Tuesday 14 February 2012

The Day The Music....Came Alive!

Mum was doing the ironing. The radio was on the Light Programme. Suddenly a piece of magic; music like I'd never heard before. Mum said it was a man with a strange name - Buddy Holly. They played several Buddy Holly songs that day. I didn't ask why.

I'm sitting by the open window listening to "Pick Of The Pops". I'm writing down the Top Ten. The record playing is "Rag Doll" by The Four Seasons. I pestered my parents for a record player but they cost lots of money. Linda Pearce had a record player and a Cliff Richard LP. She put it on when we went there once.

At primary school boys started talking about The Beatles. Some of the boys had televisions at home and had seen them sing on Thank Your Lucky Stars. We didn't have a television, but our friend Tim's big brother, Alan, had some Beatles records. 

Then in someone's house I saw this lot on the telly. I couldn't take my eyes off the singer, wild and energetic. Dad said I couldn't grow my hair long. Dad said the Rolling Stones would soon be forgotten. "They won't be jigging around like that when they're 40", Dad said.
Then one Christmas I got a record player. A Dansette Viva with autochanger and tone control. £14.14s.0d. in Kays catalogue. Records soon followed: Colours by Donovan, Get Off My Cloud by The Rolling Stones, Mirror, Mirror by Pinkerton's Assorted Colours (oh dear!). 

I wanted a guitar. I learnt the words to the latest songs. I used to run away when Mick Taylor came to the house to cut my hair. Eventually I got hold of a mouth organ and tried to play 5-4-3-2-1 by Manfred Mann. I thought I could play it too, near enough. 
Then I began discovering the delights of record shops (I've never grown out of it!). Millers in Cambridge was the specialist shop, but my friend's brother's girlfriend worked in the record department of Boots and allowed us to spend half the afternoon in the listening booths without any intention of buying, till the manager came and turfed us out.
The world was changing fast. Our tastes were running to obscure songs that never made the charts.  Albums became more sought after than singles. The shops couldn't keep up. But Andy started selling albums (as we learnt to call LPs) by obscure bands (as we now called groups) from a stall on Cambridge market. And another savvy young man started advertising in Melody Maker and selling albums by mail order. He was called Richard Branson and he called his operation "Virgin", you may have heard of them.

Take care. 


  1. that's taking us back some John. Fun seeing the 45 in the paper packet again; did you ever see the paper/cardboard, 45's though? They were a flash in the pan, cheapie alternative, but worked. I had Splish-Splash, I was takin' a bath ... :) Rolling Stones; I loved watching Mick's antics on the stage. Thanks for the memories. You'll have to give us a little u-tube rendition some day.

  2. This was a great laugh to start the day ... Wonderful bit of
    nostalgia John ... And to think I now fly Virgin .

  3. Thanks for the memories. I was a first-year teacher at a high school when the Beetles made their US debut on the Ed Sullivan Show one Sunday night. Needless to say, there was no teaching the next day. The kids had nothing on or in their minds except Beetles. Wow, I just realized those "kids" are now in their 60s!

  4. This is your life, John! And not too far away from mine. The big changes in music when we were teenagers sure imprinted us for a lifetime, didn't they?

    I still can't believe the Stones are alive and performing in the second decade of a new century, or that anyone wants to listen to them now. When we were young, we didn't want to listen to songs more than three weeks old . . . now we -- and our kids and grandkids -- listen raptly to stuff fifty years old.

  5. Oooh the memories you have brought back to me John! I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at the Alpha Television studios in Birmingham, I cannot remember who else was performing as I was too emotional having seen John Lennon who at the time I was sure I was going to marry! My vocal chords were in a dreadful state for days afterwards!

    A wonderful post, thanks John.

  6. Glad you all enjoyed that little bit of nostalgia. I could see the sense in calling a record business Virgin as it gave the impression that their discs had never been played by anyone else. But an airline? Would people want to fly with someone who'd never done it before? (!)

  7. Buddy Holly has always been one of my favourites and I share a birthday with him too. Like you I wanted a record player but I didn't get my first one until I started working and bought it myself:) The Beatles I was never that bothered about but the Stones - now they were really something. I went to see them in Southport when I was on a training course there, they weren't famous then of course. I saw Freddy and the Dreamers and Gerry and the Pacemakers there too - it was handy that Midland Bank's training centre was there:)

  8. I was a Stones rather than Beatles man, but then I always was one of the awkward squad! I only got the record player because my Mum won a vast amount of money - forty pounds! - and treated everyone to an expensive present that Christmas.

  9. My sister and I used to rush in from school to watch American Bandstand--a bit before the Beatles scene. I remember that Ed Sullivan debut--we wondered why their hair was that way!


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