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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

1950s Teenagers & the BBC

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1950s Teenagers & the BBC

To a teenage mind, the 1950’s BBC Light Programme, and the Home Service was mindbogglingly boring! Unless you were into light classical music, the BBC was a musical wasteland, a banal mixture of fluffy orchestral arrangements of yesteryear. Band leader Vic Oliver and his ilk ruled the waves. The BBC was run by old men, presented by old men, catering to old men, and was sat definitely in the 1930’s dishing out a diet of semi classical music, a lot of ernest talking, and some outside broadcasts like ‘Down Your Way.’

or the masses there was The Archers, Mrs Dale’s Diary, Dick Barton, The Glums, The Navy Lark, The Goons, and kiss me quick lunchtime factory shows, like ‘Have A Go!’… presented by Willfred Pickles. There was no such thing as popular records charts, and the phrase ‘needle time’ had not been invented yet.

Although one could buy popular American and British records in a local record shop, you would never hear them on daytime BBC radio. Most kids first became aware of Rock’n’Roll via Radio Luxembourg, which was frowned upon by parents and school teachers. Those lucky enough to have a new 'transistor' radio, could listen late into the night under his or her bedcovers.
However, under the public radar in small Soho cellar clubs, bands began to play American folk blues, which led to the big Skiffle boom of the mid 50’s. Then led by Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, American rock and roll opened up an entirely new concept, …an ordinary kid could become a star! There was a stampede, led by Elvis lookalike Cliff Richards, and the laughing cockney Tommy Steele, plus moody Billy Fury, cocky Adam Faith, swarthy Marty Wilde, who were to become the first of our very own scream idols. Then along came the TV show O-Boy and there was a deluge of British scream idols.
However, bubbling under this American dream, the Teddy Boys nieces and nephews had other ideas. They danced to a very different tune, they preferred the sophisticated pop emanating out of New York, and the cool Modern Jazz, down home Blues, and American R’n’B. These new kids wanted more out of life, they wanted a new style, so by hook or by crook they invented a new fashion and mindset. No longer happy to be one of the crowd,....no, they wanted to be 'someone!'
Clothes, Scooters, records, and travel became much more affordable. A vital mover in this mix was 'Hire Purchase' ..which enabled people to pay weekly for Radiograms, TV's, Clothes, cars, and scooters. As 1959 gave way to 1960, the word Modernist came into it’s own and by the end of 1960 every working class London teenage kid had heard of the shortened version….Mod, and they loved the notoriety. Walking along with a bunch of fellow Mods, made ordinary kids feel great, feel a part of something special, they were 'Somebody!'
Musicians like Chris Barber, Alexis Korner, and Long John Baldry started playing blues on a regular basis in Soho basements, causing Chicago Blues and R’n’B to oust rock and roll as the preferred teenage underground music. Mods started to visit. Things were changing fast.
Early Mods were totally into ‘black music’ being played on the Soho club scene. The music was exciting and danceable. Early Modernists were sucking in the fresh sexy Italian/French style, borrowing the American styled blazer, and the smart button-down shirts, and in doing so they honed and refashioned all the influences into the classic three button Mohair suit. During 61, Mod exploded in London, and even the outer districts turned Mod.
Then a major piece of the jigsaw came into play, the American influenced Pirate Radio stations started beaming great tunes from the North Sea with brand new bubbly young DJ's lighting up the airwaves. It was fun! Suddenly you could listen to ‘young’ music by home grown artists, without the boring BBC school teacherly announcers.
In late 62, the British music, cultural and fashion scenes changed forever. Nobody saw it coming. Mods were busy being Mods. Then Love Me Do by a strange group from Liverpool called The Beatles broke through, and unleashed a wave of teenage joy. After a stuttering start, once they spoke on TV, it was game over. Here were four kids talking about music, having a laugh, plus they were sexy and handsome ....and charming. They captured a generation of kids. They also highjacked the Mod look. The round neck jackets were just coming on stream when they walk in. Most Mods dumped the idea instantly. Older Mods hated them for taking the limelight, but most kids loved them. Their songs were brilliant, imaginative, and echoed the scenarios of teenage life. They were to rule the world within two years.
When Ready Steady Go hit the airwaves later in 63, Mod became a national obsession. Suddenly, every kid wanted the look, and the bands that played the R'n'B music. Almost instantly, the newspapers wanted in on Mod, magazines went Mod, Blues was Mod. Modern Jazz was Mod. Rich kids aped the Mods. Dance was Mod. Simon Dee wasn't Mod. The Beatles morphed into London living Mods, Carnaby Street became Mod, photographers became Mod, Cathy McGowan thought she was Mod, Lulu wanted to be Mod, Pop Art was Mod on canvas. Blow Up was Mod on film. The Who were marketed as Mod on record. Brighton was Mod. Margate was Mod. Fighting was Mod, Dance Halls were Mod, the weekend was Mod, and Soho became Mod Central. Those six short years gave birth to the Mod movement, which is still popular, and seems to get more popular as time goes by. 1960s Music Radio 1f1ec 1f1e71f1ec 1f1e71f1ec 1f1e7 Please like our page.. thanks!
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