This is a whole section from my book London Live. It’s mainly about skiffle and early rock’n’roll in London in the 50s. The book as a whole centres on the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and its other chapters cover jazz, rock’n’roll, folk, R&B, psychedelia, pub-rock, and punk.


The story of skiffle is the story of London in the 50s and the experiments of jazz musicians like Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, and Lonnie Donegan. It’s also the story of the coffee bar scene and the ad hoc groups such as The Vipers that blossomed there. Whatever the origins of the word itself, the music that came to be called skiffle in Britain in the 50s derived originally from the fascination that a handful of British jazzmen and music fans developed for the American folk-blues and country-blues of Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Woody Guthrie, and others. It developed into a brief but intense national pastime thanks to hit records and the additional influence of early American spasm bands, jug outfits, and washboard groups who used improvised instruments to fire their brand of homemade music.

Not that many of these antecedents could be heard easily in Britain at the time. The occasional American blues or folk record might somehow turn up buried deep in a BBC radio programme, although such broadcasts were a distinct rarity. However, a handful of the more committed London-based aficionados did come upon a cache of genuine records at the US Information Service library in the American Embassy at Grosvenor Square. Lonnie Donegan and Wally Whyton both remember plundering this treasure trove; Donegan – an expert story-teller – even said that he sort of “forgot” to return a record or two, while Whyton recalled the joy of handling and playing real Muddy Waters records and discovering “songs you could learn in ten minutes and they’d last you a lifetime”.

Lonnie Donegan was born Anthony James Donegan in Glasgow but grew up in east London, and had edged his way into an amateur band with Chris Barber in the late 40s by pretending to be able to play banjo. By the early 50s, Donegan had his own revivalist jazz outfit, and in summer 1952 they landed the support to American blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson at an NJF concert at the Royal Festival Hall, a large new venue by the Thames built for the previous year’s Festival Of Britain. Inspired by NJF compere Harold Pendleton, who confused the names of Donegan and Johnson at the concert, Tony Donegan decided to adopt his hero’s forename, and from that time on he was Lonnie Donegan.

By early ’53 Donegan was in a band with trombonist Chris Barber and trumpeter Ken Colyer. Recently Colyer had illegally jumped a merchant-navy ship to get to New Orleans, which as the birthplace of jazz he considered his spiritual home. Colyer played successfully with a number of local musicians, but was soon caught, arrested, imprisoned, and then sent back to England – where many considered him a hero for undertaking such a wild musical adventure. The homecomer’s new revivalist band, Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen, was the one with Donegan and Barber, plus a drummer and clarinettist from Colyer’s previous outfit, the Crane River Jazz Band, and a bassist.

It was from Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen that a small offshoot skiffle group was formed to play some folk-blues and provide an occasional light interlude in contrast to the band’s otherwise full-pelt jazz. The skiffle group centred on Colyer, Donegan, and Alexis Korner on guitars, either Barber or the band’s regular bassist Jim Bray on bass, and Colyer’s brother Bill on washboard. They could lay claim to being the first skiffle group regularly performing in public in Britain, exemplified by their interval spots during the Colyer Jazzmen’s gigs at the London Jazz Club, which by now was based near Marble Arch at 34 Bryanston Street, in a hall next to a church around the back of the Cumberland Hotel. One of the earliest reviews of a skiffle date highlighted a performance by Colyer’s men at the LJC in summer 1953. Alan Lomax was mentioned; he was the son of the folk-music scholar John Lomax, one of those rare voices on BBC radio in the 50s praising and playing American folk music. Both helped maintain the Archive Of American Folk Song at the Library Of Congress.

Alexis Korner was born in London in 1928, his parents originally from Greece and Austria, and he seems to have spent most of his early life travelling around Europe, although the war brought the family back to the relative safety of England in 1940. In the army, Korner ended up at the BBC’s British Forces Network based in Hamburg, already with an interest in music and playing guitar. Back in London he started knocking around the Soho jazz clubs in the early 50s, playing where he could, all the while developing his interest in obscure blues records. He joined Colyer’s outfit, and in 1955 landed a job as a trainee studio manager at the BBC.

