Keith Moon – The Legend Lives On

keith moon the who drummer

Talented, tortured, tragic – an icon. Keith Moon is idolised in Mod culture, a testament to his place in rock history as the greatest drummer who ever lived. Forty years after his untimely death at the age of 32, his deft accomplishments still hold court with more than the faithful. He was the 17-year-old wannabe who rose to international stardom with The Who and paid the ultimate price.

Keith Moon was catapulted to fame on a wave of self-affirmation and a beat that was entirely his own. He set the bar with a style that no other drummer has been able to replicate, let alone surpass. He has been described as over-confident, brash and yet a genius. But it wasn’t always that way. As a boy, Keith Moon was considered a shy loner. Perhaps because of this, demons would haunt his adult life. They would eat away at his psyche, leading to labels such as ‘Moon the Loon’.

From the Escorts and beyond

Born in London in 1946, Keith Moon was a ‘natural’ when he took up drumming at a young age. He had shown no academic ability yet succumbed to music like a duck to water. The son of a mechanic and cleaner, he had been destined for an undistinguished, humdrum life. His skill, highly personalised style and determination to succeed changed the course of his destiny – and music history.

Before he made his name on the international stage, Keith Moon carved out an early career in his own backyard. He played with three outfits in his native London, none of which would slingshot him to fame. His first taste of playing in a band came with the unremarkable Escorts. He went on to join Mark Twain and The Strangers before completing the line up of cover band The Beachcombers. Throughout this period, his talents were either overlooked or dismissed. The genius was yet to be discovered.

Keith Moon and The Who

The Who were on the precipice of leading a cultural revolution when they were fortuitously introduced to Keith Moon. He successfully auditioned to be the band’s drummer in a pub – just before new management would set The Who on the path to greatness. It was 1964, a year before the band released its critically acclaimed single ‘I Can’t Explain’.

Keith Moon’s input was hard to ignore. His drumming leapt out, prompting the lead-in to a memorable chorus that captured the imaginations of a generation. Commentators have made much over the years about Moon’s musical accord with Pete Townsend. It was this synching of chiming, powerful styles that would become the signature sound of the band. Keith Moon’s status as a drumming legend took flight with the release of The Who’s first album, ‘My Generation’. He went on to leave an indelible mark on the music industry with drumming that pushed every boundary on ‘Happy Jack’, a single released in 1966, and many more after.

keith moon playing the drums

The biggest beat in rock

The Who marketed themselves as ‘the most exciting band in the world’. And Keith Moon’s kit lived up to the hype. It matched his colourful, energetic performances on stage. Combined, they were drivers of The Who’s journey to global stardom. At one point, Moon’s kit boasted up to 10 tom-toms, six symbols, twin bass drums, snare, gong and twin timpani.

Moon’s swashbuckling presence on stage was matched by showmanship never before demonstrated by a drummer. Previously confined to the background, Keith Moon put drumming firmly in the spotlight. He juggled his drumsticks like a skilled circus performer, developing his own unique grip, while never missing a beat. His on-stage persona was magnified by his ability to engage the audience. He enthralled crowds with his humour and his legendary attacks on the tools of his trade. No Who performance was ever complete without Keith Moon trashing his kit at the end of the night.

The beginning of the end

The Who were shaping the music scene at a time when rock stars embraced the hedonistic leftovers of the hippy culture. But there was no peace for the wild man of rock. He ignored protocols to embody celebrity at a time when anything seemed to go. He was the joker who busted taboos, seemingly relishing in his role as the wild clown. In spite of his genius and how far he had come, he was to slip into the abyss of alcoholism.

When The Who took time out in the early 1970’s, Moon crossed The Pond to California. He enjoyed limited success on the big screen, appearing in small acting roles. His film credits include ‘That’ll Be The Day’. He performed alongside David Essex in the sequel, ‘Stardust’, in 1974 before returning to the recording studio. He released ‘Two Sides of the Moon’’, a solo endeavour, a year later.

A legend never dies

Punk rock had risen to mainstream when Keith Moon moved back to England in 1977. He re-joined The Who to perform on his last album, ‘Who Are You’. A party animal who drank with the likes of Oliver Reed, he’d seen the inside of a police cell and racked up hotel bills for damage totalling tens of thousands. His personal life was on a downward spiral and, realising his potential fate, attempted to free himself from the bottle. He was undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction when he accidentally overdosed on a prescription drug and died in 1978.

