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 .

19 Aug 2008

Sid Price's Birmingham memories

I first knew I wanted to be a Mod at the end of 1963 early 64 at the age of 17. I was working in the centre of Birmingham at the time and opposite my place of work there was a hairdresser where I used to get my haircut. It was unisex hair salon where Mods from all over Birmingham used to come and get their hair cut. I used to go and chat to them, it was then I knew I wanted to become a Mod.

I found I had a lot in common in their taste of music, fashion and the way they looked at life. Later, when I went to work at Cadburys I met 3 lads who were also Mods and got to go about with them and that is where I met my girlfriend who eventually became my wife in 1969.

I have always thought Mod and never wavered from it, it has always been with me, once a Mod always a Mod that is my belief. I am 61 now and still think the same as I did when I was 18, much more mature now but still with my beliefs. I know people that are still into the Rock & Roll scene, who are older than me and still ride motorbikes.

I still dress fashionably with suits and smart casual wear, Smedley tops, Levi 501’s, tailored shirts and trousers and listen to the music I listened to in the 60’s, and still go to Mod rallies. I don’t think there are many who think Mod as I do at my age.

The music I listened to back in the sixties was Soul, Rhythm and Blues and British Beat. My favourite soul was STAX and Tamla Motown. Artists like Ottis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MG’s, Eddie Floyd, The Four Tops and The Temptations etc. Also British Soul: Geno Washington, Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. Also British bands: Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Small Faces, The Who and The Yardbirds. My Favourite band from Birmingham was The Spencer Davis Group, who were an R&B and blues band.

The clubs I used to go to were mainly in the centre of Birmingham, clubs like The Le Metro which was situated under some railway arches and was like a cellar similar to the cavern in Liverpool. The Rainbow Suite where the smartest Mods used to go, and where some of the best music was played.

I saw John Lee Hooker and my favourite band Spencer Davis at a club called the Whisky a Go-Go. We used to meet every Thursday evening at our works (Cadburys) club, where DJ’s and our own local R&B band called The Cock- a- Hoops, who had an Hammond organ which I love the sound of, played.

We never got to any of the clubs in London as it was too expensive to travel, but a lot of the London Mods used to come up to the clubs in Birmingham.

I also saw The Small Faces at our local theatre called the Odeon.

Mods came to this venue from all over the country, at the same theatre I saw a STAX show featuring Booker T, Sam and Dave, Jimmy Ruffin, Arthur Conley, Wilson Pickett and The Bar-Kay’s.

I also saw at the Rainbow Suite, a band called “Listen” whose lead singer was Robert Plant who was a Mod at the time and later fronted Led Zeppelin.

I used to and still do wear Smart Mohair Italian Style suits, three covered buttons, 8 inch side or centre vents, button down collared fitted shirts mainly Ben Sherman. I also had a three buttoned burgundy and grey boating blazer, Fred Perry polo shirts and John Smedley three buttoned polo Knitwear.

Later around 1965 I wore hipsters, my favourite pair of hipsters were a Rupert Bear check in a camel colour that I wore with a polo neck or turtle neck sweater and desert boots. Also had a grey short Military coat, grey with a mandarin collar, centre vent and patch pockets. I wore this with a black polo neck sweater. Shoes I wore were mainly loafers, desert boots and bowling shoes. In the early sixties we used to wear striped or plain shirts with detachable collars which were fastened with a stud, it was very tricky as you had to fasten one at the front of the collar and one at the back, wore with slim knitted ties.

The Sixties Mod scene was brilliant we all liked the same sort of things, Fashion, Music, Scooters whether it be a Lambretta or Vespa, my preference was a Lambretta as they looked more streamlined. Mods also went Ten Pin Bowling, we had a local bowling alley where we used to go once a week, hence the bowling shoes being fashionable.

There was always something to talk about, always something new happening which is what the Mod scene was all about, and always somewhere to go whether it was clubs or a weekend trip to the seaside, which was a Mod thing to do. Also riding your scooter through the streets dressed really smart gave you a buzz!! Sometimes we had encounters with Rockers but it never ever come to much. The clubs were superb we all loved dancing with always a new dance to learn virtually every week. It was a really cool scene.

