Gang fights have gone on in Britain for centuries; but in the mid-1960s a tribal element arrived on the scene in the form of Mods and Rockers.
Mods were cool: they wore Italian-style suits beneath badge-bedecked parkas; they had carefully coiffed hair; rode Lambretta and Vespa scooters; and listened to new bands like The Who and The Small Faces and ska greats like Prince Buster. Rockers were grungier: they wore leathers as befitted ton-up bikers; had long and often greasy hair; and were fans of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent.
The two tribes went to war first – at least in a large scale fight – in Clacton over Easter 1964. But the Whitsun weekend of May 18 and 19 saw things escalate hugely. There were battles in Broadstairs , Bournemouth , Hastings , Margate , Clacton again, and most notably in Brighton . Thousands from each side had gathered in theory for a seaside break that turned into turf battles: deckchairs were a weapon of convenience; flick-knives favoured by many Mods; bike-chains by Rockers. As ever the poor police stood between the factions and had bottles thrown at them.
Middle Britain panicked into thinking civilisation was coming to an end. It didn’t; but hundreds of teenagers were fined, and some had short prison sentences for their part in the violence.
The Who’s famous rock opera has spawned an unofficial sequel after 37 years and original cast members are backing it
Quadrophenia fans around the world are set to ride their scooters triumphantly as the classic film is getting a spin-off.
Original cast-members are coming together in a kickstarter campaign to have a film funded with strong cultural references to the original.
The original movie, made in 1979 captured the spirit of the Mods vs Rockers battles of the time set to an incredible soundtrack.
It was based on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. It starred Phil Daniels as Jimmy, a young 1960s London-based Mod who escapes from his dead-end job as a mailroom boy by dancing, partying, taking amphetamines, riding his scooter and brawling with the motorcycle-riding Rockers.
The movie ‘Being’ stars original Quadrophenia star Mark Wingett (Carver, The Bill) as Doley.
One of the rewards for backers of new spin-off film ‘Being’ is a Golden Prince sculpture from the Godfather of Pop Art Sir Peter Blake documentary, previously owned by Who legend Pete Townshend.
It will be shot in London and Brighton in late summer 2016
It tells the story of a young boy, Buddy who is being bullied at school by classmates who really don’t understand him.
He has to care for his Mum, Margaret by himself as she has Multiple Sclerosis.
We see Buddy wrestle with his responsibilities at home, and his Mum Margaret’s daily stress trying to balance her own care needs living with a degenerative illness, and giving her son the childhood she would like him to have.
Buddy and his Mum find their escape in a world of sixties music. They share a love of mod bands like The Who.
One day Buddy meets an out of work actor, Doley and they become great friends.
Director Devlin Crow has captured the spirit of the original with reproduction of the mopeds and has other original cast members including and Trevor Laird.
Devlin’s own wife Kennedy is living with Multiple Sclerosis, and Devlin is her carer.
He said: “I have always had an affinity with Quadrophenia due to growing up in Brighton and remembering the Mod gathering and scooters then.
“My youth and view of Brighton is fused with the film and the Mod scene. The outsider element at the core of the film focuses on young carers who battle caring for love ones, the dynamics of parent and child is upturned causing strain. Their efforts go unnoticed by the larger society”
Over Fifty years ago on the Whitsun weekend of the 16-18 May 1964, the youth of Britain went mad. If you believed the newspapers, that is, who went with screaming headlines like ‘Battle of Brighton’, and ‘Wild Ones ‘Beat Up’ Margate’ . Editorials fulminated with predictions of national collapse, referring to the youths as ‘those vermin’ and ‘mutated locusts wreaking untold havoc on the land’.
Whitsun 1964 has become famous as the peak of the Mods and Rockers riots, as large groups of teenagers committed mayhem on the rain-swept streets of southern resorts like Margate, Brighton, Clacton and Bournemouth. Extensively photographed and publicised at the time, these disturbances have entered pop folklore: proudly emblazoned on sites about Mod culture and expensively recreated in the 1979 film Quadrophenia.
Yet, as ever when you’re dealing with tabloid newspapers, things are not quite what they seemed. What was trumpeted as a vicious exercise in national degeneration was to some extent, pre-hyped by the press. It was also not as all-encompassing as the headlines suggested: although an estimated 1,000 youths were involved in the Brighton disturbances, there were only 76 arrests. In Margate, there were an estimated 400 youths involved, with 64 arrests. While unpleasant and oppressive, this was hardly a teen take-over.
