The Scotland Road Group

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The Mods and Rockers

Mod Crusher's Club Jacket

"Mod Crusher's Club Jacket"

Part 2: The Mods

~Introduction To The Mods ~

First to be discussed, is the gang entitled, ‘The Mods’. A Mod was a product of working class British youth of the mid-sixties. They portrayed an image of being stuck up, emulating the middle classes, snobbish and phoney. The Mod boys dressed in suits, neat narrow trousers, and pointed shoes. The girls displayed a boyish image. They darkened their eyes and wore their hair short to fit a unisex type of culture.

The Mods were essentially from London and the South East and were complete followers of the latest fashion. They consumed purple hearts (a mixture of amphetamine and barbiturates). Each had to have a Lambretta GT 200 or a Vespa GS 160. These were their scooters that they rode as part of their stigma that connected them to being a Mod.

Mods Row Of Scooters Outside Busy Bee

"Scooter's Outside a Mod Hangout"

~ Biography, Music and Media of a Mod ~

Like most gangs of their time, The Mods had a very distinct, yet common interest in music. While the Beatles were enjoying immense popularity and success among Britain's mainstream society in the early 1960's, the first-wave of Mods pursued a different sound. They adopted modern jazz, which was a style of music originated in Black America. Through the jazz music of Black America, the Mods appeared to distinguish themselves from mainstream society. They seemed to be attracted to the "cool" demeanor and elegant clothing possessed by jazz musicians, and strived to emulate their style.

The American Jazz records were difficult to obtain in Liverpool, but the Mods preferred it this way. They hated commercialism and were drawn towards obscurity in their taste of music. As jazz grew in popularity, Mods began listening to Blues, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and then moved on to Jamaican Bluebeat and Ska to stay ahead of the mainstream.

The Mods sparked a nationwide enthusiasm for Rhythm & Blues music that surpassed Jazz as the music of choice for young adults. They preferred the British bands who played a Rhythm & Blues style of music, such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, The Kinks, The Cyril Davis All-Stars, The Downliners, and The Small Faces.

The most popular and revolutionary band who could be labeled as Mods themselves were the High Numbers, later renamed The Who. They wore Mod outfits, had Mod hairstyles, and sang blues-based songs about being Mods, such as "I'm the Face", and "My Generation". The Who's performance often included Pete Townshend (guitarist) smashing his guitar into the speakers, as well as Keith Moon (drummer) knocking over his drums. The Who's violence on stage personified the aggression inherent in the Mod subculture.

The Mods frequented clubs such as the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, and the Flamingo and Marquee in Soho. These clubs provided Mods with a place to exchange records and create new dances such as the Shake, the Block, and the Bang.

The television show "Ready, Steady, Go!" recreated the Mod club scene on a larger scale. Mods outside of London could tune in and stay current with the latest fashions, music, dances, and slang each week. Bands such as The Who and The Small Faces performed in front of a live audience of dancers and spread the Mod culture throughout Britain.

The story of real-life London Mod, John Waters, offers a more personal insight into the Mod scene of the 1960's. John Waters was a member of one of the smaller street gangs which consisted of around 80 members and was called the Archway Mob. As was the case with other gangs, the Archway frequented a certain few local cafes and pubs both at the East End and the West End. Their home turf was one particular club called the Discoteque, but they were also known to be seen at such clubs as the Flamingo, the Scene, the Whisky, and the Marquee. John’s primary source of transportation was a car because, unlike the members of the scooter boys, the street gangs would not be seen on a scooter.

The Archway viewed two other gangs as their "main enemies", the Highbury and the Mars gangs. John was a part of numerous conflicts between gangs and from time to time these conflicts turned violent. On certain occasions, members of two or more gangs would unite to take on the members of other Mod firms.

The following is an excerpt that John Waters shared about his memories of being a London mod:
"My own particular memories of that era are mainly concerning music as an ardent follower of Soul music. Solomon Burke at the Flamingo; robes, crown and all being joined on stage by Dusty Springfield belting out ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’. The Who at St. Josephs Church Hall, Archway just after they hit the charts with ‘I Can’t Explain’ and having a few ‘sherberts’ in The Cat Next Door’ with Moon. Friday and Saturday nights up West. First a few pints down on the East End at The Green Man or Blind Beggar then off to the Coffee An in a cellar down the bottom of Wardour St. Then up to the Discoteque to dance the night away to some of the greatest music ever to make it on to vinyl. Early next morning meeting up at the all night café ‘El Passant’ on the Strand (what a great jukebox). Heady days! People often find it hard to understand the reverence that the sixties are held in by many. In these day of clubs on every corner, high tech, computer aided music etc everything is pretty much en-passe. The thing about the sixties was that everything was so new. The clothes, music, clubs etc and for the first time we had some money in our pockets to indulge."

John Waters helps to avidly portray the life of a London Mod during the 1960's. He ends his recount of his experiences by stating, "I do not live in the past by any means and there is much to be said for the present day but it will never match the absolute excitement of the sixties."

Part 3: Rockers and Rivalry



The Mods and Rockers - Part 1: Introduction and HistoryThe Mods and Rockers - Part 3: Rockers and Rivalry

Submitted on April 11, 2002
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Scotland Road Group. All rights reserved.

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