afterwards. Even sex! But the show itself will be forever linked to the group that would put and end to Brian’s prediction of what the sixties would be known as.
Though young people were changing due to this new pop culture that came about from the increased education, they were not the only things changing. Places were changing as well as attitudes.
A steelworks town like Sheffield was very backwards at moving forwards, but entrepreneurs drive some fast cars and make drastic decisions. One such person and a steelworker who was frustrated with his work and though he tried to get a band off the ground with a mate called Jimmy Crawford, it came to nothing. Probably because his group couldn’t find the right places
 to play, so that person called Terry Thornton opened the Club 60 in October of that year

Club 60 Girls
 (1960). The club prospered well and attracted young ‘Beatniks’ there. Early performers included those that later would appear on TV late-night arty type shows on BBC 2 or the Michael Parkinson Show, such as Johnny Dankworth. This club helped finance The Esquire, a bigger club, on three stories, that served only coffee or orange drinks. Still it was raided by the police! However these clubs changed life on the late-night streets of the city. Gone were the deserted streets, people could now be seen hanging around them.

Adolescent Groups

At this stage in our musical history big stars were largely famous on their own individual merits. They may have guidance from other people about what to do, but they were generally alone. There doesn’t seem to be a single cause why the solo singer ruled till the sixties and yet the formation of the band…Let’s be clear on this…individuals formed around a central person, generally, but not necessarily the lead singer…were, one could say, a natural thing. The group really should have formed sooner and should have been around from the start of popular music. Why they weren’t may be due to the education culture, holding it back in some way. Just how I don’t understand yet, which is sort of ironic, because later on it encourages the formation of groups. Even so these groups formed during adolescence are virtually guaranteed a limited shelf-life. To understand this we need to see why groups (in general not just music connected) form.
Away from the world of music a solo individual is not an effective force in most instances. Stripping away our lifestyle down to its earliest form, it’s obvious that one person, having no great physical advantage. has little chance of catching large animals on their own. A small number of people (say up to six) would have an effect. Greater numbers would probably lead to errors causing the hunted animal to flee. By definition they must work as a team and trust becomes highly important. Male brains seem to be wired to give them the upper hand in these situations. Though it’s likely that some females went also hunting, its clear males formed most groups. In the larger tribes, competition between groups would have been seen. Alluding to pop groups the similarities is all too clear with the hunter groups. The size of the group and even the rivalry like with the Beatles and Rolling Stones and Blur and Oasis. However that is where the parallels end. This is again due to the education culture, for the hunter groups were formed from persons with greater individuality and respect for one another. They would tend to last longer, despite deaths in the group. The process for joining a hunter group in the first place would be more like replacing a band member in a highly famous long-lasting rock band. Since this would probably need the public’s acceptance as well, few bands have gone through this procedure and generally call it a day.
Pop groups therefore have difficulty with individuality and split when it rears its head. As for respect, well most adults say that young people don’t have respect, so you’re not going to see much in bands. Apart from that a band is essentially a hunter group! So who did destroy the solo singer’s control of the music business? Let’s find out with one distorted lad, who was to make a bigger impact when he joined three other Liverpudlians.
His mind distortions began when he joined Quarry Bank Grammar school at the age of 12. The
same year the NME launched its chart. This place of mind control was nicknamed the ‘police state’ by it’s new and former inmates, yet our lad who was named John, was to still get into trouble and cause a lot of trouble that would end with his death 28 years later. Keeping out of the way with authority yet being a complete pain in the arse to it was to serve him well. He wasn’t exactly the anti-hero you would expect him to be; he was a coward and a bully. Very polite, just in an insulting way, which the teachers found out. The surge of testosterones was completely messing with his head. Nobody was bothered. He was there to learn. And he did, all about naked women around the back of the bike sheds, gangs and bullying. Gang members smoked, so did John, nonetheless he never wanted to fight and when the worms turned so did John. Like his hero Elvis Presley, he listened to pop music and changed mentally with the times. He was stuck in this school till 16 and his communication was with teenagers precisely like him. The media catering for this young crowd played pop music before the film and someone would buy it, like John’s friends in the gang. Rock N Roll hit John, just as he was passing puberty and the World would know the result. The desire to achieve and for someone to take notice of him was due to a total lack of communication with adults. Although he didn’t have the conventional family background, this was nothing to do with how he turned out. And I dare say even he wouldn’t agree with that. Still his aunt (who did bring him up) didn’t neglect him and even encouraged his musical passion by buying a guitar. She had just no-idea that John was in a band till the headmaster told her when John was about to leave school, plus that he failed the GCE O Levels!
Can you imagine John Winston Lennon in the ARMY! Yes all the above was him and his ant was now pressing him to go in the army or get a job or go to Art College. What would have become of him if those first two options had he taken. Well I don’t think we would have heard of John Lennon. He of course only had to be arty to get in to Liverpool’s Regional College of Art; there were no real entry requirements. The college however made it more likely to Lennon to be... Let’s say improve his development of being noticed. In 1960 the Sunday People made him noticed alright as a ‘Beatnick Horror’ and he ‘revels in filth’. Of course he and his fellow students were completely set up. The journalists telling them they were doing an exposé on living on grants. But the students gave the middle-class valued reporters a great deal of nonsense which students and academic types like to spout about. A lot of which Lennon remained talking about when he was famous. Such as: dreams, souls, communism, poetry and
of course slagging off the government and so forth. Lennon was of course hanging around with another gang of lads at the same time, but why did they become big when the same man that turned them down, turned a Lincolnshire talent show band down called the Zircons for the same reason. And contrary to popular beliefs he wasn’t a fool. Something changed......

