Sunday, December 20, 2009

Part II: The Mods.....

The term mod derives from modernist, which was a term used in the 1950s to describe modern jazz musicians and fans. Jobling and Crowley called the mod subculture a "fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool" young adults who lived in metropolitan London or the new towns of the south. Due to the increasing affluence of post-war Britain, the youths of the early 1960s were one of the first generations that did not have to contribute their money from after-school jobs to the family finances. As mod teens and young adults began using their disposable income to buy stylish clothes, the first youth-targeted boutique clothing stores opened in London in the Carnaby Street and Kings Road districts.(wikipedia)

Many mods used motorscooters for transportation, usually Vespas or Lambrettas. Scooters had provided inexpensive transportation for decades before the development of the mod subculture, but the mods stood out in the way that they treated the vehicle as a fashion accessory. Italian scooters were preferred due to their clean lined, curving shapes and gleaming chrome. For young mods, Italian scooters were the "embodiment of continental style and a way to escape the working-class row houses of their upbringing". They customized their scooters by painting them with customs metalflake and two tone paint jobs. It was also common to accessorize them with mirrors, luggage racks, crash bars, fog lights, and chrome.

Scooters were also a practical and accessible form of transportation for 1960s teens. In the early 1960s, public transport stopped relatively early in the night, and so having scooters allowed mods to stay out all night at dance clubs and coffee shops. To keep their expensive suits clean and keep warm while riding, mods often wore long army parkas. For teens with low-end jobs, scooters were cheaper than cars, and they could be bought on a payment plan through newly-available Hire purchase plans. After a law was passed requiring at least one mirror be attached to every motorcycle, mods were known to add four, ten, or as many as 30 mirrors to their scooters. The cover of The Who's album Quadrophenia, (which includes themes related to mods and rockers), depicts a young man on a Vespa GS with four mirrors attached.

Like most gangs of their time, The Mods had a very distinct, yet common interest in music. While the Beatles were enjoying immense popularity and success among Britain's mainstream society in the early 1960's, the first-wave of Mods pursued a different sound, modern jazz. They were attracted to the "cool" demeanor and clothing possessed by jazz musicians, and strived to emulate their style. As jazz grew in popularity, Mods began listening to Blues, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, and then moved on to Jamaican Bluebeat and Ska to stay ahead of the mainstream. The Mods sparked a nationwide enthusiasm for Rhythm & Blues music that surpassed Jazz as the music of choice for young adults. They preferred the British bands who played a Rhythm & Blues style of music, such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, The Kinks, The Cyril Davis All-Stars, The Downliners, and The Small Faces.The most popular and revolutionary band who could be labeled as Mods themselves were the High Numbers, later renamed The Who. They wore Mod outfits, had Mod hairstyles, and sang blues-based songs about being Mods, such as "I'm the Face", and "My Generation".

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