The cycle had begun six weeks or so earlier, during a dull and unseasonably cold Easter weekend. Up to 1,000 or so young Londoners had descended on Clacton, a smallish resort on England’s eastern coast. Bored with the bad weather and limited facilities, groups had separated according to their tribe: there were scuffles and stone-throwing, and the generally threatening appearance of teenagers en masse, barely restrained by an underwhelming police presence.
On Easter Monday, the press went big with the story: ‘Day of Terror by Scooter Groups’ (Daily Telegraph), ‘Youngsters Beat Up Town – 97 Leather Jacket Arrests’ (Daily Express), and ‘Wild Ones Invade Seaside – 97 Arrests’ (Daily Mirror). Citing “fighting, drinking, roaring, rampaging teenagers on scooters and motorcycles”, the Mirror referenced the notorious 1953 Marlon Brando film, The Wild One, which in mid-sixties Britain was still banned by the British Board of Film Censors, as likely to incite juvenile delinquency.
After that sensational write-up, the pattern was prepared for the next public holiday, andsouthern seaside resorts became the theatre. Contrasted with the anomie of Clacton, it became split along stylistic and tribal lines: between smart, scooter-riding, of-the-minute Mods, and leather-jacketed, scruffy Rockers − the younger siblings of the early 60s Ton Up Boys. ‘Grease’ they were called, and, although they had long hair − longer than many Mods − they were seen as throwbacks to Marlon Brando and 1950s Teddy Boys.
The relationship between the rioters and the press was examined in Generation X, an influential piece of youth sociology by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson − published in 1964 to capitalise on the apparent turmoil of contemporary youth. The cover simulated a variety of lurid headlines or phrases ̶ “RIGHT OLD MESS’, ‘PUNCH UP’, ‘QUEER ̶ but the book gave room to the voices of real teens, allowing them to speak freely. It remains a valuable document.
It began with a quote from “John Braden, 18, a London mechanic”: “yes, I am a Mod and I was at Margate. I’m not ashamed of it − I wasn’t the only one. I joined in a few of the fights. It was a laugh, I haven’t enjoyed myself so much for a long time. It was great − the beach was like a battlefield. It was like we were taking over the country. You want to hit back at all the old geezers who try to tell us what to do. We just want to show them we’re not going to take it.”
The Whitsun 1964 disturbances announced the fact that a new generation was claiming its space and its time. As evidenced by the interviews in Generation X, the early baby-boomers were more confident, better educated, and even more restless than their 1950s counterparts: the Edwardians, later Teddy Boys, who had become notorious for their combination of strange, exaggerated clothes and tendency towards extreme violence.
Generation X captured, for the first time from within, a separate youth world that took its cues from music and fashion. As one interviewee observed: “a lot of today’s teenagers have ambitions to be the top dresser in his district. Another ambition is to play in a beat group that’s going to have some sort of fame”. Films were still important as fantasy vehicles but the public life of 1960s teenagers was acted out in terms of Mod clothes, Bluebeat music and Soho clubs.
The Mod/Rocker disturbances soon faded as other styles came into youth culture prominence, but they set a pattern of tribal violence that would continue on and off throughout the rest of the 1960s (Skinheads v Hippies), the 1970s (Punks v Teds), and the 1980s − when the front cover of Time’s European edition for 24 October 1983 showed a scary-looking Mohawk punk with the cover strap The Tribes of Britain. Inside, the lurid copy presented a country riven by inter-youth culture battles.
The events of 1964 were also a textbook example of what the sociologist Jock Young termed “a moral panic”. This idea was explored by Stanley Cohen in his ground-breaking study of the Mod/Rocker riots, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: “a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media”. Moral barricades are manned, solutions are devised by ‘experts’, and the episode fades or is successfully ‘dealt with’.
Cohen observed how “one of the most recurrent types of moral panic in Britain since the war has been associated with the emergence of various forms of youth culture”’. What to the young seemed quite natural − the announcement of their generation’s arrival, a claiming of public space within a country that catered little for their needs − to adults seemed threatening and a symptom of national decay. There was violence, to be sure, but some of this was simply adult projection: a dark vision of a nightmare future symbolised by alien youth.
Folk Devils and Moral Panics was published in 1973, and coincided with the pioneering work undertaken at Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies: during the next few years, books like Resistance Through Rituals by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson, and Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: the Meaning of Style developed subcultural theory − in short, the mapping of youth tribes as both a commercial creation and a way of resistance − as a method of analysing mass youth culture.
