Avril and George
Avril and George illustrate how they enjoyed swing and waltz music through film and radio and observed a sudden change with the rebellion of the modern rockers movement as they entered the 1960s. Youth members Dan, Frank, and Aidan have different perspectives on how their parents accept their musical tastes. All agree though that it's OK if they listen to music from their parents' era, but otherwise it's largely rejected by parents if it's not
|31st May 2016
|National Jazz Archive
|Image source credit
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|Avril and George
|Avril and George
Interviewer: Well I suppose a good starting point, just tell me what your relationship is with music, what music you’re interested in…
Avril: Not really, my first recollections [sic] is the 60s.
Interviewer: Really, ok
Avril: And it was what, all the bands. The Comets, Bill Hayley, I mean, Tommy Steele, I don’t know, just all, general.
Interviewer: The early kind of Rock n Roll bands of that period?
Avril: Yes, because the 60s was just coming in wasn’t it.
Avril: For me then. What was yours?
George: During the war, all the American Bands.
George: Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman.
Interviewer: Did you get to see these bands?
Interviewer: Did you actually get to see these bands when they were here?
George: No, no.
Interviewer: Just the records?
George: No, just on the radio.
Interviewer: Oh ok
George: Forces Favorites, things like that. And of course, the English bands, Henry Hall, Ambrose, Geraldo, Ted Heath. Yes, Ted Heath was good.
Avril: Edmundo Ross was another one.
George: Oh yes.
Avril: Wasn’t he? He was funny. Do you remember him?
Interviewer: I don’t actually no.
George: Edmundo Ross! Ross was the clue.
George: He played Latin American. But Ross was the clue.
Interviewer: um huh
George: He was a Scotsman. But he used to dress up as a, and his band played all American stuff. Sambas and Rumbas, stuff like that.
Avril: And Henry Hall
George: He was a Scotsman!
Avril: And Henry Hall?
George: Oh yes, Henry Hall. Billy Cotton.
Avril: And Billy Cotton, do you remember him?
Interviewer: Well I know of him because his son is still, touring and playing. If this was the kind of stuff you were hearing on the radio did you also get to see sort of live music in this period at all?
Interviewer: It was all from the radio?
Avril: yes, radio. No, we didn’t go clubbing.
Interviewer: There were no dances or anything like that?
George: I can remember the dances, with live bands. The famous one where I came from, Newcastle, was George Evans.
Avril: I saw Ted Heath once down at The Kursaal and the drummer, I can’t remember his name. He was fantastic.
George: Who was that?
Avril: Ted Heath.
George: Oh, right yes.
Avril: He come to the Kursaal once.
George: No, I don’t remember.
Avril: I’ve seen him. That was before I met you [laughter]. So, we’re going back a long while there. [00:04:25]
Interviewer: so presumably music was not your common bond if jazz and rock n’ roll was…?
Avril: No. When we were courting he liked classical music. I didn’t like classical. I don’t know how we got together actually!
George: But it worked.
Avril: Yes, yes.
Interviewer: It must have been an interesting time I would have thought, this sort of period where the Rock and Roll started to come in and all the Jazz that had been there before has…was it a sudden sort of switch?
Avril: It was because as that come in of course your parents were against it anyway. Because it’s rubbish and all the rest of it, you had to like the classical music. I used to have a tape – Luxembourg, I used to tape Luxembourg at nighttime. But, you couldn’t have that on because well your parents, oh that’s rubbish, turn that rubbish off and everything else. So really, you know, it was…
George: Right up until the end of the fifties, you had swing rather than jazz, and the waltz standards that were played. But then I was sent Avril in the 1960s is when the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’ came out and the background to it was Bill Haley. And the kids went mad with it. And a lot of places banned the film, because the kids were getting up and dancing in the aisles ten seats up, gone wild with this new rock n’ roll and that’s when the big divisions started really, when rock n’ roll came in. [00:06:38]
Interviewer: I’m sure. And I’ve seen we’ve got some younger folks here; Dan I already know. And you are?
Interviewer: Frank. And, I’ve forgotten your name.
Interviewer: Does this sound familiar to you, this idea that your parents don’t like your music?
Dan: Pretty much. My life in a nutshell.
Dan: That’s always happening to me. I’m playing something and they’ll come up and have a go at me for playing it too loud, or the wrong sort. So yeah.
Avril: What we find for now is there doesn’t seem to be any melodies in any of the modern music.
Avril: It’s just all shouting. The screaming.
Dan: Yeah, a lot of it there is. You’re lucky to find something that has got a bit of a melody in it.
Adrian: I don’t really have the issue of parents not liking my music considering I listen to a lot of the sixties music, as in The Doors, the Kinks, The Who. You see, so I’m not, I don’t really listen to the modern generation, so I don’t tend to have that issue as much myself.
Interviewer: I think maybe it kind of cuts both ways. We did a similar session to this in Hornchurch a while ago and some of the women there I was talking to, they were into a lot of the sort of current boy bands.
Interviewer: I think maybe this sort of great generational divide in some areas is not perhaps not as great as it perhaps was in the sixties. I mean I remember my parents being particularly concerned about some of my musical choices!
Avril: That’s it. You weren’t allowed to do…because the parents had control. You couldn’t go against your parents.
George: And yet some tunes are still being written when you think of Les Misérables, and Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Elton John, Candle in the Wind. There’s still what I would call a mainstream of tuneful tunes that you can hum along with or listen to. But as Avril says, when you get to the boy bands and the screechers . You know I’m deaf to start with. They just don’t…
George: Gel? Yes, good word.
