The Nifty Fifties - Part 1
think most people will tell you that the music that was around when they were teenagers (or even earlier) was the music that influenced them the most. For me that was certainly the case and I am talking about the 50s.
Manfred has always said that he thinks people always remember the music that was happening when they first had sex. Well I was about ten when I first heard the wonderful Elvis record 'Hound Dog' so I'm not sure where
that leaves me, although Manfred never mentioned if he meant having sex with another person, so I guess anything is possible. The great thing about the fifties was that everything in music terms was new, when you heard
a rock n' roll record for the first time you could never say "oh, I've heard that before" because there had never been anything like it before. When I first heard Scotty Moore's guitar solo on "Hound
Dog", I wondered what the hell it was, I couldn't figure it out and even today it still gets me. The Elvis 50s CD Box Set was bought for me as a present from the Earthband and I carry that around with me on tour so
I can listen and still learn, as well as of course loads of other stuff like Peter Gabriel, Prodigy and some Jeff Beck, but my 50s rock n'roll is fantastic.
I heard and read interviews with people like Beck, Clapton
and Cliff Richard and they were kicked into gear by the same stuff. Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee, Buddy Holly and of course Elvis. I will never forget seeing the first picture of Presley, not only was his
music great but the look of the guy was amazing, the clothes, the duck-tail hair with the quiff, we all wanted to be Elvis and to this day the image of him still lives. I could never understand why people, when they
impersonate Elvis, always do the horrible 70s image of the cloak and belt etc, but I guess its easier to look bloated then how he did in the 50s. I think Shaky Stevens captured his vibe great and made it his own. Cliff
Richard saw the same piece of film on TV that I did, it was Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show doing "Heartbreak Hotel"
It didn't take long before some British rockers emerged and although they were copying what
was happening in the states, there were some pretty good stuff around. Although he didn't take long to become a "family entertainer" (I would rather use the word "naf" to describe it), Tommy Steele
did some good stuff like 'Rock with the Caveman' and his band the Steelemen were all studio musicians but really had a great feel and sounded very much like Bill Haley's Comets. I think the first British record to have
the most authentic sounds and feel of American Rock and Roll was Cliff Richard's 'Move it' – great guitar and great rockabilly type vocals from Cliff.
British Rock n Roll was really captured a couple of years later
on TV by a programme called "Six Five Special". The great TV producer Jack Good really produced on TV the feeling of what was happening in England but it was the States where all the ideas and sounds were
The feeling from the records was great, I remember seeing Bill Haley at the cinema and when he started up the whole place was rocking and its true, people were dancing in the aisles, it was an exciting
time and I was truly hooked. Where I was born in Dovercourt (a coastal town in Essex), we were lucky in having two very important places, one was the newsagents by the train station and the owner used to get all these
wonderful American magazines and comics and I was able to check up on what was happening in the States regarding the music and movies and of course any pics of the American rockers were great and I will never forget
seeing the first Elvis mag, well man that was great. The other important place was of course the local record store.
I will never forget that place, and it was amazing that the owner (Mr Tumilty) also used to get all the rock n roll stuff, so I was in heaven.
I remember every Saturday rushing down to the shop to see what new
records had been delivered during the week and I never came home empty-handed.
Of course Teddy Boys were the happening thing and most of my friends were teds, but not of a violent nature, just the look. I remember a
famous shop window that we all used to stand in front of, it wasn't a great shop, in fact I can't even remember what it sold, it was just one of these window that was great for checking out your hair, very important I
can tell you! In part two of this, I will explain how I started playing an what it was really like to play at that time, and yes folks I can remember all of it.