The Music of Portsmouth in 1962

The Evening News continued their beat group features and the Fleetwoods, Crusaders, Rivals and Cadillacs were on the bill when Kimbells presented four local groups every Sunday. The Fleetwoods also played at the Conservative Club in Albert Road but along the road there were no dances at the Co-op Hall for the immediate future. Cliff Richard's movie 'The Young Ones' opened in the ABC and Essoldos. On the jazz front, the Crescent City Club had moved to Ricky's on Thursdays, Bob Wallis & his Storyville Jazzmen were at the Savoy and Arundel Street's Cobden Arms reintroduced weekly traditional jazz. Spinner was excited that the easing of legal constraints on visiting American jazzmen might lead to some interesting American/British collaborations, since to that point, Americans had generally been excluded from playing British clubs while many of the concert tours struggled to attract audiences in sufficient numbers. He was alarmed by musical developments in jazz in 1961 with "dark whisperings about the 'way out' experiments of Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane".
The Guildhall was pop-oriented in January 1962 with visits from Helen Shapiro and the Brook Brothers, the Temperance Seven and Frankie Vaughan. Acker Bilk came in February, then a package with Bobby Vee, Clarence 'Frogman' Henry and the Springfields. Peppi & the Twisters from New York played the Savoy, along with a demonstration of the new dance and a new film 'Twist Around the Clock' starring Chubby Checker, the Marcels and Dion opened at the Gaumont.' Not everyone enjoyed the new dance as "twist expert" Tony Greenslade was taken to hospital on a stretcher from the Savoy after "twisting his back".' Local groups were appearing more regularly at the Savoy as support to somewhat obscure 'London' groups such as Phil Fernando & his Rock Group, Johnny Milton & the Condors, Grant Tracey & the Sunsets and Johnny Vallance & the Dee Jays.
Cliff Richard and the Shadows followed 'The Young Ones' with a national tour, and the Guildhall's Box Office set a record by selling 2,500 tickets in one day. Spinner noted his "quiet, neatly cut black suit" and the fact that "every other song was a ballad" the young rocker was becoming respectable. 17-year-old Tony Orlando brought his Package Show to the Savoy with the Ravens and the Fleetwoods. Count Basie came to the Guildhall with the singing trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross but when Brenda Lee appeared, a group of "visitors" heckled Gene Vincent before being ejected.
The Folkways 'Ballads & Blues' Club at Southsea's Portland Hotel had frequent guests from Southampton Concorde's Balladeer Club and occasional record recitals. The Arthur Ward Quartet played Ricky's regularly, often with guests while Bill Cole's group took over the Modern Jazz Club after promoter Jerry Allen withdrew, citing economic difficulties and poor attendances. Bill Cole often featured guests like Harold McNair or locals Doug Wheeler and Johnny Wynn. The Crescent City Jazz Club was running weekly at the Oyster House while Terry Lightfoot and Acker were back at the Savoy in April. Easter brought the John Barry Seven to the Savoy for the first time. Johnny & the Cutters, the Jaguars and Crusaders were at Kimbells and on Easter Monday 1962 Americans Johnny Burnette, Gary US Bonds and Gene McDaniels joined Mark Wynter at the Guildhall. But the big event was the visit of Louis Armstrong in May. 'Satchmo' played many favourites including "The Saints", "Blueberry Hill", "Mack the Knife", and "Georgia". The Evening News correspondent 'MRH' suggested it was only the second time (after Sir Thomas Beecham) that he had heard genuinely "thunderous applause" in Portsmouth but confessed himself a "square" and concluded "I'm pleased I went but I still prefer Brahms and Beethoven". The Rendezvous moved to St Paul's Square off King's Road and began with the Riverside Jazzmen, then the Downtown Syncopators, the Guildhall hosted a Festival of local jazz acts in mid-May and Derek Adye's band played the Railway on Friday nights.
Two nights after Louis, the Guildhall had Jerry Lee Lewis, heading a bill with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Vince Eager and oddly, the Bachelors. The Honeys were in town for a week at the King's Theatre with comedian Jimmy Wheeler. Local groups the Classics were at Thorngate, the Fleetwoods and Renegades at Ricky's, the Rivals, Confidentials and Diplomats at the Savoy the latter supporting Eden Kane and the Jaywalkers.
Portsmouth's 'Mr Personality', Billy Storm & his Stormriders were busy, supporting Joe Brown & his Bruvvers at the Savoy, appearing at Hayling's British Legion Club every Saturday and enjoying one of Ricky's rocking Fridays. The Co-op Hall reintroduced groups with Frank Kelly & the Hunters fresh from touring with Marty Wilde but the ballrooms were still featuring regular dance band nights such as Benny Freedman at the Savoy and Ted Heath in early July. That weekend indicated the range of events at Southsea's major ballroom with Heath (Friday) Popular Palais Dancing (Saturday), on Sunday Johnny Kidd & the Pirates plus the Fleetwoods and on Monday Tony Wyell & the For-Tunes.
The Oyster House, Locksway Road, Milton presented a special jazz evening with Nat Gonella while Humphrey Lyttleton was at South Parade Pier.
