In the few years that were to follow, I very quickly got to know each one of the band very intimately (no! it wasn’t like that!) Colin Dawson soon left and is now the manager of a Pleasure Park. John Entwistle at the time worked with his mother Queenie, at the Acton Tax Office in Bromyard Avenue and they lived in Lexden Road off of Acton High Street. Doug Sandom left the band around April 1964 and he used to live in Congregational Road in Acton, not too far from Adam Faith’s house (Terry Nelhams). Roger Daltrey lived in Fielding Road in Bedford Park, but grew up across the street from me in Little Percy Road. We were both members of the nearby Sulgrave Boys Club off of the Goldhawk Road as was Pete Townshend, but I can’t say that I remember them at the Club cos that would be the cardinal sin, which is ‘guilding the lily’ and is actually from the Bible and not a headline from the Shepherd’s Bush Gazette.
Pete Townshend was 17 when we met and he had just started off at Ealing Art College. He lived in Woodgrange Avenue in Ealing Common and as I quickly got to know him I soon discovered that his parents Betty and Cliff, were better musicians than him cos he was still really only learning the guitar. His mum had a full sized bull fight poster from Spain in the hall and it was one of those novelty ones where you could get your own name printed on it. I always remembered that. Unlike the others in ‘The Detours’, Pete never actually had a job and in fact the only job he’s ever had was a paper round which he used to pay off the weekly payments for his guitar.
After a couple of years, ‘The Detours’ changed their name to ‘The Who’ and then this Mod geezer called Pete Meaden from Edmonton met the band and took them over. He changed their name to, ‘The High Numbers’. I never actually liked the name because I always thought it was a bit ‘of the times’. ‘The Who’ was pure fucking genius because it was actually thought up by a pure fucking genius – a friend of mine and a very old one of Pete Townshend’s called Richard Barnes (‘Barney’ as he is universally known). They both went to Ealing Art College together and one night, inspired by the ambience of a bit of weed and a purple painted 40 watt bulb in their room. Pete wanted to call the band ‘The Hair’, but Barney had more sense and said, “No, call it ‘The Who’ – its only six letters and it’ll look great on posters.” He went on to extrapolate (which is something a lot people from Cork do). “Call it ‘The Who’ Pete, cos someone will say, what’s the name of the band? And you say, ‘Who’?” Imagine the fun Hughie Green would’ve had on ‘Opportunity Knocks’ and that little girl from the White City?
After Meaden went in November 1964, another couple of pure fucking geniuses came along in the guise of Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert who changed the name back to ‘The Who’. Now I could talk all night about Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert (and have done), but I’d be straying from this particular piece except to say that it was Kit Lambert who christened me with the nickname of ‘Irish Jack’ for which I am universally known. Chris Stamp is the brother of actor Terence Stamp and they grew up tough and impoverished in Plaistow in East London. His dad cycled to work at five o’clock in the morning to work on the wharves. Kit Lambert was the complete opposite. He grew up in and around Notting Hill Gate and his father was the composer Constant Lambert. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth (unlike Chris who was born with a plastic one) and Kit started out in life having that famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn as his bloody godmother. Now you can’t get a better start than that. He was born in posh Belgravia, did a stint at Trinity College Oxford yet still relied on his mate Chris Stamp to sort the wheat from the chaff when it came to managing ‘The Who’.
So, for the next part of this story wherein I have been asked to actually write about Shepherd’s Bush, what it means to me and what prompted me to write this piece, ‘Out Of My Brain in Shepherd’s Bush Market’, I will have to jump back a little bit to when they were called ‘The High Numbers’ and Pete Meaden was King Mod. ‘They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek that Peter Meaden everywhere.’ Is he in ‘The Flamingo’? Is he in ‘The Marquee’? Perhaps he’s down Piccadilly searching for a Guy Stevens E.P.? He had a single room in Monmouth Street, WC2, deep in the heart of Covent Garden. “Oh, so you don’t live in Shepherd’s Bush then? Blimey, Covent Garden, that must cost a bomb!” Meaden listened, smiled and his eyes danced around like they’d been born to leapers. He fished a handkerchief from a breast pocket with careful delicacy to remove a blot on the landscape of his very affable face as his tormentor continued, “So you don’t actually live in Shepherd’s Bush? Blimey. Covent Garden that must cost a bomb!”
