Looking back to heady days of peace and love

MIKE d’Abo is probably not alone in believing that the world has lost something since those heady days of the 1960s.

Things have been a bit downhill since then, says Mike who appears with The Manfreds at Bunn Leisure, Selsey on July 16.

“Flower power and peace and love – which people like to send up now – was a good positive message. Maybe it was a little bit not based in reality, but it was a positive philosophy to have.

“We were all pulling together in the same direction.

“There was not the aggro and the anger that you see on the streets and beyond the wheel now. You could park your car anywhere you liked then!”

It was indeed a special time –though that’s something you tend to realise only in hindsight. And fortunately, Mike, ex-Harrow and Cambridge, was well equipped to survive all the madness which went with it.

“I don’t think I ever went over the top. I do deplore excess in all things, including moderation!

“I have had some good times, but I never became a slave to having a bottle of brandy before breakfast or to any particular substance.”

Too many people died too young: “But at the end of the day, it is down to the luck of the draw. Luckily, God gave me the will to survive.

“I suppose it was partly my upbringing. It’s wasn’t all completely mad back then.

“But if you look back to the 70s and the 80s, I do feel we have lost something of the spirit and something of the fun.

“I think that’s due to the fact that technology has now given us so many choices.

“The world before mobile telephones and all those options was a much simpler world that I preferred.

“I get accused of not moving with the times, but that was a great time. I think I am stuck in about 1975-78!”

Mike’s association with Manfred Mann goes back to 1966 when there was only one man who could fill Paul Jones’ shows as frontman for the band. After attracting attention with his group, A Band Of Angels, Mike was thrust into a wider limelight with The Manfreds, and the well-oiled hit machine rolled on. Just Like A Woman, Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James and Mighty Quinn were just three of the string of hits with the new boy in the line-up.

And, just as with his predecessor, after the disbanding of the Manfreds in 1969, Mike’s career lost none of its momentum. He’d already proved his skills as a songwriter by composing Build Me Up Buttercup for the Foundations and Handbags & Gladrags, a massive hit for Chris Farlowe, reprised with equal success by Rod Stewart, first in 1970 and then on his MTV based Unplugged album.

Mike went on to record solo albums, made his acting debut in the West End and used his musical talents wherever they led him; from the soundtrack to the Peter Sellers/Goldie Hawn movie There’s a Girl In My Soup to an array of TV jingles, including Cadbury’s Finger Of Fudge.

In recent times, things have come full circle, thanks to The Manfreds: “We are looking forward to playing Bunn Leisure,” he said.