The harsh winter of 1963 was only a memory and it was sunshine all the way as we navigated our way through our final months at St Thomas More R.C. Primary School in the eastern suburbs of Birmingham. True, the 11-Plus loomed, the exam which would determine the course of our secondary education, but that could wait. Because in that summer of 1963 we were gripped by something much happier and headier, Beatlemania.

Even if not everybody had a telly then, most had radios. And from that radio came an exciting new sound which they were calling pop music. And every other record seemed to be a loud and bouncy one by The Beatles. Parents grumbled and turned the volume down. From the front pages of all the papers beamed the four lads in their identical neat suits and long haircuts. They were regarded by the grown-ups with a mixture of interest, intrigue and – in many cases – outrage. What were things coming to?

And at school we embraced the whole thing. We boys all started to form pop groups.

“Want to be in a pop group?”
“Yes! Who else is in it?”
“You have to say ‘yeah’ not ‘yes’. Don’t know, We need two more.”

All groups had to have four members, three guitarists and a drummer. And a plural noun for a name – The Jets, The Rockets, The Tigers. We’d rehearse in any available space. “She loves you yeah yeah yeah..” “Please please me oh yeah..” “I wanna hold your hand..” Air guitars, air drums. And, rehearsals done we’d stand in the playground and do our stuff. The aim was to get a few people to stop and listen. Few did. We got a few laughs all right. Success was if a group of girls stopped, wiggled and danced a few steps before moving off.”

Band breakups were common. Formed during morning playtime, a group might have split by lunch. Maybe the drummer left to try his luck elsewhere. At any time there were three or four performances going on. Of girl groups there were none, The Spice Girls were well in the future.

The teachers looked on in amusement and even encouraged us. I think there was even a pop concert organised for groups to perform at, but, maybe mercifully, I don’t recall it taking place.

And then it all ended, as suddenly as it had begun. Beatlemania was dead. We took our 11-Plus and went our separate ways, our little part in pop history forgotten.