(The diary says: ‘Office Politics In The L.E.B. When I got into work, Johnny Goulding was having a row with Mr Jones. It appears that Mr Jones told Malcolm to close the door when Malcolm and Johnny were coming in. Jack Edney instructed Linda and me that we were to sit at Maureen Bailey and Babs Burdette’s (desks). Sat with Jim, Keith and Brian at lunch. Brian and I had a great laugh at the misfiling of the forms. Rylett Road comes before Ravenscourt Gardens. HA HA. Did overtime that night. Tom Judge and I took down the decorations then we all had a glass of Dubonnet and Martinet. Johnny Goulding, Malcolm, Brian, Tom and myself, Fred Key and G. Lovell did overtime etc. At lunch I shouted down the stairs to Brian to tell him not to use the lift because it was out-of-order. He didn’t like me calling him Brian (I should have said, “Mr Bromhead”) so I told him that I was sorry. Got home that night had rissoles with onions. Watched Dr. Kildare, Benny Hill and the play ‘Ordeal of Dr. Shannon’.)
The incessant babbling, tongues waggling and eyes popping. Why did pilled up Mods always repeat themselves? Meaden smiled back and affectionately returned the carefully re-folded handkerchief to the breast pocket of his raffish tonic suit. Most Mods lived in Council flats or grotty little terraced houses but Covent Garden?…unheard of. But that was the thing about being a face you see, reputation, style, whispering, the grapevine, the ability to surprise. A room in Monmouth Street WC2, Jesus, how cool. Well a room, yes, but a room by any other measure. Unlike his invigilator, I myself had seen it only once. Ten by eight it was, more like a cell and all this guy Meaden had in the world was this: a factory clothes rack, telephone, chair, sleeping bag, kettle and an ironing board. Oh, and a Dansette record player sometimes resting on a chair. Did I mention the priceless American imports? Because that my friend, was all you needed to be the ace fucking face.
I knew where the Mods started. I mean, I know but I don’t know who the first Mod was? I’d personally like to shake his hand though because becoming a Mod changed me completely into a different person. It was like being re-born in a way. One minute we were just ordinary blokes in the Goldhawk Social Club and the next thing you know, we were all bleeding Mods. It seemed to happen overnight, like somebody had switched on an electric current. I owe a lot to that geezer, the first Mod, whoever he was. Because I think I might have actually seen him? I can remember walking down King Street in Hammersmith one summer’s evening and in the distance I heard the distinct pop of an Italian scooter. That neat little sound that reminds you that you could have a perfect world. When I turned around I saw this geezer on a silver chromed Vespa GS with a stack of tiny spot lamps on the front surrounded by half a dozen mirrors. Behind him was a 10ft aerial dipped into the wind and fixed to the top was a classy fox tail. Dead keen.
The bloke on the scooter was wearing a pair of American sneakers and an army parka coat over his suit. He had the coat open so’s you could see the suit. He looked brilliant with cropped hair parted in the middle like he was French. I just stood and stared at the sight of this in disbelief because in all honesty, if you wanted a parallel, the scooter resembled a Roman chariot. It was a breathtaking moment to behold and a decisive one for me. I would of given anything to have looked as good as that bloke did that night. The first Mod! The next day, I told my friend Tommy Shelley about what I’d seen. He just smiled quietly like he’s heard about it already or had actually seen the bloke. We agreed to meet up Saturday afternoon in Philip Grant’s shop in King Street. When we got there, the shop was jammed with geezers from Hammersmith, Acton and Ealing trying to relieve Philip Grant’s of all their stock of Fred Perry’s and sta-prest trousers.
Suddenly it was everywhere, the most unstoppable moment of my life. Another mate of mine, Martin Gaish, went and nicked a pair of Hush Puppies from Lilley and Skinner’s but I had to pay for mine. Gaish could nick anything really, cos his hands were like grease lightning. They wouldn’t let him into Woolworths! I have to admit, my uncle and aunt weren’t exactly over the moon about the plastic mac I bought. I wore it belted, tight in the middle with a double knot and neither were too crazy about my cousin Janice’s college scarf draped over my shoulder. But how could I explain to them that that was the way every Mod in West London was dressing up? It still didn’t matter my uncle reckoned I looked like an Italian pimp! I went and looked at the bedroom mirror, which had side leaves so you could see the back of your head. He was wrong, I looked cool, dangerous, style, a Mannish Boy, John Lee Hooker, John the fucking Conqueror, spelt, ‘M..A..N’, man, ‘A’ child.
‘Irish Jack’ Lyons
(The three images shown above are firstly, Roger Daltrey’s house, 16 Little Percy Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The house next door was hit by a bomb during the War, with fatalities. The second one is a typical diary entry in a pinched London Electricity Stock book and the last one is where Boseleys Dance Hall was in Faroe Road, W14. This is where Jack met ‘The Who’ when they were a small wedding band called ‘The Detours’. The third and final part will follow in a few weeks – Steve Russell)