The complexity of his skills, the sublime nature of his performances and his ability to command the stage to this day sets Keith Moon apart. There will never be another like him. He was an innovator and utterly unique. And that is why his legend will always live on!!

How The Kinks Really Got Us

the kinks

Although never part of the mod scene, The Kinks are undoubtedly one of the most influential bands on the planet. From as early as 1964, their highly individual style was changing the cultural landscape. Faces on Carnaby Street during the early 1960s, The Kinks’ distinct, poetic lyrics and raw sound became a global phenomenon. They achieved international success without attaching themselves to any particular fashion trend. Instead they concentrated on capturing the mood of the sixties before effortlessly transcending the era.

Ray Davies, his brother Dave, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory are credited with being a driver of change that challenged The Beatles’ stranglehold on popular culture. The Kinks led the British pop invasion of America from the front. They did it with a sound that has inspired generations of musicians, criss-crossing genres and embracing everything from punk to heavy rock. Listen to You Really Got Me and you will understand. And they did it not just wearing floppy jumpers and jeans but also in sharp suits that resonate with mods.

Legends who broke convention with their own style

So how did The Kinks ‘really get us’ and what makes them music legends and cultural icons? For the answer, you have to turn the clock back to a time before 1990 – the year the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You have to realise that The Kinks’ name is synonymous with innovation. Then you have to acknowledge that they disrupted convention by pioneering a white charge on rhythm and blues.

Now that’s pretty cool for a band formed as part of a challenge set during a school music lesson. The aim was to write a song for a dance. The result was… The Kinks. With an outrageous name they hoped would court publicity, they went on to achieve notoriety both on and off stage. To say they lived the rock and roll lifestyle would be an understatement.

It was The Kinks’ sheer talent that saw them become masters of the power chord; a sound that epitomises their brand. They took guitarist Link Wray’s 1950s invention and owned it. With a rasping, atmospheric guitar sound that gave us immortal hits such as Lola, The Kinks take storytelling to new heights. They document popular culture in words and break boundaries with new rhythms.

From the avant-garde to mainstream

From humble beginnings in Muswell Hill, London, The Kinks enjoyed a string of hits through the 1960s. Together with the Rolling Stones, they are rightly credited as being early avant-gardes of musical creativity. Just a year after they formed, they topped the charts with experimental You Really Got Me. It was followed by All Day and All of the Night, Tired of Waiting for You and the ironic Dedicated Followers of Fashion.

The hits kept on coming, right up until the end of the decade. Then The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, an album released in 1969, was deemed a commercial flop. The Kinks seemed to be doomed to the history books when, in the summer of 1970, along came Lola. It put them back in the limelight, both at home and across the Pond.

The Kinks’ sound cultivated the blues scene with a distinctive style. It is revered for delivering drama and edgy twists. This is a band that manages to incorporate harmonious melodies with lyrics that provide razor sharp social commentary. How many bands can you name whose observations have kept it in tune with audiences for more than half a century?

Back in fashion – The Kinks reform

Personal and artistic differences eventually saw the band split; the divisions considered so wide that any talk of a reunion was quickly snuffed out. But, after a 20-year hiatus, The Kinks are back. They are headed for the recording studio in what could be a defining moment in the band’s long history. Commentators have said several brushes with death have given the band members a greater appreciation of one another.

When they first took America by storm, The Kinks likened the US to a ‘fantasy land’. But nobody will be dreaming when this new collaboration bears fruit. Its what Kinks’ fans have been praying for. And it’s what a new generation of music lovers will come to love.

Frontman Ray Davies, along with his brother Dave and drummer Mick Avory have confirmed a new album is in the making. For audiences old and new, Better Things could still be to come.