Billy Fury, Helen Shapiro and Bobby Vee starred in 'Play It Cool' at the two Essoldos but there was little live pop music in August. Among the jazz acts in the city were Johnny Dankworth at the Savoy and the Derek Adye Band helping the Rendezvous to celebrate its second birthday while Bob Lambie's Orchestra entertained dancers at Kimbells. In mid-August, Acker Bilk was back at South Parade Pier while Ricky's presented live rock with Dave Lane & the Strollers. The following weekend the John Barry Seven appeared at the Savoy no longer featuring Mr Barry but just prior to the release of their single of the James Bond Theme. About 1,000 mainly young fans attended and danced happily to "Tuxedo Junction" and "In the Mood" as well as contemporary numbers. On Sunday night, jazz fans may have gone to the Pier to see Ken Colyer while across the road at the Savoy, teenagers probably preferred Brian Poole & the Tremeloes. Their latest record was "Twist Little Sister" but Spinner suggested it was "slowly but surely twisting itself out" to be replaced by the Locomotion. He described the movements and the new release by Little Eva. Despite his prediction, Chubby Checker was scheduled to play the Guildhall in mid-September.
Other Savoy performers included Shane Fenton & the Fentones, Chris Barber, Humphrey Lyttleton and Mike Devon & the Diplomats while like many youth clubs, Hillside re-opened in late August. Ricky's too offered its "Grand Re-Opening" with Dave Dee & the Bostons and then the Midnighters. Into September the Guildhall was more active following Chubby Checker with fellow Americans Dion and Del Shannon plus Joe Brown, the Allisons and Buzz Clifford. Southsea's Co-op Hall offered "Rock & Twist" on Monday nights with Danny Storm & the Strollers, then Screaming Lord Sutch & the Savages. Paul Raven, Mike Sarne and the Spotnicks were among recording stars at the Savoy while Tommy Whittle joined the Bill Cole Trio as Portsmouth Modern Jazz Club resumed in mid-September. On Saturdays, the Rendezvous now faced competition from the Crescent City Club. The Mulligan/Melly band were at the Savoy, Derek Adye's Jazz Band at the Railway and (21 September) Ted Heath's Band back to the Savoy.
In October, the Guildhall presented a British package starring Billy Fury plus Marty Wilde, Mike Sarne, Jimmy Justice, Mark Wynter, Joe Brown, Karl Denver and Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers. Tony Hancock and Matt Monro starred for a week at the King's, followed by Irish singer Ruby Murray in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. On Sundays, Ricky's became the Club Cabaza, offering Chinese catering and a Latin American band. Sarah Vaughan withdrew from a Guildhall concert with George Shearing but the pianist continued with ex-Basie vocalist Joe Williams and the Junior Mance Trio.
On Friday 5th October 1962 Acker Bilk was at the Savoy again. Young people in Portsmouth had a new delight on the following (Saturday) morning as the Savoy launched its Junior Rock & Twist Club with groups like the Teenbeats, Southerners, Storms and Confidentials (1/- and parents free). On Sunday evenings, the ballroom featured pop acts like the Dowlands, Freddy Cannon and Peppi & the New York Twisters.
In mid-October as Dave Lane & the Strollers headlined a rock night at Ricky's Club, a group from Liverpool called the Beatles released their first record, "Love Me Do". The Court ran sessions for teenagers every Sunday evening, competing in late October with Wee Willie Harris at the Savoy backed by Pompey 'legends' Tony Crombie & his reformed Rockets. There was a pop peculiarity at the end of the month when The Everly Brother Phil appeared at the Guildhall after Don returned to the USA unwell. Frank Ifield and Ketty Lester supported Phil and a week later Bobby Vee and the (new) Crickets were also there with Frank Kelly & the Hunters. The chart-topping Tornadoes appeared at the Savoy, the Federals and Cyclones were at Ricky's and the Diplomats at St Faith's, Mulligan/Melly at Clarence Pier, and Eric Delaney's Band at the Savoy. The mix continued through November with the John Barry Seven back at the Savoy, Adam Faith and Gene Vincent at the Guildhall and the Solent City Jazzmen at the Railway. The Rendezvous moved to the South Parade Pier with three acts, the Confederate Jazz Band, Ken Barton and the 2.
As Christmas 1962 approached, Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers and Jet Harris & the Jet Blacks were at the Savoy and Helen Shapiro, Eden Kane and the Vernons Girls at the Guildhall. Kimbells offered the Strollers, while Cosham's George & Dragon presented the Astrals and the Saturns. More traditionally, the Ray Bryant Trio were regulars at the Royal Beach Hotel, there was a regular swing trio at Arundel Street's Black Dog pub, Ken Colyer returned to South Parade Pier and when Chris Barber returned to the Guildhall in mid-December he had as his guest star American rhythm & blues legend Louis "Caldonia" Jordan. The Rendezvous ran a 'Fancy Dress Rave' with two bands and on Christmas Eve the Eric Galloway Orchestra and Mike Devon & the Diplomats were at Clarence Pier.
In the last week of 1962, the Rivals and the Talismen played at the Oddfellows Hall and Tommy Bruce & the Tomcats appeared at the Savoy. New Year's Eve offered a Guildhall Party and two dance orchestras at South Parade Pier. Spinner anticipated older style entertainment and "the return of music" in 1963. Citing recent hits for artists like Stan Getz, Nat 'King' Cole, Frank Ifield, Ronnie Carroll and Acker Bilk he "confidently forecast we shall see the end of the guitar era", after the "long" and "wearing" process since Bill Haley and Elvis emerged. He believed music had "taken a back seat" but things were going to change. He was right of course, but not at all as he imagined!

NOTE: This is an edited version of Dave Allen's research. The full version can be found at Mick Cooper's website