When I Was 17, It Was A Very Good Year…….
‘Hippies’ and the like…..
In 1967 the ‘whole world’ was swept by Flower Power – “Peace and love, man” . Funnily enough, it never really caught on in Royton! I can remember one of our teachers at the end of term bringing the record ‘San Francisco’ in to play as if she was really ‘hip’. Some of the girls in our class at Royton and Crompton were wannabe hippies – Beverly Gibbons came to school with a small bell round her neck – and were well into Cat Stevens and the like but the whole thing never took hold – just a bit of a fad really (in my opinion!) What it did though was create a scism in the Mod culture. Some Mods did lean a little towards this look and the emerging types of music, partly inspired initially by the Beatles during the ‘Sgt. Peppers’ stage. Frills on shirts, paisley shirts (and ties!) and flares became common in ‘mainstream’ fashion. Some trendies were to be seen walking the streets of Royton in ‘Afgan’ coats (which, for our younger readers, was a goatskin coat with the wool left long to hang out of the sleeves and bottom hem.) Hair got longer – this really was the one time when it could be claimed “You can’t tell which are the lads and which are the girls!” – and as a consequence facial hair became more popular. Musically the ‘hippy’ type music mutated into Rock (the Who, Cream, Hendrix) which took many Mods with it and ‘Underground’ or ‘Progressive Rock’ (Lead Zeppelin, Deep Purple) which also appealed to some Greasers, who had carried on the Rocker image.
Continued the look of the Rockers with the addition of some aspects of 60’s fashion, longer hair, fringes. Whether they referred to themselves as ‘Greasers’ or ‘Greebos’ I’m not sure, as both were names used by others in a not very complimentary way.
I don’t recall that many motorbikes in Royton and other clothing was worn along with biker gear. Green or Camo American combat jackets were worn, all styles and colours of jeans and heavy working boots (known then as ‘greebo’ boots!) with thick socks rolled down over the tops. This was a quite widespread look for the ‘tough’ teenager of the time and your average football hooligan of this period was as likely to be dressed in a combination of these clothes as he was to look like a predecessor of the skinhead. The Greaser cult continued through until at least 1972, adopting some aspects of rock culture (Harold Flynn in his brown, fringed jacket) and Hells Angel look – sleeveless denim jacket over leather. At Royton and Gravelhole Youthclubs pairs of Greebos could be seen doing the ‘death sway’ dance with each other (could be 2 girls, 2 lads or 1 of each!) to some rock track (or maybe Status Quo?)
Late Mod, Early Skinhead.
The move towards the Hippy look was never going to suit the type of Mod to whom style still mattered. Some Mods, particularly in the Cities, had always been football supporters and frills and kaftans were never going to fit in there! Many Mods never left their values and Soul Music, Scooters and smart clothes were still the order of the day. The look that emerged in this period started with the Mod Surf Jacket (a type of thin bomber jacket), worn with levis and brogues or possibly trainers in 1967, the hair being a short ‘Mod Cut’, through needle cord Wrangler jacket and jeans a year later, gradually being replaced by denims in the same style. Girls could have a short ‘Julie Driscoll’ cut or other fringed hairstyle. The Mods of this period still rode scooters and wore parkas. Jackie’s Ballroom in Shaw was a popular venue at this time. Royton lads in this era included Brian Parkinson, Ricky Zervanovic, Ken Swaby and Dave Rabbich. Interesting to note that though they all remained friends (Ken Swaby moved away, I think) Ricky became a rock fan, growing his hair and wearing flared, patched jeans whereas Brian (‘Perky’) and Dave became skinheads. Dave, in particular was a real leader in the field, being one of the first 2 Skinhead supporters of the Latics (both of them Royton lads). He dressed in bleached denim jacket and jeans and steel toed commando boots. His proud boast was that he rode ‘the biggest scooter in Oldham’ a Lambretta SX 200, re-bored to give it a 225cc engine, complete with chrome bars, mirrors and lights. He paid the price too, as he was the target of a number of attacks by greasers. As aspiring young skins aged 13 and 14 we would walk up the street with him as he recounted tales of away trips with his beloved Latics but, on seeing yet another 3 or 4 greasers coming, he would send us home to prevent us getting battered whilst he attempted to take them on alone!
Late Mod/Early skinhead with Mod mates - see the join?
Next time – Skinheads, Smoothies and Suedeheads.