But precisely what?.....

As this is a work in progress more will be added to this chapter later

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Reflected People Chapter 1

1948 to 1951


After the Second World War Britain was short of just about everything. The country may have looked black, well the buildings did anyway and the people were drably dressed and pale, but it was really red. Its pot of gold had been raided and the Taxman was taking everyone’s money to pay of £3.5 billion debt. In the end my future homeland went to a loan shark.
America was short of nothing. There, more wealthy teenagers were ready to drive custom made cars, if their parents allowed them. Meanwhile in Britain, a bicycle was the nearest thing a young hoodlum could get which would cause the slightest annoyance to anyone over 21. Or so it seemed too many. Even then they needed to ride it down a steep hill to get some speed up and the annoyance was only the concern of passes by, whom were worried over the safety of the rider. Smoking was also something that youths did a lot, but the trouble for adults was not that they were damaging their health, for it was only seen as course behaviour! The worst behaviour should be reserved for the loan shark. Since you probably be hard pressed to find loan sharks in worker states, so Britain had to go the king of none worker-states, although it was called the states. The King prided itself on being the bastion of capitalism. It could not stomach anything slightly Red. It viewed Labour’s victory as a great defeat to its pride. And boy was it loosing that. You see the problem was that the creation of capitalism wasn’t the product of millionaires; it was the product of education. Loads of professors and other enlightened individuals had come to conclusions about millionaires came about. They thus called it capitalism, their theory. Others jumped on the bandwagon with their theories and gave them names, such as communism and fascism. Only they didn’t just have theories about they came about, they also said that they would grow or collapse in the course of time. Change thus was scarring the pants of the Yanks. Communism appeared to be on the increase and money making was not. So when the election results came in on July 26 1945 officials in America began planning to end the Lend-Lease agreement, which had stopped the UK from going bust, as soon as Japan surrendered. They did on the 14 of August and US radio announced on the 19 August that it would end. President Truman confirmed it on the 21st. British politicians described the news as a V2 rocket hitting Whitehall. The Americans were cutting off the life-support machine and they knew it. One year later they offered Britain a Loan. It was £3.75 billion with the worst deal in history. Still the UK had no choice to except and in 1951 it started paying it back with two per-cent on top; it was due to paid back just before two planes hit the World Trade Centre. One of the conditions of the loan was that the US would get the largest motionless aircraft carrier in the world. Not in the conditions but a side effect, was a somewhat major problem for English culturists. US personal! Fortunately they were not treated like the immigrants to this country, though a lot wanted them to go back home later on. Still you could argue that they had a bigger cultural effect than any others that came here. But just after the war nobody was concerned what a few GIs would do.
Economists and the like pointed out that because America had a higher standard of living after the war, plus the fact that Britain’s was weak, would lead to turmoil. This led many politicians to panic, thinking that the American capitalist culture would cause the people to rebel. Over in Europe it was the other way round with strong communist parties in both Italy and France. Indeed the military thinkers were wondering about what the hell was going to happen next in the world and the Joint Intelligence Committee believed that the Soviets where thinking the West was going kaput! Whether the Soviets really believed this was true, doesn’t matter as the West assumed it was true and the build up of Russian forces was in preparation, not for war or invasion of the West, but as precaution for when the Western countries went belly up. Life’s ironies eh! Since communism is at odds with education and the USSR system used it; they did the belly flopping and ended up fighting. Still at the time it was the West up to its neck and if the Soviets did some poking in countries on the turn it might help. So they did. But Americans were in the business for money and leadership advice with loans and the Marshall Plan put a stop to the immediate takeover of France and Italy by the left without help from the USSR.
Certainly the 1945 defeat of Winston Churchill and victory of the Labour Government, had led to speculation that the workers and the less well off in Britain would turn on the aristocracy and those with money. The victory wasn’t even considered by the winning party. Nobody seems to have been, in public, expressing views that the Prime Minister wasn’t popular after bringing Britain through the war, even though he hadn’t won the seat in an election. The real question was whether Churchill and his party were talking enough about rebuilding Britain. Or was he going to rest on his Laurel leaf? It seems he did, for that is the image that people and historians have of Churchill’s defeat. Actually he was still going on about the war and ran with the slogan ‘finish the job’. Churchill, during the election campaign, did however pick up on the ill feeling from the public very occasionally, he dismissed it. Yet under Labour was there to be a ‘New Jerusalem’, or a worker state or just a better place to live? Maybe all three! Transport, housing, health and education were crying out for reform. However most of the people thought these need to be upgraded at least to something that worked. It was obvious that with all the German bombing, housing needed to be built on a vast scale and the private market had demonstrated that in the past it could not deliver all the housing needed to meet the demand. The largely private companies had met any targets set in the past, yet demand had still grown, leaving a shortage of homes. The opinion polls also confirmed that housing was the top issue with those who voted. The railway companies during the war had been to all intent and purposes already been nationalised, since they were not very cooperative with the government,