For Further Blogs | It’s A Mod Thing

Female Mod Icons

The music may have been a major part of the mod movement, but it is important to remember that fashion was an integral element to the development and popularity of the movement too. There were a number of key females in mod history and these three female mod icons deserve to be recognised as much as anyone from that era.


twiggy mod icon

Every fashion movement needs a superhero and the mod movement had even better than a superhero, they had a supermodel! You may not be familiar with the name Lesley Lawson but if you say the word Twiggy, people know instantly who you are talking about. While she has been an actress and a singer in her time, Twiggy will forever be recognised as the stunning British model who for many people was the perfect embodiment of the female mod fashion and of the swinging 60s style!

Twiggy’s nickname came about thanks to her thin frame but it was the androgynous look that she provided in her early days that helped to bring female mod fashion to the fore. With large hair and short eyes, Twiggy was a big change from what had been recognised as the top fashion style and by the mid-60s; the world had fallen in love with her, and her look. She was recognised as the “Face of 1966” and was hailed as the British Woman of the Year in the same year. 1967 brought magazine covers in Vogue and Tatler while there were fashion shoots in Asia, America and Europe to go alongside the high demand that she still held in Britain.

As fashion styles move on, Twiggy had the good sense and grace to take a different path, following her acting ambitions, and leaving the new fashion movements to find their own face rather than hoping she could stick around. It is testimony to her hard work and natural beauty that Twiggy is still involved in the fashion industry these days, working with Marks & Spencer’s in the design room and in front of the camera. She may no longer be synonymous with just mod fashion but for a few years, Twiggy was the perfect embodiment of female mod fashion and she was the name on everyone’s lips.

Cathy McGowan

cathy mcgowan mod icon

While Twiggy was found in fashion magazines and newspapers, it could be argued that Cathy McGowan had the bigger impact on mod fashion as she was found on TV every week alongside many of the best bands of the day. Cathy was the presenter of TV show Ready Steady Go! and she was a huge part of the appeal for male and female viewers. Given that Cathy was in her early twenties at the time, she was seen as a role model for young women and her fashion sense was copied by a great number of viewers. With Twiggy citing McGowan as a massive inspiration and interviews suggesting that Anna Wintour, who would later be the editor of American Vogue, McGowan was the celebrity that would inspire future celebrities.

McGowan was regularly seen in a miniskirt, which not only boosted her popularity and the popularity of the miniskirt, it helped to bring Mary Quant to a wider audience, with Quant being the major proponent of this style of skirt in the UK. She wasn’t only known for wearing miniskirts, McGowan was also regularly seen in shift dresses but given the shocking nature of miniskirts to many people at the time, it was easy to see why that garment captured the imagination.

The fact that McGowan had her own fashion range on offer at British home Stores and a make-up kit available across the country, allowed many girls and women to imitate her fashion style with ease.

Mary Quant

mary quant mod icon

While many mods could have walked by Mary Quant in the street and failed to recognise her, she was an instrumental part of the fashion movement of the times. Mary is the key designer credited with the emergence of miniskirts and hot pants, making her an integral name in the development of mod fashion. Mary was a major promoter of these items in the early 60s, making her name instantly recognisable when it comes to female mod fashion and in loosening up some of the boundaries which had been imposed on female fashion to this point.

With a store on the King’s Road, Quant was in the right place at the right time but to limit her achievements to just the miniskirt would be a great disservice. Quant was also a major backer of the androgynous style that was favoured by many female mods, with one of her successful items being cardigans initially made for men that were worn as dresses.

Women’s Mod Clothing

The Action Had The Mod Look

The Action Had The Mod Look

the action mod groupLike many mod groups, the origins of The Action can actually be found in another band. In Kentish town, in the North of London, there was a group called The Boys. This band consisted of Alan king who was the lead guitarist, Mike Evans who was the bassist, Roger Powell played drums, and the vocalist was Reg King. The Boys formed in 1963, playing a number of popular mod clubs in the capital and in 1964, they found themselves as the support act to The High Numbers.

Much in the way that The High Numbers would quickly change their name to The Who, The Boys would soon realise that a name change was in order, christening themselves as The Action. The name change came after the line-up was expanded by the arrival of Pete Weston, who played the rhythm guitar.

Over the next couple of years, the group developed a reputation for being a blistering live act. Some of the shows the band performed at the Marquee Club were raved about, but the material consisted of mainly American soul tracks. This was something that would potentially come to hold the group back as their original material was not deemed as strong against the material they would play in their live show.

