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What was hip, cool, fab or groovy  when you were at the College?  And the context?

The Fifties

This is another memory test at Christmas 2007 having noticed there is very little on the WCR site reference the Fifties pop scene at W College. Pete Murray – Radio Luxembourg Top Twenty and all that stuff.  

The resident USAAF Hospital Gable Gators band and the Miller wartime swing era were but a recent memory in pop musical tastes for our fellow inmates of 1951.  The boppers of 1940 had made their statement and had shown a new direction to the young singers trained in the elements of swing by the Goodmans, Dorseys and Millers.  They had emerged and blossomed into the new world of the fifties.  Frank (ex Harry James and Dorsey man) mysteriously had not at this stage done so, he had other things on his mind at the time.  

Two of our highly respected 26 dorm 14 year old prefects in their ‘private’ room (yes, they really were that young in 1951) possessed a portable HMV state of the art wind-up gramophone from which would emerge and echo along the covered ways mostly American pop from the likes of Guy Mitchell, Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, Doris Day, Kay Starr, Peggy Lee, Al Martino, Rosemary Clooney.  Also prevalent was the strange but popular world of what was termed 'light music' by the likes of Ron Goodwin - Limelight, Ray Martin - Marching Strings, Leroy Anderson - Walzing Cat etc.  All innocent stuff.   My main memory coming from said gramophone was of the belting sound of Mario Lanza, “Because You're Mine, that isn't thunder dear, it's only my poor heart you hear ----- Da Da Da - Dah" .... and all on a new red-labelled HMV  78 rpm 10” shiny Disc – Magic!  Many a lad who fancied himself as a tenor would be busting a gut belting this out for a solid 10 days. 

However, at the time, Johnnie Ray was something else and definitely a sign of things to come. His ‘Such a Night’ was deemed challenging and certainly a listening experience not to be shared with mother (who I hasten to say was not a prude), it’s just the way it was.

Butler Hall (Hut No. 33) had its share of 78s where we would have offerings of Gustaf Holst (Planets), Rimsky Korsakov (Capriccio Espagnol and  Tsare Saltane - the tale of Tsar Saltan) plus Vaughn Williams galore. The 'Gramophone' in a room behind the stage would be tended by enthusiastic pupils. Did not have to worry about needles as the machine was electric with a stylus - wowee!  Even the discs were up-market, they were 12”.   Ah sweet innocence.  Didn't last long!

David Spinks (26 Inmate 1951/2)

The Sixties

The main influence on me when I first arrived at WC was a combination of Bill Haley, Elvis, Cliff and the Shads, Lonnie Donnegan (whose hand I'm proud to say I shook at one of his final gigs before he died late last year - I don't think the two events were connected...) and a smattering of trad jazz.  Of course, all that was to change in '62/3 when the Liverpool scene started up nationally although I was a diehard fan of the Stones at the time (as Duncan Jones will remember - he and I and, for that matter, most other people, would argue constantly about the relative merits of the Beatles and the Stones).  I also remember Kev Kennedy selling me a pristine copy of Bill Haley's 'Rock Around The Clock' LP, plus Elvis's 'Return to Sender' and 'One Broken Heart For Sale' and the Shadows 'Apache' at the time (I've still got 'em Kev!).

Later on, upon rising to the dizzy heights of the senior school and after the new Sports block opened, we used to go to the Rec' Room once or twice a week (I think it was the day your year had afternoon games, plus maybe one other) and take our latest acquisitions with us (records I mean...) to be played to the general admiration of all concerned (you hoped...).  By this time Stax and Motown artists had become highly popular, plus other British R&B bands around such as the Pretty Things, the Yardbirds and a few more obscure odds and sods like the Downliners Sect's 'Little Egypt'. Shining out like a beacon through all the general dross of the run-of-the-mill chart material of the time were, of course, the incomparable Who (who in my humble opinion have never been surpassed in their ability to produce the perfect 'three-minute single').  In addition, this was in the days when, as a matter of course, artists and 'beat groups' would release EPs as well as LPs and 45s and I particularly remember bringing my complete (at the time) collection of Stones EPs and LPs along which I don't think anyone else in my year had at the time. In my final year, we used to be allowed to play records in the 'end room' of the common room in the evenings (it must have been at weekends as I can't imagine that we would have been allowed to do this while prep was still in progress in the dining hall), and JD (John Dunn), Duncan and I would pretty well monopolise the choice of material which by now encompassed the more obscure R&B stuff by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley et. al. (Hey man - quit mumblin' and talk out loud...!)