In September of that year a blues and skiffle club was opened in a room over the Round House pub in Wardour Street at the corner of Brewer Street in Soho, among the first regular clubs in London formed to present such music. The players involved included Bob Watson, Pete Korrison, Cyril Davies, and Korner. The club was in “an elongated room upstairs holding about 125 people, although on some nights there were more people waiting to play than pay,” wrote Korner’s biographer. “For the early birds there were seats in front of the stage, which had a piano to one side and a large mirror on the wall behind. A guest would open the evening about 7:30, then Cyril on 12-string and Alexis often on mandolin would play as a duo, and as the evening wore on other musicians would be invited up.”

Cyril Davies was a 23-year-old scrapyard panel-beater who loved the blues. The big man was a mean blues singer, played a wailing blues harp, strummed his distinctive Grimshaw 12-string guitar, and is described by many who knew him as the most convincing British bluesman of his time, compulsive about singing and playing folk-blues in general and the songs of Leadbelly in particular. With Korner, Davies would form the backbone of the club over the Round House, which drew gradually bigger audiences during the rest of 1955 and into 1956.

Ken Colyer had left the Jazzmen in 1954, and the outfit naturally turned into the Chris Barber Band, retaining for the moment Donegan and the skiffle group in its midst. During the summer of 1954 they’d put out an LP that included a couple of skiffle numbers among the jazz, and late in 1955 Decca issued a series of singles culled from the LP’s tracks: by February 1956 the Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group’s ‘Rock Island Line’ had become a tremendous success and shinned up the NME sales chart to peak at number eight. Starting then and lasting a good few years, skiffle became a national sensation – Woman magazine carried tips to achieve that perfect outdoor skiffle party; Kellogg’s Rice Krispies offered a free “skiffle whistle” in each pack; the Daily Herald sponsored skiffle contests at Butlin’s holiday camps; and even the jaunty music-hall-to-TV singer Max Bygraves put a verse in his recording of ‘Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be’ that went: “We used to have stars, singers who sung a Dixie melody, they’re buying guitars, clickety-clop, backing themselves with three chords only.” Kids everywhere were forming skiffle groups.

But where to play beyond the bedroom? London teenagers had already found the answer. Around the time that ‘Rock Island Line’ hit the charts, some coffee bars were already echoing with the sounds of skiffle’s optimistic ensemble vocal, cheap acoustic guitar, tea-chest bass (an upside-down packing case “body” with a broomstick “neck” and a piece of string attached) and washboard (a metal washday device pressed into percussive service by rapping it with fingers and knuckles).

Coffee houses had been popular in London for hundreds of years. Samuel Pepys often wrote in his famous Diary of the 1660s about visits to his local in Lombard Street, one among over 80 such establishments in London then. But almost 300 years later, London coffee-shop owners had something new to sell: genuine Italian espresso and cappuccino. Italian coffee king Achille Gaggia had revolutionised espresso making in 1948 by introducing a pump-driven machine that worked by passing a powerful jet of hot water rather than steam through the coffee, producing a smoother-tasting drink. As part of the fashion for all things Italian, Gaggia’s impressive new chromed machines began to arrive in England in the early 50s. A number of the London coffee bars had the added bonus of genuine-sounding Italian immigrant families for owners, especially in the already cosmopolitan mix among the French and Swiss and Jews and Greeks and Irish in Soho. In 1953, the Moka Bar at 29 Frith Street had become the first coffee house in town with a Gaggia.

Teenagers were a new phenomenon, and businessmen had not yet learned to target their already significant spending power. The youth market did not exist, so the entertainment industry largely ignored them. Ballrooms were, by and large, for ballroom dancing. Pubs held little appeal. Apart from being too young to go in them, kids had little incentive to enter dreary, smelly drinking-holes designed for their parents and with an occasional drunken pensioner bashing out music-hall songs on an out-of-tune piano. And youth clubs were little better, run by parents with clearly parent-inspired agendas.

The attractions of the coffee bar, that peculiar amalgam of pine, caffeine, bamboo, and bullfight posters, were legion. The coffee bar offered teenagers a warm, welcoming meeting-place. Not a parent in sight. You could sit nursing a single cup of coffee for hours, with no one suggesting a cross-country run in exchange for a badge. And music might come in the form of a stunning jukebox full of hip records, or live skiffle. Coffee bars were simply irresistible. “They were the first places where you could hang about for an evening, spend a shilling on a coffee, go in at nine and come out at eleven, and nobody bothered you, nobody said you had to have a second cup of coffee,” Wally Whyton recalled. “It meant that you met strangers and socialised with them. ‘What do you do?’ ‘Oh, I’m in advertising, I play the guitar.’ ‘Oh really? I play as well. What about bringing it down next Wednesday?’”