It also fed back into popular culture. The early to mid 1970s saw all manner of nostalgic elements enter the pop mainstream, as the modernism of the ’60s was replaced with an awareness of the past: the early 1960s retro of the vastly influential George Lucas film, American Graffiti, the Pop Art references in Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain, the Mod pop retro of David Bowie’s 1973 covers album, Pin Ups, the harking back to the 1964 heyday of the Mods and Rockers in the Who’s 1973 album, Quadrophenia.
At the same time, the various incarnations of the shop run by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at 430 Kings Road passed through historical subcultures: in Let It Rock (1972-3), the Edwardian clothes of the Teddy Boys, in Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die (1974) ‘40s zoot suits and ‘50s rocker leathers. In Sex (1974-6) they sourced fetish clothing along with their own original designs, usually festooned in slogans and extreme imagery.
In May 1976, McLaren told the magazine Street Life, “I think now kids have a hankering to be part of a movement… They want to associate with a movement that’s hard and tough and in the open like the clothes we’re selling here.” Early punk audiences mixed handmade designs with clothes sourced from the 1940s and 1950s − in a dizzying, living collage.
Punk in turn kick-started an explosion of subcultural research, as all the strands that had been packed into the original movement unravelled into individual styles. The punks v Teds battles of 1977 − a self-conscious reprise of the Mods v Rockers disturbances − were followed by the reappearance of Skinheads, the Mod Revival of 1979, the Ska revival, and the onset of the New Romantics, who freely and gleefully plundered styles going right back to the 19th Century. Clothes became more than individual adornment: a matter of deep, tribal identification.
In the early ‘90s, just as Britain’s style wars were abating − thanks to rave culture and the onset of sportswear as a youth cult staple − the phrase Generation X was given a new lease of life. Douglas Coupland’s 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture examined the early adulthood of another generation: coinciding with the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind and the consequent obsession with Grunge, it caught the emergence of the cohort born in the mid to late 1960s, just after the baby boomer bulge.
Since then, the phrase has been adapted for successive waves of young adults: Generation Y, Generation Z, Generation Rent etc − so much so that it has become almost meaningless. Most of the stories using these generational tropes follow the time-honoured media template: either positive − celebrating the young in consumerist terms as early adopters and trend-spotters − or condemnatory, usually in terms of violence orapathy.
Whether it be Generation X, Y or Z, adults continue to project their hopes and fears onto adolescents. Talking about a generation marks the arrival of a fresh cohort who will respond to the world in their own way. Whether adults like it or not, teenagers embody the future, and many of them will respond to the challenges they face in constructive and creative ways.
From the early to mid-1960s young, mainly working class, Britons with cash to spend joined one of two youth movements.
The Mods wore designer suits protected by Parka jackets and were often armed with coshes and flick-knives. They rode Vespa or Lambretta scooters bedecked with mirrors and mascots and listened to Ska music and The Who.
Rockers rode motorbikes – often at 100mph with no crash helmets – wore leathers and listened to the likes of Elvis and Gene Vincent.
Inevitably the two gangs clashed. The 1964 Whitsun weekend violence in Brighton was famously dramatised in the film Quadrophenia (1979).
In August that year police had to be flown into the Sussex resort of Hastings to break up fights between the two gangs.
But two years later, most Mods had turned their attentions to the burgeoning, more laid-back, hippie culture
The Mods and Rockers were two rival youth groups that clashed several times at Brighton in the 1960s, the most infamous occasion being the so-called “Battle of Brighton” during the Whitsun holiday, May 17-18 1964. The Brighton Police were prepared for trouble, as there had been clashes in Hastings at Easter, and the town was invaded by up to 3,000 youths. The leather-jacketed ‘Rockers’ arrived on their motorbikes on the Sunday morning, but were challenged in the afternoon by a much larger number of the neatly-dress ‘Mods’ on their motor-scooters.
Several small scuffles broke out, but the most serious trouble was around the Palace Pier, where hundreds of deckchairs were broken, pebbles were used as missiles, and the windows of the Savoy Cinema were smashed. Eventually, 150 police and a police horse quelled the disturbance, but the violence was repeated the following morning, with several thousand spectators watching the confrontations from the Aquarium Sun Terrace and Marine Parade, while sea-front traders rapidly boarded up their properties. Fortunately, no-one was seriously injured in the disturbances.