plus only the Great Western was making money. Strangely it was a GWR worker who helped create and convince the Labour Party of the need for nationalisation. On the other hand the education reform had been passed by the wartime coalition and so was not seen as a working class threat. In essence it was a middle class revolution. And the armed forces had shown that private health care had just meant sick men. All of these issues flooded to the surface leading to a break in the consensus of power. Those holding the power needed someone to blame for the break, the US youth led culture was perfect. Even the BBC thought that playing music of the type oozing out of the States would be the forerunner to rebellion.
Was all this true? If the British people had known that the yanks were all better off then they were, would it have led to rebellions, the abolition of the monarchy? No, of course not, give the public some common sense. Quite simply they did know! The American soldiers had made it obvious that the yanks were better off. Anybody with the least common sense was using the Black Market to bypass the restrictions. Plus Hollywood films had shown great sections of America and were continuing to show America having a good time. It had been doing this since cinemas had opened in England. Those thinking that the changes that Britain had gone through since 1916 to the start of the war had something to do with the American culture are of course quite right. Yet these changes were nothing to do with either WW1, or American culture starting them, they were the sole result of the increased school leaving age of 1918! Unknown at the time, even now not really counted as the trigger, this rise interfered with the natural development of human beings in Britain. The Board of Education in 1926 in the Haddow Report defined it as “a tide” that “begins to rise in the veins of youth at age 12”. Apart from that the Board wasn’t much concerned about the effects of these out of control young people, as long as the ‘adolescent’ was guided. The real question was who was going to provide the direction the young needed. Although the effect on the development stage was small compared to the subsequent raises in age, it kept a lot of children in school at the starting of puberty. This led to another trigger effect that allowed America to cash in on the new UK teenage market. Most schools had typical class sizes of 30 to 40 pupils, although most working class kids left at around 14, their behaviour patterns were shaped (guided) by being stuck in schools with 40 kids. I doubt that this was the same guidance that the Education Board of 1926 wanted. But not all left at 14, for Grammar Schools kept some kids longer. Most didn’t charge fees, but even so the hidden expense put families off.
Grammars were not as common as other types of schools, so the bus or tram was needed. Even then it tended to be boys that were sent, as there were more places for them. Getting a place at one and having an education there would get a person a better job and a better social standing, but most working class parents were not to keen on jumping up the social ladder. This reflected in the children’s aspirations. Seeing how others live can change ideas though. Urban cinemas shot up all over the country and Saturday mourning picture shows soon filled up with entire school loads of kids, conforming to the behaviour linked patterns of their school life. Films were made to cater for these slots and Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger, and Superman, all became cult classics. Yet watching films that were not far-fetched as such could show the young how wealthy people could live. Good food, wine, women and song were bound to rub off on some. The material world was also benefiting from the new market. So sweets became treats to get the children to school. Thus many brand name sweets came about because the market shot through the roof went children went to school till 14.
As for music, jazz becomes the first music to benefit by being adopted by the ‘young’ newly created industry. Getting older; these former youths were soon going to clubs like Club 11, which opened in 1948 to the jazz delights of Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth. This same effect can be seen on some other 14-year-olds. Once forced together by school, they stay together after 14, though crucially not all, at this stage, the longer in school the more effect. Women also became more independent as a result of being at school longer. The famous flyer Amy Johnston was definably a product of school influenced behaviour. Coupled with a shortage of men, the school changes may have helped women get the vote. But that was on the largely positive side. The crime rate started to grow during the 1940’s, blamed on the breakdown of family life during the war. Most people didn’t notice it. But even before the war industrial Sheffield had a 50% crime rate on property caused by the young. And all this happened before the 1944 Education Act.

