Meet The Crombie Boys

Hi everyone!

On the last post I mentioned that I had bought a magazine I had wanted for years… But I actually bought two!, that one and this one… OK, maybe a few more but you will find that out soon. Anyway, to continue with my magazine hoarding, today I am sharing this cool little article called “Meet The Crombie Boys”.

The article comes in a Sunday Times magazine from March 1971 and it shows a well-known photo already: 7 incredibly smart young guys who like wearing Crombie coats, button-down shirts, mohair suits and highly polished shoes. Enjoy!

Meet The Crombie Boys

The kids call these overcoats Crombies, but they are rarely the genuine article made from the celebrated Crombie cloth. Still, there is a touch of real class tucked into the top pocket – a pure silk handkerchief. This gentlemanly fad started in London, swaggering out from the East End on to the football terraces where it was caught like measles and spread to places as far apart as Highgate and Barnes. Now you can see Crombie boys getting off the football specials from the Midlands and North. It’s a look for boys (and a few girls) between 12 and 20 who want to give themselves a group identity that swings away from the aggressive look of skinheads and rockers; some South London Crombie boys have even been seen with rolled umbrellas. Shoes must be black and clumpy, shirts thinly striped and open necked, trousers knife-creased. When the ‘Crombies’ are shed as the weather gets warmer, the word is that the ceremonial order will be two-tone mohair suits – one of the gents in the chair has already been for a fitting. Shirts will have unbuttoned down collars. Black and white patents will probably be the shoe.


And some close-ups…CrombieBoys2




Interested in books and magazines from the 1960’s and 1970’s? Have a look at The Ballroom Blitz Facebook Page. Lots of items always up for sale!


Skinheads in Focus

Hi everyone!

A few weeks ago I received a magazine that I had wanted for years! I was always asking for it here and there and nothing, but that very moment I stopped looking for it, I saw it and bought it and, of course, I had to share it with you all.

The magazine is called Mirabelle and it dates May 1970. The article, as the title of this post says, is “Skinheads in Focus” and it shows us the simple but smart skinhead style. However, only the description of the girls’ clothes is available. Hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did!

Skinheads in Focus

Snap! A new perspective to young fashions for true skinheads to follow. Snip! Lots of smart suits and dresses. Snap! Matching skirts and tops for everyday wear. Simple but smart. Snip!

Far left: Girl’s mohair suit. Colours: bottle green, wine, turquoise, black.

Centre: Mohair suit. Same colours as above.

Right: Prince of Wales coat. Three different colour tones.

Sitting: Keyhole mohair dress. Colours: bottle green, wine, turquoise, black.


Jumper, various colours. Skirt, various colours.


Jumper, various colours. Kilt, various colours.


Knitted dress. Colours: white and beige, pink and beige, blue and beige.


Sta-press trousers, various pale shades. Ben Sherman shirt. Cardigan, colours: black, brown, green, camel.


Full view of the article:


Interested in books and magazines from the 1960’s and 1970’s? Have a look at The Ballroom Blitz Facebook Page. Lots of items always up for sale!

And as always in parting, a nice Reggae tune. In the summer mood and I would love to eat a watermelon…

Pioneers: Why we had to go pop

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since the last post but we’re back again and we’re here to stay.

Today we’re going to share an article written by the great Carl Gayle back in 1974. It was part of a Reggae Special which also talked about artists like Dandy Livingstone, Nicky Thomas and The Maytals. Some interesting facts and stories, if you are a Pioneers’ fan like us, you will love it!

The Pioneers: Why we had to go pop

Back in 1968 two horses, Combat and Long Shot, died in a race at Caymanas Park race course in Jamaica. Long Shot had become a household name through the success of a song about him by The Pioneers. And although Long Shot’s dead was particularly saddening for the group, it was also a significant point to their fortunes.