26 youths appeared in the juvenile court the following week and were handed stiff sentences. The 1979 film Quadrophenia, based on The Who’s 1973 rock opera, drew on the Mods versus Rockers culture, and featured running battles on Brighton sea front.
The events of Whitsun Sunday holiday of 1964 were never repeated again in such magnitude, but trouble amongst youths has flared on several Bank Holiday weekends since, notably in 1969, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1981. However the worst violence seen in the town in recent years occurred after English football team’s World Cup semi-final defeat to West Germany on July 4th 1990, when mobs of youths ran through the town smashing windows and looting shops.
On this day 18th may 1964: Mods and Rockers jailed after seaside riots……………
Scores of youths have been given prison sentences following a Whitsun weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers at a number of resorts on the south coast of England.
Yesterday two youths were taken to hospital with knife wounds and 51 were arrested in Margate after hundreds of teenagers converged on the town for the holiday weekend.
Dr George Simpson, chairman of Margate magistrates, jailed four young men and imposed fines totalling £1,900 on 36 people.
Three offenders were jailed for three months each and five more sent to detention centres for up to six months.
In Brighton, two youths were jailed for three months and others were fined.
More than 1,000 teenagers were involved in skirmishes on the beach and the promenade last night.
They threw deckchairs around, broke them up to make bonfires, shouted obscenities at each other and at passers-by, jostled holidaymakers and terrified elderly residents.
At about 1300 BST Mods and Rockers gathered at the Palace Pier chanting and jeering at each other and threw stones when police tried to disperse them.
The teenagers staged a mass sit-down on the promenade when police, using horses and dogs, tried to move them on.
In Margate, there were running battles between police and up to 400 youths on the beach early yesterday morning. Bottles were thrown and two officers were slightly hurt.
Later, on the high street, around 40 young men smashed council flat windows and vandalised a pub and a hardware shop.
Last night, hundreds of young men and girls were still wandering around the resort long after the last train had left.
Police stepped in to prevent further violence and dispersed about 30 youths in leather jackets who marched up the promenade shouting “Up the Rockers!”
There were further clashes at Bournemouth and Clacton
History of mods
Mod (from modernist) is a subculture that originated in London, England, in the late 1950s and peaked in the early-to-mid 1960s.
Significant elements of the mod subculture include fashion (often tailor-made suits); music, including African American soul, Jamaican ska, British beat music; and motor scooters. The original mod scene was also associated with amphetamine-fuelled all-night dancing at clubs. From the mid-to-late 1960s and onwards, the mass media often used the term mod in a wider sense to describe anything that was believed to be popular, fashionable, or modern.
The term mod derives from modernist, which was a term used in the 1950s to describe modern jazz musicians and fans. This usage contrasted with the term trad, which described traditional jazz players and fans. The 1959 novel Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes describes a modernist as a young modern jazz fan who dresses in sharp modern Italian clothes. Absolute Beginners may be one of the earliest written examples of the term modernist being used to describe young British style-conscious modern jazz fans.
History of rockers
Rockers, leather boys or ton-up boys are members of a biker subculture that originated in the United Kingdom during the 1950s. It was mainly centred around British cafe racer motorcycles and rock and roll music.
The rocker subculture came about due to factors such as: the end of post-war rationing in the UK, a general rise in prosperity for working class youths, the recent availability of credit and financing for young people, the influence of American popular music and films, the construction of race track-like arterial roads around British cities, the development of transport cafes and a peak in British motorcycle engineering.
In the climactic scenes of the film Quadrophenia, based on The Who’s concept album, Jimmy (Phil Daniels) rides a prized Mod scooter along the cliffs at Beachy Head, East Sussex, before hurling it over the cliff on to the sea-lashed rocks below. It’s a symbolic end to Jimmy’s life as a Mod, as a follower believing in false idols, like his hero Ace Face (Sting) (whose scooter he stole), a local Mod leader, who turns out be nothing more than a bell-boy lackey. Jimmy’s fall is central to the film, and to Pete Townhend’s album. But Jimmy’s symbolic crash may have actually been inspired by the death of Mod teenager, Barry Prior in 1964.
