Lord Rockingham's XI

  Lord Rockingham's XI, the powerhouse resident band behind all the stars on Oh Boy! had a unique sound. The name of the band was created by Jack Good as a play on the words 'rocking 'em', and arranger Harry Robinson (seen in pic at right) was engaged by Jack Good to put a band together to create the sound that Jack required.

Harry shut himself in a caravan at a seaside resort and analysed the appeal of a pile of American records, before settling on a line-up of two tenor saxes, two baritone saxes, a double bass, a piano, an organ, Latin American percussion, three guitars and drums and whatever else might be needed.

Although most people identified Scotsman Harry Robinson as Lord Rockingham, this wasn't the case according to Jack Good. After achieving fame with their single 'Hoots Mon' and wanting to go 'on the road', there was considerable argument about who had rights to the name 'Lord Rockingham', and lawyers had to be brought in to settle the dispute! They settled out of court, with Good keeping television and recording rights, and Robinson being able to use the name on tour. (See Oh Boy! Diary for Friday 13th February 1959 for further details).

Well known jazz 'buff' Benny Green played baritone sax with the band, but was embarrassed by it so he often played in sunglasses to hide the fact. Benny was not a rock 'n' roller, but 'needs must when the devil drives'. He was playing in Ronnie Scott's band, but when that folded, he was out of a job.

Work was not that easy to come by for Benny's style of music at that time when Rock'n'Roll was all the latest rage, but he had the opportunity to secure a position with the band and thus make a living.

Red Price, a hard working, hard blowing tenor sax player from Liverpool originally played in the Ted Heath Band and then became the featured saxophonist with Lord Rockingham's XI. He later played the saxophone with Frankie Vaughan's backing group 'The X Men'.

The lovely, vivacious organist Cherry Wainer hailed from South Africa, daughter of a famous stage producer. She once worked at the Windmill Theatre in London as a piano/solovox player.

Lord Rockingham's XI comprised of the following original eleven musicians with a further two players added later:

Harry Robinson - Musical Director
Cherry Wainer - Organ
Don Storer - Drums
Reg Weller - Percussion
Red Price - Tenor Sax
 Rex Morris - Tenor Sax
Benny Greene - Baritone Sax
Cyril Reubens - Baritone Sax
Ronnie Black - Double Bass
Bernie Taylor - Guitar
Eric Ford - Guitar

 Joining the group later were:
Kenny Packwood - Guitar
Ian Frazer - Piano

The band appeared in 35 of the 38 shows, plus the two trial broadcasts before the show went nationwide. They were also the resident band in the stage show version of the TV show (although regulations did not allow them to wear their usual flamboyant TV costumes!) The band even appeared in the film Latin Quarter released in 1959 along with Cuddly Dudley and they had several of their recordings released on the Decca label:

Decca F11024 (1958) Fried Onions / The Squelch
Decca F11059 (1958) Hoots Mon / Blue Train
Decca F11104 (1959) Wee Tom / Lady Rockingham, I Presume
Decca F11139 (1959) Ra Ra Rockingham / Farewell To Rockingham
Decca F11426 (1962) Newcastle Twist / Rockingham Twist

Lord Rockingham's XI's biggest hit was "Hoots Mon", the tune being based on an old traditional Scottish song "A Hundred Pipers". It was released in November 1958 and stayed in the record charts for a run of 17 weeks holding the number #1 position for 3 weeks (Nov. 28th, Dec. 6th & Dec. 13th) 500,000 copies of the record were sold but the band members only received 6 pounds each! "Wee Tom" charted in February 1959 and reached number #16.

[Good shot of the band behind Cliff Richard.]

Sheet music for "Rex Rocks" written by Rex Morris & Gordon Langhorn (Don Lang)

45 rpm extended play on Decca issued in 1959 containing their first recording "Fried Onions" and the B side of "Hoots Mon" - "Blue Train"
Long Play album The Return of Lord Rockingham

This LP was released by EMI on the Columbia label in 1968 - Catalogue No. SCX 6291 (Stereo). The Musical Director was once again Harry Robinson, Recording Engineer Peter Mew and produced by FINITO. It contained a mix of re-recorded old hits plus arrangements of contemporary numbers. The track listing is as follows:

Hoots Mon/Tequila/Lady Madonna/Night Train/Yummy, Yummy, Yummy/Mony Mony

Baby Come Back/Rex Rocks/Simon Says/Gazachstahagen/Come Back Lord Rockingham/Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp
The sleeve notes are as follows:

If you're reading these sleeve-notes simply to find out who Lord Rockingham is, then you probably weren't listening to pop music ten years ago. For at that time, a television show called Oh Boy! was setting the standard for all the pop shows that were to follow. The resident band was Lord Rockingham's XI, though who Lord Rockingham was we never did find out. What we did discover was a new experience in instrumental music; for in addition to providing the "backing" for Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and other Oh Boy! guests, the famous eleven sent the atmosphere sky high with their stomping arrangements.
But before long an eager public demanded far more of Lord Rockingham than one television show a week could provide. The answer was to preserve their existing sound on record and for several weeks their first release held the coveted number one spot in the British charts. The time was November 1958, the title was "Hoots Mon" and it led the way for success which included not only more records but also package tours and concert appearances throughout Britain.

For those of you who missed out on Lord Rockingham first time round this album will be as essential as it is for those of you who remember him well, as the tracks included have been hand-picked to offer the ideal music for parties, dances or even for listening to on your own. To set the pace for what follows, "Hoots Mon" is the first track and if you can resist the temptation to lift the needle and hear it again, their second offering is equally satisfying, and you'll note that the same wee small voice that crops up in "Hoots Mon" reappears in "Tequila".

The six big hits specially arranged for this album need no introduction from me so I'll just say that on side one there's the Beatles' "Lady Madonna", "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" made famous by the Ohio Express, and Tommy James and The Shondell's first British hit "Mony Mony". "Night Train", generally acknowledged as a big band number, is one of my favourite tracks and comes over with a tremendous jazz feel. Side two features "Rex Rox", "Come Back Lord Rockingham" and the incredibly titled "Gazachstahagen" which provided further chart sucess for the band. Another three well known numbers - "Baby Come Back", "Simon Says", "Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" - and you can't wait to go back to the start again.

Oh yes, about that wee small voice, a wee small bird says that it belongs to wee small Harry Robinson whose name appears elsewhere on this album, and if you still don't know who Lord Rockingham is then don't worry, it's the music that matters.

  Benny Greene died 22nd June 1998.
Red Price died 7th February 1984.
Don Storer died 21st August 2006, after  a long illness.

Read 3372 times Last modified on Wednesday, 12 October 2016 13:32
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