In 1969 ‘Long Shot Kick The Bucket’ went into the top ten in the British charts. We in the West Indian circles were already very familiar with the group, and we had known this particular record months before it had hit the charts. Local DJs and other enthusiasts used to exchange £5 and over for a pre-release copy of LSKTB because it was so different from anything else on the reggae scene at the time. Its rigorous, aggressive dance rhythm and simple chorus made it an instant disco tune.

The Pioneers

‘Bucket’ was obviously a distinctly new, harder type of reggae sound, a new direction and it was a moving song too. The lyrics reflected it: “What a weeping and a wailing down at Caymanas Park.” And the vocals seemed to imply that the singers were also very emotionally involved: “Combat dead, Long Shot dead / All me money gone a hell!”. Later ‘Long Shot Kick The Bucket’ became another skinhead ‘anthem’ just as Desmond Dekker’s ‘Israelites’ had been, and so the press, radio and TV caught on to what was happening. The Pioneers – Sydney Crooks, George Dekker and Jackie Robinson – had arrived.

The original 1962 band – The Pioneers – was made up of Sydney Crooks, Glen Adams and Derrick Crooks (the former’s brother) who was the first to leave the group. Then Glen Adams quit to join The Upsetters on piano. In 1966 Sydney who had been recording on his own, met Jackie Robinson. Sydney: “I was doing a session with producer Joel Gibson and I saw Jackie and another guy outside trying to get a recording deal. I asked them to help me with some harmony singing. Then I asked Jackie if he would like to be my partner and he took the chance, maybe because I had a little popularity then.”

The song that Jackie helped Sydney on was called ‘Gimme Little Loving’ and it went to number three in the JA charts. The record, issued on Joel Gibson’s Amalgamated label in 1968 was a great favourite among West Indian immigrants. So was the next JA hit ‘Long Shot’ (the first one about the race horse) which was recorded at Dynamic studios (at the time West Indian studios) with Lynn Taitt and The Jets who appeared on many of The Pioneers’ early records, and who themselves became very popular with their record ‘El Casino Royale’ in discos and house parties in England.

Give me little loving

Jackie: “Guys used to come around complaining about losing on race horses so we thought we would make a record about ‘Long Shot.” The song made the horse out to be a no hoper, the gambler put all his money on Long Shot “But he couldn’t bust the tape.” So flat broke he ends up wondering “How me a go home tonight?”

Sydney: “We got the melody first and we put down the backing track straight away, then added vocals later. We recorded ‘Long Shot’ and another song ‘Jackpot’ at the same session using more or less the same backing track and both of them were in the charts at the same time.”


Not all of their records were hits but songs like “Shake it up” and “Good Nanny”were very down to earth and this endeared The Pioneers to everyone, especially the younger fans. Sydney and Jackie truly were pioneers even though they were obviously influenced by the more dynamic vocal groups like The Maytals or The Heptones. But maybe their popularity was due to the fact that they were a very young group and were closest to current musical tastes. Certainly, their next two hits ‘Tickle Me’ and ‘Catch The Beat’ were very much for younger fans especially the latter which introduced a new dance by way of its very unusual repetitive rhythm.

When Sydney and Jackie met George Dekker he was going around with a tune called “Nana” and they really liked it. George had previously had a hit ‘Keep The Pressure On’ with a guy called Winston (Winston and George) and he was invited to become the third member of the group. The Pioneers recorded ‘Nana’ with their own money and put it out under the name of The Slickers. Sydney: “We already  had ‘Catch The Beat’ out and we didn’t want it to clash with ‘Nana’. ‘Nana’ was a big hit but we didn’t make any money from it.”

The Pioneers’ producer Joel Gibson apparently decided that George was getting too big for his boots when he found out. So he sacked George. Jackie: “I didn’t get the sack but I wanted to stay with Sydney. At the same time George fell out with the people at Beverly’s (Leslie Kong) but he had another tune in his head called ‘Easy Come Easy Go’. Everybody wanted that song but in the end we recorded it with Leslie Kong and we went to number one. George: “Leslie Kong had wanted to sign just Sydney and Jackie as The Pioneers, he wanted me to sign a solo contract. But we all decided that it would have to be the three of us or none at all.”

