Monday, 23 May 2011

1964 - The Truth and The Lie

1964 was a leap year, and man, did it jump! Muhammad Ali beats the shit out of Sonny Liston and is crowned the heavy weight champion of the world- America escalates its military presence in Vietnam as twelve young men in New York City burn their draft cards in protest, the first such act of war resistance. Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa; while in Lima, Peru, the crowd at a football match riot over a referee’s decision in a Peru vs. Argentina game, resulting in 319 killed and 500 injured!

England, not wanting to be left out of such turmoil and action, offers the world ‘Mod and Rocker’ riots! 

Mods running up and down English sea side beaches- call that a riot?! Oh! Come off it! It was ‘boulevard press’ hype that created the myth that was Brighton. Real fights were far too few to have required such a police presence, and in some cases the police themselves caused the aggravation. But, the main culprit was the British press, any method to fill the pages for their news-hungry readers was justified, and nothing sells like violence. With so much happening around the globe, they had to have something that was home based! Bribing youths to put on show fights was not unusual. I love this BBC comment ‘The Mods wore designer suits protected by Parka jackets and were often armed with coshes and flick-knives. They rode Vespa or Lambretta scooters bedecked with mirrors and mascots and listened to Ska music and The Who.’ First of all, the only people I knew who had coshes were the police; secondly, I’m sure there were more directors of the BBC who had flick-knives than Mods. The best part of this quote is that it was written in 2005! Forty years after the event, and they still write a lot of crap. To give them justice at least the second sentence is correct.

I wasn’t present at the ’64 episode, but I was in Brighton for the 1965 escapade. A few friends and I drove to Brighton in car; the police, to prevent the past year's occurrence,  had set up road blocks and was turning back any one on a scooter or motor bike; the few who did get through spent most of their time in various discos. The only incident of any significance I witnessed was late one night, a drunk smashing an insurance office window with a brick. I’m not even sure if he was a Mod, nevertheless, one brick doesn’t make a riot.

It was not on the Whitsun bank holiday beaches where the Mod insurgence was being felt, but in the directions of music and fashion. 1964 sees The Beatles  musically invading the United States; The Rolling Stones on the contrary are having a hard time at their first attempt. The Who and The Small Faces have still to make their presence felt. The pop charts are still under the domination of ‘The Fab Four’. As The Dave Clark Five make their last appearance in the top 20. A band from London's Muswell Hill, called The Kinks, make a riot of their own; with their first hit ‘You Really Got Me’.

1964 was a leap year, the year when Modism made its mark; it was also the beginning of a change in thinking- the grey of the post war world was slowly being splashed with colour.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, we learnt about how the media exaggerated Mod vs. Rocker violence in History actually. Great some people are writing the truth. Unfortunately, the link to the independent article isn't working.