Gary: “I am dealing with mid-sixties and the British Invasion. This group came out of London and really was two different groups at two different times. I will only deal with the Sixties Band, simply “Manfred Mann”; the other group would be “Manfred Man’s Earth Band”.
I was not a huge fan but loved ‘Do Wah Diddy’ and ‘Mighty Quinn’. The keyboardist, Manfred Mann was born in South Africa and had deep Jazz and Classical roots – hard to believe with ‘Do Wah Diddy’, but none the less true.
The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers (as the band were originally called) were formed in London in December 1962 by keyboard player Manfred Mann and drummer/vibes player Mike Hugg. Born out of the British blues boom then sweeping London’s clubs (which also spawned the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds), the band was completed by Mike Vickers on guitar, alto saxophone and flute, Dave Richmond on bass, and Paul Jones fronting as lead vocalist and harmonica player; by this point, they had changed their name into Manfred Mann & The Manfreds. Gigging constantly throughout late 1962 and early 1963, the band soon attracted attention for their distinctive sound propelled by Mann’s keyboards, Jones’ soulful vocals and the group’s overdubbed instrumental soloing.
The group signed to HMV Records in March 1963 after a change of name to Manfred Mann (at the suggestion of their label’s producer), and debuted in July of that year with the jazzy instrumental single “Why Should We Not?”, which failed to chart, as did the follow up (with vocals this time), “Cock-A-Hoop”
Early success (1964-1965)
In 1964, the group was asked to provide a new theme tune for the ITV pop music TV series Ready Steady Go!. They responded with the energetic “5-4-3-2-1” which, with the help of weekly TV exposure, rose to No. 5 in the UK charts. Shortly after “5-4-3-2-1” was recorded Richmond left the band, being replaced by Tom McGuinness – the first of many line-up changes. After a further self-penned hit (“Hubble Bubble (Toil And Trouble)”) the band struck gold with “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, a cover of a minor hit earlier that year by the Exciters. The track, reached the top of both the UK, Canadian, and U.S. charts (The Exciters version had only charted #78 in the U.S.).
During 1965 the group continued to have singles hits with cover material though it also released hit four-song EP records that showcased original material. Their sound moved away from the blues-based music of their early years to a highly successful pop hybrid. Notably the group began to have success with interpretations of Bob Dylan songs, including “With God on Our Side” as a track on a best-selling EP. They hit No. 3 in the UK with the single “Sha La La”, which also reached No. 12 in the U.S. and Canada and reached No.2 in the UK with the controversial “If You Gotta Go, Go Now”, which was banned or edited by a number of TV and radio stations. At this time Paul Jones announced his intention to quit the band for a solo career once a replacement could be found.
The Mike d’Abo years (1966-1969)
Jones stayed with the band for one more year, during which time Mike Vickers was replaced by Jack Bruce of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (long enough to play bass on the band’s second UK No.1 single “Pretty Flamingo”) (#2 in Canada). Jones was eventually replaced by Mike d’Abo – among those on the shortlist was Rod Stewart – and this was one of the few occasions when a band has successfully swapped lead singers and remained at the top. Jack Bruce left to form Cream with Ginger Baker and another of Mayall’s former Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, and was replaced by Klaus Voorman (a long-time Beatles associate), with McGuinness moving to guitar. To complete the changes, the group switched labels to Fontana Records.
With d’Abo as vocalist, the group pursued a softer acoustic pop sound, with a tinge of Dylanesque social comment and surrealism in the lyrics. Their first Fontana Records single was another Dylan cover, “Just Like A Woman”. Chart success was uneven for a while, with “Semi-Detached, Suburban Mr James” and “Ha Ha Said The Clown” both going Top 5, but an instrumental “Sweet Pea” only No. 36 and “So Long Dad” missing the Top 50 altogether. However they scored a third No. 1 in 1968 with yet another Dylan song, “Mighty Quinn” (#3 in Canada).
Frustrated with the limitations and image of being seen purely as a hit singles band (their last two albums failed to chart), the group split in 1969, while their final hit, “Ragamuffin Man”, was in the Top 10.
Mann went on to write advertising jingles after the group’s demise, but still continued to work in the group format. Initially he formed Manfred Mann Chapter Three (with Mike Hugg), an experimental jazz rock band, described by Mann as an over-reaction to the hit factory of the Manfred Mann group. This was, however, short lived and by 1971 they had disbanded and Mann had formed a new group, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.
This group had a UK top 10 hit in summer 1976 and No 1 Billboard Hit in February 1977, a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light”. In the 1990s, most of the original 1960s line-up reformed as The Manfreds, minus Manfred Mann himself (hence the name), playing most of the old 1960s hits and a few jazz instrumentals, sometimes with both Paul Jones and Mike d’Abo fronting the line-up.
At the same time, Jones and Tom McGuinness (McGuinness formed McGuinness Flint in 1970, but they disbanded in 1975) have been mainstays of The Blues Band (which they helped form in 1978).
Mike Hugg – drums, vibes, keyboards (1962?1969)
Dave Richmond – bass (1962?1964)
Mike Vickers – guitar, alto sax, flute – (1962?1965)
Paul Jones – vocals, harmonica (1962?1966)
Tom McGuinness – guitar, bass (1964?1969)
Jack Bruce – bass (1965?1966)
Klaus Voorman – bass (1966?1969)
Mike d’Abo – vocals, keyboards (1966?1969)
Glyn Thomas – drums – (Mann Hugg Blues Brothers 1960 ? 1962)
Tony Smith – bass – (Mann Hugg Blues Brothers 1960 ? 1962)
Chris Thompson (Vocals)