The Hippies Arrive


But what happened at the Birdcage?

On this very day, 50 years ago, all the adverts, lists and diaries suggest that the In Crowd played. They were one of the most regular Birdcage bands, playing soul and R&B and at various points including guitarist Steve Howe, singer Keith West and drummer ‘Twink’.

But in first few months of 1967 they transformed themselves into the band Tomorrow one of the earliest UK psychedelic bands, They were the first band to record a live session for John Peel’s Radio One show “Top Gear”.

The thing is that also on this night in 1967, Alexandra Palace held one of the first great UK Hippie events, the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream – a fund-raiser for International Times (IT). The Beatles turned up and might have seen, among others, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Alex Harvey Band, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the Move, the Social Deviants, Denny Laine, the Purple Gang, Graham Bond and on-and-on – including Tomorrow.

So, did the In Crowd come to Eastney? And if they did, did they then change into hippy gear and drive up the A3 to appear later that night (morning?) under a different name at Ally Pally? Perhaps we have another mystery, like the Cream at Kimbells and Bo Diddley? The website Marmalade Skies suggests that night was the first gig that Family played at the Birdcage, although I suspect they did not come to Eastney until the days of the Brave New World.

Incidentally the Sunday Mirror described the Technicolour Dream as resembling “the last struggle of a doomed tribe trying to save itself from extinction”.


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

16 thoughts on “The Hippies Arrive

  1. What happened round about that time to a band called Skip Bifferty, does anyone remember them ? I’m sure Linda D will as she used to book them a lot at the Soul Parlour…

  2. S.B. were a great band – played the pier a few times – still got their single ‘On Love’ in the attic.

  3. In Harlem Speakeasy, early 1968, we played with them and the Pretty Things at Highbury College (Amen Corner didn’t show up). Skip Bifferty were definitely the best act – the Pretty Things were chaotic, chasing dancers Vanessa & her mate (Crimson Ballet) around the stage. Skip Bifferty did play at the Parlour and at the Savoy on a charity night with no fewer than 11 other bands (!) plus a very nice line-up at the Guildhall (students?) with Spooky Tooth, Fairport Convention and England (ex St Louis Checks). Sadly they signed with Don Arden, often the kiss of death, and split fairly soon. They went on to be members of all sorts including Bell & Arc, Heavy Jelly, Every Which Way and even the Blockheads.

  4. Wow, thanks for all that info Dave, most interesting !

  5. i’d forgotten about the Technicolour Dream, love in or happening .. i went with a friend, with my bells and beads .. the Beatles weren’t there although John Lennon was .. i thought it might be interesting to go backstage and mingle but there was a security guy on the door, so i needed a reason to be let through, when i played with the Checks we’d played a few times with Ronnie Wood when he was with the Birds and then Creation and was on speaking terms with him so i said i was with Creation .. bad choice, the guy said fantastic, we got a call from the band an hour ago saying you couldn’t make it as your van had broken down, great get your gear in as soon as you can and here are your playing times .. mild panic but went backstage and mingled … and Creation never did arrive, their van had broken down … highlight was Pink Floyd on stage as the sun came up, they played Astronomy Domine and Interstellar overdrive from their yet to be released first album. all up a great day out, sex and drugs and rock n roll, although not in that order ..

    • Cheers AW – great story and as you say, only John Lennon of the Fab Four – he mingled a bit apparently and got to see Yoko Ono performing. There is some film of it in Peter Whitehead’s movie Tonite Let’s All make Love in London which seems to be on Youtube etc but is rather difficult to get moving …

  6. Now I know what happened to Skip Bifferty! You’re right Rod, I thought they were great, and they visited the Parlour twice, from memory. As did Blossom Toes, three or four times, and “The Blossoms” from Wales, who became Badfinger. And of course, Free did a run of 3 bookings there, just before “All Right “now” came out. Reference Crimson Ballet, Dave, the twosome was Vanessa and Nina. They started off at the Parlour, dancing together on the stage for the hell of it, and formalised by acquiring a name, and costumes. Then they danced away, and were replaced by the amazing “Fred”, a really great shockhaired solo dancer, and lovely person. Not sure what ever happened to the lovely Fred, but didn’t Vanessa marry someone in a top band of the day??

    Did you know that Phil Freeman donated the checked board that hovered in the background of the small stage in the Parlour – and that I had to arrive at the Parlour an hour before we opened to let in whatever band, and replace 20 or so very bright lightb bulbs with moody red ones which I had to buy and replace every week, as the owners took them out and threw them away after every session! Ah, those wonderful, glamorous promoter days!

    • Fred’s real name was Maria. She was great, a pal of mine, she later married Mark Kay and they went to London, after which …??? Vanessa did marry someone famous in the rock world but I can’t remember either!

    • Hi Lin, i think you might have the same sort of memory problems the rest of us have … Blossom toes weren’t from Wales and they didn’t become Badfinger. the Iveys were from Wales and they went on to be Badfinger, so maybe you booked the Iveys .. ?

      • Dave Pittard and I went to see Blossom Toes at the Parlour and it was the first time we’d ever seen a band with small amps, running everything through the PA, with a bloke out front on a mixer desk. We were surprised and impressed – they were a very fine band. Polly Palmer went on to Family and Jim Cregan played with Rod Stewart. I noticed him billed to appear at a Festival this summer but can’t recall where that is – maybe down Sussex way?.

  7. I seem to remember – a Japanese Bass player?

  8. i think it’s Tetsu …

  9. Hi Alan – sorry, I’d not seen your response earlier. And yes, I did get Blossom Toes and the Iveys mixed up – but in my defence, both played there. And yes, it was The Iveys who did “if you want it…” Hey, only a few memory points lost there! Blossom Toes worked in the Parlour quite a lot. They even referred to themselves as “the houseband” for a while – because they had the same manager as “Family” and a few other similar bands, and if you booked any of them, you just might get Blossom Toes turning up. On that “same Manager” theme, every time I booked “The Raisins” a band called “Coloured Head” turned up. Never did see the Raisins – or the Family in the Parlour. I think they’d heard about Katie Loades.

  10. On Tetsu the bass player, wasn’t he with Free for a while?

    aha – Just checked online and Wikipedia has him as Tetsu Yamauchi a.k.a. Tetsuo Yamaguchi – he did an album with Free.

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