Among the earliest of the central-London coffee bars noted for skiffle were the Bread Basket and the Gyre & Gimble. The Bread Basket was at 65 Cleveland Street, a half-mile or so north of Soho, beyond Oxford Street. It opened around the end of 1955 and soon had skifflers like Alexis Korner, Johnny Yorke, and Nancy Whiskey playing downstairs. Wally Whyton again: “Spotting other budding entertainers in the basement of the Bread Basket, just five minutes from home, I decided to take my guitar along, and within a few weeks the nucleus of a group was formed.”

Whyton’s band shuffled its members almost weekly, and became known as The Vipers Skiffle Group. Early line-ups included Tommy Hicks, whose employment as a merchant seamen made his appearances necessarily erratic (Hicks later became Steele), and Mike Pratt, who worked with Whyton at an advertising agency, later better known as Jeff Randall in the TV series Randall & Hopkirk Deceased. Hicks, Whyton, and Pratt, along with Lionel Bart (later renowned for his stage musicals), also called one of their aggregates The Cavemen; Hicks in later Steele mode had his first hit with a song they wrote together, ‘Rock With The Caveman’. For the Vipers proper, Whyton included partners such as the bearded Belgian guitarist Jean van den Bosch and the Canadian beatnik and guitarist Johnny Booker (aka Johnny Martyn).

The Gyre & Gimble was a little further from Soho than the Basket and in the other direction, a mile or so south at 31 John Adam Street, off the Strand near Charing Cross railway station. One habitué later described the tricky sequence of events that led to a night at the Gyre: “We’d take the Piccadilly Line [Underground] from Southgate and travel to Leicester Square with 12/6 [63p, about $1] in our pockets. It was very important to look right: black jumper, open-toed sandals, one red sock and one black sock, slim-jim tie and college scarf to finish the look off. In those days skiffle music was all the rage and it wasn’t booze but espresso coffee bars and cellar clubs that were the attraction. … We would cruise down Charing Cross Road to the Gyre & Gimble. If you were in the know you would go through a scruffy bookshop … through a back door and down a long flight of stairs to where a dim cellar and candle-light awaited you. As you descended the stairs you were met by the sight and sounds of a chrome coffee-machine on the counter. There were nearly always three or four guitarists sitting around learning blues guitar riffs, and the occasional clarinet player.”

The Gyre & Gimble had started business in 1955, run by John St Crewe, and it was in this smokey all-night coffee bar that the formative Vipers met their first managers, Roy Tuvey and Bill Varley. They owned Trio Recording Services in Denmark Street, a studio that a few years later became Central Sound, and they were enraptured with the skiffle on display at the coffee house. So much so that on a number of occasions they dragged a bulky professional tape recorder plus mixing desk and various microphones all the way from Denmark Street to what Whyton described as the “seedy hive of bohemian culture” in Charing Cross, in order to capture the sound of acts such as Chas McDevitt, Jim Dale, and Whyton’s Vipers. Varley recalled: “We thought, let’s try and make a programme out of this. We weren’t really thinking money, I promise you, we were thinking aesthetic qualities, if you like. We thought the public generally should know about these people. Because who of the general public would be sitting in a very pungent sort of place at one o’clock in the morning listening to these people? Nobody seemed to be interested in it at all, strangely enough, until about the time the Lonnie Donegan record of ‘Rock Island Line’ was released as a single, that then sparked off the interest. Our coffee-bar-society tape had sort of gone into oblivion by then, so [we decided to manage these artists]. We thought they had something going for them.”

The Vipers had a hit in February 1957 with ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’ and might have done even better had not Lonnie Donegan put out a version of the same song at the same time. The Gyre & Gimble became a betting shop in 1963, while the Bread Basket closed the following year and was later demolished – almost the entire block is taken up today by college buildings.

