(all images in this section are from the Donington Park scooterist rally 1986)
Okay, so we've done the mods, decided they were in general a pretty harmless and generally
likeable mob, but the scooterists, another clique that the Gents became involved in playing to now and again, well they were
an altogether different crowd…
In all honesty, saying that mods and scooterists were different crowds is a bit like saying
mods and rockers were different crowds, in that you couldn't really get much more different! I only say this because
I imagine that for any uninitiated amongst you might easily fall into the misconception that mods and scooterists, in that
they both ride Italian scooters, might be very similar in outlook and culture. Well…think again…
established the clear cultural differences between the mod scene and the scooter scene, let's move on to the Gents and scooterists:-
|The audience at Donington Park
The original process by which the band became involved in playing to the scooterist scene
is something which is not exactly that clear to me, other than that of course the aforementioned general principle that mods,
to whom the Gents had been playing for some time, and scooterists both of course ride scooters and are both on the face of
it sort of connected, but as described above are in fact not at all. Also, I imagine that the band, upon discovering
the scooterist scene and the fact that they were one of the few areas away from the working men's clubs that paid good money
for bands and artistes (some of whom, as described, were quite name acts, albeit from the past, the likes of Edwin Starr,
Bad Manners, the Cramps, Meteors etc), thought that well, considering their image etc, might be a lead worth pursuing, which
in fact turned out to be the case.
Gents, scooterists, considering the vast differences, not to mention antipathy between the two cults, the fact that the Gents
managed to successfully (most of the time…) cater for both sets of fans, was in reality a very good trick. I'm
not so sure that it was freely advertised to both sets that the band were at the same time taking gigs from the "other lot",
in fact I remember for sure that it was actively discouraged to mention one in the earshot of the other, but the truth was
that whatever you look at it, in reality the Gents were always more of a mod-oriented band than well, anything else, let alone
scooterists. However, they did seem to be able to cater to both, and get away with it and furthermore be very popular
with both, probably more so the mods, because that was pretty much where they were coming from, but still very popular with
the scooterists as well. So, everybody's happy.
|...dress down, try to fly...
With regard to specific events, there has to be one which sticks in the memory as the one
biggest event that the Gents did for the scooterist scene, and which will be very appropriately informative to you about scooter
events. That was the Castle Donington weekend scooterist rally in the summer of 1986, and what an "event" that was…
It took place in the same field at Castle Donington where the annual heavy metal bash Monsters of Rock was held (which
I believe is now known as the Download Festival) and well, I'll tell you what, do you remember that year at Glastonbury where
it heaved it down all weekend and it was just a mudbath, with people catching mad cow disease and all that, well this 1986
event at Donington was just like that, shedloads of rain and consequently a very muddy field.
It was a situation
where we had to drive the whole way through the festival campsite, which of course was just as muddy as anywhere else and
then into the backstage area, which was seemingly staffed by a security crew who looked just as dangerous as some of the patrons!
There was one time when two of the supposed "security" staff starting fighting each other and one fell off the back
of the stage, about 20 feet down onto the grass and whacked the back of his head on a scaffolding support for the stage. He
was out cold before he opened his eyes and grinned (which I wouldn't have done if I'd just fallen 20 feet and smashed my head)
but for about 30 seconds we really thought he was dead. I'll come back to being currently dead in a minute.
were there as a mid-bill act in support of the headliners Bad Manners, who did a lot of these events at that time. It
would have been nice to have able to get to meet someone like Buster and the boys, but the thing was we never saw them. We
remarked that Bad Manners, having done lots of these events before, obviously knew exactly what the crack was and therefore
knew to stay well out of the way. That was probably very true as we didn't see any of the other bands that day, the
one immediately above the Gents on the bill being the Cramps (or was it the Meteors?).
|Watch out for the field, 'cause I'm sure it's gonna get you, yeah!
Now the crowd, well the crowd were congregated in front of the stage, but in the middle of
the crowd there had opened up this big hole which appeared to be some sort of dance arena. Truth was though that in
reality it was one of those big Glastonbury style mudbaths and there were two or three people jumping up and down in
it, wallowing to whatever music was on stage at the time.
So, when the
Gents came on stage (and give 'em credit, they guessed what was coming, so they deliberately dressed down for it, the next
thing that happened, (and it was something I'd seen happen before, at a CND rally in Brockwell Park, Brixton in 1983, when
the Style Council played only their second ever gig) was the members of the audience who weren't mud dancing or listening
to the band, decided that the best thing to do was to start picking great big sods of wet field up and start throwing the
field at the band! The band manfully stayed on stage for the whole scheduled set (which the Style Council didn't manage
in 1983!) and it has to be said that there was a sizeable element of the audience who did appreciate the Gents, whilst the
rest of us (myself, Paul Burton, Tony Foreman etc) watched bemused at the back of the stage, dodging the odd piece of field
that missed the band.
the set, we all retreated as soon as possible to the caravan changing room and made an executive decision that hanging around
at this particular site just to see Bad Manners was not a good idea and we legged it off site and home with all the haste
we could summon up! We rehabilitated ourselves into society by spending the night at Park Lane nightclub in Doncaster.
event at Donington Park, there was a story in the news that on that same day, after we have left, a festival-goer was attacked with a broken
glass and killed. Extreme and awful as that was, I remember us all thinking that it just about summed that whole event
rally bookings continued though, some of which were just as fractious as well, for instance one at Belle Vue dog track conference
centre in Manchester which was an annual scooterist clubs convention of some
sort. What happened was that the Gents in fact ended up not going on stage at all, the reason being that there was an
argument, on the stage itself, about what order the bands were going on in, between our entourage and some other minor band,
then there was a fallout over some piece of equipment, which as I recall the same other band either pinched or accused us
of pinching, and then broke, and a fight ensued on the stage between A N Other band and the Gents, all of which resulted in
the Gents not playing. Whether we were paid or not remains a mystery to this day. But I think you can see what
I'm trying to illustrate, which is that some of these dos were not the best organised.
So the Gents
and scooterists…all in all, how do you sum it up? A number of gigs were done for them, a large percentage of that
demographic appreciated the band and its music, but some of the events were extremely dodgily organised and it has to be said
that the culture couldn't have been further removed from the 80s mod scene, which to be perfectly honest the Gents were far
more suited to.