A wonderful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, birds singing, that was how it was gonna be. It had to be; after all it was the day we had all been waiting for, the 30th anniversary of both the 1970 Hollywood Festival and the worlds greatest good-time band.
Well it didn’t quite work out like that; it was cold, wet and fairly miserable on the weather front but fantastically sunny in the company of the irrepressible Ray Dorset and chums.
I have to hold my hands up and admit that I wasn’t convinced that Mungo fans would turn up in sufficient numbers to make the event, some months in the planning, the great success it turned out to be.
Oh me of little faith, they came from far and wide to descend on Newcastle Under-Lyme, the scene of the original festival all those years ago.
With the promise of an appearance by legendary washboard maestro, Joe Rush, one of the original Good Earth band responsible for that early Mungo Jerry sound, fans arrived from all points of the U.K. We had fans from France, Germany, Holland and even Hungary!
THE COPPICE SPECIAL SCHOOL : 30th June, 2000.
The fun actually started the day before when Ray, Joe and Steve Jones re-enacted the Hollywood Festival for the kids of The Coppice Special School who were studying the 70’s and the festival in particular for a school project, inspired by headmaster, Garry Marsh, who was actually at Hollywood in 1970.
The kids really went for it and had a great time dancing and singing along with the boys, who played a mixture of old Mungo favourites and children’s songs.
THE VILLAGE TAVERN : 1st July, 2000.
The main event, as far as the hardcore Mungo Jerry fans were concerned was to be the skiffle/jug session to be held at The Village Tavern, Wolstanton, Newcastle Under-Lyme.
Former band member, Joe Rush was gonna be there and speaking for myself, that was something not to be missed. I knew that the majority of fan club members had never seen Joe ‘live’ before and I also knew that it would be one hell of an experience for them.
I hadn’t seen him since about 1977 I think, and you all know that I was a big, big fan of what I call the ‘original’ band, so this was something special for me.
And there he was, chatting away to the fans, showing them various old pics from his album, tinkering with his drum kit, an ‘occasional’ beer, a fag – my hero Joe!
It really was great to see him again. We’d met when he was back with Mungo Jerry in 1976, and I saw a lot of Joe, Pete Sullivan, Colin Earl, Chris Warnes and roadies, ‘Nipper’, ‘Bizz’ and road manager Ray Clegg that year, particularly on the ‘ill-fated’ tour of the working men’s clubs in the North East of England.
All of them were great fun to be with, Joe in particular was such a great character and so enthusiastic. Seeing him again at the Village Tavern, even though he was approaching his 60th birthday – I could see straight away that it was business as usual!
After grabbing a quick Guinness, it was time to meet all the fellow fans that I had previously only written to or chatted to on the phone. It was amazing to see them, as I said earlier, many had travelled very long distances to be there. Who was it that said it would never work?
Ray arrived soon after with Derek Wadeson, followed by Steve Jones, Tim Green and Mick Frampton. The place was starting to fill up and Derek had to remind me that I was supposed to be on the door to make sure that everyone had tickets.
I was beginning to think that I would miss the show, as the stage wasn’t really visible from the door when Frank Smith (Durham based fan), kindly relieved me – on the door that is!
Dave Rees arrived from A New Day Records. I had never met him but guessed who it was when I saw his Jethro Tull t-shirt (Dave also produces the excellent ‘Tull’ fanzine – A New Day).
One funny little story was when Frank stopped Ray when he came through the door, asking him if he had a ticket or was with the band. Ray looked slightly flabbergasted for a second.
The band – Ray, Joe, Mick and Steve – took to the stage, I think about 2 o’clock, with Steve on accordion and kicked off with Take Me Back from the You Don’t Have To Be In The Army album. Tim Green donned his guitar and joined in from a precarious position on the side of the stage before transferring to a safer spot at the opposite end.
The banter started with Joe telling Mick that he couldn’t be a proper percussionist because he wasn’t bald and cranking Ray up as if starting a car every now and then.
Joe decided that a change of shirt was called for and donned a ‘Rush’ t-shirt!
He also decided that he should put his feet up on the drums during In The Summertime, played the xylophone on Maggie, a collection of beer glasses on Ghost Riders In The Sky and during Lady Rose, sang ‘Lady Rose…picks her nose’, as the chorus!