Easy come Easy go

The next two records ‘Pee Pee Cluck Cluck’ and ‘Blackbird’ were misses then came ‘Long Shot Kick The Bucket’ which surprisingly did not reach number one in Jamaica although it had a great impact on the scene. Jackie: “One day my father was reading the newspaper and he said: ‘Hey look, your horse ‘Long Shot’ and another horse was killed in a race.’ So I went straight away to a shop where we had a piano in the back and the others were there. I told them the bad news and we sat down and worked out the tune. The record says produced by Leslie Kong but at that time he was in England with Desmond Dekker. The musicians thought what we were asking them to play was impossible so the song nearly didn’t get recorded. They’re the same set of musicians that Jimmy Cliff and a lot of other people use now.”

From 1968 to 1969 The Pioneers were along with The Maytals the two most popular groups in Jamaica. ‘Mamma Look Deh’ was another big record for The Pioneers in 1968. It didn’t get the coverage that ‘Bucket later received but The Maytals  borrowed that record’s rhythm for their 1969 hit ‘Monkey Man’. Whenever anyone wanted to put on a show The Pioneers were called up whether it was at a club, school ball or cinema. They did nine shows with Joe Simon when he went to Jamaica and of course they stole all the shows. They did a series of shows with Byron Lee and The Dragonaires – ‘Reggae Blast Off’ – all around the Island and sang with many other top instrumentalist bands including The Vikings, Tomorrow’s Children and Tommy McCook and The Supersonics.

Mama look deh

In 1969 ‘Samfie Man’ was a number one for The Pioneers on JBC Radio and number two on RJR. And they were voted the fourth most popular Jamaican band by Swing magazine. They appeared on TV and radio and were press favourites yet with their song ‘Boss Festival’ they only managed to finish the fourth to The Maytals who won the 1969 Jamaican Song Festival with ‘Sweet and Dandy’. 1969 was also the year The Pioneers came to England.

Jackie: “Tony Cousins from Commercial Entertainments, came to JA and saw us when we were doing those shows with Joe Simon. He told us that there were no black groups like us in England and he offered us a tour because ‘Long Shot Kick The Bucket’ was selling so well in England. The tour was supposed to last six weeks but we’re still here.”

Sydney: “We went to Egypt and The Lebanon in 1970 and when we came back in May ’71 we did ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ which was written by Jimmy Cliff and co-produced with us. It sold over twenty thousand in one week but it only moved from No. 6 to No. 5. Even the people on ‘Top Of The Pops’ said it would be the next number one when we did the show.” Jackie: “It was one of the most popular songs of ’71, I got tired of hearing it everywhere I went. It was No. 1 on Radio Luxembourg.”

The change in style from an authentic JA sound to a pop-reggae format which Jimmy Cliff had earlier brought about with ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ for Desmond Dekker happened to The Pioneers too. And just as Dekker had lost a little respect and much popularity among ethnic W. Indian music fans, so did The Pioneers.

George: “We understand the reason for criticism but if we hadn’t changed our musical style when we did, The Pioneers would be a has been, we would have been finished. When we did ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ it was the kind of reggae that the kids wanted to hear, the more sophisticated type.” Sydney: “And if you want them to stay with you, you have to stay with them. You have to change.” Jackie: “Most West Indians might ask ‘What has happened to The Pioneers?’ And when they hear our new single ‘A Little Bit Of Soap’ they’ll say ‘Oh! Just another Pioneers commercial reggae’. But when we go to number five in the charts they’ll be proud to see us on Top Of The Pops.”

Skinhead Girl Hairstyle

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while and since the other day we were talking about skinhead girls haircuts on the Style Forum and I get traffic from lots of people looking for this information, I thought: why not write about it now?

