Web Page No 2108
22nd November 2014
First Picture: Lord Rockingham’s XI
Second Picture: Record label featuring Jack Good
Third Picture: Cherry Wainer and Don Storer
There were a number of backing bands around in the late 1950’s but there was one definitive band at that was Lord Rockingham's XI who were the house band for the TV pop show Oh Boy!, which, as most of us remember, was one of the first dedicated pop music shows on TV in the late '50s. Jack Good, who controlled the Oh Boy! TV show, wanted a band to work with the various guest stars and also to provide a raucous instrumental backing for them. He already had the band's name, Lord Rockingham's XI which was based on a play on the words "rocking 'em" -- and he hired musical arranger Harry Robinson to get the band together.
Knowing the sort of sound that Jack Good was looking for, Harry Robinson put together a large collection of session musicians including Red Price and Rex Morris on tenor sax, Benny Greene and Cyril Reubens on baritone sax, Ronnie Black on double bass, Cherry Wainer (from South Africa) on organ, Bernie Taylor and Eric Ford on guitars, and Don Storer (he later married and toured with Cherry Wainer) and Reg Weller on percussion. The eleven of them produced an instrumental wall of sound and a stomping beat that quickly became synonymous with the show. The band would not be complete without the addition of backing singers and the originals were Marty Wilde and Cuddly Dudley.
Cherry Wainer was the eye catching organ player who. for most of the sessions, played the lead or melody line whilst sat in front of the band. Her Hammond organ was quilted in pink buttoned leather and she well known for wearing Alma Cogan type dresses.
Benny Greene, one of the baritone sax players, would go on to have a very long-lasting career on the jazz scene, but in the late 1950s rock & roll was all the rage. Despite the guest appearances by the likes of Billy Fury the most popular part of Oh Boy! was often the Lord Rockingham's XI interludes as they played a brand of rocking saxophone-dominated instrumental rock & roll that would go on to greatly influence the likes of Johnny & the Hurricanes.
Amazingly there were only 38 episodes of Oh Boy! and Lord Rockingham's XI appeared in 35 of them, although virtually none of the performances survived on videotape into the modern era.
A talking point among viewers was "just who is Lord Rockingham?," but he did not really exist and later on there was a legal battle between Jack Good, who invented the name, and Harry Robinson, who created the band and therefore the sound. The demand for their music exceeded the show's output and it was agreed that Jack Good should retain the name for the Oh Boy! show and the recordings, and Harry Robinson should have the rights for the live tour that took place throughout cities in the U.K. in the late 1950s. Indeed, you may well remember that on the record labels, they recorded for Decca, the name of the act was actually credited as Jack Good Presents Lord Rockingham's XI. See second picture.
They released their first single which was a double-A- sided record "Fried Onions" backed with "The Squelch," but despite their TV popularity, it was not a hit; but that all changed with the release of their second single, "Hoots Mon," a track based on the traditional Scottish song, "A Hundred Pipers." This raucous instrumental track soared all the way to number one in November 1958, selling over half a million copies, although the band members reputedly received only six pounds each session fee. Although nominally an instrumental, there were some Scottish-sounding words and interjections at the end of each chorus. They followed this massive hit early in 1959 with a lesser-selling title, "Wee Tom," but despite several further releases including "Ra-Ra Rockingham," "Farewell to Rockingham," and couple of twist songs, "Newcastle Twist" and "Rockingham Twist," in 1962, none of their music hit the charts again. At the end of the rock & roll era, the group disbanded and all the members went their own way.
In 1968, EMI attempted to resurrect the band with an album, directed by Harry Robinson, titled The Return of Lord Rockingham, which included their number one hit "Hoots Mon" and versions of contemporary 1968 hits "Lady Madonna," "Yummy Yummy Yummy," "Mony Mony," "Baby Come Back," "Simon Says," and "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp," an album described as ideal music for parties, dances, or even listening to on your own. The album did not sell well and failed to chart, and Lord Rockingham's XI were consigned to an era in time associated with the fun and extravagance of rock & roll.
There was a very brief revival of their very first single when "Fried Onions" was used in a television advertisement for Options Indulgence hot chocolate drink which was first shown on UK TV in December 2011.
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You Write: re Buffalo Bill
Yet again thanks for your Manor Court Update - I look forward to it every week. I see that you have an enquiry about Buffalo Bill. My grandmother always said that she saw Buffalo Bill when she was a little girl on the Common. I found this website
which gives the dates of his shows in Portsmouth as Oct 3 -10 1891 and August 10-12 1903. The latter date would have been when Grandma saw him, as she was born in 1898. In 1903 she would have been living in Prince Albert Street, so it was probably Southsea Common that she was referring to.
In reply to Steve's article I have visited Buffalo Bill's grave on Lookout Mountain near Denver, Co. The grave is on top of the Rockie Mountains with outstanding views across the plain of Denver. I visited his grave when staying with my Daughter who was living in Colorado a few years back. It has become a Shrine really to the memory of Buffalo Bill.
With reference to Portsmouth North possible location the circus and travelling fairs were held in Cosham where the A27 now cuts West through to Paulsgrove from the big roundabout that takes you North up Portsdown Hill. I can remember these circus's ( Oh! Dear! ) having been taken there as a very young Lad back in the very early 1950's by my Mum.
Buffalo Bill gave the last performance of his Wild West Show at Portsmouth, Virginia where he became ill with a cold and headed for his Wyoming ranch. He stopped off at Denver to visit his sister but died suddenly from uremia on January 10, 1917. Although Buffalo Bill left a will stating he wished to be buried on top of Cedar Mountain about five miles west of his town, Cody, Wyoming, his family changed those plans and after his remains lay in state in a bronze casket in the Capitol Rotunda in Denver, a service was held, and his body was placed in a temporary vault while a permanent tomb could be cut out of the solid granite atop Lookout Mountain about 18 miles west and south of Denver.
News and Views:
On this Day 22nd November1960-1965
On 22/11/1960 the number one single was It's Now Or Never - Elvis Presley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Take Your Pick (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/11/1961 the number one single was Little Sister/His Latest Flame - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Another Black & White Minstrell Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/11/1962 the number one single was Lovesick Blues - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/11/1963 the number one single was You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Socialists win Dundee West by-election.
On 22/11/1964 the number one single was Baby Love - Supremes and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 22/11/1965 the number one single was Get Off Of My Cloud - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Liverpool. The top rated TV show was "Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £not very interesting and 11.69 were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Take Your Pick (AR)".