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Keep Holding On (Reggie King)

I’m sorry to report that Reggie King, singer of the much loved Action died a couple of weeks back. Reggie (with Alan ‘Bam’ King guitar & no relation) is shown above at the Birdcage on the famous night when the Walker Bros failed to appear and no-one cared because the Action and Vagabonds were there. Incidentally I got the news from Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson a splendid mate from Reading, the author of a fascinating book about the Fleur de Lys/Sharon Tandy and soon to publish the finest record of British mods which will cover the regions as well as London (including Pompey). I’ll keep you informed.

Meanwhile, RIP Reggie – add your tributes and memories …

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Don’t Start Me Talkin’ (!)

(If you don’t know the reference it’s from the late, great Sonny Boy Williamson II but it was made for me I guess). I have a particularly busy/interesting week ahead. This afternoon (Monday) I’m off to Bransbury Park, a stone’s throw from the Birdcage, to talk to one of Portsmouth’s Townswomen’s Guilds about the good old 50s/60s. Then on Weds morning I’m doing a guest slot on Express FM about Hilsea Lido. They’re collecting oral history memories about the place – I used to go swimming there in the 60s with my mate Steve Harley from Copnor and there was also a gig there a few year’s back when I got to sing with Sons of Man and Aubrey Small also reformed for the night. I’m wondering when it was first known as the Blue Lagoon? Was that name first used at Kimbells in the 60s? Anyone recall (see poster below)?

Then on Thursday I’m giving a paper at the London School of Economics about the economics of the Pompey scene in the 1960s.  It’s a selected seminar group of about 15 people and among the other contributors are Simon Frith who chairs the Mercury Prize and Harry Shapiro who wrote biogs of Alexis Korner and Graham Bond. The whole thing is part of a Government funded project on the popular music industries run by Richard Coopey, an academic economist. Ain’t it something to think of good old Pompey being included? There’s a follow-up conference in Edinburgh next Easter so I’m still collecting info/materials.

PS I’m very grateful for all the interest in this site – over 100 people visited yesterday and there are increasing numbers of comments – especially recently about the Challengers, the Freemen and yesterday from our pal David St John who does this work for Southampton. And as I’m writing, Mick Cooper is working away in the Museum on the details of the 1950s ….


Here Come the Sixties

Almost exactly a year ago (and the secret can now be told, on my 6oth Birthday) I had the lovely experience of doing my lecture on Pompey in the sixties at the Theatre Royal. An edited version was on the net then disappeared but my good pal Mick Cooper and Ron Hughes – friends and colleagues from the days of Pompey’s Four Tunes – have got together and put it back in two parts on YouTube:


NB: It seems not to work by clicking on them (can happen on YouTube) so just copy & paste them in

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Photos Wanted

Mick Cooper and I are always keen to get new photos/copies of acts, venues, fans, tickets, posters etc – anything to do with popular music in the Pompey area between 1946-1969. Some we post here or alternatively on the Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pompeypoppix/

We are also planning a big photo book next year. That will be the first priced artefact from this project – to date everything has been free but we’ll have to charge for that with the undertaking that any profit will either go back into this project or will go to charity. This is not a money-making operation. Similarly we try not to contravene copyright – if you think we have, let us know and we’ll remove images immediately – and apologise.

Among things we don’t have (or not many) are Youth Clubs, Audiences, some quite prominent local groups including Teapots/Wrong Direction, the Blackout dynasty, Roadrunners/Simon Dupree and very little from outlying venues such as Thorngate in Gosport

The free book (Here Come the Sixties) that came with the Public Lecture in October 2009 has now gone I’m afraid but I’m happy to email the text as an attachment if you want one. It’s copyright free

If you want to contact me directly by email it’s through my University address: dave.allen@port.ac.uk


Challengers Reunion

Sunday lunchtime and just back from the West Town Hotel in Hayling Island where the Challengers played together for the first time in about 45 years. There are photos of them in the 1960s on the other Pompey Pop (Flickr site) but here they are today (left to right) John Bowes (bass gtr), Chris Pearcy (guitar/vocals), Brian Davey (drums), Hughie (vocals*) and Roger Pattison (guitar). Hughie was one of the band’s  roadies, replacing Arthur Potts who died about three years ago. Also present was their other manager/roadie/driver etc Barrie Hammerton, plus family, friends and an enthusiastic crowd.