Butler’s Blunder

In 1941 the Conservative middle class politician R A Butler became president of the Board of Education. Yet the Board’s days were numbered. Boards were seen as not getting things done, or were squandering money that should have gone to those who needed it. With
education the Board was seen as wasting fees paid by middle class parents. Mass education had proved highly successful in teaching those without any problems to read and write before the First World War. The opinion of many before WW2 was that the leaving age could have been raised then, as was due to be, just as Hitler goosed-stepped his way into Poland. What else seemed to have stopped it are the costs and the Great Depression in the pre war years. Taking out loads of youths would have eased unemployment of course, but employing of youths has always been cheaper than adults, so employers were not that keen on the idea. It would also have no direct effect on the unemployment figures as; under-16 did not register and received no benefits. Nor did the bosses need well-educated workers arguing with them. Debates had raged in the 1930’s society, about the case for sterilisation as a cure for mass unemployment. Clearly the youth were being blamed for the lack of jobs. And when they got them resentment was bound to result. The National Insurance Benefit Rate for an unemployed man for example, was the same rate as a 14-year-old lad got working down the pit. Although trade unions controlled the apprenticeships schemes, long periods of getting to know working practices help stop revolutions in the workplace. Unskilled manual labour didn’t need more than the learning provided in primary school and skilled labour was done by on the job training as an apprentice. As many employers had needed to be big enterprises, competition wasn’t really around, like in the railway industry where only the LNER & LMS went to the same towns. The GWR and SR had virtual monopolies over the areas they ran trains. This meant that a skilled worker had a job for life. Once completing the seven years training, the employer didn’t need to worry if the person would leave for another employer in the same field, as there wasn’t one! Only small employers stole workers, yet they could not pay huge wages, so the large firms were not too concerned at the loss of workers from competitors.
The real competition for workers came not from those firms in the same field, but from new industries, which required a science based background. Old industries were losing the well-educated workers to them. They were left with the rest. Nobody was bothering to train anybody up. For when a firm’s productivity goes down the added extras are the first to go. The Tea Break was so widespread; in a popular song (that was used as a jingle for many years on Radio 2) it announced that the whole country stopped for tea at 3pm. The Board of Education had a branch that was known as the ’T’ and critics of the Board thought that it meant TEA., whereas in reality it stood for ‘Technical’. New qualifications introduced in the 1920’s, the HNC and ONC had yet despite these Technical Schools less than 4000 students had been able to
pass them by 1938. What employers did was to reduce the chances for apprentices to rebel, by making them wait in low-wage hell (about 8 shillings a week) for 2 years. This they did by rising the age for starting an apprenticeship to 16. Employers thus benefited in both outcomes for a 14-year-old. If they stayed on at school the employers got them more educated. Only they didn’t want them more educated. The school system was concentrating on giving them academic style of schooling. Employers really wanted their characters building, a sense of loyalty and to be able to socialise. Post 16 Education chiefs did not listen, though a lot of Universities did. Courses were tailored made to fit employers’ requirements, probably because the bosses sat on the governorships of them. Yet there wasn’t much chance of going to University for even middle class kids, never mind working ones.
Since nobody knew what really caused the economic decline of the pre war years, education became part of the plan to stop it ever happening again. However you can either look at the date the planned to up the age as one of the cornerstones, something that most politicians do, or perhaps a big joke. They certainly set the right day for the joke explanation. First it was April 1st 1945 and then, due to the war again, 1st April 1947. Both April fools day. George Tomlinson (minister of Education) argued that without teachers the world would degenerate in two generations. It still did with teachers! Economists argued that the cause was not having a planned economy. This they argued was also the cause of poverty. Sir William Beveridge had been able to introduce the National Insurance system and this accepted wisdom, would cause widespread hardship to disappear. With the flow of capitol under control, money spent to help the economy grow and insurance (both private and public) to help when slight bumps occur could see major decline NEVER happen again. The Liberal John Maynard Keynes suggested it first. Without any clear ideas of there own the new Labour Government adopted Keynesian economic polices and thus blueprinted into fiscals polices for many years. The current widespread poverty also needed special extra help to deal with it, till the magic potions worked. Yet what happened was that politicians argued over the levels of benefits to prevent barriers to work. Just because nobody could tell what the levels should be, having never got round to decide once and for all, what poverty was.
The first attempt to get these benefits right, while replacing the unpopular, unable to cope, Poor Law and was the National Assistance Act of 1948. This turned out to be another means-tested benefit, but with staff discretion, run by another Board. This act also created the Local Authority Social Services. These would have to deal with the problems that were to come. Next to be reformed was paying for medical treatments. The mass testing, of men and some women, for the forces, had shown how unfit much of the population was. A lot of the problems encountered by military doctors were treatable or caused by lack of money to treat complaints in the first place. Some unions had set up quite advanced medical facilities that were paid for by members. However must people paid for medical treatments. This is not as bad as you might think.