In 1967, the band attempted to update their sound from the pop art mod style to the increasingly psychedelic mod sound. This didn’t go down too well with the bands existing fan base, and it failed to win over any new followers. The group split up in mid 1967.

However, thanks to the various mod revivals that took place in the intervening years, the high points of The Action were held in high regard and the band were cited for their fashion influence. The group reformed in 1998, playing a few times between then and 2004. Sadly, in 2010 Mike Evans and Reg King passed away.

The fashion brought acclaim to The Action

One of the things that The Action had in their favour was their fashion. This is not to say that the band didn’t have talent, they clearly had enough about them to be noticed and to make some inroads into the musical business. However, it was the overall package that seemed to bring many people to The Action. There was a sense that these bunch of lads were genuine mods and into the scene whereas some bands would give the impression that they were happy to mime mod culture until the next big musical genre or happening came along.

It was said that The Action was the perfect embodiment of what London mod life was like in the mid to late 1960s. They had a classic style that was as subtle as it was elegant. Whether the act was wearing tailored suits, fitted shirts or patterned sweaters, they had a style that seemed effortless, and this was a factor why so many people loved them at the time. They had the same Pop Art style as The Who but even then, The Action seemed more at ease and less showy than what The Who offered. The Who were genuine at the time, but there was still an element of showmanship about their look and image, the band knew that they were a band with an image. With The Action, it was if the lads in the group would have dressed the same even if they never played a note of music in their life.

While the group were well loved within the mod community, their inability to break through to mainstream and commercial success surprised many and even angered a few. It seemed as though everything was in place for the group to make it to the big time. They had the backing of a leading record label who worked hard to push them to a wider audience. The group also had the luxury of being produced by George Martin. In the mid to late 1960s, producer George Martin was a more famous name than many acts due to his work with The Beatles and EMI at Abbey Road Studios but not even he could push The Action to a higher level of success or popularity.

The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

The Jam Were True Mod Leaders

the jam

Although their recorded career only lasted from April 1977 to the tail end of 1982, The Jam have left a legacy that bands with much lengthier careers would be jealous of. The genesis of the group can be traced back to 1972 and of course, Paul Weller is still one of the biggest touring acts in the United Kingdom, but for many people, it was this brief spell that meant the most. It would be fair to say that the group were not always a mod act; in fact, you could say that like all good mods, they encapsulated a lot of different sounds and styles.

Much in the way that The Who can be classified as many different styles; there is something about The Jam that makes them the quintessential mod band. In its truest sense, being a mod was not about a hairstyle or the right clothes, it was about being modern, fresh and of the moment. There is no denying that at every point of The Jam’s career, the band were at the forefront of what was happening in the UK popular music scene.

Crashing into prominence as punk culture was starting to come to the fore, The Jam were the right band at the right time. They were boys playing loud and angry music who had something to say. This was a perfect embodiment of the punk movement even if the Conservative views held by Weller at the time would have been in opposition to the anti-establishment stance held by many of the punk bands.

The music and look spurred the mod revival

The debut album from the group ‘In The City’ sat perfectly beside the breaking punk bands, but it also tipped a nod to The Who’s early singles and the ferocious live shows of many of the original mod acts. With the release of the Quadrophenia movie, there was a powerful mod revival in the late 1970s with many people citing the success of The Jam as a major point of this. The band had the sound, but they also had the look that would influence youngsters around the country to bring the mod look back to the fore. While punk was popular, it was a step too far for many people. Whether people didn’t have the courage to go full on with their outfits or they decided that it never spoke to them properly, the return of the mod style presented a much more palatable fashion and music experience for many youngsters.

When evaluating The Jam and their development, it would be wrong to place all of the focus on Weller. As the principal songwriter, singer and public face of the group, it is inevitable that most people would view him as the focal point of the group. However, the development of skill and style of Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on bass underpinned much of the band’s progress. If only the song writing skills of Weller improved while the playing style of the band didn’t move forward, the band would have run the risk of being cast aside like so many also ran’s of the punk era. The fact that The Jam, similar to The Clash, were able to evolve and move away from the genre that collapsed in on itself indicated the talent and vision of the group. The Clash maintained their anti-establishment theme but brought in dub and reggae elements while also becoming “stadium rock” huge in America thanks to their catchy rock tunes that dominated the airwaves.

