Friday, 4th Jul 2014
Britain dominated the world of lawn tennis in the mid 1930s. For three years, Fred Perry was the undisputed world number one, winning a string of major titles and a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles through 1934-1936.
Today, Fred Perry holds an iconic status. With his victories embedded in history along with his incredibly successful sportswear brand, his legacy is immensely influential to this day.
Born Frederick John Perry on 18 May, 1909, in Stockport. His father Sam was a cotton spinner who worked for the local Co-operative Party, and was summoned to London to work full-time at the party HQ. Fred attended Ealing County School, London and it was there that he was introduced to the world of table tennis.
Fred practiced the game every night and in 1928, he had won the world championship. At which point, he retired from the sport to concentrate on his new obsession – lawn tennis.
He had discovered the game whilst on a family holiday in Eastbourne four years earlier. Stumbling upon a local tournament, he was curious to who the cars parked near the courts belonged to; the spectators or the players? When his father replied ‘the players’, Fred declared that he would become one himself. At the time, tennis belonged to the upper classes, and this was an audacious statement from a working class boy from Stockport.
Fred began training under one Pop Summers, who insisted that he master the art of returning the ball early. It was the only stroke Fred practiced for months. Finally, it integrated into his natural game play and began to devastate his opponents.
Fred Perry’s domination of British tennis began in 1933. He helped lead the Great Britain team to victory over France in the Davis Cup, the first victory in 21 years. The following year he won the Australian Open.
It was 1934 when Perry got his first Wimbledon title. Triumphing over Australian Jack Crawford in the men’s singles, he still faced many who saw him as “not one of us”. Journalists watching him defeat Crawford commented on the “strange lack of excitement” among spectators. Fred’s elation at taking the title turned to anger when he overheard a Wimbledon committee member talking to Crawford after the match, exclaiming, “This is one day when the best man didn’t win”.
Despite the social prejudice, Fred Perry went on to have his name inscribed on three consecutive Wimbledon titles, as well as major singles trophies in France, United States and Australia. Suffocated by the stifling class system and prejudice, within the English lawn tennis association, Fred left Britain to help form the professional tennis circuit in America. Leaving British tennis with a void it struggled to fill for many decades.
The 80 Year Signature Collection, was released on the 6th July, 80 years to the day that Fred Perry first triumphed at Wimbledon. See it online here.
Monday, 28th Apr 2014
Head down to East London's Ridley Road Market Bar on the second Sunday of each month for One Stop; a new night playing Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Roots. Resident DJ's are joined by new guests each month.
Thursday, 24th Apr 2014
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the famous ‘Mods Vs Rockers’ riots of 1964; Mods: The New Religion is everything you need to know about the real Mod scene. We chatted to the book's creator, Paul 'Smiler' Anderson, about music, style and what's up next.
When did you begin working on The New Religion? What inspired you to create the book?
I first thought about writing a book back in 2002. I did some research on bands local to me in Reading like The Moquettes and did newspaper appeals for Mods. I then decided to write a book on 60s original Mods and started that back in 2005. But ideas, changes and photos were still coming in right up until the end of December 2013, just before it had to be sent to be printed. The book now though is exactly as I imagined it...twelve years ago! The inspiration to me was the fact that the only book really dedicated to 60s Mods was written in 1979 by Richard Barnes with the help of Johnny Moke (original Mod) and nothing had really been released since. In 1964 there had been a book called 'Generation X' written by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson that was a cross the board social study of opinions and quotes from young teenagers talking about their views on Marriage, sex, religion, politics, class etc. It included some great quotes from Mods of the period. Another book that was influential was from 1984 called 'Days In The Life' which was a collection of interviews conducted by Jonathan Green with various people from subcultures of the 60s including Mods, Hippies etc. I just thought all I want is a book that just chats to Mods including the ones who were there at the very start in the late 1950s.
How many of your own personal experiences play into the book?
Seeing as I wasn't born until 1965 it was impossible for any of my own personal experiences to be included in the book. However the fact that I have spent over 30 years reading and talking about the original 60s period does reflect in the book I think. I have nothing but admiration for the originators of the culture and I hope that passion shows through.
In your opinion, which three tracks define the Mod era:
That is a tough call! But I think I would choose:
'Ain't Love Good, Ain't Love Proud' - Tony Clarke
'Madness' - Prince Buster
'I'll Keep Holding On' - The Marvelettes
But then I could easily have put in a blues record like 'My Babe' by Little Walter or 'I'm The Face' by the High Numbers as it was the first record to be actually written and aimed at the Mod audience.
What part did the Fred Perry Shirt play in the history of Mod?
Fred Perry was really some of the first 'leisure wear' that teenagers embraced as a fashion. In a world that is now full of tacky tracksuits and sportswear is a common sight it seems hard to believe that Mods were the first to embrace the Fred Perry Shirt to be worn casually, although they could also be worn under jackets also. Mods were the first to wear training shoes, cycling shoes, bowling shoes and cycle shirts as a form of fashion statement but the Fred Perry shirt worn at the start of the 60s was seen as ground breaking.
Who would you describe as today’s Mod heroes? Are there any new faces you think are important?
The whole idea of heroes to Mods is a kind of alien concept as many would not want to be seen to acknowledge any individual publicly. That said, many Mods do hold people in high esteem. Steve Marriott of The Small Faces is often cited as an inspiration to many whilst since the revival Paul Weller has often been held in high esteem and in more recent years people such as Miles Kane and Bradley Wiggins have become high profile Mods. It is such a personal view though and very hard to get any one person as an overall Mod hero.
Finally, what’s next for you? Are you working on any future projects?
Life is harder now I have my little boy and also holding down a full time job so my time for writing has definitely got shorter. Mod is my most passionate subject so I always feel that would come into anything I write. I am also fascinated by the subject of the 1984 miner's strike so may use that as a basis for a fictional piece. I'd also love to write for music based magazines such as Mojo but find many of these type of affairs hard to gain a foothold in. Whatever happens I think I will always be inspired to write.
'Mods - The New Religion' is published by Omnibus Press. Available now.
About the author:
PAUL ‘SMILER’ ANDERSON has been in love with the Mod way of life since 1979. He has been involved in organising numerous events since the Eighties, as well as publishing fanzines and running club nights. As a major record collector, Paul has been a DJ at Mod events both in the UK and Europe for over 25 years. With co-author Damian Jones, Paul has also written Circles: The Strange Story of The Fleur De Lys and compiled Acid Jazz’s Rare Mod compilation albums and EPs. In 2011, Paul and Damian presented the biggest-ever exhibition devoted to Sixties Mod, entitled Reading Steady Go! Other than his family and friends, Paul lists his greatest loves as clothes, records, scooters and West Ham United Football Club.