(Incidentally, those readers of younger years who are under the impression that R&B is a recent invention and is comprised mainly of people in baggy trousers and bobble hats walking round in circles, pointing at people and shouting a lot are labouring under a misapprehension - try listening to the any of the Berry/Diddley or, for the UK version, even early Stones/Pretty Things/Yardbirds material to hear something approaching the real McCoy)

The school dance, by contrast, was, musically at least, something of a disappointment as the rule book appeared to require a certain percentage of quicksteps and waltzes to be included with the result that we got some dreadful old tripe served up most of the time with only a few decent tracks played for the occasional 'twist' or 'shake' (God it was hard work...).

Talking of the dance, does anyone remember The Reformation playing at the end of year dance in either '65 or (more probably) '66? All the girlies fancied Danny Eves the keyboard player and I well remember being quizzed by several who shall remain nameless after I let slip that I knew the band as they were from my home town. In fact, a few years later I ended up playing in the Paradise Road Blues Band with Danny for some years and he, by that time, was a formidable Hammond and blues harp player.

Anyone got any other memories of '60-'66 (or thereabouts) music ? Sorry if the above turns out to be a bit unsound chronologically...

Alan Dean

The Seventies

When my year eventually got hold of the record player in the Sixth Form Common Room, we played things like Brothers Johnson ('Get the Funk Outta My Face'), Undisputed Truth ('U + me = Love'), loads of Bootsy Collins and Parliament. We then made every effort to play them to the masses at the discos that we had in the Dining Room (standing on tables that wobbled and hence made the needles jump on our precious and newly bought 7" singles).

Kevin 'Cave' Mann, Jimmy Niblock, Chris 'Mouse' Moore and myself ('Cosh') used to go to Ace Records (down a side street behind Jarrolds) on our Saturday Exeats and look through the racks. The guy there used to play whatever we asked for, knowing that we were good customers. We used to come out with ten or more discs (for 5?) and then get back to Kett and play them all night. And yes, we did wear the gear; three button high-waisters, collars that had an extra bit of material that made them into shirts, enormous ties and flares that doubled as tents and shoes; platforms for the shorties and some with very wide soles (aka WyColl's impression of the Northern Soul era).

Other things that we listened to was the whole back catalogue of The Who, 'Smoke on the Water' ('Made in Japan' version because it was the longest and we could play at being Deep Purple after Games for hours until tea), Bruce Springsteen's album 'Born to Run' (still a big favourite of mine), Pink Floyd (every bloke had 'Dark Side Of The Moon'), S&G's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' (every girl seemed to have this) and simply anything by David Bowie. Who said that we were not trendy at the time?

Cliff Martin (pupil 1972-1977 and staff 1982-1990)

It's funny how music seems to be the one thing that links all "generations." There is loads of old stuff I hear occasionally and think "oh, yes, I remember dancing/snogging/etc. to that at school." 10cc, Mud, Slade, Showaddywaddy, and … dare I say it ... Bay City Rollers were all around at that time. Not that I am saying they were any good, but it all brings back the memories of the "3/4 year social, Fry Hall" etc.

What we thought was great as 2nd or 3rd formers was hated by those at the top who mocked us for dashing out of prep on Thursdays at 7.30 to watch Top of the Pops! The Mair cup was always good for a laugh. I remember Fry winning once, when I think we managed to get extra points for actually getting everyone in the House to participate. I think we sang "When I'm 64."

Morag Muir

OK, House disco memories of the 70's, not in any order, nor an intimation of fondness! 'Saturday night's alright for fighting' by EJ, 'Seven seas of Rye' by Queen, 'Maggie May' by Rod the Mod, 'Seasons in the Sun' by Terry Jacks (whatever happened to him?), 'Brown Sugar' by the Stones, 'Streets of London' by Ralph McTell (that well worn floor clearer), 'Crazee hor sez wah wah' by the Osmonds, 'Children of the revolution' by T Rex, 'I love you love' by good ol' GG, before he discovered internet porn, 'Cum on feel the noize' (sic - not a link to the foregoing artiste) by Slade. Anyone else remember any toons from the discos?

Baz Hipwell







Wymondham College Remembered