Ray, despite not always knowing what was going on behind him at times kept the songs coming. It was good to hear, You Don’t Have To Be In The Army To Fight In The War again, and we even had, My Girl & Me, the first time that I have ever heard it played live…I think!
It really was great stuff, Joe a bundle of fun on the drums, some great slide from Tim and a titanic effort from Ray’s voice box. It was something like six o’clock when Ray wound things up and began thinking about the evening gig at The Oxford Arms. They had played for about FOUR HOURS!
THE OXFORD ARMS : 1st July, 2000.
On to the Oxford Arms, located no more than a mile from the Village Tavern. This was to be a full band gig and was my first chance to see bass player, Matt Round and drummer, James Davis.
Again, the place is full of fan club members and locals for this ticket only gig.
The band strangely, I thought played a lot of the hits straight away, as well as the infamous, Little Bit Of Love – Capitol Radio’s ‘favourite’ number! Watching former guitarist, Dick Middleton must have it logged in his memory banks. Nice to see you there Dick, it’s a pity you didn’t get the chance to play.
There are great versions of Open Up and Thank You Very Much in its original form. Oh for a studio recording of it – it really is excellent!
Another THREE HOURS of ‘MUNGO MAGIC’ were played at the Oxford making it a staggering SEVEN HOURS in total. Absolutely amazing performance, particularly from Ray on vocals.
The new guys in the band were very good and it was good to see them again at the Whitchurch Festival a month later, where I thought they were better still.
Taking all things into account, the day went off really well and chatting to some of the fans afterwards and reading subsequent letters, everyone present had the time of their lives!
HOLLYWOOD RE-VISITED 2000
(By Derek Wadeson)
The thirty year celebration of Mungo Jerry started for me with a conversation I had with Alan Taylor over the phone in 1999.
I had invited Alan to sit next to me at an Everton v Chelsea Premiership match. For our sins, I support the blue noses and Alan, strangely for a Geordie is a Pensioners fan.
During the game, Alan was talking about fans ideas for a thirty-year bash. In fact, Alan was talking about anything to take his mind away from a match in which Everton were outplaying, outthinking and outfighting his beloved Chelsea.
In between cheering Everton on, I mentioned a few ideas of my own and said I would contact Ray Dorset to see what he thought.
By this time, Alan was all smiles as Chelsea had equalised in the last minute, and he could skip merrily home on a days job well done.
Early in 2000, after a few conversations with Ray Dorset, it became apparent that we were thinking along the same lines, a celebration and a good time without too much glitz and glamour. And the icing on the cake would be to hold it in an area where it all began in 1970 – Newcastle Under-Lyme!
FEBRUARY 2000 : I put in place a few general ground rules and venues. After careful consideration, two venues were chosen – The Village Tavern in Wolstanton and The Oxford Arms in Maybank – both near to the centre of Newcastle Under-Lyme and about three miles from the original Madeley Festival site. We wanted to recreate the original Mungo skiffle sound and also the rock element that Ray has been famed for both before and after the initial spurt of success.
THE VILLAGE TAVERN : Is a small intimate friendly establishment, ideal for skiffle gig, no stage, just an uplifted area that the locals use as a book swapping library. I have known the mine hosts, Rob and Lisa for some time, having ran several theme nights for them over the years with my promotions business.
THE OXFORD ARMS : Rob Easson recommended ‘the Oxford’, it is the local gigging pub and on first glance around the place, I knew we could recreate a Master Robert/Northcote Arms type atmosphere. Landlord Mark Fallon knew his rock onions and was more than willing to make it a success.
MARCH 2000 : It’s about time we agreed a date, the original June 17th has quickly been kicked into touch, when England were drawn to play Germany in Euro 2000 on that date. Ray is busy playing festivals with Mungo in May, so we go for July 1st, the day before the Euro 2000 final, and a blank day for football. It is also the date that ‘In The Summertime’ was number one world-wide in 1970.
APRIL 2000 : Alan Taylor’s dream of seeing Joe Rush up on stage with Ray Dorset is about to be realised. I spoke to Joe in Paris to officially ask him once again to become the ‘fifth Mungo’. He had already spoken to Ray and Alan and was really keen to attend and take part in the afternoon skiffle gig.
MAY 2000 : Most basic preparations are in place, Alan had notified fans of the events, and Ray and Joe were playing the afternoon skiffle gig and the full band the evening rock show. Stuart Turner had been designing a celebration brochure, something that he spent a lot of time and effort on. Ray and myself don’t help matters with our constant changes to the mag’s design and content. Local radio and T.V are fully behind the event.
