On the 1st December I attended ‘A Way of Life’ at Blackpool Cricket Club, a Scooter/Mod event dedicated to the passing of Paul “Tiny” Walsh and organised with the help of Cowbell Radio.
The scooters were amazing and the people even more so. Here is a group of people who have clearly known each other forever and have a lot of love for one another. Dedication and a passion for what they love and enjoy had a brought the group back together to mark the sad passing of an old friend. A competition ensued, creating a difficult choice for the judges who chose 3 of the best bikes from an array of amazing Lambrettas and Vespas, all looking in tip top shape and glistening in the sunshine. A ride out along North Promenade marked the afternoon and the weather was beautiful, if not absolutely freezing.
The evening was music-filled, featuring many Northern Soul classics, and there is talk of further events to be held at the cricket ground to mark happier times ahead. I hope they do – Mod Culture has always been one of my favourite counter cultures.
Background: The 1960s Mods influence had grown from the term modernist; a term used in the 1950s to describe modern jazz musicians. Throughout the fifties and sixties, young people would gather at coffee shops which tended to stay open all night. Youths would meet collectors of R&B and blues records at this time, who introduced them to new types of African-American music which was being brought to the UK by American serviceman. As the sixties began music fans would begin to gather at all-night clubs such as The Roaring Twenties, The Scene, La Discothèque, The Marquee in the south and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.
As Mod culture spread through the UK, favored music choices were: Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet. Sixties’ Mods were often noted for being fashion-obsessed and image-orientated with their preferred mode of transport being a Vespa or Lambretta. The engineering was masked and helped to keep the clothing pristine and clean. Music interest was also key and although the Beatles’ popularity was at a height, and their initial look was that of a Mod image, it was considered far too commercial and popular. Mods tended to prefer an underground music scene and listened to British R&B based bands; such as The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and The Kinks. A large number of specifically Mod bands also emerged during this time: The Small Faces, The Creation, The Action, The Smoke, John’s Children and most commercially successful The Who, who had also written Quadrophenia, sparking a Mod Revival in the early eighties. The Who probably had the most influence on the lovely group I met last Saturday.
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