ASK FRED

Who was the very, very first rock band in Bri­tain? Fred knows!

Mojo (UK) - - Contents -

Which was Bri­tain’s first rock’n’roll band and who had the first British rock hit record? A. Dur­ban, via e-mail

Fred says: The an­swer in both cases is Tony Crombie’s Rock­ets. Jazz drum­mer Crombie (born An­thony John Kro­nen­berg) formed his band the Rock­ets in 1956 after hear­ing Bill Ha­ley And His Comets at the start of the 1955 movie Black­board Jun­gle. While Rex Mor­ris, the tenor player with the Rock­ets, would lay flat on his back and honk glo­ri­ously, Crombie put down a steady rock beat and, for sev­eral months at least, the band (which would later fea­ture The Shad­ows’ fu­ture bassist, Jet Har­ris) pulled in a sen­sa­tional num­ber of British teenage ad­mir­ers, and even notched the first-ever UK rock’n’roll hit sin­gle with the Nor­rie Paramor­pro­duced We’re Gonna Teach You To Rock, which reached Num­ber 7 in Oc­to­ber 1956. Crombie was also a tal­ented song­writer, his com­po­si­tions in­clud­ing So Near, So Far, which was recorded by Miles Davis for his Seven Steps To Heaven long-player, re­leased in 1963. He also played with Stan Tracey, and ac­com­pa­nied singers as var­ied as An­nie Ross and Wee Wil­lie Har­ris, among many oth­ers. Crombie, who be­came house drum­mer at Ron­nie Scott’s club, left us in 1999.

WAS THERE AN EURYTHMICAL SCORE PROB­LEM?

Is it true that there are two ver­sions of Michael Rad­ford’s 1984 film Nine­teen Eighty-Four around – each with a dif­fer­ent sound­track? Ray Soames, via e-mail

Fred says: There were ac­tu­ally three ver­sions. In sum­mer 1984, the Eury­th­mics were com­mis­sioned to com­pose a sound­track for Rad­ford’s then-up­com­ing adap­ta­tion of the Ge­orge Or­well novel, un­aware that the di­rec­tor had com­mis­sioned a score by Do­minic Mul­downey, which he used on his orig­i­nal cut. How­ever, as Vir­gin Films had com­mis­sioned the film – and Eury­th­mics’ sin­gle Sex­crime (Ninety Eighty-Four) had reached Num­ber 4 in the UK charts on the Vir­gin la­bel – the movie was quickly re­as­signed a mixed Mul­downey/ Eury­th­mics score. NME later re­ported on a cut of the film us­ing the Eury­th­mics score ex­clu­sively! It was very con­fus­ing – David Bowie must have felt re­lieved that he’d turned down an in­vi­ta­tion to write a sound­track in the first in­stance.

WHAT WAS CHER’S OTHER GUISE?

How many records did Cher make un­der a pseu­do­nym?

Chas Dempsey, via e-mail

Fred says: Just one, her de­but sin­gle for Phil Spec­tor, she recorded un­der the name Bon­nie Jo Ma­son. Re­leased on the An­nette la­bel in 1964, the A-side was Ringo, I Love You, while the B-side, also cred­ited to Bon­nie Jo Ma­son, was an in­stru­men­tal called Bea­tle Blues. This also turned up as Un­cle Kev, Bside to a Spec­tor pro­duc­tion by Har­vey & Doc With The Dwellers. Oddly, there was a ma­nia for Ringo trib­utes at this time, two be­ing pop colum­nist Penny Valen­tine’s I Want To Kiss Ringo Good­bye (1965), and Ella Fitzger­ald’s 1964 song Ringo Beat!

WHO SUP­PLIED DEN­ZEL’S SOUNDS?

I saw the Den­zel Wash­ing­ton film, Ro­man J. Is­rael Esq., about a year ago – rather a slow movie saved by Wash­ing­ton’s su­perb per­for­mance. At one point the sound­track fea­tured some great jazz tenor and, later, a pi­ano piece that sounded like Bill Evans. There was also some ter­rific funky stuff. Can you pro­vide a sound­track list­ing and tell me if there’s an al­bum avail­able? Steve Drake, via e-mail

Fred says: Un­for­tu­nately, the only sound­track al­bum, on Sony Clas­si­cal, fea­tures James New­ton Howard’s score and doesn’t in­clude the funk and jazz ma­te­rial which abounded in back­drop snip­pets. The jazz tenor piece is El­e­va­tion by Pharoah Sanders and you were right about Bill Evans, whose trio is heard per­form­ing Peace-Piece. The funk seg­ments in­clude songs by Ed­die Ken­dricks and The Spin­ners, among oth­ers.

HELP FRED

Fur­ther to Oliver Hill’s let­ter about there be­ing 58 groups all called The Boys on Discogs (Ask Fred 294) – there are lots of songs called The Power Of Love, Call Me, Hold On, Free­dom, etc, so what’s the all-time most pop­u­lar song ti­tle in pop and rock? Chris O’Don­nell, via e-mail

I walked with a Crombie: Tony (left) pre­pares for lift-off; (right) An­nie Len­nox scorns Big Brother; (in­set right) Den­zel Wash­ing­ton’s sound­track; (below) sem­i­nal Cher wax.

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