One of the effects of the new health service was to make some drugs widely available, to anyone, not just those who really needed them. So in effect the National Health Service has encouraged drug addiction. But the secondary school system has done more than just encourage it.
The Nationalisation process began in earnest, but even the flagship of it the coal industry had no planning work done prior to the 45 victory. Even after it the coal industry had only 6 million tons in reserve when the country went through 200 million a year. So the Bank of England, aviation, steel and of course the railways suffered the same fate. Because of the lack of planning all the flaws of private industries were transferred with them. Flaw number one has to be the management structure. This was apparent from the start in British Railways, who even kept the regional colours for many years and names of the big four. Unfortunately management can’t really take the blame as the entire railway system was knackered, due to the war and it was the same elsewhere.
To pay for this fell on the rich and middle class, though overall less than 15 million people paid tax in 1948. The top incomes fell by 64% during 1938 to 1949. For every pound they earned they could only spend ten pence. But they did earn big money. They couldn’t spend it much though and the middle class, who also lost 7%, couldn’t either. The winners for a change were the working classes. As there incomes went up by 9%! Not that they felt better off as everything was still rationed. Luxuries were being made, like cars, yet they went for export. In reality the car industry benefited from the military vehicle and aircraft plants made for the war. Even then they couldn’t make them as fast as the Germans and the Volkswagen Beetle (famous for the Disney car Herbie) was the top exported car in the US by 1950. There was plenty of jobs and a shortage of certain types of workers. Employers would often not pay a decent wage. The Government and Councils were often the worst offenders. A split occurred between the political people on both bodies and the others who watch the money supply. On the money side, the Treasurer or rate payers lobbyists, see the bills and realise the only way to keep costs low is to pay poor wages. These costs for Government only amounted to £4.6 billion for 1948. Yet it was growing. Civil servants lobby politicians for bigger budgets; in the councils, the departments lobby councillors, the result - low pay for workers. With full-employment, nobody wanted these low paid jobs, except those who didn’t know they were crap jobs! Parked in the Thames in June 1948 was an old troopship the Empire Windrush.

With British passports were 510 Jamaicans on board. The Government wasn’t sure to let them in. But there were streets to clean, factories to run and buses and trains to run! While the rest of
the country watched the newsreel pictures of them arriving, before watching the film they had gone to see. One of the few things they could spend their money on!
It was the movies thus had the biggest effect on popular taste. Max Bygraves recalls how he made a lot of cash impersonating Al Jolson following the 1947 movie The Jolson Story. Not surprising when surveys found that young people went often more than once a week to see a film. Ealing Studios made many classic British movies during this period. Scores of these movies where watched by 20 million people and still hold box office records. Many have since lost their appeal and wouldn’t be considered unforgettable. But still the flick makers were not the only British company making money.
The Managing Director at Electrical Musical Industries Sir Ernest Fisk had negotiated a deal with M.G.M. film and Records to allow EMI to sell their products for fees on the open market. These fees are the lifeblood of the Music and Film industries and they call them licensing deals, as they are a licence to make money. At the time of this deal (1946) EMI’s after tax profit was only £165.000. By 1949 the pre-tax profit was £1.2 million! But Fisk was taking no chances of risking money in investing in the new 45 or 33rpm records that emerged that year, till one was a clear winner.

A Speeder War To End All Wars

This may seem a stupid argument in retrospect but a Cold War was going on and it had nothing to do with the Russians. It started in April 1948 when in America William S. Paley

William S Paley
showed the other side what they had developed. And just like the real cold war it was new technology being demonstrated for the first time - when the US atom bomb fell on Japan that started the Cold War that most know about. Incidentally it didn’t end the war with Japan that ended when the US accepted the conditional surrender of Japan, something that was offered by the Japanese before both bombs were dropped. The other cold war began when Paley the boss of Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) showed the 33rpm to David Sarnoff head of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Like the Russians and the bomb, RCA had tried to develop the technology first. The 33rpm discs were already here; they came from the early sound system for movies (Vitaphone). This was useless for commercial use as the only lasted 11 minutes and more importantly wore out after only a few plays, due to heavy stylus (needle) pressure. In essence all CBS had done was to reduce the pressure down to about 8 grams. However that cost them 250,000 dollars to do, they knew they could get some of this cost back by charging RCA for records. Annoyed at the cheek of it, Sarnoff told his boffins to come up with something to compete. He was even more peeved when he found out that the 
David Sarnoff
 man who had developed the CBS disc had been the one trying to develop RCA’s. Real cold war stuff, where’s James Bond! Well try Madame X instead.
Counter espionage was deployed by RCA as they went to work recreating the experiments they had done before with the intention of producing a rival to the Long Player. What they came up with was the mainstay of the youth market for many years. The 7 inch 45rpm was given the codename “Madame X” while RCA told everyone they were working on “Home Audiotape”. You’re probably not laughing at that because we now have it, yet at CBS in 1948 they were all laughing!
The compounds used to make both types of discs where made at Union Carbide and were called polyvinyl chloride and vinyl acetate, they replaced shellac which was too brittle for the records. RCA finally announced the new disc at the start of the New Year, but CBS quickly counter attacked with a 7 inch running at 33rpm. The general public was confused. Though the record player manufactures put an end to that argument, when they introduced the 3-speed changer. A simple enough device, with the electric motor maintaining a set speed and a rubber flywheel & cog system that gave the speed, just like the gears on a bike! Despite the fact that they did have to do a way with what the technical books of the period calls “a spring - wound motor”. A by-product of the technical training these men had. A clockwork one in other words! With that a new word entered English- the “Radiogram” a combination of radio and gramophone. They were big with six or more valves in them. Nor were they cheap, the Cossor Model 489RG was priced at over £66 plus tax.
But even a table receiver (radio) cost £10 plus and a portable with Ever Ready battery was £13. Though how very portable it was I would doubt (apart from the weight) with 4 valves, which would tend to fall out of the sockets if shook or turned upside down. Nevertheless the valves were easy to spot if they didn’t work (they didn’t light up) and were easy to refit a new one. Perhaps a good job really as you probably wouldn’t find a cheap repair shop, notwithstanding that the Ministry of Labour had put on courses for radio technicians, many still couldn’t get in with the training. Countless people made their own and young boys often built radio sets. This is how some radio engineers started in their careers, however most came form the forces. Yet the most valued and sort after where the Marconi trained type. Indeed the boss of RCA had done this training and was the chap who took the message from the Titanic at the New York department store. However for those unlucky to have the set break down, there was often someone in the street where you lived, who knew how the things worked. Some picked this knowledge up in the RAF, where radio communication was essential, but never wanted to follow it up after their service was up. Even so, when you got the thing working there weren’t much choice of what to listen to.