Once again, it is impossible to generalise as we know not everything was (or is) black and white. It depended a lot on where you lived, your age, how strict your parents were, what you liked, etc., but hopefully we can cover a wide range of styles.  As usual, the best way to illustrate something is with photos so here you will find a few pictures of the different haircuts worn by skinhead girls in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

1. The “Julie Driscoll”

One of the prettiest but also one of the most ‘difficult to wear’ hairstyles. It consists of (very) short hair with longer sides and an arched fringe.  I call it the ‘Julie Driscoll’ because it’s similar to what Julie Driscoll looked like back then.


Ann from Corby, 1969


Late 60’s


Olly, 1970



2. Feather cut

The most popular hairstyle. Short on top with longer back and sides. Often seen with short/no fringe and side parting, arched fringe, middle parting. . .

There are different lengths depending on the year but I reckon it’s been popular since the late 60’s. In the early 70’s ‘half’ fringe became popular, too.


Linda and friends, early 70’s


Ann from Corby again, 1971


Lynn and friend, early 70’s


Vivien and Annette ca. 1969

3. Hair brushed back

Imagine a grown out feather cut, then you brush it back and use some hairspray to keep the volume. Gotta thank Colin for the idea of the name!

I’ve only seen pictures from 1970 onwards with this style.


Ca. 1970 at the Top Rank in Reading


At The Tin Hat in Kettering, 1971. Girl at the back/left wearing her hair brushed back

Another variation would be the hair brushed back but then tied (only half of the hair with or without volume) like in these pictures:





4. Ponytails

Hair tied at the back, usually with middle parting, leaving strands of hair to the sides.

I’ve seen pictures from 1969 onwards with this hairstyle.


Jean. A mix of photos from the late 60’s and early 70’s



5. Buns and Plaits

Hair was usually pulled back with no parting, leaving some strands of hair to the sides, straight or curly.

At the back, it would be plaited and tucked under or wrapped up in a bun, which is how I wear it.

I’ve seen pictures from early 1970 onwards with this hairstyle.


Jan and friends, ca. 1970. Back was plaited and tucked under


Long hair and probably a bun. Ca. 1970


Buns! 1971

6. Long, plain hair

Often seen both in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Usually worn by older girls or by the ones who were not allowed to get a feather cut. With middle or side parting.


Jan and friends, cool chicks with long hair. Ca. 1970


Ca. 1971

* Bonus: Accessories

Accessories like hair clips and bun nets were also worn. The first one, usually with side parting and the hair clip to hold the hair like in this picture:



So there you go, lots of hairstyle inspiration. There is more to life than feather cuts as you have seen in all these pictures from original skinhead girls or girls with the skinhead girl style. But in case you don’t believe me, here are some recollections of original skinheads too:

Maybe traditionally short in the next skinhead phase. I wouldn’t know though because I wasn’t there!! The boys hair was short, but not the girls as a rule. Some maybe.” – Jan

“Even back in the day, some friends of mine didn’t have a feather cut, they had long hair and wore it in a bun, but as I have said to you before, I think depends where you lived and personal style.” – Julie

I have loads of photos from my book That Beatin’ Rhythm that shows original skinhead girls from the early 70’s with long hair, not everyone had the short ‘feathered’ style.” – Paddy

I don’t remember girls with severe feather cuts that you see today i.e. ears sticking out. Most birds wore their hair similar to the photo above (see Jan’s photo in 6.). I do remember having a feather cut done by some bird with a razor blade at the local youth club. A row of lads lined up, next thing there’s hair everywhere.” – Paul

Hope you have liked the post. Special thanks to Dave, Stephen, Olly, Bob, Linda, Lynn and Tony for the pictures! Will try to start posting more often as before : )

As always in parting, a nice little tune.