The Jam went off in a slightly different direction. Weller still had plenty to say about the state of modern Britain, but he did it in a softer and more subtle way. Like so many of the mod genres and movements before him, he looked to America and the soul influence would be a significant factor in the latter years of the band.

No matter when you look at The Jam, there is a strong mod influence at every point. The sound of the group may have changed considerably between 1977 and 1982, but the country around them had changed significantly too. There may have been some fans who wavered along the way but looking at the full catalogue with the benefit of hindsight, the development and progression of The Jam remains one of the most exciting stories in mod culture.

Article by

The Creation Were A Genuine Pop Art Act

the creationWith any musical movement, there will be bands of all different levels and qualities. The top bands are the ones that become synonymous with the genre, but if it is only one or two bands playing this sort of music or mining this sort of sound, is it truly a genre or movement? There is a need for a lot of bands to play this style of music, and in the mod movement, some of the most loved bands were the ones that failed to get much commercial success at the time but who have developed critical success and a cult following over recent years.

Of all the mod bands who were much loved but fell short in going over the top in a commercial sense, The Creation can be listed as one of the very best. The origins of the band can be traced back to 1963 and The Mark Four would become the fledgling group that would soon become The Creation. The act lost a bass player, John Dalton, who made his way to the Kinks but with Tony Cooke replacing him, the group progressed and released singles in 1965 and 1966. In three years, The Mark Four would release non charting singles on Mercury Records, Decca Records and Fontana.

A change of manager in 1966 provided the impetus for the group to progress. Tony Stratton-Smith signed the band up and recommended dropping Cooke and replacing him with Bob Garner, who had previously played with Tony Sheridan. Stratton-Smith also suggested a change of name, with The Creation supposedly coming from a book of Russian poetry. This resulted in The Creation lining up with Kenny Pickett as the singer, Eddie Phillips played lead guitar, Mick Thompson was the rhythm guitarist, Jack Jones played the drums and Garner was on bass.

Live fast and die young was an apt summation of The Creations’ career

The band achieved moderate chart success at this time and was likened to The Who at around the time of the ‘The Who Sell Out’.

The lyrics and spirit of ‘Painter Man’, one of the bands best loved songs and their biggest charting single, fitted perfectly with the ethos and outlook of many in the mod lifestyle. The idea that working hard and getting a degree would provide a fruitful and exciting life was quickly shown to be a lie or a gross exaggeration for many within the mod culture. There was a serious disillusion with the fact that life never lived up to the expectations and possibilities that were promised when growing up.

The lyrics also tapped into the pop art culture that was prevalent at the time, especially in mod circles. The popularity and progression of mod culture dovetailed with the development of the pop art movement and the fact that seemingly every day objects could be the inspiration for the famous art pieces of the day. The lyrics state that classic art has had its day sat remarkably comfortably with those that believe the mod movement was all about the modern, the here and now.

The song also allowed the band to show their true pop art credentials. Singer Pickett would spray paint a canvas during their shows, which was later set alight by a roadie. However, the band would initially move Pickett out of the group and went through a number of changes and semi-reunions in 1967 and 1968. The band actually split up twice during 1968, and this was to be the end until a reformation in the mid-1980s.

The importance and influence of the band was exceedingly brought to the fore when Alan McGee named his independent record label after the group. The band was a towering influence on McGee and on many of the acts who would sign to the label. Ride covered ‘How Does It Feel to Feel?’ by the group on their ‘Carnival of Light’ album.

The Creation may not be the first name you think of when asked to name a mod band, but there is no denying that they remain one of the integral bands of this era. The guitar sounds offered up by the band fitted in perfectly alongside the finest mod movement acts at a time when genres were blending and crossing over. The psychedelic influence was a significant component of some mod acts, and it was this side of their output that The Creation have most been remembered for.

Early Motown And Mod Culture

motown uk tourOne of the best and most interesting things about the development of mod culture is the fact that it drew from so many different interests and sources. There were plenty of different American musical genres to choose from but it was the music being created by the Motown record label that struck a chord with mods and this music was very quickly assimilated into mod culture.