Hung By The DJ's

The BBC radio service had split itself into two different camps during the war, merely to cater for the services and everybody else. This was done to combat the growing audiences to the German radio propaganda station. Only it wasn’t a German station it was Radio Luxembourg,

which was captured by them. The high powered station could reach most of Britain. Years later the group the Smiths wanted to hang the DJ, but after the war the British did hang Lord Haw-Haw, the Englishman who told the Nazi version of events on the station. When he wasn’t mouthing off the station put out music. For this reason only a lot of people tuned in and so the BBC had to do something about it.
The Home Service and the Forces programme was the solution. But the public at home listened to the Forces, as it had some dance music. One hour was allowed in factories, which was found to increase productivity. With the exception of certain songs that encouraged workers to clap! Nevertheless the increasing popularity of radio drove a need for more stations. The audience also split; by 1947 it was for the BBC three ways. Rather than except this, BBC stations and departments competed with one another for the highest listeners. The founder of the BBC Lord Reith saw the stations as class based. But if you had a stuck-up attitude like him, you needed to retune your set to the working class station the Light Programme, it was the only way to listen to classical music or the news as the Home was broadcasting lowbrow Tommy Handly. The BBC made even popular music shows play out with a classical record, to expose the ignorant to the culture. Well the culture of Oxford and Cambridge, where must of the elite came from. They failed and the light station got most of the listeners. The most popular was Housewives Choice, a request show along with Two-Way Family Favourites, Down Your Way. Even these kept secrets from the public. People sent in postcards and letters in such vast quantities that the producer of each show was the housewife choosing. And the producer was invariable male, however even if you requested a specific record to be played in your letter/card, it wasn’t or if it was it was still the producer choice. But even this man wasn’t above BBC law and they put stickers on certain records about when or if it could be played. In fact a lot of record companies were doing the deciding for the producer. As these were very busy men, all the label had to do was to send someone to see the man or more than likely his assistants, to plug records. Thereby getting them played. And sold! Don Black was a regular and got Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera a hit that way. Now as you may have heard this song many times, since that date, you may not have thought plugging that was an effort! But many producers had the same attitude to popular music as Lord Reith did. They all hated American accents and Doris was a typical Yank! But the BBC was at least topical with Dick Barton Special Agent. It was the start of the Cold War between East and West after all. But the BBC had a rival; Lord Haw-Haw’s station now back in commercial hands.
The up and coming youth and the war had made the Jazz movement from America grow. Club’s like (Birmingham’s) Second City Hot Club formed in 1947. And the Ink Spots went on tour the same year. It wasn’t the war itself that made Jazz popular as such, with the shortage in Britain of the raw materials to make the 78rpm discs.