Novelist, journalist and musician, Simon Wells believes he has uncovered the lost Mod who may have inspired Townshend’s Quadrophenia. Wells is the author of such best-selling biographies as Coming Down Fast on Charles Manson; Butterfly on a Wheel: The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust, The Beatles 365 Days, and a novel Tripping Horse. He has just finished a book on the making of the filmQuadrophenia, which will be released next month. In 2009, Wells uncovered a news-clipping about Barry Prior’s death, which started his investigations into the story.
In the spring of 1964, a 17- year-old trainee accountant by the name of Barry Prior fell to his death at [Saltdean]. He’d been down to Brighton with a group of friends from London, to engage in what history now defines as the “Mods and Rockers” riots of the early 1960s. Whether by design or through an act of eerie synchronicity, Barry’s journey is echoed by the album and attendant film version of Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend’s classic paean to teenage angst. The fact that the concept’s protagonist, a similarly aged office worker from London, met his “demise” on a Brighton cliff top haunts me. As far as I’m concerned, these similarities are just far too extraordinary to be an act of coincidence.
Wells uncovered a local newspaper report of the accident, which detailed what had happened to Prior.
I pull out a photocopy of a news feature concerning Barry’s death that I uncovered quite by accident a while back. It’s from the Brighton Evening Argus, a provincial daily newspaper that’s as much a fixture of the town as the promenade and pier. Next to the headline, “Mod Falls to Death at Brighton Cliff”, there’s a photograph of Barry’s scooter and a group of sullen youngsters in a huddle around the cliff edge.
As one would expect from a local newspaper, it’s pretty stilted in its reporting of the drama. Additionally, as the Argus is a daily issue, the feature was probably thrown together in order to meet the noonday deadline. The article informs me that following an eventful day in Brighton, this group of thrill seeking Mods arrived at Saltdean around 3am.
What happened in the ensuing hours is a mystery. All that is known is that Barry’s body was discovered shortly after 7am, lying sprawled some 100 feet below on the beach. Colin Goulden, one of Barry’s circle recalled the moment when they discovered that Barry wasn’t where he should be.
“One of the boys said he was missing and we started looking for him,” said a stunned Goulden.
“Someone looked over the cliff and saw him lying there. He shouted out, but at first we thought he was mucking about, trying to get us all up.”
Fred Butler, another friend from London could hardly bring himself to look at Barry’s scooter as reporters pressed him for an explanation:
“I don’t know what could have happened. There was no trouble or fighting. We came out here to get out of the way. Perhaps he got up in the night and went for a walk. No one saw anything and there were no screams.”
Trying to make some sense of this, my immediate thought is that in his bleary state, Barry may well have gone for a pee or some other ablution, misjudged his footing and headed off into the unknown. Presumably, the fence is a recent addition; had it been in place back in 1964 history might well have been different. I gingerly venture forwards and peer over the cliff. It’s absolutely terrifying and offers no respite in its descent to the ground. Barry wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Barry’s friends went for help, but after the events in Brighton between Mods and Rockers earlier in the day, no one would answer their doors, as one friend explained to the paper:
“We went over to the houses on the other side of the road to call the police,” recalled one of the lads. “But they wouldn’t open their doors at first. They thought we were out for trouble: you know what it is.”
Emergency services eventually arrived, who then had to make a 1600 foot detour along the cliff to reach Barry’s body on the shore below.
One of youths, either too shaken or terrified to give his name to the Argus, recalled the grisly scene when they approached Barry’s body.
“It was horrible,” he said. “He was lying there wearing a green anorak and socks but no shoes. He was horribly bashed up.”
The article concludes that after Barry’s body was taken away by ambulance to hospital, the police took a few of the Mods back to Brighton to fill out witness statements. Following the completion of the necessary paperwork, they were allowed to leave. It must have been a pitiful and sombre retreat back to London, with the impending horror of having to recount Barry’s death to his family weighing heavily on their minds.
Brighton was a focus for the Mods during the early 1960s, where they famously gathered to face-up to rival Rockers. The town was also a favorite haunt for The Who, performing extensively here in 1964 at the Florida Rooms.