Rude Reggae: Rough Riders

We are back with another Reggae article! “Rude Reggae – Rough Riders” has been taken from a Black Music Magazine from 1974. It was, in fact, part of a special called Sexy Soul, Blue Blues and Rude Reggae. The author of the Reggae section was Carl Gayle, as usual, providing an entertaining and interesting read.

“Although black culture like all others, has been effected by ‘the sexual revolution’ and the breaking down of narrow minded attitudes, sex and black music have always been pretty closely linked”. . .


At its worst, rude reggae can plumb the depths of childish smut. At its best, it has an earthy and unselfconscious directness which can make the prudest of prudes explode with laughter.

Rude reggae has always been around, but it wasn’t until about two years ago that most British record buyers got their first mild taste of it through the work of the jokey, amiable Judge Dread and his “Big Six” (later followed by “Big Seven” and “Big Eight”). “Big Six” was banned by the BBC, which boosted its sales. But in truth Dread’s songs are pretty tame and it is significant that his most suggestive track, “Dr. Kitch”, is not his own song but simply a version of the original calypso by Lord Kitchener, issued in Britain a decade ago on the fielding Island label – Jump Up- (and covered by Georgie Fame).


If you’ve never heard of the infamous “Dr. Kitch”, he’s an injection specialist: “I push it in, she pulls it out /I push it back she starts to shout / Dr. Kitch you’re terrible, I can’t stand the size of your needle.”

Prince Buster’s “Big Five” is perhaps the most indecent collection of songs on the reggae LP market. Most of the numbers use other well known tunes with new lyrics. The title track is really “Rainy Night in Georgia” with lyrics like “How many times I wanted to lay my. . . inside her”. Or there’s straightforward bragging: “Today I smoked an ounce of weed / tonight I am going to plant a seed in her womb alright.” The songs that prove the most offensive are “At the Cross” (the hymn) with new lines such as “At the cross, at the cross, where I worked her in the grass / and the stiffness of my. . . passed away”. And “The Virgin” which uses the tune to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and has the line “You should have told me, it was your first time my love / I would play around the edge, tickle the little thing and make you sing. . .”. Musically, the songs are well played and vocally Buster displays a unique affection for the subject. He does it with style even if he lacks subtlety.

One of Buster’s first rude records was “Rough Rider”, released in 1968. The subject of the song is a duel between the consenting couple in which the singer is clearly in some discomfort after losing the first round: “She was a rough rider, cool stroker, strong winner. . . / I had a hard night, last night”. A year later Buster was revealing frustration in “Wreck a Pum Pum” with similar aggression: “I want a girl to wreck her pum pum / and if she ugly I don’t mind / I have a . . . and I want a grind.”


If there’s one singer who’s had as much influence as Buster on later Jamaican rude records it has to be the inimitable Laurel Aitken, who seems to be at his best when he’s being vulgar. “Fire In Your Wire” was a ‘shocker’ when it appeared in 1968 as much for Aitken’s gruff, exaggerated vocal style as for the potently suggestive music and lyrics. So was “The Rise and Fall of Laurel Aitken” which Judge Dread claims was a great influence. But “Pussy Price” (Nu Beat, 1969) beats both of them for outright obscenity. The lyrics are offensive, the music obtrusive and aggressive. Aitken takes it very seriously, his sorrowful tone making him sound as if he’s singing from experience as he declares: “What way pussy price gone up / one time you get it for thirty cent / now if you follow pussy, you can’t pay your rent”. The vulgar lyrics are enhanced by the heavy bass and rhythm guitars , especially at the point where Aitken sings: “Pussy strike” (girls hard to get), “Cocky crash” (guys frustrated, becoming desperate), “Batty take over” (desperate enough to turn queer).


The first set of rude records came from the “ska” era. Justin Hines and The Dominoes made the most notable contribution in this field, Hines’ extravagantly ethnic vocal style lent itself well to the group’s two best known suggestive songs, “Penny Reel” and “Rub Up Push Up”. In the latter, he suggests an ideal ways of making it up after a quarrel: “You rub up, you push up, you love up because you know you were wrong”.