Interviewer: So you were getting most of your music, George, from radio and presumably it was the same for you was it with the rock n’ roll? How about you guys, where do you get most of your music from? [00:09:27]
Dan: There’s a good app I use called Spotify and that has lots of different songs on it and its completely free so I like to listen to that quite a lot. You get that on your phone and tablets and things.
Frank: I get mine from YouTube just easy on your phone, just put your headphones in so, get online, you can see the top ten charts and stuff like that really.
Interviewer: And do you sort of listen to specific types of music, or do you, I don’t know what the current term is, Google around if you like to just find whatever you can?
Adrian: Sort of go with the flow if you know what I mean by that, I listen to a bit of everything.
Interviewer: Cos one thing I wonder about, if you’re listening to sort of Radio Caroline or whatever, it’s a kind of an in thing isn’t it? Where’s it’s just so accessible now.
Avril: Oh, you shouldn’t admit to listening to Caroline, that was illegal! But Caroline used to put out some good music. And that’s when Luxembourg used to put out good music but that was really illegal you shouldn’t listen to it.
Adrian: I mean I sort of found, from I can’t remember what film it was but there was a film, and it had one of the songs in it, I can’t remember if it was from The Kinks or The Doors, ‘The Boat That Rocked’, if anyone’s seen that film, it’s a film about the illegal radio shows on the sea. I like the music they were playing on there and so you just sort of Google around and when you get on to YouTube you’ll be playing your song and you’ll be like I like this one and it will come up recommended and you sort of get deeper and deeper though just [what’s] recommended ‘oh this is similar to that do you want to listen to this’, so you go on to that and you go deeper and deeper in. At one point I was listening to The Doors to then finding Queen to then finding Nirvana and so I then ended up finding my burns though that and it sort of just panned out that way.
Avril: Well perhaps they sort of carry on from…
Adrian: Yes, because it does get newer cos the further back, like, The Doors and then came Nirvana and then came Queen, I think. I listen to quite a few bands but they’re all in the same style if that makes sense. Same genre of music. [00:11:56]
Interviewer: Did your choices of music particularly sort of 60s music, did it affect your fashion? The sort of clothes that you wore? I went through various stages of being a hippy at one stage and then a greaser and then you know. The music was connected with clothing as much as anything else.
Avril: Yes, we used to get the mods and the rockers down here didn’t we?
Interviewer: Oh, on the seafront?
Avril: Along the seafront. With their drainpipes and the side burns and everything. But it didn’t, no I didn’t dress…I just dressed for me.
Interviewer: Did you ever get down on the bank holiday weekends when they were?
Interviewer: No. I can’t say I greatly blame you! [laughter]
Avril: No, I wasn’t allowed. No.
Adrian: I feel that the music does go along with the fashion as well because me and Joel particularly wear completely different style to everyone of [sic] our friend group, there’s the friend group who all have the same style that fits the music sense and then there’s me and Joel that are completely different that have the same style of music but it does change the way we dress and its sort of like, when you start to listen to that music I don’t think you start to love the music I think you love the whole aspect of the music, the fashion, the style, there’s a lot more to it, I feel like music introduces you to a whole new sort of fashion and style, not just in clothes as in the way you act and stuff like that. I feel like there’s a huge thing to do with that. Cos you can, I don’t mean in a judgmental sort of way but people sort of reflect music they listen to, you’ll know what music people listen to if they act similar to it if that makes sense?
Dan: They’ll start acting like the people who sing or like rap them songs or albums whatever, they’ll start acting more like them.
Adrian: Yes. Similar, similar like that, a better way of putting it.
Interviewer: Was there a similar thing when the American bands were coming over, was it sort of an Americanization of the way people were behaving and dressing?
Avril: The Americans brought over fashion, didn’t they?
George: Crew Cuts!
Avril: Yes, Crew Cuts. And the women bought over the big crinoline dresses with all your petticoats and things like that, that was all fifties.
Interviewer: So it came with the music as it were?
Avril: Yes, that come with the fifties
George: Shoulder pads
Avril: Yes, shoulder pads. I’m trying to think back.
George: Jazzy ties.
Avril: Shoestring ties. I can’t remember now. Oh, you’re testing my brain! No, I can’t remember any more really.
George: No, I think, fifties and probably the forties as well, but fifties and sixties was dance music. I used to go up to a dance every Saturday and sometimes during the week, another dance. And they just played standard waltz, quickstep, foxtrot dances. In fact, I’m trying to think where it was now. There was a big notice up saying ‘No Jiving’. And I think that must have been in the 60s.
Avril: Well yeah that was because the Americans bought over the jiving. And the twist.
Avril: They bought that over
George: And you weren’t allowed in the dance halls.
Interviewer: So you could only do the sort of standard dances, the waltzes and thing like that?
George: You always danced round in the circle
Avril: If you were lucky because they used to have couples there, all the men used to be by the bar and all the single women used to be round the edges. Until the last dance and then the men used to come away. But the Kursaal had a ban on stiletto heels at one time because it was damaging the floor.
Interviewer: I had heard about that yes.
Avril: Yes, it was damaging the floor the stiletto heels, I can remember that one. I didn’t go to many.
Interviewer: By the time I remember the Kursaal of course it was all the rock bands there.
Avril: Are you a Southend lad?
Interviewer: Yes. I used to go there, I guess it was the 70s.
Avril: Do you remember all the cinemas? We had loads of cinemas didn’t we?
Interviewer: I think there’s some other folks coming to say hello!
Interviewer: It was nice talking to you Avril and George.
Avril: Yes, thank you
George: Thank you. It was nice to talk.