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Manfred Mann was a British Beat, R&B and pop band of the 1960s, named after its South African keyboard player and founder, who later led the successful 1970s follow-on group Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
Beginnings 1962–1963: The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers (as the band were originally called) were formed in London in December 1962 by keyboard player Manfred Mann and drummer/vibes player Mike Hugg. Born out of the British blues boom then sweeping London's clubs (which also spawned such luminaries as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds), the band was completed by Mike Vickers on lead guitar, Dave Richmond on bass, and Paul Jones fronting as lead vocalist and harmonica player; by this point, they had changed their name into Manfred Mann & The Manfreds. Gigging constantly throughout late 1962 and early 1963, the band soon attracted attention for their distinctive sound propelled by Mann's keyboards, Jones' soulful vocals and an occasional horn section. The group signed to HMV Records in March 1963 after a change of name to Manfred Mann (at the suggestion of their label's producer), and debuted in July of that year with the jazzy instrumental single "Why Should We Not?", which failed to chart, as did the follow up (with vocals this time), "Cock-A-Hoop".
Early success 1964–1965:
In 1964 the group was asked to provide a new theme tune for the ITV pop
music TV series Ready Steady Go!. They responded with the energetic
"5-4-3-2-1" which, with the help of weekly TV exposure, rose to No.5 in
the UK charts. It was shortly after "5-4-3-2-1" was recorded that
Richmond left the band, being replaced by Tom McGuinness - the first of
many line-up changes. After a further self-penned hit ("Hubble Bubble
(Toil And Trouble)") the band struck gold with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", a
cover of a minor hit earlier that year by the Exciters. The track,
which showcased Jones' powerful singing, reached the top of both the UK
and US charts (The Exciters version had only charted #78 in the US).
During 1965 the group continued to have hits with both self-penned and
cover material, their sound increasingly moving away from the
blues-based music of their early years to a highly successful pop-soul
hybrid. Notably the group began to have success with interpretations of
Bob Dylan songs, including "With God on Our Side" as a track on a
best-selling EP. They also reached No.2 in the UK with the
controversial "If You Gotta Go, Go Now", which was banned or edited by
a number of TV and radio stations. Prior to this latter release, Paul
Jones announced his intention to quit the band for a solo career once a
replacement could be found.
The Mike d'Abo years 1966–1969:
Jones stayed with the band for one more year, during which time Mike
Vickers was replaced by Jack Bruce of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (long
enough to play bass on the band's second UK No.1 single "Pretty
Flamingo"). Jones was eventually replaced by Mike d'Abo - among those
on the shortlist was Rod Stewart - and this was one of the few
occasions when a band has successfully swapped lead singers and
remained at the top. Jack Bruce left to form Cream and was replaced by
Klaus Voorman (a longtime Beatles associate), with McGuinness moving to
guitar. To complete the changes, the group switched labels to Fontana
Records. With d'Abo as vocalist, the group pursued a softer acoustic
pop sound, with a tinge of Dylanesque social comment and surrealism in
the lyrics. Their first Fontana Records single was in fact a Dylan
cover, "Just Like A Woman", and the group went on to score their
biggest hit for two years with a cover of his "Mighty Quinn".
Frustrated with the limitations and image of being seen purely as a hit
singles band (their last two albums failed to chart), the group split
1970s and on—Manfred Mann's Earth Band:
Mann went on to write advertising jingles after the group's demise, but
still continued to work in the group format. Initially he formed
Manfred Mann Chapter Three (with Mike Hugg), an experimental jazz rock
band, described by Mann as an over reaction to the hit factory of the
Manfred Mann group. This was, however, short lived and by 1971 they had
disbanded and Mann had formed a new group, Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
1990s and on—The Manfreds: In the 1990s, most of the original 1960s line-up reformed as The Manfreds, minus Manfred Mann himself (hence the name), playing most of the old 1960s hits and a few jazz instrumentals, sometimes with both Paul Jones and Mike d'Abo fronting the line-up. At the same time Jones and Tom McGuinness (McGuinness formed McGuinness Flint in 1970, but they disbanded in 1975) have been mainstays of The Blues Band (which they helped form in 1978).
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