I remember seeing them playing support at the Rendezvous to bands like Graham Bond, the T Bones or Downliners Sect. They had started out as Dockyard apprentices in the early 1960s playing Shadows (etc) but soon shifted to R&B which is what we heard today (Fortune Teller, Got My Mojo Working, Before You Accuse Me, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Twist & Shout, Green Onions etc). They played for two hours plus – remarkable considering the time gap – and it was a delightful occasion

(see Comments and click on pic for a bigger view)


60s Star Stuart Mugridge

This is a picture of the Freemen, Stuart is on right (glasses) plus his brother Brian and Alf Grainger. The Portsmouth News has just reported Stuart’s death.

The Freemen formed in the Dockyard in the late 1950s and worked professionally around the country and abroad through the 1960s. They weren’t often in Pompey but they appeared in the world of major clubs and cabaret,played the Royal variety Performance and supported top stars like Shirley Bassey and Matt Monroe. It would be interesting to know more about their material.

Stuart retired from professional work in 1969 and returned to his career in engineering in the city but he continued to perform locally at the Co-op Club and the Music Lovers Club.

NB the comments from Brian’s son,  Stuart’s daughters, Mick Cooper etc – lots of conversation – and note the posting above (Photos Wanted)

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…. is out there? (see the post below)

Are there other ‘Pompey Pop’ items out there on Youtube, Amazon, websites etc? Let us know what you’ve found and we’ll pass it on.

Here’s a good one about Simon Dupree by Pete O’Flaherty (bass gtr) of that band and before that the Classics:


Here’s one from some years ago with contributions from various of us locals about Pompey’s Psychedelic scene (late 60s)


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Rewriting History (Harlem Speakeasy)

Here’s my old band Harlem Speakeasy. We made a single in 1968 for Polydor called “Aretha”. We wrote the flip-side “Sights of Pegasus” (I got the Greek mythology idea from Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses”). These days it’s the flip that attracts attention. Someone has put it on Youtube at

And it’s for sale on Ebay at (minimum) £20 where it’s described as “Psychbeat UK”. We didn’t know that in 1968

Incidentally there are two copies of my old book “Almost: 40 Years (etc)” on Amazon at £50 each. I reckon the world’s gone nuts. Don’t they know there’s a recession?

(PS I’m dumb with this technology – I thought I was writing the Youtube link but the whole thing is just here – it’s a Loving Spoonful “Do You Believe in Magic?” moment)

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Mushroom Update

See the story below – In Brighton on Friday at one of my favourite independent  ‘record’ shops (and they do have quite a lot of new 60s vinyl) the BORDERLINE in Gardener Street (North Laine) I found a copy of the new CD “Look at the Sun” subtitled “Precious seconds thought gone from the British Underground 1967-1970”. The two Coconut Mushroom tracks are “Without Her” and “Call Me Lightning” and the CD booklet includes two photos of the band and a very good biography which also mentions the Inspiration, Wanted and Tangerine Slide plus the various personnel changes in the band. Also on the album you can find two tracks by Elmer gantry’s Velvet Opera who played the Parlour and Pier plus some popular British acts like Kaleidoscope and Fleur de Lys as well as some bands who (for me at least) are more obscure

“Look at the Sun” is from Top Sounds Records and I believe also available on vinyl LP

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Southern Man

Here’s a lovely photo from a Pompey street around 1962. It’s Dave ‘Digger’ Hart of the advertised band – an interesting variation here on the more familiar name of the Southern Sounds (?) I’ve just received loads of photos from ‘Digger’ via Mick Cooper and I’ll get some more on here and the Flickr photo site as soon as possible. (PS – single click on the photo for a larger version)