Drugs raised their ugly heads sometimes - they weren’t hard drugs though. Uppers and Downers were taken by some to get through all-nighters, and also Bluey’s which were a bit stronger. Not all Mods took drugs and neither myself nor my girlfriend now wife ever touched them.

This is how the scene was every one had there own taste and individuality and it changed all the time. All the Mods I knew were dedicated to the scene and what it meant.


Thanks to Sid for the article and photos ... also thanks to Claudio.

16 comments:

Sulli said...

Very interesting memories. I've had the pleasure of meeting Sid a couple of times - via Ian Chatterley and Matt Hudson - and he's a gent.
My father is the same age as Sid and after speaking to him this evening he had the following Birmingham mod memories from the 1960s;seeing Steve Winwood sing when he was only 14 at the Locarno; allnighters at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Navigation Street and seeing Jimmy Ruffin perform live in the West End of Birmingham. Like Sid, he also saw Geno Washington, Jimmy James, The Small Faces and many others live around Birmingham. He used to get his suits made at Freddie Burns and sometimes on the Stratford Road. He remembers going to the Rainbow Suite in Aston (?) He was never a regular at Le Metro, but my uncle and an aunt were both regulars. His final memory was of building up a large collection of UK 45s - Tamla, Stateside, Bluebeat and the other usual suspects - only for a large number of his records to be stolen at a party in Kings Heath (nothing changes!) and for his mother to throw them all out when he moved in with my mother! Clearly, Sid's memories provoked a few others. (On the off chance that you might know them Sid - My father is called Johnny O'Sullivan and both of his brothers, Mickey and Dennis, were mods. My unce Mickey used to go Le Metro - as did my auntie Cathy Cronin.)

Sulli

Sidders said...

Hello Sulli,

Nice to see your posting. Did your dad go to the whiskey? As we had a whiskey-a-go-go re union a couple of years ago, and your dads name was mentioned as names are when you are talking about old times. I knew quite a few that used to go there and i recognised your dads name but could not put a face to it.
I must know him as i went to the same clubs and we did all get to know each other pretty well. Where are you living noe as we havn't seen you for a while.

Sulli said...

Sid - yes my dad went to the Whiskey - usually with his brother Mickey, or his friends John Daley, John Rossi and Brian 'Chalky' White.
I'm living in Durham - hopefully down in Brum for Pid's do in October. A young daughter has curtailed my travelling recently!

Paul said...

Do you remember a club in Navigation Street, called the Margee?

Anonymous said...

No Paul can't say as i do. The only one i knew of was the Whiskey. If their was another it must have been a hideaway one.

Cheers,

Sid.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article!!! "SIR" Sid :),..
THANKS to YOU for being YOU!!!! ...& In doing so it is very important to me that you know this because I was late one day!~ It has always worried me ever since... simply because it was the wrong day to be late for a good heart.!! it is important to me, that you know this, because you are truly a beautiful heart!
Nevertheless, ... to refresh your memory and this could be a long hull-tough road to follow...BUT...here I go...One night I was sitting minding my own business with a hat that looked like 'times square´´ I was told...SO anyway someone smacked someone with the BEST verbal volley response ... I have yet to witness...in an off the cuff way and in the very moment . ...& not on vinyl too!.. ....... However It was on a good note...& NOT or perhaps... in a room full of cherries....without pits... OR 'shy' people? with red faces... BUT all.things..of whom..... in front of a virtual painting,resembling a room full of embarrassed people? I believe I was told... This I know to be true :) Art critics at their finest no less! However were in the place where the "B a card or bushes"? sat in the Zurs lounge of OmgMG! and ...with friends! that I knew... They told me you stopped by to 'pick' at me a bit more & I am sorry I did not get back on time as promised! Anyway I just found this spot and had to say Hello... If it were me in reverse, I would like to have known that fun was fun and it was OK! So with that I just wanted you to know this and say Thanks! for the one of the most simply kind days.I am very grateful to have found this Jack that Cat was Clean site blog or whatever electronic mod mode I stumbled across while surfing too.
A Very unsound sounding from me and a bit late.. Just needed you to know that VERY sound people do care! Even if we are unintentionally late and rude to someone whom went out of their way to make sure I got up the ´lift´with NO holes in my socks as a lady should be able to do... after a bit of dancing and fun! ONLY a GENT would see to that! & you are a true GENT!
Take Care,
Amy

Sid said...