We’ve already heard briefly how the 2-Is coffee bar at 59 Old Compton Street stumbled on good business when, soon after opening in 1956, it began hosting live skiffle sessions. It became the best-known of the music coffee bars, in the heart of Soho, publicly forging links from skiffle to British rock’n’roll through the efforts of and publicity about performers such as Tommy Steele and Wee Willie Harris, and it even hosted a live edition of TV’s earliest teenage-music show, Six-Five Special, in November 1957.

However, in its early months the 2-Is struggled to stay afloat. Paul Lincoln had arrived in Britain from his native Australia in 1951 with £20 ($31) in his pocket, and along with fellow Australian Ray Hunter he began looking in London for a more reliable source of income than their wrestling bouts allowed. “We were able to rake up enough money to take these premises over in Old Compton Street in the West End,” Lincoln recalled years later. “It was owned by three Iranian brothers and they called it the 3-Is. Apparently one of them left and so it ended up [as the] 2-Is. That’s the name we took over and remained with.”

Lincoln and Hunter opened the 2-Is as their new coffee bar, probably in April of 1956 – and immediately began losing about £40 ($63) a week. Then another coffee bar opened right next door at number 57, called Heaven & Hell and owned by Eric Lindsay and Ray Jackson. “Heaven” was the brightly-lit ground floor; “hell” the dark, moody basement. As a result of this novel competition the early summer of 1956 saw business at the 2-Is go from lousy to non-existent. Then, in July, Wally Whyton and his Vipers popped in during the Soho Fair, and suddenly the 2-Is had a new attraction. Before long kids were queuing around the block, eager to pay their shilling entrance (5p, about 8¢) to the tiny skiffle basement.

The official capacity down there was 80 people, packed very tightly and sweatily into the tiny basement; more often it seemed like – and may well have been – several hundred. So popular did the Old Compton Street coffee bar become that owners Lincoln and Hunter hired a second 2-Is at 44 Gerrard Street before the end of 1956, presenting skiffle, jazz, and rock’n’roll. But for most visitors, it was the original Old Compton Street basement or nothing. Another 2-Is regular, Adam Faith – then still Terry Nelhams and a member of The Worried Men Skiffle Group – remembered the heaving mass of music-lovers jammed in front of him. “If anybody fainted, because it was so hot in there, they would lift them up, and as you were singing you could see bodies being manhandled in the small gap between the heads and the ceiling, and being pushed out on to the pavement through the skylight. Five minutes later they’d have a cappuccino upstairs: they’d be refreshed and come back in again.”

It wasn’t only budding musicians from London and its environs who were drawn to the 2-Is. National publicity in 1956 meant that youngsters from around the country flocked to it intending to play – and the astute Lincoln started holding audition evenings where hopefuls played for free (while punters, of course, still paid to get in).

Two such out-of-towners were Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin – originally Bruce Cripps and Brian Rankin – fresh down from Newcastle upon Tyne, some 300 miles to the north of London. “The upstairs was a bit like a glorified ice-cream parlour, I suppose,” Marvin remembered of the 2-Is, “but the attraction really was the cellar downstairs. There was a tiny stage the width of the room, deep enough to get a drum kit on, that’s all. So the drum kit went to one end of the stage and the other musicians, the guitars and singers, stood in line along the stage, because you couldn’t stand one in front of the other. There wasn’t room.”

Marvin and Welch soon got a break, toward the end of 1958, when Cliff Richard needed an injection of players into the backing band for his first tour. His manager, John Foster, went to the 2-Is to find some suitable candidates. Marvin said he’d do it, but only if Welch was in the band too. The Shadows were almost there. “Lincoln’s policy of ‘giving kids the opportunity to show just what they could do’, as he was reported in a national newspaper as saying, had a double effect,” Welch wrote later in his autobiography. “The 2-Is became a haven for agents, managers and impresarios on the look-out for new talent to discover. It also brought over 5,000 teenage hopefuls flocking to his door each year for that opportunity. If they were lucky they were auditioned and given a booking; if not, they moved on to the next coffee bar or club, and there were plenty of them around. Hank and I were two of the lucky ones.”

