Hey Rock and Roll

 

By the mid 70’s rock was all of twenty years old, it had travelled from Bill Hayley performing ‘Rock around the Clock’ way past Hawkwind and ‘ Silver Machine’. The 60’s had been very forward looking, every few months there would be something new to marvel at, it was as if there was a scorched earth policy with the past being destroyed as the future became the present.

There were period in the 70’s however when it seemed like we had stretched the fabric of time, as if it could stretch no longer and it seemed like we were going to be sucked back into the 1950’s.The 1950’s for us meant America obviously, no one in their right mind wanted to revisit Wee Willie Harris or even Billy Fury. American Graffiti was an amazingly influential film which left the inhabitants of Croydon or Oldham yearning for a soda pop at the drive in. Even more influential was the TV show Happy Days which provided an even more sanitised version of the American dream. For a while it seemed we knew more about America than we did about our own country as so many of the shows were made there. There were only three channels and we had to watch in real time no wonder we have become so Americanised, we were brainwashed for decades.

Surprisingly Glam was partly backwards looking from Marc Bolan’s 50’s imagery to Roxy Music’s adoption of 40’s and 50’s American glamour. When Mud decided to dress as teddy boys (let’s forget the guitarist ok?) it just seemed normal. Let’s not forget that during this time Malcolm Mclaren was flirting with Teddy boy styles and running a shop catering to those tastes, rock and roll really was here to stay.

The apogee of this yearning for the past was encapsulated by the band Showaddywaddy. Sha Na Na without the bad acid. This weirdest of outfits was formed when two Leicester bands simply joined forces in 1973. This meant that Showaddywaddy had two drummers, two bassists and lots of everything else. This would, of course, prove useful when members started to leave but initially they had more people than was strictly necessary but this enabled members to generally mess around and make the band look more interesting than they were. Like so many other entertainers they initially came through the immensely popular ‘New Faces’ Show. From there on it was domination of middle England for the next few years. Showaddywaddy actually had 10 top ten hits though the mid 70’s. It seemed we couldn’t get enough of versions of old hits which were less good than the originals played by men in a collection of lurid Teddy boy outfits. The band was fronted by Dave Bartram whose mid 70’s haircut marked him out as an unlikely Ted despite his drapes and brothel creepers.

This is them at their very best.

Luckily tastes change and post punk there was no place for Showaddywaddy in the charts although, understandably, they remained a huge popular live act round the clubs, Bartram Hung up his drapes in 2013 but naturally the band are still going although with only two original members still remaining.

Punk, of course was aggressively British, we’d had enough of those yanks with their nice teeth and tanned skin showing off their perfect lifestyles. As well as rock and roll the biggest victim was country rock which had to be put into quarantine for a while.

It was a great loss. We survived but the American dream never seemed quite as perfect again.

By way of a footnote..

Showaddywaddy were an unlikely multiracial band. Romeo Challenger must have had the weirdest career of any black drummer having played in occult heavy metal band Black Widow before a lifelong career with Showaddywaddy.

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