The place obviously found favour with Pete Townshend, who dedicatedQuadrophenia‘s album to those lucky few who attended those Florida Rooms gigs. When pressed on this, Townshend has recalled a seismic event that occurred in his consciousness one blisteringly hot summer night in August 1964. Following a typically frantic Who performance, Pete left the sunken reaches of the venue and perched himself on the promenade to wind down. As he meditated on the sea while having a relaxing smoke, the last few stragglers from the concert made their way up the marble steps to street level. As the faintly metronomic sound of the tide morphed with the strains of Tamla Motown seeping out of the Ballroom, it made for an enchanting aural concoction. As if on cue, a few hardy Mods stepped into their scooters, and drove around in a circular formation before moving off into the darkness. As these disparate elements gradually merged into a moving motion picture, Townshend was entranced. To him it was the “most perfect moment of my life”, a confirmation of the sort of landscape that had played in his head, but rarely in reality. Elements of this scene are echoed in the film of Quadrophenia, where a group of scooter riders similarly engage in an automated circle dance at first light. As I piece the images together at the same location, it strikes me that this particular experience defined Townshend’s vision for Quadrophenia more than any other factor.
A coroner’s inquest concluded a verdict of “death by misadventure.” But the story doesn’t finish there, as Simon Wells discovered that Barry’s brother was lateremployed by The Who, which makes it more than likely that Pete Townshend had heard of Barry Prior’s ill-fated trip to Brighton and tragic death long before he wroteQuadrophenia.
Well luv them or hate em ( we luv them ) everybody has seen one or more commonly heard them, there are lots of types but the ones most interesting to us are of course the Lambretta and Vespa, so heres a bit of did you know…………
A brief history
Construction and models
POW – it’s the Mods!
Timeline of models
Construction and models
A brief history
The main stimulus for the design style of the Lambretta and Vespa dates back to Pre-WWII , These olive green scooters were in Italy in large numbers, ordered originally by the US military as field transport for theParatroops and Marines. The US military had used them to get around German defence tactics of destroying roads and bridges
Aeronautical engineer General Corradino D’Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job by Ferdinando Innocenti of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver’s clothes soiled.
Construction and models
Like Vespas of the day, Lambrettas had three or four gears and two-stroke engines with capacities ranging from 49 cc to 198 cc. Most two-stroke engines require a mixture of oil with the gasoline in order to lubricate thepiston and cylinder.
Along with the Vespa, Lambretta was an iconic vehicle of the 1950s and 1960s when they became the adopted vehicle of choice for the UK youth-culture known as Mods. The character Jimmy from the influential scooter movie Quadrophenia rode a Lambretta Li 150 Series 3. Of the 1960s models, the TV (Turismo Veloce), the Special (125 and 150), the SX (Special X) and the GP (Grand Prix) are generally considered the most desirable due to their increased performance and refined look; the “matte black” fittings on the GP model are said to have influenced European car designs throughout the 1970s. These three models came with a front disc brake made by Campagnolo. The TV was the world’s first production two-wheeled vehicle with a front disc brake !!
Lambrettas have attracted an eclectic following of ” Mods ”
POW – it’s the Mods!
Like most phenomena, the Mod movement happened at exactly the right moment. By the time the media noticed them – 1962 – a social, demographic and economic crossroads had been reached: National Service had been abolished, the economy had begun to boom, and hire purchase arrangements gave people vastly increased spending power. A better time to be a teenager will almost certainly never occur. The Mod scene went bananas.
From being a scattering of ultra hip subterranean club dwellers, Mod had quickly evolved to take on a definitive culture and structure of its own. At the top, there were the Aces, still on the cutting edge, still setting the pace, still listening to the hippest tunes. The individuals may have changed, but the attitude had not. It was perfectly possible, while grooving to obscure ska tracks in some Shepherd’s Bush basement club, to bump into David Bailey, Twiggy and Mary Quant in the same evening.
The next strata were the instantly recognisable and much maligned ‘Tickets’ or ‘Numbers’. They were first noticed in East London, when gangs of arrogant, strutting kids began to descend upon dancehalls and nightclubs, causing inevitable confrontation. Their look generally followed where the Aces lead, although with a more working class flavour. The shapeless army surplus Parka coat became iconic as well as practical. It protected the wearers’ expensive weekend suits from the vagaries of the London climate, and was also kept the cold out while weaving among the traffic on the regulation scooter. These scooters – predominantly Italian Vespa and Lambretta models – were spectacular. Bedecked with peacock fans of wing mirrors, and decorated with numerous headlights, crash bars, whip aerials, white wall tyres and high backed seats, they were possibly the coolest thing ever to hit the tarmac.