One of the music-business professionals attracted to this hot-bed of potential pop-stars was George Martin, who a few years later would of course become a household name as the producer of The Beatles. Since 1950, Martin had worked for EMI, and he was in effect the talent scout – as well as a good number of other things – for EMI’s small Parlophone label. Martin was tipped off by his friend Noel Whitcomb of The Daily Mirror, and one evening in 1956 they visited the 2-Is together to see Tommy Steele playing with The Vipers. “We sat with our coffee and watched this genial young man bounce on to the stage with his guitar over his pelvis, and my immediate impression was that he was a blond cardboard imitation of Elvis Presley,” Martin wrote years later. “Noel thought the same. Tommy had a lot of energy, but his voice didn’t sound that great – what little I could hear of it: for the Vipers were extremely loud and he wasn’t. By today’s standards the act was positively matronly, but for those days it was quite shocking, rather like musical masturbation; the pelvic gyrations quite turned me off, especially as I was still thinking only in terms of voices. Noel agreed … so I let Tommy Steele pass. On the other hand I liked [The Vipers] and thought they had great guts, so I signed them to a recording contract. … But passing over Tommy Steele was obviously a big goof, especially since Decca came down [soon afterwards], signed him up, and made a great star out of him.”

These were pioneering examples of what soon became customary: a record-company scout visiting London clubs with the hope of finding raw live acts to turn into potentially lucrative recording stars. Martin, on his part, made two top-ten hits in 1957 with The Vipers: ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’ and ‘Cumberland Gap’. “They used to jangle away on the acoustic guitars and make the most enormous sound,” Martin wrote of The Vipers. “The style was really the forerunner of the electric guitars which came later – in a way the precursor of The Beatles.”

As for the 2-Is in Old Compton Street, it limped on to 1970, when it became the Bistingo restaurant. Today the converted premises are occupied by a bar. It’s often said that Tommy Steele was “discovered” at the 2-Is, and this probably has its roots in the account that Steele’s co-manager, John Kennedy, gave in Melody Maker in May 1958. This was prompted by Kennedy’s wish to distance himself and his charge from the contemporary stage musical Expresso Bongo (later a movie with Cliff Richard) which portrayed a witless coffee-bar singer turned into a star by a devious agent. Kennedy, on the fringes of the newspaper and PR worlds, said in Melody Maker that he first met Steele at the 2-Is while the budding singer was on shore-leave. This was probably around September 1956. The Vipers were playing, but “every time they finished a number, a kid with a tousled head would chip in with a rock’n’roll song and really get the other youngsters going”. Steele was by now an ex-Viper, explained Kennedy, and was thus keen to show the group how he could make a mark on his own.

Steele moved on to another (unnamed) coffee bar; Kennedy followed and saw the same spontaneous reaction, and pointed out to Steele that he should exploit his personable, vital talent. “I’ll tell you what,” Kennedy reported as Steele’s answer, “you fix me up something before I go back to sea, and we’ll talk business.” Kennedy told how he used his newspaper background to get Steele his break, posing the singer with pretend-debutantes for the cameras and convincing socialites that Tommy was their newly-adopted working class hero. Kennedy also noted that Hugh Mendl of Decca Records had already seen Steele at the 2-Is and was “so impressed that Tommy got a three-year [recording] contract”, while impresario Larry Parnes was brought in “to help us on the business side”.

Parnes offered a different set of recollections when interviewed in the 80s for a book on pop-music managers. In summer 1956, Kennedy met Parnes apparently by chance at the Sabrina coffee bar at 15 Wardour Street and enthused about Tommy Hicks, who he said just happened to be playing at the Condor Club, next door to the coffee bar at number 17. How about going upstairs to see him? Parnes however was tired, having just flown home that day from a holiday, and left – but not before Kennedy had insisted he come to Hicks’s performance at The Stork Room, 99 Regent Street, the following week.

Parnes duly turned up at The Stork Room and, he said, recognised Hicks as an artist he’d already seen at the Gyre & Gimble three months earlier. Hicks was even better here. “It was a very hard club,” Parnes recalled. “They weren’t teenagers and this was a nightclub with a tough audience, but they loved him. He brought the place to life. He had charisma and a great personality.” Parnes was introduced to Steele afterwards, and a management contract was signed a few weeks later, in September ’56. Kennedy and Parnes proceeded to steer Steele away from rock’n’roll, turning him into the dreaded all-round entertainer – despite the musical leanings of his number one hit of January 1957, ‘Singing The Blues’. A TV journalist wrote later of Steele at the Stork: “The management allowed Tommy to sit with me, though not to buy a drink, treating him with barely concealed contempt. This was adult curiosity of the worst kind, good for a giggle but without sympathy.”