There was a fresh and upbeat nature to this music, providing the perfect music for the dance floor and for mods to live their life by. This was a time to take control of life and this style of music fitted perfectly, even though it was being created by artists and musicians across the Atlantic and from a very different background.

Motown Records was the second record label started by Berry Gordy, in Detroit in 1959. The initial label Tamla Records had achieved chart success and acclaim but it was with the introduction of Motown Records that the world started to take notice of what was going on in Detroit.

The Miracles MotownSome of the initial Motown artists included Eddie Holland, Mable John and Mary Wells. The first major chart success that the label achieved was with ‘Shop Around’. This song was the first ever R&B number 1 for the Miracles and it even reached number two in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In April 1960, Tamla and Motown merged to become the Motown Record Corporation, bringing the cream of both labels together. Before too long, the label became a massive player in the record industry with songwriters such as Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Norman Whitfield becoming as well known and as celebrated as many of the artists on the label.

Mod groups were heavily influenced by Motown acts

One of the biggest factors in the importance of Motown on mod culture was in the influence it had on so many of the major mod groups. Even if the casual mod in Britain was unaware of the records that were coming from Detroit, the music played by the top British mod groups was bringing the influence of Motown directly to them. The fact The Who and The Action both undertook a number of Motown covers was a great indicator of the importance of this sound.

There is also a great story about when Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces first met each other in a record store. The two quickly bonded over a shared admiration of Motown music, which led to them forming a band. The rest was history as they say with the Small Faces going on to become one of the most important groups of the mod era.

The relationship worked both ways

One of the great things about the link between the early Motown sound and mod culture is that it was not just a one-way relationship. The influence that early Motown records had on popular mod culture is evident but when the original popularity of Motown started to fade, it was mod culture that remained supportive of the label and the acts that were signed to it. As many mods moved onto Northern Soul, the enthusiasm for the label remained. The early Motown records would become a staple part of the Northern Soul sound in the North of England, ensuring that there was always a market for record sales and live performances from groups of this era. Anyone not convinced by the link between mods and Northern soul fans only have to consider the shared love and admiration for early Motown records to see the connection.

Over the years the Motown label has acknowledged mod culture and the importance their label had on the era and the members of this youth culture. When the first mod revival kicked in during the late 1970s, Motown were swift to package a number of compilation albums aimed solely at celebrating their music that left a mark on mod culture. Anyone looking for a quick and easy introduction into the early Motown sound that left such an indelible mark on mod culture would be advised to check out these compilation albums.

When many people think of the Motown label, it is easy to focus on the superstars of the 1960s and 70s. This was one of the biggest and most loved record labels of all time but for many mods, it was that distinctive early Motown sound that was the best era for the label.

Further articles related to mod culture
All articles / blogs by mod clothing

A source of information for this article is from The Mod Generation Check them out for many great articles related to the mod scene.

Northern Soul And It’s Relation To The Mod Scene

northern soulWhen trying to define a youth culture or look for a starting point, it can be very difficult. This is down to the fact that there is often a fluid movement from one group to another. While some groups or cultural movements may start in opposition or as a reaction to something, providing a clearer distance between the issues that started the movement, in other cases it can be more difficult. The mod culture is a great example of this with many people citing the modernist jazz culture in London in the late 1950s and early 1960s as being the starting point of mod culture.

Clearly what is regarded as mod culture today is removed from that scene but the initial trends and themes of what would become mod culture can be linked to that era. The same can be said for the trends and cultures that grew from mod culture.

While the fashion and attitude element of mod culture was an overlying link for most members, there was quickly a divergence in the musical trends. The musical landscape in the mid to late 1960s was a very exciting one with many different paths being taken. With even the top mod groups of the time like The Small Faces and The Who taking different paths, it is no surprise to find that many mods went in different directions when the major wave of the mod movement faded away.

Youth culture movements flow from one to another

There are many different youth movements that can be traced back to mod culture and one of the most popular and enduring is the Northern Soul scene. Today, Northern Soul culture is viewed as being as vibrant and as individual as youth cultures like the mod scene or even the punk movement but looking at the emergence of this group, it is easy to see the line of development from the mod movement.