For everyday wear, turned up Levi’s became de rigueur, often shrunk to size by being worn in the bath. Desert boots and Fred Perry tennis shirts were enormously popular. For these kids, Mod really was a way of life. Every night, something would be happening somewhere, the entire scene fuelled by amphetamine – very much the Mod drug of choice. Although available, pot simply did not fit in with Mod ideology. Pot slowed you down. Speed kept you leaping for days. There was no competition. This strata of the scene began to produce it’s own bands – notably the Small Faces, the Yardbirds and an Acton outfit called the High Numbers, shortly to achieve fame as the Who.
For a brief while, the Who defined Mod. A string of classic singles: ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Anyhow Anywhere Anyway’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and the frankly bonkers ‘My Generation’ propelled the Mod sound into every jukebox and radio in Britain. ‘The Who are clearly a new form of crime’ wrote the Daily Telegraph,’anti social and armed against the bourgoise’. Combining the angry, spitting stance of the backstreet Mod with the Pop Art stylings of their manager – leading Ace Kit Lambert – the Who are still the first thing that comes to mind whenever ‘Mod’ is mentioned. This is perhaps rather inaccurate – many Mod purists never accepted the Who.
2 Tone, Acid Jazz, Beat music, Blue-eyed soul, Blue Beat, British Invasion, British rhythm and blues, Britpop, Freakbeat, Garage rock, Jazz ,Mod revival. Modern soul, Motown, Northern Soul, Post-punk revival, Power Pop, Reggae, R&B, Rocksteady, Soul, Ska, Stax Records, Trojan Records.
Kitted out. Isle Of Man, late 1960’s.
Timeline of models
Model A, 1947–1948
Model B, 1948–1950
Model C/LC, 1950–1951
Model D, 1951–1957
Model LD, 1951–1958
Model E, 1953–1954
Model F, 1954–1955
TV Series 1, 1957–1959
Li Series 1, 1958–1959
Li Series 2, 1959–1961
TV Series 2, 1959–1962
Li Series 3, 1961–1967
TV/GT Range, 1962–1965
Li Special, 1963–1969
J Range, 1964–1971
SX Range, 1966–1969
GP/DL Range, 1969–1971 (Italy)
GP/DL, 1972–1998 (India)
Contrary to popular belief, Mod never really died it just went underground. With a generation of young fans entering the Northern Soul network, some Mods also broke off to form the long lived scooter scene.
A well known film released in the late 70’s helped not only revive the Mod scene, but people’s interest in scooters as well. The number of organised scooter rallies increased steadily over the 80’s and 90’s and are still going strong to this day with events being organised all over the world.
Cutting down their Vespas to make them run faster, the scooter scene remains hugely popular across the country. A network of rallies regularly attracts thousands, with the Isle Of Wight holiday weekender remaining an enduring staple of the scene.
The Lambretta and vespa are iconic scooters and they still have a ‘similar’ shape some 60 years on from when they were first manufactured, testament to classic designing from the beginning.
Owning a Vespa is not just about the scooter. It’s a way of life. Buy one and you’ll see what I mean!
Liam Gallagher on his series 1, shot taken in his Mother’s back
garden, Burnage, Manchester
Liam Gallagher on “Ace Face ” scooter.
Paul Weller on his scooter
The Style Council/Paul Weller scooter wrap graphics
Sir Bradley “Wiggo” Wiggins
Some beautiful examples.
A cutdown is a customised scooter (usually an Italian Vespa or Lambretta) with parts of the bodywork removed or cut away. Cutdowns were popular amongst skinheads and scooterboys during the mod revival of the 1970s and 1980s. While the style-obsessed British mod youth subculture of the 1960s prized the glamorous, metropolitan image of scooters, many skinheads and scooterboys viewed their bikes as simply a form of transportation.
While some scooter enthusiasts have focused on the stripped-down look, with just a bare frame and visible motor and mechanical parts, some scooterboys put back almost as much hardware as they had taken off, by adding customized chrome-plated accessories and racks.
A cutdown scooter resembles a “naked scooter”, which is a scooter designed without panels covering the engine and with little or no bodywork. The difference between the two types is that while a cutdown scooter started as a regular scooter with body panels and bodywork, before it was customized, a “naked scooter” is designed and manufactured as a “bare-bones” vehicle. In the 1960s, Lambretta models A through D were in this category. In the 1990s, Italjet produced a stripped-down scooter called the Dragster.
This “naked” Lambretta has been cut down and customized.
A picture says a thousand words, and there are plenty of pictures here for you to look at, so sit back, click away and enjoy
A Clean scoot with the :Tins off.
Why not add your own pics !!