Portsmouth Music Scene


The Portsmouth Music Scene
1961



Kenny Ball played the year’s first Friday night at the Savoy followed by Johnny Dankworth, while Ricky’s maintained weekly rock & roll record sessions.
Thorngate Halls offered ‘modern’ ballroom dancing on Saturday nights, insisting “no jiving” and “trad’ was on offer in the city at the Wiltshire Lamb on Tuesdays and the Rendezvous Club in Ashburton Road on Saturdays.
The Tropicana Club in Castle Road complained that it was banned to naval ratings for being “undesirable”.
In January, Emile Ford & the Checkmates, Shirley Bassey and Acker Bilk all headlined at the Guildhall.

Norman Briant Quartet
The Norman Briant Quartet, downstairs at the Royal Beach Hotel, Southsea.
Danny Huntley drums, Denny Putman trumpet, Ray Lott bass, Norman Briant piano.

Spinner’s record reviews were varied but now without classical releases.
Elvis Presley’s new single “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” led him to suggest that rock & roll had been “intended to lead youngsters to better things”.
The Shadows came back to the Guildhall, this time with Cliff and support including Chas McDevitt & Shirley Douglas and compere Norman Vaughan.
The venue also offered Frankie Vaughan, and a “musical treat” with Mantovani, then Ella Fitzgerald with Oscar Peterson in March.
The Savoy broke with dance and jazz bands on Fridays to offer a “Teenage Beat Night” with the return of the Flee-rekkers, the Overlanders and Mick Glover Quartet and then Tony Holland and the Pack-a-Beats.
There were events at the Rendezvous (“jazz and jive”) and the Africano Club (Danny Raven & the Renegades), Humphrey Lyttleton returned to the Savoy and the Chris Barber Band were at the Guildhall, followed in March by Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson Trio.
Two teenage Portsmouth jazz fans died in a road crash, returning from a club in Cowplain.
In March, Gosport’s Downbeat Jazz Club went “far out” and “free form” with the British-based West Indian saxophonist Joe Harriott who enjoyed an “excellent reception”.
Johnny Dankworth returned to the Savoy, the Dave Llewellyn Trio also brought a modern feel to the city on Fridays but there was plenty to entertain the traditional fans including the Mulligan/Melly band, Terry Lighfoot and the Clyde Valley Stompers.
Le Vieux Carre re-formed and drew 300+ to the Rendezvous and Wickham welcomed a new weekly club with the Jazzbeats.
There was also ‘beat’ every Monday at Southsea’s Co-op Hall with guests like Frank Kelly & the Crestas, Johnny Rocco and the Paramounts and similar fare at the Savoy on a Tuesday with Robb Storme & the Whispers.
The Rebel Rousers visited the Savoy for the first time.
Perdido noted that six Portsmouth area jazz clubs one year ago had now doubled “in keeping with the ever increasing popularity of jazz”.
Perdido’s column then disappeared, although Spinner gave more coverage to jazz.
The social events advertisements on 10 March 1961 indicated the fairly conventional nature of much of the city’s entertainment.
There were 11 advertisements for old time/traditional/modern dancing, five for jumble sales, one for bingo, one for rock and two for traditional jazz with the Rendezvous urging, “Traddies unite!” Local beat groups were generally playing smaller, local venues that did not warrant this publicity.
As the summer approached there were fewer popular music events at the Guildhall but a lively week at the Portsmouth cinemas in mid-March with The World Of Suzie Wong, Love and the Frenchman, Love Me As Long As You Like and Desire in the Dust.
The Matador Coffee Bar in Fratton Road featured in a court case involving a youth apprehended with a knife.
The police described it as “frequented by hooligans and persons of the usual criminal type”.
The council heard that 60 deck chairs had been slashed along the seafront along with other “wanton damage” and another headline suggested “Coffee Bar Cowboys Give Motorcyclists Bad Reputation”.
Eurovision runners-up the Allisons headlined a Guildhall show with Ronnie Carroll, Mike Preston and the Hunters.
Fratton’s Railway Hotel filled weekends with Dave Watson & his Broadcasting Group while Ted Heath and Acker Bilk were back at the Savoy on Friday nights.
In mid-April, Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space but Britain was looking backwards with a brief craze for ‘period’ jazz from the Temperance Seven and Dick Charlesworth’s City Gents who both visited the Savoy.
By late spring, local rock and beat gigs were more frequent.
On Saturdays, Hillside Youth Club offered Danny Storm, Ricky & the Hi Lites, the Cadillacs and the Renegades.

renegades
The Renegades.

Johnny Rocco & the Paramounts were at the Co-op Hall and Ricky’s still concentrated on rock records sessions.
‘trad’ flourished with the Rendezvous offering two nights over Whitsun, while the Clyde Valley Stompers were at the Downbeat, Kenny Ball at the Savoy and Nat Gonella & his Georgians at the South Parade Pier.
Portsmouth’s ‘girl’ trio the Honeys (Vilma, Pearl and Anita) came home to Portsmouth prior to another tour with Adam Faith.
Bill Cole was working on their arrangements with writer Johnny Worth and they hoped the “gimmicky sound” of their new single “I Didn’t Wait” would propel them to Top Twenty success in a male-dominated hit parade.
Sadly it was not to be.
Another Portsmouth singer Johnny Vance took part in a British rock & roll show in Paris but the locals were “apathetic”.
There were fines between £1 and £3 each for 24 people caught drinking “intoxicating liquor” after hours (10).
45 pm) at Fratton’s Africano Club and the proprietor was fined £41.
Gate crashing Teddy Boys invaded a student barbecue on Hayling Island “jumping on and hitting persons sitting by the fire”, a naval rating was prosecuted for pulling a knife on one of the owners of Billy Manning’s Funfair and a 30-year-old man died after a late-night fight in Southsea.
In mid-July, the Evening News ran a series called “When Youth Drifts” which examined issues like under-age drinking and sex, drugs, the impact of working mothers and “the Beatniks and their Followers”.
In a city pub, reporter James Bayes found an ‘authentic’ beatnik who was only too ready to dismiss look-a-likes as “part-timers”.
Former Portsmouth Grammar School pupils Alan Zeffert and Tony Day signed with publishers in Denmark Street who placed their songs with Billy Cotton and young singers Bobby Angelo (“Skinny Lizzie”) and Scott Peters (“Bobbie Allen”).
The Grammar School also had a young instrumental group the Dark Angels who were profiled by Spinner.
In mid-June 1961 the Shadows were again at the Guildhall.
The Beverley Sisters appeared for a week on South Parade Pier, followed by Max Bygraves.
Local rock gigs included Saturday nights at the Court Dancing School with the Renegades who then departed for the Continent, the “mostest” Teenbeats and the Phantoms while Danny & the Raiders played the Civil Service Club in Copnor Road and the Rivals appeared in Denmead.
Terry Lightfoot’s Jazz Band were at South Parade Pier, Acker Bilk at the Savoy again, while the Downbeat welcomed Bjorn Stokstad’s Norweigan Jazz Band and encouraged “jeans and eccentric dress”.
Ricky’s offered modern jazz with Bill Cole and guests, including Kenny Baker and Ronnie Ross.

billy fury

fortunes
The For-tune$. Their first paid gig, £10.0.0d, at Paulsgrove Secondary Modern School, these days as King Richard School

There was trouble again at the final Beaulieu Festival with Lord Montagu blaming “irresponsible persons”.
Nonetheless jazz remained popular locally through August with Mulligan/Melly, Bob Wallis & his Storyville Jazzmen, a Saturday night “Jazzboat Shuffle” and the Theatre Royal reopened briefly with Clinton Ford and the Downtown Syncopators.
Humphrey Lyttleton and Acker Bilk were at the South Parade Pier as was the Billy Cotton Band plus Mark Wynter in a show called “Pickin’ Cotton”.
The Railway Hotel reintroduced traditional jazz in late August while a month later, Acker Bilk crossed the road to the Savoy and Kid Martyn appeared next evening at the Rendezvous.
Modernists were promised the Modern Jazz Quartet in October.
When they appeared, Spinner wondered whether the “pseudo chamber music” was a hoax, suggesting, “all four are jazz musicians even though they try to hide the fact”.
In a fairly fallow year for pop at the Guildhall, Adam Faith and the John Barry Seven were due on 12 October 1961 and Shirley Bassey one month later.
A dispute between the city council and the Musicians’ Union threatened many Portsmouth events but was resolved in favour of the musicians.
Autumn rock gigs at Hillside Youth Club included The Cadillacs “with their new Fender guitars”, the Renegades and the Fleetwoods, while Screaming Lord Sutch brought his Savages to Gosport’s Co-op Hall.
Terry Preston & the Nightriders were at Ricky’s and there was “Guy Fawkes Rock” at the Court with Chris Ryder & the Tennessee Studs and the Phantoms.
Russ Conway followed Shirley Bassey at the Guildhall, then Billy Fury, Eden Kane and Karl Denver.
British-based American rocker, Gene Vincent appeared at the Savoy with Sounds Incorporated.
Spinner did not enjoy the changes of the early 1960s, suggesting three guitars had replaced the big bands and “sound technicians hide any deficiencies in musicianship” - all the new stars needed to do was “take a simple tune, learn two chords and you are hit parade bound”.
He believed the “heyday” of competent musicians had been a decade earlier and many were now “jobbing” players.
Nonetheless there was a growing local group scene and from December 1961 to May 1962 the Evening News carried profiles of some new Portsmouth beat groups including the Cadillacs, Confidentials, Crestas, Crusaders, Diplomats, Escorts, Federals, For-Tunes, Hustlers, Jaguars, Johnnie & the Cutters, Limelites, Paramounts, Phantoms, Ramblers, Renegades, Resonnettes, Rivals, Sapphires, Stormriders, Teenbeats, Tennessee Studs, and the Tremors.
The Rivals were a five-piece rock & roll group with 17-year-old guitarist Rod Watts who would become an important keyboard player in the city.
They appeared in a Southern Television programme called Home Grown with home made amplifiers that were so ‘ugly’ that the producer hid them behind the studio sets! Their singer was Ricky Dene who would be replaced by Mick Wallis before the group split, although a second Rivals emerged in the mid 1960s and kept playing for decades.
Towards Christmas, the Guildhall offered the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Max Jaffa Trio, Kenny Ball, Carol Concerts and Mitch Mitchell.
The “fabulous” Flinstones were at the Savoy with the Sabers (3/6d) and there was comedy at the King’s Theatre with “No Time for Love” followed by Frankie Howerd in “Puss in Boots”.
Acker Bilk was at the Savoy again in Christmas week and there was an Arts Ball on Boxing Day at Clarence Pier.
For Spinner, 1961 British pop belonged to 15-year-old Helen Shapiro who “burst like a tornado” enjoying a series of hits and he confirmed the “startling” success of traditional jazz.
Otherwise, he repeated his pessimism of twelve months earlier, noting a year of “declining standards” with increasingly “childish” lyrics and “simple tunes”, although Danny Williams’ “Moon River” and Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” gave him some hope.


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