The Manfred’s management asked me to get back at the beginning of November to check their schedule for the Sage Gateshead gig this month (29th). I duly enquired, hoping that nothing problematic had happened since we last had contact. Thankfully, I got a speedy reply asking which of the band members I would like to interview.

They all have a story to tell I’m sure, but for my purposes I particularly want to chat to the original members of Manfred Mann – Paul Jones, Mike Hugg and Tom McGuinness as they are the guys in the Rink Ballroom photo taken in the early 60s. In fact, like the Stones and the Beatles it’s their 50th anniversary as well. I’m thinking neither of the former would have been so generous with their time as the Manfreds. In fact they have one hell of an impressive back catalogue of hits themselves.

I have 30 minutes with them, for which I am very grateful (and a tad nervous about). Over the years I’ve met a few famous musical faces, as I have played in bands myself. Monsters of Rock like Rolf Harris who we supported at Blyth cinema… and the Patti Smith Band who we played with at CBGB’s in New York many moons ago.. oh and supporting the memorable Gino Washington in concert – in Consett! (County Durham).

Enough of the name dropping, but I mention it because browsing the various photos of now legendary bands playing the Marquee in the sixties, incuding Manfred Mann (I played there in the early 80s New Wave)… only serves to make me acutely aware of the massive gap between my tiny experience of that world and theirs. For them it must have exploded and opened up so many possibilities. From small stage to big stage, then big screen and big world virtually overnight.

I am not a rock journalist either so it’s going to be interesting. My interview (for want of a better word) will focus on what they might collectively be able to bring to bear to make that creased black and white Rink photo come alive. They might not remember anything… maybe it was all a blur…but I’m sure they will have a really interesting perspective. I’m less interested in the obvious facts and dates… more smells, atmosphere, illusion, the dressing rooms, the sounds, the anecdotes, the screams, the flat tyres, first impressions, reflections, dance lessons, clothes shops, shifting amps, the price of stamps….

When they played on the three foot high Rink stage they couldn’t have known what lay in store. I wonder if they knew they were inventing something. I wonder if they were aware they were part of a demolition crew as well, sweeping away the post war dance bands, or if the excitement of the new was their primary drive.

My 30 minute slot after the sound check will fly. I will need to be well prepared. In other situations I have had the luxury of taking the time it took. Often I have looked at my watch and had to say “goodness, I’m sorry it has taken so long”… but no one has seemed to mind. In this case there will be a tight schedule so I need to make it work whilst under somewhat more pressure.

Adding to the surreal; my sister and I got a joint Christmas present in 1964. It was an olive green Dansette record player plus a collection of 10 singles chosen by our parents. I would have been nine years old. One of those records was Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann. It spent two weeks at number one in the UK that year and the same in the U.S. I can remember complaining about the random record choices my parents had made, though I don’t remember which records I disliked. Gene Pitney’s maybe. I do however remember loving the Manfred Mann single.. that opening line; Paul Jones out of nothing…”there she was just a walking down the street singing..” and BANG into the song.

Such a direct vocal.

I couldn’t understand at nine years of age though, how the band appeared to be named after the organist and not the singer.

Sketch #2