Between 1964 and 1979 Manfred Mann scored three British Number One hits – plus two more Number One hits in America plus another seven that went Top 5 and six more that made the Top 10.
Over this period Manfred Mann’s bands featured some of the finest singers on the British pop and rock scene: Paul Jones, Mike d’Abo, Mick Rogers and Chris Thompson, all of whom have gone on to enjoy successful and varied solo careers. Their distinctive voices have all added to the rich variety of Manfred Mann’s classic hits.
South African-born Manfred Lubowitz arrived in Britain in 1961. He was already an accomplished jazz pianist and quickly established himself on the London club circuit with drummer Mike Hug with whom he formed the Mann Hug Blues Brothers. In 1963 the band was re-christened Manfred Mann and with a line-up featuring Paul Jones on vocals and harmonica, Mike Vickers on guitar, flute and saxophone, Tom McGuinness on bass and Hug they set their sights on the British pop scene which was about to explode.
They may have been a musically well-educated band but there was nothing sophisticated about Manfred Mann’s first hit the rowdy, frenetic 5-4-3-2-1 that they wrote for the theme song of the groundbreaking TV pop show Ready Steady Go! Boosted by its weekly exposure on the programme the single reached Number 5 early in 1964.
Manfred Mann had their first Number One in the summer of that year with Do Wah Diddy Diddy Diddy, written by the famous New York Brill Building song writing duo of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. They also found themselves in the vanguard of the British pop invasion of America alongside the Beatles and the Animals (and ahead of the Rolling Stones) as the song shot to the top of the US charts.
The band then proceeded to apply their sharp musical talents to other suitable pop songs such as Sha La La (an American hit for the Shirelles), the poignant Come Tomorrow and Oh No Not My Baby (written by another famous Brill Building duo, Carole King and Gerry Goffin) before turning their attention to Bob Dylan’s If You Gotta Go, Go Now that was a Number 2 hit in the UK and earned the approval of Dylan himself.
In April 1966 Manfred Mann notched up their second British Number One with the gorgeous, melodic Pretty Flamingo. Surprisingly it only scraped into the American Top 30 but it left a lasting impression on a teenage Bruce Springsteen who regularly played it live during the early part of his career.
Pretty Flamingo was the crowning glory for the first incarnation of Manfred Mann, not least for the personality-driven voice of Paul Jones who decided to bow out on a high note. He launched a solo career and starred in the movie Privilege – playing a rock star – before becoming one of Britain’s leading experts and commentators on the blues and R&B.
His departure put the group’s future in jeopardy but his replacement, the unknown public schoolboy Mike D’Abo immediately stamped his own character on the band and the hits flowed seamlessly on – Dylan’s Just Like A Woman, the quirky Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James and Ha! Ha! Said The Clown – before racking up their third UK Number One early in 1968 with Dylan’s Mighty Quinn, an anthemic masterpiece that astonishingly Dylan never released himself.
As the Sixties drew to a close Manfred and Mike Hug decided to explore new musical directions and after more Top Ten hits with My Name Is Jack, Fox On The Run and Ragamuffin Man, they disbanded Manfred Mann. The other members soon found new careers in other bands (Tom McGuiness formed McGuinness Flint) or in production. Mike D’Abo was already an accomplished songwriter.
Manfred and Mike Hug meanwhile embarked on a brief “anti-pop” career with the self-explanatory Chapter Three, a jazz-rock ensemble complete with a five-piece brass section. that was wilfully uncommercial but musically rewarding. After two albums Mike Hug decided to pursue a career composing soundtracks which notably included Up The Junction.
Meanwhile key members of the 60s Manfred Mann line-ups – Paul Jones, Mike D’Abo, Mike Hugg and Tom McGuinness – have banded together and perform as The Manfreds. Such is the enduring legacy of Manfred Mann over the past 40 years.
In 2007, Mike d’Abo became the proud father of twins, Ellie and Louis, and, for this year, he will be taking some time out to spend with his family. The Manfreds ‘Let Em Roll’ tour takes to the road with a new album release….aptly titled ‘Let Em Roll’….and Mike will join the band for a few festival dates throughout the year before re-joining for their highly acclaimed ‘Maximum Rhythm ‘n’ Blues’ UK tour in 2010.
The original keyboard player, whose name was chosen by EMI to be the band's name, although they also became known as the Manfreds. Towards the end of '69 Manfred Mann as a group entity dissolved and the individuals went on to other things as recounted above and below. Manfred himself formed firstly Chapter Three with Mike Hugg and after the demise of this outfit, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which continues to this day.
Another original Manfred, Mike played guitar, alto sax and flute but was tempted away in 1965 by the broader allure of arranging, production & film soundtracks. In his time he has worked with Johnny Dankworth, Ella Fitzgerald, Cilla Black, Cliff Richard, The Hollies, Kiki Dee, Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Mike's orchestral arrangement (which he also conducted) for All You Need Is Love for The Beatles' global TV performance is one of the truly memorable events in pop history. He also programmed the Moog for The Beatles' Abbey Road album as well as John Boorman's films Deliverance, Zardoz and The Exorcist II. Mike joined the re-formed Manfreds for a few years on sax, woodwind & flute but is now busy composing contemporary classical music.
The original Manfreds bass player, who Tom McGuinness replaced when it became apparent Dave's jazz leanings didn't sit with the R & B direction the band was moving towards at the time. After leaving the band in 1963 Dave became a session player, working with amongst others Elton John, Bread, and Hank Marvin. He has also appeared on a soundtrack with Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones.
Joined the band in 1965 on the recommendation of an old friend of Mike Hugg & Manfred Mann's, Graham Bond, who Jack had played with at an earlier stage in The Graham Bond Organisation along with John McLaughlin, Ginger Baker and latterly, Dick Heckstall-Smith. (Prior to playing with Graham, Jack had been in Alexis Korner's Blues Inc, with Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones on drums.) When Mike Vickers left the Manfreds, Jack stepped in to fill the gap, leaving John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to do so. His arrival meant that Tom McGuinness could move away from playing bass and back to the instrument he felt more at home with, ie lead guitar. In due course Jack left Manfred Mann to form the legendary Cream with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. The band split in 1968 at the height of their popularity and Jack has since recorded numerous solo albums and worked with many different high calibre musicians in a wide variety of genres.
Friend to The Beatles & designer of the Revolver album cover (for which he won a Grammy), bass player Klaus replaced Jack Bruce in Manfred Mann in 1966. Over the years he recorded with B B King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Nilsson and Carly Simon, as well as working with George Harrison and playing bass with The Plastic Ono Band for John Lennon. After moving to the States he worked with The Band, van Dyke Parks, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman and Dr. John, before briefly moving into production. He has since been involved in various artistic enterprises and also runs a hotel in Northern Germany.
One half of hitmakers and blue-chip songwriting team, Gallagher & Lyle, Benny began his career as a tunesmith with The Beatles' Apple company. In 1970, along with Tom McGuinness, his (and Graham Lyle's) astute composing ability propelled McGuinness Flint to the top of the charts. Then came the duo's own hit singles Heart on my Sleeve and I Wanna Stay With You plus the Breakaway album which was a huge success - even more so when the title track was covered by Art Garfunkel. As a Director of The Guild of Record Producers and Recording Engineers, Benny was offered the post of Head of Music at Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, but his many commitments meant he had to decline the offer. He's played with Clapton, McCartney and some of the great original Bluesmen such as Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup. Benny writes in Nashville and composes film soundtracks, yet found the time to play bass with The Manfreds for a few years when they re-formed.