Lead guitarist of The Manfreds shares memories of the ’60s ahead of Horsham gig

The Manfreds. Picture by George Bodnar

The Manfreds. Picture by George Bodnar

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So were the ’60s really a fabulous time of endless excitement and unlimited opportunities?

Well, yes, they were, says Tom McGuinness, lead guitarist with The Manfreds who tour to Horsham’s Capitol on September 25, featuring original front man Paul Jones for a mix of jazz and blues songs from some of their best-known albums.

“The ’60s really were about great opportunities,” Tom says. “We were the first generation to experience spare cash! Our parents had had a really tough time living through the Depression and the 1930s and then the war and then austerity and rationing.

“But then suddenly towards the end of the ’50s, the beginning of the ’60s, teenagers had money in their pockets. When I left school, I got a job working for the Norwich Union. I thought that this was going to be my career path. I never thought I could make money out of doing something I enjoyed like music.

“But after a year with the Norwich Union, I thought I couldn’t be doing this forever and so I left. I just did casual jobs. If you finished a job on the Friday, you could always find another one on the Monday.”

Tom remembers a stint as a furniture porter in a store.

He was working alongside an aspiring drummer and an aspiring screenwriter: “It was like a division of social security. You could get a job for six weeks, work at it to raise a bit of cash and then go and do what you really wanted to do.

“It can be a little rose-tinted when you look back, but I can see from the perspective of now that a lot of things came together in the 1960s, and a big part of that was economics. There was money. We were not rich. We were just making a living, but also recording was cheap.

“When record companies were interested in you, they could just put you in a studio for three hours and see what came out.”

It was in December 1963 that Tom joined Manfred Mann: “They had been going for just over a year. I was so fortunate. I walked into this band that was having no recording success but drew 400, 500, 600 people a night to clubs like the Marquee Club in London, to clubs in Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton.”

And then, within three weeks of Tom joining, they had their first hit. It hasn’t all been continuous since then, of course. The band split in 1969.

“We broke up and we called it a day, and I really thought that was it until my 50th birthday came around. I had a party for which I tried to get together every band I had ever been in. I mostly succeeded. I was playing in a band called The Blues Band, and we opened the show. And then The Manfreds got together. That was the first time we had all played together in 22 years, and we had such fun.

“But we really didn’t think we would do any more. But the record company was putting out Manfred Mann’s greatest hits. They said ‘Any chance you could do a few gigs?’ We didn’t think we would do that many, but we did six, eight, ten and then the phone started ringing.

“We have been going now much longer than we ever did in the 1960s!”

Call 01403 750220 or visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com.

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