 Shellac was also used to insulate electrical equipment in radio equipment used by the military. And since it’s main ingredient was made by ants feeding on resin on islands that were now largely in Japanese hands, making popular music was not really a top priority with it. The BBC had to have all live music or play imported American records, all thanks to RCA. They made vinyl 78rpm records for the US armed forces only. Yet the BBC had no choice really, as the musicians were off killing the Germans! And thanks to the powerful Musicians Union the cost was expensive. Over in the states, musician’s unions had been on strike for more royalties since 1942. The BBC got round the problem of live music by transmitting from clubs or from the frontline concerts.
Nevertheless Bing Crosby, the Andrew Sisters and Frank Sinatra benefited greatly by having the records played on BBC radio. Still they were only on the fringe in Britain after the war; Dance Bands ruled the waves, well airwaves! In America it was the other way round. Even Glenn Miller would have found it tough, if the RAF hadn’t blown him up. Dance bands had found it was essential to have a vocalist to get them a ‘unique style’. Something that Miller had also searched for to create his music. But the ‘crooners’ found that they could make it without a band. Much cheaper session musicians would do, rather than the ego and fame grabbing band type. That could be the entire vocalist. And it should come as no surprise that many drank, such as Frank who took to his own grave a whiskey bottle.
But even when the new vinyl records came out in Britain few could afford them and so the Shellac 78, which still had crushed ants in it when being made, was king. The main argument which the record companies used to promote vinyl was saving space. Yet the older generation didn’t want to scrape their old 78’s for new 33rpm even if they had the new radiogram. It was a different for the young although it would take several more years to impact in England and even longer in Scotland due to little or no electricity, that being laid on while much later. In the USA it was not the same, as their young had been going to school longer for years. There parents bought them a record player for the bedroom and upstairs they went. RCA also marketed the 45rpm at the young, getting them early, by putting kids material on 45rpm. They also gave them coloured discs, but the Korean War in 1950 put an end to many of the colours. However it gave the 45rpm a boost in the states, over Columbia’s 33rpm. The war pushed up the price of the raw vinyl and so as more 45s (10) could be churned out than 33s (3) from one pound of the stuff, the market share grew for RCA. The problem in America was that the youth was not being catered for. Popular music was aimed at more mature people; the growing market (due to the baby boom) for youth music alone was too small to be met by mainstream companies. Black music from Chicago and New Orleans was popular only in those places. Three factors then enter into the story. First a radio station called WLAC with a powerful signal that covered the US and sometimes well beyond it, found out the black people didn’t think much of white music either. The station got hold of black records, playing them at night, to be on the safe side, with their larger white audience. The next factor was that due to the school culture, teenagers didn’t give two monkeys for Bing or Sinatra either! So the two sides came together on car radios or in bed under the sheets.
Thirdly racism in the States however also helps boost the 45 sales. Generally speaking most Black Americans bought 78s and they like to buy there own music which was called Rhythm and Blues. The ex slave population had to put up with abuse all the time and the logical cause for them was to take or smoke marijuana, which had been given to them as slaves to “calm them down” by the slave owners. In the southern states Hemp, from which it’s made, was the biggest crop. In white dominated areas R&B was called “race music” and this music was concentrated on small companies as the major labels couldn’t be bothered with something that appealed to less than six per cent of the population. But even these small labels put out all the material on 45 by 1951. Even so few blacks purchased them. Slowly but surely the sales of R&B 45s grew, still it wasn’t the coloured population that was buying new record players, as even MGM (in the US) was still releasing R&B on 78 as late as 1953. Instead it was the white youth learning how to be different, from their elders. Conversely the elders put it down to “nigger lovers” ignoring the simple truth that many youths were as race conscious as their elders.
Meanwhile back in Britain. For the middle-class, Alan Clayson comments that the only hint of frivolity was patterned lino. Fathers dressed like Val Doonican would on his BBC TV show much later. Meanwhile their sons as students had picked up on Traditional Jazz out of the states, though no longer popular there, so much so that most of these black musicians were now dead. They talked about it that much that they became known as ‘ravers’. Live performance of this style of music was catered for by the ‘Three Bs’. All white men called Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. Catering for the market and the fact that all three were from Britain, BBC radio had to broadcast it. So that when their fathers heard Jazz on the radio, it was switched off and the crossword was done instead. The movement grew and the middle fifties it was its height. The 78-rpm in a paper sleeve was still king. Purchase Tax on these
items was so excessive that if the record companies had put them in cardboard sleeves nobody could have afforded them!
Eden’s election in 1951 allowed the new Long Players to be put into card sleeves, due to the conservatives doing what they like, messing with tax. The conservatives didn’t like US culture, but they gave it one hell of a boost. But they were not the only ones who hated US culture. The enemy within also hated it. The British Communists, in the same year, attacked the comics, films and music of the States. They supported had pressed UK songwriters in their struggle to get songs in the charts, because three quarters of the Top Twenty were American tunes. However these UK songwriters were not just up against the US tunesmiths, they were arguing with the music publishers, biting the hand that feeds them, it was a big hand too!
Thanks to two radio services Jazz was bound to grow, with the young anyway. Had young people been separated from one another largely after they hit their teens, then cross communication between them would have probably never happened. In the UK schools, children were growing increasingly isolated from older people, so these communications networks purveyed any new or diverse ideas around. This probably happened in the USA as well. The first was someone who was given a radio as a present and discovered the stations that mum and dad didn’t listen to. A conversation about music in class by someone who thought the BBC was playing good stuff brings out this response “What you doing listening to the stiff upper lip BBC?” Our (radio present) youth would tell about Radio Luxembourg. Some also mentioned the American Forces Network that was broadcasting to loads of American servicemen based at bases around the UK. The second largest base outside the US was at Burtonwood, 25 miles from Manchester. These places were practically independent, with their own schools, cinemas and radio stations. Thus R&B grew more popular. The Yanks brought their culture with them and Black people brought R&B records to England. This station played all the latest music without the type of censorship the BBC did. Best reception came from being near a US base, but again the Cold War made sure that plenty of them could be found. I dare say, judging by US movies of war zones, they were more relaxed than a British base, allowing a laddish behaviour to infiltrate the camp. Presumably a well supplied base and a money cultured force and the petty thieving was huge. The consequence was enormous. Well just goes to prove that you can’t have any army based in large numbers and keep your culture intact. In Britain the ethnic hatred was not really as strong as in the US. Young people here were allowed in mixed race schools, unlike the states. There was also no perceived black culture by the white population. Apart from racial stereotypes, most of the population could at least be civil towards one another. Most people got on well with the black American serviceman. Nevertheless the real audience and that meant mostly the young tuned to Luxembourg and the BBC knew it. The station was pure crass commercialism. By ignoring first of all, the musician’s union fees for payment of records played, then the script for shows and bribing listeners to tune in by offering big money prizes. In essence it was the forerunner of Independent Television, which when set up copied much of the entertainment shows, even down to the title and taking the staff, with the likes of Opportunity Knocks. Even the BBC copied it however, but it was the musical side of the station, that the BBC wasn’t interested in copying, that young people liked. And the HIT PARADE started late 1948 on a Sunday and was the one they liked the most. At this stage nobody was bothered about if people bought a million copies of a shellac 78 disc or not, simply because nobody could buy anyway near that number. Certainly no company could be bothered to go and ask record shops about how many of each record they had sold. Numbers were so low that if 100 people bought a record it would have been number one. The expense of collecting such information would have to be met by someone and so this chart show was based on paper sales. These bits of paper were song words and musical notes known as sheet music. The artist who sang the song would have their name on the sheet, but Luxembourg couldn’t broadcast that on radio and so the disc was played instead. The lack of Shellac played into the hands of the publishers of this sheet music and they sponsored the chart show. Unfortunately they'd lost the battle in the USA when the first chart there (1942) was based on radio and live performances. But Britain and Europe with its national radio stations couldn’t operate a chart like the states, with its individual stations. This set the format for the type of music which the population of the states could enjoy for years to come, until the Europeans could purchase records in their millions. These stations in the states also changed their music policy and one station switched from playing country music to black rhythm music, just as a young lad was changing (during his puberty) his personality, as he grew up. He lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

