The Impact of the Pretty Things in 1964

 

Phil May dying has made me nostalgic. The Pretty Things had a big impact on me.

In 1964 I was fourteen/fifteen years old – a wild kid. The whole world was changing. My bit of that world was obsessed with girls, music and appearance. There was a whole new scene taking off and it felt like it was mine.

Following the Beatles and Merseybeat the whole music scene had exploded. We suddenly had a plethora of superb Rock Bands springing up out of nowhere. The Beatles mopheads were being challenged by a whole mass of brilliant bands – wild, unruly, exciting and much more unconventional. The suits were out the window. These guys had long hair, casual clothes and looked surly and dangerous. They were playing raw R&B and Blues. Some were mods and stylish, others looked more unkempt. Hair, clothes and style along with originality and hard driving R&B was the order of the day.

This was the year that all those enormous bands emerged – the Stones, Animals, Kinks, Smallfaces, Who, Downliners Sect, Them, Poets, Paramounts, Mojos, Nashville Teens, Spencer Davis, Manfred Mann and a host more.

Every week on Ready Steady Go we’d watch some new band with a great new song. It seemed never ending.

The Beatles had started off with long hair and the Stones had trumped it. Ray Davis even had it flicking up at the bottom but the guy with the longest, most cool hair was Phil May! His hair was down past his shoulders! When the Pretty Things played I remember they were so outrageous that they put them in a cage! Exciting stuff.

Phil May became a role model. He had the life I wanted. He was wild and free.

Apart from the hair the music was wild too. Those first two singles did not break through like the Stones had but they were wilder and rawer than the Stones and I loved that.

The Pretty Things were the most extreme band around and I gravitated to them. For a young aspiring rebel they had all the ingredients.

Rosalyn was brilliant. It didn’t trouble the charts but it made a big impact on me. Then Don’t Bring Me Down came out. It grazed the top ten but was definitely one of my favourites.

The Pretty Things were the most exciting, extreme act around. My mate Booker and me raved about them.

Phil had the hair I wanted and I spent hours trying to work out the lyrics. For a young kid they spoke of a whole different world that I was desperate to be part of – a world of freedom, chicks, rock, lovers and raves. The Pretty Things were more extreme than the Stones.

I remember sitting in my little room playing those blue and silver Fontana singles endlessly on my little Dansette.

In the next few years I had my hair down past my shoulders, the girlfriends, motorbike, little flat, friends and freedom with a Hi-fi and lots of loud music – just like that world Phil May was singing about.

Don’t Bring me down

I’m on my own, don’t want to roam

I tell you man, don’t need a home

I wander round, feet off the ground

I hear the sound from town to town

I said I think this life is grand

Say I dig it man

Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down

 

I met this chick, the other day

And then to her I said  I’ll stay

She had this pad, just like a cave

And then we’ll have, our living rave

My feet are on the ground

Say I dig it man

Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down

 

I need a lover yeah someone new

And then to her i will be true

I’ll buy her furs and pearls and things

I’ll even buy a wedding ring

But until then I’ll stay as I am

Say I dig it man

Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down

Until then I’ll stay as I am

Say I dig it man

Don’t bring me down, don’t bring me down

Don’t bring me down

 

 

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