Amy.

Who the hell are you? i don't think i have ever met you before and definatly don't know what you are talking about.

Sid.

Anonymous said...

Sorry have forgotten my password. Would like to know who AMY is who has written to me as i have never met her in my life and would like to know what she is talking about as i can not understand a word of what she is saying,

Best Wishes

Sid.

Wow Gold said...

Very Nice Blog.

Lizzie P said...

Amy must have had too many uppers/downers, purple hearts or whatever!!
Does anyone remember my brother who was DJ at The Elbow Room in Aston and Mothers in Erdington?
H was a good friend of Spencer Davies and quite well known around Birmingham in 60's. He was known as Micky Twitch. He married Cindi an American lady in about 1969 and they left for the usual trail,at the time, for India. Where he was killed
A long time has passd but any information - good or bad would be welcome. I'm his younger sister known then as Betty but wouldn't expect anyone to remember me but would just love any pictures I can build of him - don't worry about anything shocking I knew him very well - he always tried to protect me from the world he moved in but I wasn't ever far behind!!

dominic regan said...

The Rainbow was not in the suburbs but above the Coop in the High street. it had a rooftop terrace. Live bands played but everyone was there for the records where were Trojan reggae . DJs included Tubby Stan and Dave Spicer.Admission was 8/6 in old money.

dominic regan said...

The Rainbow was above the Coop store in the High St of Birmingham city centre. Access was vis an arcade . Admission was 8/6 in old money. The music was reggae , Trojan . Very slick .

Spike Davis said...

Hi all - I was the DJ on the 2nd floor of the Whisky in 64/65 and went to the Isle of Wight with Chris, Steve and Pete VB - where the bands played. I'm 64 now and living in The Canary Islands. I do a radio show every Friday on CanaryUK Radio, www.canaryuk.com. This Friday 24th August 2012 I'm doing a tribute show to celebrate 48 years of the Mods v Rockers battles on the beaches. I know we all went to Great Yarmouth on the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1964. My best mate, Goff is not well so I'm looking for an old Mod who was there for the weekend and will do an interview with me on the phone [Skype or Landline] Please contact me at spikeonq@live.com if you can help

Spike Davis said...

I was the DJ on the 2nd floor at the Whisky and moved to the Isle of Wight with Chris, Steve and Pete VB. I'm 64 now and living in the Canary Islands. I do a radio show every Friday between 6pm and 8pm on CanaryUk Radio, www.canaryuk.com. To celebrate 48 years since the Mods v Rockers battles I'm doing a Quadrophenia tribute this Friday 24th August 2012. My best mate Goff is not well and I'd like to do an interview with an old Mod who was there. If you can help or you know someone who can please contact me - spikeonq@live.com

Spike Davis said...

I was the DJ on the 2nd floor at the Whisky and moved to the Isle of Wight with Chris, Steve and Pete VB. I'm 64 now and living in the Canary Islands. I do a radio show every Friday between 6pm and 8pm on CanaryUk Radio, www.canaryuk.com. To celebrate 48 years since the Mods v Rockers battles I'm doing a Quadrophenia tribute this Friday 24th August 2012. My best mate Goff is not well and I'd like to do an interview with an old Mod who was there. If you can help or you know someone who can please contact me - spikeonq@live.com

pauline said...

Does anybody remember the Stage door? Coffee bar with blues music. I used to go there about 1966-67. My late Sister was Maureen Martin and I was friendly with Scotch John and a young Ginger lad. I am Pauline Mulheron on fb.