Thus the Music Publishers became the gods of the music industry. As far as they were concerned there was no British talent, most assumed it had died during the war and so the songs were American, although publishers all resided in Denmark Street London. The songwriters (highlighted by the Communists) went and hung around the offices. The legend goes that if the song was good the old woman cleaner, dressed in grey overalls, would start whistling it. Of course what it really required was a lot of work to make the song commercial, including Radio Luxembourg. Notwithstanding the BBC even made the catchphrase famous when it made it into the title of a rock show called The Old Grey Whistle Test.
If US troops were having effects on our people, ours were also doing their bit as well.

Kids did their bit as well

Most governments have tried to control the power of the youth, all tend to fail. Hitler was no exception. Many people think he did control the youth, so Hitler’s vision seems to come up tops, with visions of white shirted boys and braided girls doing salutes at mass rallies. But some of the German youth also objected to this, not for political reasons just that it wasn’t cool. Mostly middle-class, they were obsessed with Black American Music, with records made by Jewish record bosses. So the Nazi’s persecuted the ‘Swing Kids’ yet as the war dragged on Swing Kids had reached into France and were now hanging around with French Resistance fighters. In Paris a special club was formed with a hatch on the door. If you wanted to gain entry you would knock on the hatch and when it opened a password would let you in. The Resistance could meet there posing just as music lovers. The Nazi’s being to overworked to bother over Jazz lovers, by this stage. The club had a special name that will echo in time- ‘La Discotheque’.
After the war clubs like this spread and with many soldiers both British and American stationed in Europe, especially West Germany, they were very popular with those off duty. The Whisky A Go Go, opened in Paris and was named after the film Whisky Galore, it was even styled in a Scottish set up, but more importantly had the first juke box in France. It really shows how much market there was for in troopers pay, to style a club in Scottish fashion in France. Later the club went upmarket catering for singers and film stars.
Another form of entertainment that was cheap was to go and watch the football matches at the local stadiums. With nearly 42 million going by 1949 it was assured popularity for years to come. However the players then were never megastars like film and music ones.

This article is a work in progress and therefore is not complete.... More Chapters will be uploaded soon.

All images are only for illustrative means only.