JUNE 2000 : Local newspaper, The Sentinel issues a 30 year ‘Those Were The Days’ supplement and Mungo and Farmer Ted, the host of the Hollywood Festival site are featured prominently. Garry Marsh, the deputy head at a local school contacts me to tell me of a few things that the kids at the school had done at a morning assembly, to look back on the original event. Ray Dorset is really impressed and we decided to add the school to the weekends events on the Friday afternoon.
BBC Radio Stoke decide to broadcast their entire afternoon show from the Coppice School, the school specialises in the education of kids with learning difficulties and is renowned in the area for its upbeat positive education approach.
Everything is finally in place and we are ready to rock!
FRIDAY 30TH JUNE : Ray Dorset is travelling direct from Germany, via his home in Bournemouth, he travels through the night and arrives at our hotel in the early hours of Friday morning. Joe Rush is making a similar journey from Paris, via his daughters home in Bedfont.
I arrive at the hotel mid-morning and check in, not surprisingly Ray is still sound asleep. I use the spare time to go to the school and set up the P.A for the afternoon show.
On my return to the hotel, Joe Rush has just arrived, I’ve spoken with Joe many times over the years but this is the first time we have met since a Mungo gig in Liverpool in the mid-70’s.
Ray comes down to reception at about the same time that we have some surprise visitors – Steve Jones and his lady Lynn. Steve would be part of the main gig on Saturday night but on hearing about the school gig, travelled down early to take part.
The new Mungo skiffle band played the school, Ray, Joe and Steve on accordion and it was really special. The school had been decked out to look like a festival site, with the playing field and the kids all dressed for the occasion in their 60’s & 70’s gear, hippies, bandannas and peace were the order of the day.
Behind the band was a big sign painted by the kids – ‘Mungo Jerry Hollywood Revisited 2000’. Ray performed some festival favourites as well as a couple of kids songs – Ride In My Car and Marvin The Pussycat.
Great entertainment and superb memories for all. That night, having been joined by Juergen Keuneke who had travelled from Germany, we set off to a local Indian restaurant to enjoy a good meal and social chat and to get ready for the next days major happenings.
SATURDAY 1ST JULY : Bright and early, we meet up with Mick Frampton and Tim Green who had also come early to take in the proceedings. My son Gavin, joined me to check out this special Mungo live sound, he left the weekend converted.
Over at the Village Tavern, things were starting to hot up, fans from all over Europe who to this day had known each other by name only met up and enjoyed a drink in each others company.
The skiffle band, it had been decided by Ray, would be joined by Mick and Tim, in an area in which you would have trouble swinging the ‘Mungojerrie’ cat, would be an entire band and P.A. The Village Tavern holds about seventy people comfortably and for just less than four hours, Ray and the lads left over 100 fans and locals spellbound. What a show, what an occasion as I looked around it, was everything I wanted it to be.
After a short rest and change of clothes, it was off to the Oxford Arms. Matt and James, the new younger Mungo’s on bass and drums then joined us. Equipment was quickly set up and a sound check started with the sound and light people brought in for the occasion.
After thirty minutes, I had to stop the lads, as over 200 people were waiting to get in. What followed was one of those memorable gigs where the call and response routine was one of the fans shouting out the numbers and the band playing them.
I asked Ray to perform, Little Bit Of Love for old times sake. I was really glad I did, it went down a treat, especially with Matt and James who had a fit of the giggles to the lyrics at times.
At midnight, Ray is virtually dragged off stage, kicking and screaming, with the sound checks, he has performed for almost 8 HOURS today and could still play on.
Many people at the evening gig were locals taking in the band for the first time since 1970. Many thought that they had missed out on 29 years of magic!
Fans and friends gathered in a side room afterwards to wind down and enjoy some food and a chat, laid on by landlord Mark, who was bouncing around wanting to do it again in 2001. Me, I was just happy to see so many Mungo fans have a good time and boogie.
We all met up in the hotel for breakfast and to say goodbye. Ray is having difficulty moving his left hand, it is locked in a chord like shape and has pretty much lost his voice.
Everybody was in agreement that it was a really special occasion and we all had a buzzing sensation in our heads, you felt like the music was still being played, strange but nice.