I KNOW IT’S ONLY ROCK’N’ROLL BUT I LIKE IT (YES I DO)
My final all-things-British cartoon blog for Jones Wood Foundry restaurant in New York City comes in the form of rock’n’roll music.
Yes, I know, rock’n’roll music was American…to start with…and then we Brits got hold of it.
From the middle fifties us UK baby boomers bought Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers and Jerry Lee Lewis records by the boatload. We listened to Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochran and The Crickets singing through crackly transistor radios. We danced in the aisles to Bill Haley and Little Richard black and white movies. In London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and every other British city, teenage bands copied their rock’n’roll idols. They all knew the guitar intros to Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’ and the words to ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
I was in one such band when one cold October night in 1962 at a dancehall in Smethwick, a sleepy little market town just outside Birmingham (that’s Birmingham UK), we supported a Liverpool band who called themselves The Beatles. They had just entered the UK charts at No. 17 with a song they’d written called ‘Love Me Do’. I gotta say they put on a great live show and we laughed and joked with them backstage as we did with all they bands we shared a stage with. Little did we know that twelve months later they would be the biggest band in the world! They’d smashed America and opened the door for what you lot call the British Invasion. The Kinks, The Animals, Manfred Mann, The Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits. (Just a minute…Herman’s Hermits? ‘Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter’? ‘I’m Henry VIII I Am’?)
Back to proper rock’n’roll and The Rolling Stones, which is who this cartoon strip is all about. There was a strong connection between The Beatles and the Stones in those early sixties’ days. The Stones’ first U.K. hit was a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Come On’ (see I told you about Chuck Berry’s influence over us all!) but their second was a Lennon/McCartney song ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’.
I’m sure the boys don’t need introductions from me, but for the record the main men are Mick Jagger, Keith Richard and Charlie Watts. When founder member Brian Jones retired in 1969 (and sadly drowned a few weeks later) Mick Taylor took over on guitar. When he quit the band in 1974 Ronnie Wood from the Faces joined. Original bass guitarist Bill Wyman (I’ve put him in the cartoon…thought it was only right) left the group in 1993. He started his own band, The Rhythm Kings, an ever changing line up of pop stars and musicians past and present. What a great idea!
In well over 50 years of ‘being together’ it is only to be expected that there have been many changes with the Rolling Stones. Not just personnel, but labels, music genres, managers, wives and girlfriends, even countries of residence. Inevitably they’ve had their fall outs, and numerous run-ins with the authorities are well documented.
When Andrew Loog Oldham became their manager in the early sixties he tried to get them to wear synchronised suits with matching haircuts like the Beatles, but quickly realised their image as bad boys, rebellious and unkempt, was there to be thoroughly exploited. Boy, did it work! They’d been well received at the renowned Marquee Club in London and got themselves a residency at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, but now after a few hit records (relatively minor by comparison with what was to come) it was time to tour outside London. They were included on the bill of a package show headlined by the Everly Brothers and Little Richard, plus one of their heroes Bo Diddley. I saw them (as a punter) on this 1963 tour at The Odeon Cinema in Birmingham. (There was no stadium rock in those days). I had to agree with a music critic at that time that when it came to stagecraft they still had a lot to learn… but sitting here writing about them 54 years later, it would appear they did.
Enter The Glimmer Twins, as the song writing partnership of Jagger and Richards became known. Like most songwriting partnerships it began slowly, somewhat naively. They had an early success writing a hit for Marianne Faithful entitled ‘As Tears Go By’. Other songs were written and were hidden away under the group name of Nanker Plenge, but the Jagger/Richards breakthrough as far as a Rolling Stones’ hit song was concerned was the UK number one (US No. 9), ‘The Last Time’.
To quote Keith Richards “it was a bridge into thinking about writing for the Stones. It gave us a level of confidence: a pathway of how to do it”.
Not long after that came the song that was to rocket them into the International spotlight ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. This opened the creative floodgates; between 1964 and 1973 Jagger and Richards wrote a string of hit singles we have all become familiar with. We all like to choose our favourite and mine would be ‘Brown Sugar’. They also continued to write for others, probably their most memorable, because it was number one the day England won the World Cup in 1966, was ‘Out Of Time’ by Chris Farlow.
Let’s talk traditional British food for a minute.
Now we know Keith likes his JWF shepherd’s pie. Traditional shepherd’s pie is made of minced lamb or mutton with a thick covering of mashed potato. In different parts of the UK you may hear it called Cumberland pie, or shepherdess pie. Then there’s Cottage pie; it’s similar, but is made with minced beef. Some areas of the country often mix these up. If you visit northern England you could be served Lancashire hot pot. Minced or chopped beef and vegetables, but this time the covering is made with sliced boiled potato.
Back to the Rolling Stones…
The Stones have released over 75 studio, live and compilation albums. Far too many to mention, but here are a few highlights. ‘Sticky Fingers’ was released in 1972 and was the first of eight consecutive number one albums in the States. ‘Exile on Main Street’ is the only album to have been number one twice, THIRTY EIGHT years apart! Their 2016 release ‘Blue and Lonesome’ is their only ever covers album, recorded in homage to their heroes, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and Little Walter amongst others. Their greatest hits double album ‘Forty Licks’ has sold over 7 million worldwide.
They are the biggest grossing live band ever, appearing at the Super Bowl in 2006 during their Big Bang tour. They played live to over a million people at the Copacabana beach in Brazil and in 2013 topped the bill at Glastonbury. My cartoon inspiration is taken from that show… see the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club flag fluttering in the Somerset breeze (you’ll be watching Wolves soon on JWF Premier League TV coverage…trust me).
They were voted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the magazine Rolling Stone placed them 4th in their Greatest Artists of All Time, behind Elvis (3rd), Dylan (2nd) and The Beatles (1st).
The distinctive bright red lips and tongue logo was designed by John Pasche and the inspiration came from the Indian goddess Kali.
Finally, there’s Winston Churchill enjoying a full English breakfast, the staple diet of British workmen as they start their day…although it has to be said most restaurants, pubs and cafes all over Britain now serve them all day…or at least until the dinner menu makes an appearance.
Churchill was voted by the British public as the ‘Greatest Briton of all time’. Not surprising really when you consider how this former Prime Minister led his country during World War II, but here’s a tale you may not have heard before. Winston liked a drink and on this occasion in the House of Commons had maybe had a little too much. Bessie Braddock a Member of Parliament for Liverpool was a large and formidable woman; she flew at Churchill shouting “Prime Minister you are drunk!” Winston replied instantly, “Madam, in the morning I shall be sober, but you will still be ugly”.
Finally, if you want to see more of my cartoons log on to my site at boblawton.me
Goodbye everybody, hope you’ve enjoyed these blogs and the cartoons, but most of all make sure you savour and enjoy Jason and Yves British menus.