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The Early Years (4)

Written by Mark Hodkinson (OMUNIBUS PRESS)
*If you want to buy this book, go to Amazon.com!*

Richard Young, The Opposition's vocalist and lead guitarist (after keybordist)

Chapter 1 : Clucksville (p.20--p.22)

A small club scene developed in Leicester and The Opposition were part of it, appearing regularly at Granny's and The Casino in London Road, on the same circuit boasting gloriously unknown bands like Strictly For The Birds, The Executives, Sweetheart, Cedar Set and Wellington Kitch. The Night Owl was perhaps the most hip club. Geno Washington appeared there and the all-nighters were said to attract hipsters from as far afield as London. Much of it was a parody of the scene in the capital, but at the time Paris, New York, and the whole world was two strides (in zip-up, knee length plastic boots) behind London anyway.

Earnest rather than intense, The Opposition were still far from provincial clods. David Williams, who quickly became their MC as well as guitarist, brought with him more than an essence of style, refulgent in make-up and bearing the nickname 'Pussy' after the television glove puppet, Pussy Cat Willum. He was later to attend Loughborough Art College, but in the meantime his artistic bent led to some cakes were always popular at parties. If it was OK for The Beatles... was Dave's doctrine. The band, anxious to cultivate an image, began to wear silk shirts, each member in a different colour.

They might have appeared unerringly normal, but they were actually characters in their own right. Richard Young ("He was so straight, he was weird" - Dave Williams) was known for the odd touch of eccentricity. He would over-tune his car so it ran fast, so fast that it would move without anyone touching the accelerator. He would park it, leave the engine running, pretend to close the door, and then run alongside it in fake panic as if it was driving itself away. Another routine was reserved for the chemist's shop. He would burst in clutching his throat, frothing at the mouth, imploring the assistant to "Get me my pills, quickrealized."

The Who were a prevailing influence on The Opposition and eventually even John Deacon had the regulation scooter, a Vespa 180. "We all had the parkas and everything," said Dave Williams. "I remember there was a ford at the bottom of our road and John was coming round to my house one evening. He skidded and came off the scooter. There was quite a lot of blood and he was pretty stressed out when he got to our place, in fact, it's about the only time I ever saw John stressed out!"

London had wanton go-go girls in cages decorating trendy clubs where kids smoked French cigarettes and wore sunglasses, forever waiting for the film crew to arrive. The Opposition had two giggling school friends who, tired of watching but not joining in, volunteered their services. Jenny Fewins and Charmaine Cowper had the nerve, if not the candid sexuality or polish; all the same, sometime in 1967, they became the band's go-go girls, and Dave Williams was quite appreciative: "I thought they were quite sexy, they had bosoms before most girls." Their routine was completely improvised. "We used to get up on stage and do this very, very simplistic dance. It was frightening really, especially when you we should have worked it all out a bit before we got up there, but most things weren't planned in the Sixties," said Jenny.

It was still a worthwhile experience for Jenny. On her seventeenth birthday her mother paid for an intensive modelling course and it led to three years' word via the Kathy Parker Agency in Leicester. Her good looks (listed as follows in her modelling brochure: Height: 5'5", Bust: 36", Waist: 25", Hips: 36", Shoes 4 - 4 1/2) and trained poise helped sell packets of Player's cigarettes among other products. She also appeared at parades in seaside towns, usually to open summer seasons by celebrities.

Peter Bartholomew was the outsider in the group, not really a member of their clique; he was three years older and quite single-minded. He told them he could secure more bookings than Anthony Hudson who had now adopted the name of Anto Hudson to reflect his status in the pop business. Anto soon went the same way as Clive 'Cluck' Castledine, or, as the lads preferred, he went Clucksville.

Peter wanted the group to go up market, to shop at Leicester's premier music emporium. Moore and Stanworth's in Belgrave Road, rather than at Cox's where the guitars hung by their tuning pegs and flapped against the wall every time someone walked through the front door. He took John Deacon to buy an Ampeg amplifier for his bass; it sounded fine but, more importantly, it had a luminous green glow in the dark.

Some of Peter Bartholomew's designs were rejected and, eventually, his paternal concern was perhaps his downfall. "I was working at a shop at the time called Irish Linen which sold really trendy stuff," he explains. "I made them all come in and knitted them out in polo neck shirts. John Deacon did not like it at all. He said, 'We look like a load of poofs, I want to wear what I want to wear.' I was a bit surprised by this. I was supposed to be the older, wiser person who knew, but he just said, 'No way!'"


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