It would be fair to say that the main Northern Soul scene emerged in the late 1960s, most commonly associated with Northern England and that there was a distinct line taken from music that was popular with the mods. The quick tempo and strong bass of many of the Tamla Motown records of this time provided the impetus for Northern Soul dancers, cementing the link between the two groups.

One of the strongest links between mod culture and Northern culture lies in the Twisted Wheel venue in Manchester. Although first used as a beatnik populated coffee bar called the Left Wing, the venue was reinvented as a music venue called The Twisted Wheel in 1963. With all night parties playing American R&B, the venue became known as the place to be for mods in Manchester.

Amphetamine use was common in both groups

As the musical policy changed, the drug use remained the same and again, the link of amphetamine use between mods and Northern Soul culture was apparent too. The known use of substance abuse in the club would eventually saw the club closed down in 1971, but the link between mod culture and Northern Soul was already cemented by this point.

northern soul logoAs the movement gathered speed and popularity, there was a shift away from the popular Motown sound, differentiating from the music that was loved by mods and from a similar scene that was taking place in the south of England. The Northern Soul scene placed a greater emphasis on music that was outside of the mainstream and which originated in the mid-1960s. Even as the Northern Soul clubs in the late 60s and early 70s became more popular, the playlists of the clubs were firmly rooted in this era. This led to many formerly underground hits becoming standard songs of this movement and there was an increasing need to uncover additional underground hits from this period.

This eventually led to a split in the Northern Soul movement with some clubs and many followers deciding to allow more contemporary songs with the same spirit and feels to be included in Northern Soul sets. This was opposed by some that were of the opinion that true Northern Soul music only came from the earlier era. In many ways, this can be compared to the way that many mods feel about the mod revival movements. There are many that appreciate the fact that the scene remains alive and the range of music on offer can be added to, whereas there are some who are only interested in the first offerings of the genre.

Further articles related to mod culture.
To buy mod clothing

Bask In The Afterglow Of The Small Faces

The name of the group alone should indicate exactly what they were and still rings true today. The line-up was all rather diminutive in size, although certainly not in stature or talent. This accounts for the first half of the name and the second half of the name is simply down to the fact that they were all “faces” on the mod scene.

In interviews that have surfaced from the band members in more recent years, a truism comes to light. It would be correct to say that the Small Faces were mods before the majority of people knew what mods were. They were in the right place at the right time and the group was massively influential in the combining of music, fashion and lifestyle choices in creating what is considered to be mainstream mod culture. There is always an argument that the influence of modernist jazz fans in London in the late 1950s, early 1960s needs to be acknowledged but the Small Faces more than played their part.

The band’s manager Don Arden had an office on Carnaby Street even before the sterling reputation of this street took off. At the time, there were only three main outlets for fashion on the street. Topper’s was the place to shop if you were looking for shoes while Lord John and John Stephens were the choices for the main clothing options. The fact that the John Stephens store was located directly below the offices of Don Arden made it a natural choice.

It was all or nothing with the Small Faces

With stories abound that the group were being paid in clothes as much as they were in cash, the fashion sensibilities of the group are understandable. This was a band wearing the finest of mod gear before it was known about and it is only right that their influence on the emerging mod culture was acknowledged.

It would be wrong to bypass the musical output of the group though. At times dismissed as being a mere pop act (albeit at a time when pop acts were deemed important), the overall importance of the band’s music is much stronger than the one or two tracks that are continuously rolled out on soundtracks and adverts today.

here comes the niceEarly single ‘Here Come The Nice’ was an obvious paean to drugs and the drug culture that was growing at the time. The BBC censors failed to pick up on the not so subtle message of the song but for kids listening up and down the country, it was clear that this was a band that was tuned into what was happening. Mod culture has always been closely linked to stimulants, providing the impetus to party into the small hours and making the most of the free time that was available to people.

Very quickly, the band grew in confidence and their musical output expanded largely. As well as being a mod fashion band, the group were one of the main parties in the mod psychedelic movement that came around in the late 1960s. The band’s masterpiece, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake stands today has one of the best albums from the psychedelic era, although it possibly pushed the band to their limits. Being unable to replicate the album in the live arena had a huge impact on the confidence of Steve Marriott, who was the most concerned about being bogged down with a pop tag.

