Pinkerton’s Assorted Colors: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 2, 2022

340) Pinkerton’s Assorted Colors — “Magic Rocking Horse”

“Magic Rocking Horse” was a ‘66 A-side by PAC that didn’t achieve the success it so richly deserved. It is a wonderful song about cherished childhood memories helping one emerge intact from troubled times, which Anorak Thing calls “great baroque pop with ringing acoustic guitars and a melancholy vocal delivery complete with a delightful 12 string acoustic guitar solo” (http://anorakthing.blogspot.com/2019/06/pinkertons-colours-magic-rocking-horse.html?m=1) and Peter Chambers calls “a great piece of psychedelic freak beat.” (https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Donkey+came+too+on+Pinkertons%27+gigs%3B+BACKBEAT%3A+BECAUSE+THEY+DON%27T…-a0132735426).

The group, formerly the Liberators, was named by their manager Reg Calvert (who had brought fame to the Fortunes). Peter Chambers writes that:

Reg was an impresario, running clubs all over the country. [His] Clifton Hall became a ‘pop-school’, an academy of beat where new talent could be nurtured. Along with the likes of Danny Storm, The Fortunes and Screaming Lord Sutch, Pinkertons Assorted Colours were soon to become part of Reg Calvert’s unique empire. With the new name came the new image, brightly coloured suits were the order of the day, really putting the colour into Pinkertons. . . . Front man Sam ‘Widge’ Kempe was re-christened Samuel ‘Pinkerton’ Kempe and given an amplified auto-harp . . . to become the trademark of the band visually and musically. Although it was an unusual instrument for a beat band, the Lovin’ Spoonful had also experimented with the auto-harp . . . . [Their debut single, “Mirror, Mirror,” reached #8 on the UK chart, but while] Magic Rocking Horse . . . should have been huge . . . just as it was released . . . Reg Calvert was to lose his life in a bizarre shooting incident. Who knows if the lack of promotion and the lack of a manager contributed to low sales. Whatever the reason, it failed to chart . . . .

https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Donkey+came+too+on+Pinkertons%27+gigs%3B+BACKBEAT%3A+BECAUSE+THEY+DON%27T…-a0132735426

After the failure of “Magic Rocking Horse,” the band changed labels and changed names to the Flying Machine. In ’69, the Machine flew all the way up to #5 in the U.S. with “Smile a Little Smile for Me.”

“When the world begins to make me feel so lonely and my problems build up every single day, I begin to think of all the places I’ve been, to a paradise, a land so far away. When I climb upon my horse, the magic rocking horse, I come from childhood so long ago. And crazy though it seems, I’ll find those happy dreams when I climb upon that magic rocking horse. My depression’s almost certain to be gone when I recall a lot of good things I have done. . . . And the good times well they never seem to stay, but I know that I’ve had plenty in my day. When I climb upon my horse, the magic rocking horse, I come from childhood so long ago. . . .”

* Vernon Joynson points out that “[a]s there was no colour TV[, Reg Calvert] insisted on the ‘assorted’ tag, which the group particularly hated and hassled him to drop until the day he died, subsequently hassling his successors until they agreed.” (Tapestry of Delights Revisited).

I have added a Facebook page for Brace for the Obscure 60s Rock! If you like what you read and hear and feel so inclined, please visit and “like” my Facebook page by clicking here.

Here is an 80’s cover by Plasticland:

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