The 1960s were in full swing. Life was a crazy roller-coaster ride for the stars of the bands. But one of them, Paul Jones, could re-charge his bat­ter­ies by re­lax­ing with his fam­ily in Nor­wich. Derek James re­ports.

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS -

Singer Paul Jones has so many con­nec­tions with Nor­wich

His name is Paul Pond and his Nor­wich-born fa­ther was a highly re­garded cap­tain in the Royal Navy who was the man­ager of the his­toric As­sem­bly House in the city.

You will re­mem­ber him as Paul Jones, a bril­liant mu­si­cian and broad­caster who is still en­ter­tain­ing us af­ter more than 50 years and is head­ing back to the re­gion again with the mag­nif­i­cent Man­freds.

Cap­tain Nor­man Pond spent 38 years trav­el­ling the world, serv­ing with the Navy be­fore be­com­ing man­ager of the As­sem­bly House in 1965.

When Paul, lead singer with the Man­freds, made one of his vis­its to Nor­wich Theatre Royal af­ter the fire which badly dam­aged the fine build­ing next door in 1995, he said: “Look­ing at it now ... I’m sure my dad would have been heart­bro­ken.

“I al­ways love com­ing back to Nor­wich. I have such fond mem­o­ries of the city and the Theatre Royal.”

The for­mer Ox­ford un­der­grad­u­ate, who left the band in the mid-1960s to em­bark on a solo ca­reer, re­called work­ing with the flam­boy­ant Theatre Royal boss, the late, great Dick Con­don.

“Any­one re­mem­ber The Fan­ta­sticks? There were more of us on stage than in the stalls,” he laughed.

His fa­ther was 54 when he took over run­ning the As­sem­bly House, a city gem, which is now fa­mous for fine din­ing and host­ing nu­mer­ous events. There is nowhere else quite like it.

He had been a sig­nal ex­pert who served on Ad­mi­ral Vian’s staff dur­ing the Nor­mandy land­ings. He went on to com­mand the head­quar­ters ship for the Royal Navy dur­ing the Korean War.

In 1956, as com­man­der of the 20,000 ton re­pair ship, Ran­pura, he led a con­voy of 31 ships to Port Said for the Suez Op­er­a­tions.

And he was cap­tain of Devon­port Dock­yard and Queen’s Har­bour Master in charge of some 900 dock­yard work­men be­fore re­tir­ing

to Nor­wich and be­com­ing man­ager of the As­sem­bly House.

Mean­while his son Paul was mak­ing a name for him­self in the fast-mov­ing, ever-chang­ing world of the swing­ing 1960s when Man­fred Mann were one of the big­gest groups in the land.

Al­ways re­gard­ing as a tal­ented singer and mu­si­cian, ru­mour has it he turned down the chance of be­com­ing lead singer with a group who be­came known as The Rolling Stones.

He ad­mits he turned down a re­quest from the late Brian Jones to front a band he was form­ing.

“I thought he was be­ing wildly op­ti­mistic, be­cause he said ‘I’m go­ing to form a band and be­come rich and fa­mous.’ I thought ‘Brian, no-one’s ever go­ing to be­come rich and fa­mous play­ing the blues, don’t be ridicu­lous,” said Paul.

He joined a dance band in Slough with great mu­si­cians and was work­ing reg­u­larly. “I wasn’t earn­ing any money at the time and I learned a lot work­ing with that band.”

Man­fred Mann came along in 1962 with a string of clas­sic hits which have been passed down from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. They were a class act. Do Wah Diddy, Pretty Flamingo, Sha La La, 5-4-3-2-1 and the one I hated at the time ... Semi-De­tached Sub­ur­ban Mr James. Paul also went on to present a pop­u­lar blues pro­gramme on BBC Ra­dio Two for 32 years. He also had a show on Jazz FM, BBC World Ser­vice and Ra­dio Lon­don. When his show was axed re­cently it caused an out­cry, but Paul says: “I couldn’t go on work­ing six days a week, week in, week out; hardly ever hav­ing hol­i­days and all that sort of stuff. It was the right time for me to stop.” It’s strange but many of us don’t think about how our teen heroes age like the rest of us. We hear the mu­sic and imag­ine them the way they were ... Paul is, be­lieve it or not, now 76 and sound­ing bet­ter than ever.

The band head­ing our way, The Man­freds, re­formed in 1991, and is one of the best in the busi­ness. Apart from Paul, there is his orig­i­nal re­ple­ment Mike d’Abo, found­ing mem­bers Mike Hugg, Tom McGuin­ness (McGuin­ness Flint), Ron Townsend and Si­mon Currie. They are also joined by the fan­tas­tic Ge­orgie “Yeh Yeh”


The Man­freds Max­i­mum Rhythm and Blues tour plays Southend’s Cliffs Pavil­ion (01702 351135) on Oc­to­ber 20 and the Ip­swich Re­gent (01473 433100) on Novem­ber 13.

Mem­bers of the group Man­fred Mann and singer Paul Jones sign­ing au­to­graphs.

Paul Jones jump­ing for joy.

Paul Jones per­form­ing in Nor­wich in the 1960s.

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