It was Marriott who sensationally quit the band on New Year’s Eve in 1968 although singles and a posthumous album were to follow in 1969.

The universal appeal of the group lives on today

The band was also cited as a large and regular influence on the Britpop movement of the mid-90s. No matter what your opinion of this musical movement was, the influence of mod culture was central to many bands of the time and a whole new wave of mods came to the scene from this genre. A lot of the new converts moved away over time but many of the mods who came to the scene at this time are still around today and are as committed to the mod scene and culture as any of their older members of the scene.

The role that the Small Faces had on mod culture and music should never be overlooked or underestimated. In a short few years, the group managed to create a legacy that lives on to this today and is sure to be around for many more years to come.

For further articles related to mod culture sign up to our blog
Mod knitwear inspired by the sensational Small Faces

There Was A Need For Speed In Mod Culture

mod culture and amphetamines
While there were many ideals and over-riding philosophies that are associated with mod culture, one of the most pervading ones is the focus on clean living. In comparison to other youth groups of the time, mods were neatly turned out and put a lot of thought and attention into their clothing and fashion sense. This was one element of their clean living policy but it also extended into other areas of mod life.

There was less of a focus on alcohol and getting drunk in mod culture than there was with the rockers or in the local youth community focus. This is not to say that mods didn’t drink alcohol, of course they did but as a collective group there was not the same focus and need to get intoxicated in this fashion. It was interesting to note that one of the most frequently visited social hang-outs for the mod generation was the coffee shop.

Some would argue that this was because there was an opportunity to socialise in large numbers while listening to the music of the day but it would also be fair to say that the later opening hours of these coffee shops was a great attraction too.

Coffee shops provided the perfect setting for mod culture

Drinking soft drinks and coffee was par for the course in these venues and it wasn’t as if having no alcohol was causing mods to miss out on any fun. Given the opportunity to relax in a comfortable environment with their peers while listening to good music and for longer hours, the absence of alcohol from these venues was a minor issue with the positives far outweighing any negatives that may have arisen from using these venues.

It should be remembered that amphetamines were not illegal at this time in the United Kingdom, which fitted in perfectly with the ideal of clean living. It may be hard to look back at a different time while the current laws and regulations regarding drug use are in your mind but when the early mods were taking amphetamines, they were not doing anything illegal.

There was the opinion that amphetamine brought about alertness and stimulus to awake for longer, which was a different impact compared to the other drugs on the market at the time. Even alcohol, while perfectly legal for those over the age of 18, brought about a state of intoxication, which was not apparent in the use of amphetamine.

Amphetamines allowed mods to have more fun

Mods wanted to make the most of the weekend and time away from work so the use of amphetamines allowed them to maximise the amount of time they had available to socialise with others. Time spent sleeping could be better spent in the company of friends, or dancing into the small hours so the use of amphetamines allowed mods to stay awake and alert for a lot longer.

Given that mods travelled home from these late night coffee shops and clubs on their scooters, being awake and alert was a great bonus for the mods. While drink-driving was not viewed in the same manner as it is today, it certainly posed more danger and difficulties when driving in comparison to driving while on amphetamines.

Like many of the fashion choices or even the use of a scooter, the benefits of amphetamine use dovetailed perfectly with the lifestyle and culture of the mod movement.

Most youth movements, and certainly those movements that were closely associated with a musical genre, could be closely connected to a drug of choice. While the swinging 60s were partly fuelled by the emergence of mod culture and the fashion styles, many people consider the hippie movement to be as much a part of this period as the mod movement. The hippie and free-love movement was one which was heavily dependent on drugs, whether it was cannabis or LSD, or both! With The Beatles and other top musical acts of the time making it very clear that they were using these drugs, there can be no surprise in the links that were being forged between movements and drug use.

Even in the decades since then, music and youth movements have gone hand in hand with illegal substances and drugs. Punk saw a rise in all manner of drug use, including solvent abuse while the emergence of dance culture has been consistent with the rise of drug use like ecstasy.

There is no doubting that the impact that amphetamines had on mod culture was as significant as fishtail parka coats, fine clothing and the drudgery of the working week.

More articles on mod culture…….