Part of Kennedy’s and Parnes’s method of creating a household name with Tommy Steele was to send him out to play for the general public in tours of civic halls and variety theatres, and to line up films and pantomimes for the lad, while continuing to promote the idea that he was the idol of the wealthy set by presenting him at top-notch central-London venues. Perhaps the team’s biggest coup was to have Steele play in January 1957 at the Café de Paris, a fashionable and expensive dining-and-floorshow club in Coventry Street on the southern fringes of Soho. “It was that Café de Paris engagement that really made Tommy a star,” Kennedy said. “It was worth a great deal of publicity. There was no difficulty in getting columnists there. I told them confidently that the first-night audience would be distinguished. I was amazed to find I was right.” The socialites – and newspaper columnists – turned up to the Paris, and as Kennedy boasted, “His press notices the following day hailed a new star.”

Steele might have started the idea that Brits could be rock’n’rollers too, but he had quickly been diverted to the more familiar path of showbiz success. A number of other British rock’n’roll outfits began to appear, starting in summer 1956, following Elvis Presley’s first assaults on the UK charts with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ in May and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ in June. Almost all of these early British “rock’n’roll bands” were composed of danceband musicians and jazzmen who spotted the potential for quick earnings from a passing fad.

Consequently the places to see rock’n’roll in its early British guise were usually dancehalls or jazz-club premises that switched to rock’n’roll for a night or two. Some of the earliest jazz-clubs advertising rock’n’roll were Studio 51 in Great Newport Street, which promised a “Rock’n’Roll Club” from August 23rd but didn’t specify performers, and the Tavistock Restaurant Ballroom at 18 Charing Cross Road, which hosted Rik Gunnell’s new Club Haley and presented Rory Blackwell’s Rock’N’Rollars starting September 27th. Among the dancehalls, Wimbledon Palais put on a “rock’n’roll jamboree” in November with Blackwell and others.

Among the first British rock’n’roll bands was Tony Crombie’s Rockets, with a six-man line-up of vocals, tenor sax, piano, bass, guitar, and drums. Crombie was a modern-jazz drummer, one of the founders of Club 11, and had played with Ronnie Scott and Victor Feldman as well as leading his own outfit. Most of his fellow Rockets were also dumbed-down jazzers out for some welcome cash. Their agent was Jeff Kruger, founder of the Flamingo club, who’d added artist promotion to his activities and was specialising in rock’n’roll bands. By October 1956, Kruger had on his books Crombie’s Rockets, Art Baxter’s Sinners, and Don Sollash’s Rockin’ Horses, these bands spending most of their brief lives touring the country’s civic halls, ballrooms, and dancehalls. Melody Maker reported on an early appearance by the Rockets as a “resounding success”, sympathising with the jazzmen who had to endure fans clapping right on the beat and “despite the strenuous efforts of the musicians, sometimes right behind it”.

It’s not so surprising that early British rock’n’roll was largely in the hands of jazzmen. After all, who else would be able to approximate this American invention? True, Larry Parnes’s stable of 50s British rock’n’rollers did include the fine guitarist Joe Brown among its singing frontmen, while Billy Fury’s backing band numbered keyboardist Georgie Fame in its ranks and Marty Wilde’s outfit boasted guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. However, the notion that untrained players could offer something worthwhile was limited to skiffle and some revivalist jazz; the acceptance of talented amateurs as pop musicians would have to wait a few years until the R&B boom of the early 60s.

Meanwhile, the British Musicians’ Union had at last reached an agreement with its American counterparts for an exchange system of US-for-UK visitors and vice versa. The effective ban on US musicians playing in Britain that had begun in 1935 was lifted during 1956, and the first American rock’n’roller to appear in Britain was 32-year-old Bill Haley, who debuted with his Comets at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road in February 1957. Then in March of the following year came Buddy Holly. Budding British pop musicians turned out in droves to observe at first hand the working methods of Holly and his band, making ready for their own breakthrough that was now only just around the corner.