The Heptones’ biggest selling record “Fatty Fatty” (1967) was their first ever record and was their only flirtation with the rude medium. It’s a cool atmospheric rocksteady song exposing the singer’s frustration as he begins to look forward to what he’d like to be doing tonight. The call response method is used: “I need a fat, a very fat girl-fat tonight / I’m in the mood girl-I’m in the mood / I’m feeling rude girl-I’m feeling rude.” The melodic chorus makes the song as memorable as the experience: “I say now, when you feel it girl you’re gonna say it is so nice”.


“Kill Me Dead” by Derrick Morgan was a subtle, melodic song. You don’t have to be crude to be rude. The mood of the bedroom action is captured by the sliding easy pace of the music and the lyrics: “Hold me  round me waist / Wind me wind me line / Rub and squeeze now”. The whole thing slides along repetitiously with a sexy girl duet replying to each line with “Old lady” (or is it “Oh Lloydy!”) and an occasional “Rub it up, push it up”. Then there’s a great climax: “The river come down, Oh Lloydy”.


Derrik Morgan: Subtle with it

Two records released  in 1968 – “Bang Bang Lulu” by Lloyd Terrell and “Wet Dream” by Max Romeo – actually made the pop charts, but not until the young white skinhead gangs came along in 1969. Their double meaning lyrics seemed tailor made for the Skinheads who loved to sing along with the catchy choruses, but the songs were not conceived with Skinheads in mind. In “Lulu” the omitted words were obvious and would often be sung out loud: “Lulu had a boyfriend, his name was Tommy Tucker” / He took her down the alley, to see if he could. . .” Max Romeo claimed that he was referring to his leaking ceiling when he sang “Every night me go to sleep me have wet dream / Lie down gal, make me push it up, push it up, lie down” but nobody was fooled.


The music in “Barbwire” by Nora Dean (Trojan) borrowed directly from the Techniques’ rock steady record “You don’t care” and was popular because of its cool sensuous mood combines with the punch line: “I met a boy the other day, he got barbwire in his underpants. . .”

Even the Wailers  have not been averse to using sexual themes. One of their most popular records – “Bend Down Low” – is clearly sexual: “Bend down low, let me show you what I know”. The sensuous “Stir it up” and “Kinky Reggae” (“She had brown sugar all over her bugga wugga / I think I might join the fun, but I had to hit and run”) also have erotic themes.


Henry and Liza vulgarize the well known “There’s a Hole in My Bucket” with their amusingly embarrassing “Hole Under Cratches” (Dragon ’73). Consequently in answer to the question “With what shall I cork it?” we get the obvious answer.

But perhaps the most musically satisfying of the rude reggae albums is “Censored” (available through Trojan) by Lloydie and the Lowbites – a pseudonym for Lloyd Terrell (Charmers) who made “Bang Bang Lulu”. The ten tracks include the latter, Buster’s “Rough Rider” and “Wine and Grime” and another of Charmers’ rude singles, “Birth Control”: “Control” begins with a cat’s “meeow” and the guy saying “Doris the pussy dirty!” And then “Doris, go right in that bathroom and wash off that pussy right now, come on!” But it’s not the cat he’s referring too. “Free Grind Ticket” turns “Love of the Common People” into sex of the common people: “Tears from your little sister crying ’cause she didn’t get a grind or two at the party last night”. Later he states with disarming boastfulness: “I’m a man with a big d*ck”.


Not the most subtle stuff, is it? But then with rude reggae you have to take it or leave it. Because like sex itself, it’ll always be around. – CARL GAYLE.

What a great writer Carl was! I would also like to thank Joe and Lloyd for some of the scans :)

Now, as always in parting, Reggae music! Skinhead anthem and one of my favourite tunes: