The Online Mod/ern/ist Archive

archive of original modernist recollections and information .
we are glad to hear from anyone with memories of the time, but we do not rewrite history .

4 Sep 2007

London : Max The Mod

I was born in 1947 in London and Moved to Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1976. I spent several years of my miss-spent youth hanging around pubs and clubs and got to see some of the greatest performers of all time. I played professionally during 1966 and early 1967 before starting a real career in Advertising for a decent wage of £10 a week! Max The Mod

It all started on December 21, 1963. I went to St. Mary's ballroom in Putney to see the Rolling Stones.

I distinctly remember the Detours as the support band and being amazed at how loud they played! John and Pete were both playing Epiphone guitars, and Roger played some harmonica.

Pete had a tab collar that went right up to his chin. They played an opening and a closing set. This was a double event for me since not only did I become initiated to new music, I also saw Mods for the first time! During 1964 I heard reports of The Who and saw the Marquee posters across London, but never ventured to see them until late March 1965. I was totally in awe as I recognized three players immediately. I saw the band on nine occasions during the course of the year. I hope my personal experience helps you relive the most important period of the band, "The Who London 1965."


As far as the British Public were concerned there was no such thing as "mod" until the Easter of 1964. A major riot in the south coast resort town of Clacton announced the arrival of a new cult.

Nobody can pinpoint the arrival of the first mods since, for the most part they were invisible other than to themselves however the first so called "modernists" had appeared by 1962.

The abolishment of National Service (conscription) and a low school leaving age contributed to the rapid growth of the youth market in post war England. This new youth society produced young wage earners who were able for the first time to get rid of their parent's influence and create a whole new scene for themselves.

Mod has always been considered more of a lifestyle than a clothes fashion but the wardrobe was essential. The early mods sought out and wore the sort of clean looking fashions that were more popular in Europe. We are talking "mens wear" here since "mod" was primarily a male cult. Suits made from mohair and Italian knotted silk ties were items "de rigeur" and the clothing was often so finely tailored that outsiders were unable to recognise the subtleness. This in itself was a subversity and allowed mods to flourish in the mainstream and work normal office jobs unlike the punks and new romantics of recent years.

All cults have leaders and followers and mod was no exception, there were Faces and Tickets. The Faces were the originators of the fashion styles and the Tickets were followers who ended up wearing the accepted uniform of mod, i.e. Parka coats, mod hats, Fred Perry shirts etc.

Unlike their teenage counterparts, mods were not interested in the new "Merseybeat" music from Liverpool. Mods were interested in contemporary dance music from the U.S.A. such as soul and Motown with a touch of blue beat or ska. There were specialist shops and stalls in the street markets that catered to this new music market.

An automobile was out of reach for most British teenagers in the early 1960's.The generally accepted method of transportation was the motor scooter as it was (and still is) practical and affordable to get around London, which was the Mod mecca. In the early 1960's the pubs would close at 11pm, public transportation shut down and there was not much to do. There were however, a few mod hangouts and "all-nighter" clubs. Scooter transportation helped the mods get around with "speed" being provided chemically by "Purple Hearts"and "French Blues".

These were the mods that invaded Clacton in 1964. These were the Vespa driving, pill popping horders that became to be recognised as "the mods" when in fact they were no more than soldiers in uniform rather than the "faces" who had set the styles. In the Who's Quadraphonia, Jimmy is a journeyman mod. In another era he could have just as easily been a high street Punk or a New Romantic.


In 1965, the Marquee Club was the premier venue in London. Music was featured up to seven nights a week, and there were occasional afternoon sessions on Saturdays. There were normally two bands playing per night and each played two 45-minute sets.

I saw The Who on six occasions during the year, including November and December dates. On these latter dates, The Who played a one-hour set. The procedure went something like this: The support band played a 45 minute set and the headliners played their first set, whereupon the support band went in for their final set, followed by the headliners again. Everything was usually over around 11:00pm, in time to catch the last bus home! The Marquee Club was not "licensed" which meant that alcoholic refreshment had to be obtained in-between sets. I used to go the "Ship" just up the street and Roger and Keith were regulars!

On one occasion in April 1965 there was a taping for a radio Luxembourg radio show. I'd seen several of these tapings before and the featured band normally "mimed"to music. You can rest assured that this was not going to happen at The Who's session. In fact, they never even played "I Can't Explain" during the month of April as they probably wanted to appear as "purists" to their peers in London. I remember hearing a playback of "Daddy Rolling Stone" at the taping which was yet unreleased.

The support bands tended to vary, but often it was the "Mark Leeman Five" and on one occasion it was "Jimmy James and the Vagabonds" who joined The Who on stage for an encore of "Please Please Please".

I distinctly remember the occasion when Pete first used his VOX A.C.100 on stage. It literally self-destructed during the second number and real ozone started to smoke from the back. Pete nonchalantly disconnected the head and chucked the smoking missile in the direction of the band room and proceeded to set up his old stack while the rest of the band kept playing. In keeping with tradition, the show must go on!

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1 comment:

ExDebofLastYear said...

My fiance and I are Mods that live in Atlanta. I'd like to get in touch with Max? Is there any chance? My email is Tyler, my fiance was blown away when he heard there was an authentic Mod in Atlanta!