The Rockin’ Vickers — “Little Rosy”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 29, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

622) The Rockin’ Vickers — “Little Rosy”

A jaunty music-hally number, unreleased for decades, that is distinguished by two facts: 1) the Vickers’ guitarist at the time was the iconic Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead to be, and 2) the songwriter may have been Ray Davies. As Edwin Oslan says, “Is that Lemmy singing on ‘Little Rosy’ behind that little, cute keyboard thing? That’s funny! I mean, I think it’s Lemmy!” (https://savagehippie.com/tag/rockin-vickers/)

“Rosy” sure sounds like it could have been written by Ray. The Vickers’ CD comp says it was. Oslan says that it was an “’in house’ Ray Davies number”.  But Manchesterbeat says it was not written by Ray, but by Herbie Armstrong, with lyrics rewritten on the spot by sound engineer Paul Murphy. (https://www.manchesterbeat.com/index.php/groups1/rev-black-and-the-rocking-vickers)

As to the Rockin’ Vickers, 45.cat tells us:

The foursome formed in Blackpool in 1963 with a line-up of Harry Feeney (vocals), Ian Holdbrook (guitar and harmonica), Steven ‘Mogsy’ Morris (bass) and Cyril ‘Ciggy’ Shaw (drums). Their name was derived from Feeney’s stage name of ‘the Reverend Black’ and the group were called The Reverend Black and The Rocking Vicars. Local newspapers referred to the band as blasphemous and television shows refused to book them. Feeney protested by stating that a clergyman had told him the name might inspire teens, who had seen the group on Saturday night, to attend church on Sunday. However, the group conceded and renamed themselves The Rockin’ Vickers. . . .[T]hey became one of the leading attractions in the North of England, playing all the northern clubs, dance halls and student unions. The Vickers limited themselves to a forty minute set leaving their audiences wanting more and acts with hit records, appearing with the group, came off as second best. The band’s popularity led to a one-off single for Decca, Neil Sedaka’s “I Go Ape” . . . but, with poor sales, the band were dropped by Decca. A disillusioned Ian Holdbrook left in 1965 and Ian ‘Lemmy’ Willis (later to use his father’s surname of Kilmister) became his replacement. With ‘Lemmy’ as the new member, a tour of Finland was undertaken since “I Go Ape” had achieved a number one status in the Finnish charts. . . . In July 1965, the Vickers also toured Yugoslavia as part of a cultural exchange with the Red Army Youth Orchestra. The second single, “Stella” . . . was recorded specifically with the Finnish market in mind and was only released in Finland and Ireland. In order to break into the London market, the group improved their image with hair styles by Vidal Sassoon and promotional photos by Gered Mankowitz. They secured a recording deal with Shel Talmy Productions and Jennifer Ashley along with Gail Colson became their managers. With The Vickers now in London, a third single was recorded, Pete Townshend’s composition of “It’s Alright” . . . The release received frequent pirate radio airplay but did not chart. A final single was produced by Shel Talmy and Ray Davies composition of The Kinks’ “Mr. Pleasant” was offered, but it was rejected, in favour of Davies’ “Dandy”. The single did not chart in the UK but reached number 93 in the US Billboard chart.

https://www.45cat.com/biography/the-rocking-vickers

Harry Feeney reminisces:

Lemmy was a big fan of the band and one night we played at the Oasis club in Manchester and he asked if he could join the band as assistant road manager, he then came and lived with us in a big house we rented in Manchester and he did a great job setting up the gear and tuning the guitars ready for our performance. Some time later he stepped in as lead guitarist with us after we had a fall out with two of the band who left. . . .

[We supported the Beatles] twice at the Imperial ballroom Nelson, we were playing to around 5,000 people and they were chanting ‘We Want The Beatles’ we also toured with Brian Poole and the Tremolo’s, Lulu, and appeared with The Hollies, Kinks, The Who, Swinging Blue Jeans, P J Proby, Hermans Hermits and many more famous artistes and bands. . . .

We had great publicity before we arrived [in Finland] and went on Finnish TV playing three songs which ensured we had good crowds and we released a record ‘Zing went the Strings at the same time, we were in Yugoslavia in the summer that year getting sunburn, then to Finland in November / December with temperatures 30 degrees below freezing. when we came off stage after a gig we used the big saunas as changing rooms to keep warm, once we went outside with our sweaty damp hair and all our hair hanging below our russian hats froze and frizzed so we had to have it cut short.

http://www.perun.hr/harry-feeney-the-rockin-vickers-lemmy-was-a-big-fan-of-the-band-and-some-time-later-he-stepped-in-as-lead-guitaris

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