I went to see All or Nothing - A 2016 musical about the life of the ‘Small Faces’, then found some interesting information on here and other places, so I’ve pulled it together into one post to help other in the future.
Great cast (Marriott’s on stage Mum and show writer Carol Harrison is a little too pantomime at times), brilliant music, but a story lacking depth and with some massive holes.
One scene depicts a gritty northern working men’s club, with all the stereotypical references you would expect (and some you wouldn’t); flat caps , whippets, no culture, unable to read etc. etc. but the real story of that evening is far more interesting if the writer would have just delved a little deeper:
Various references go something like this:
"Their first out-of-town concert was at a working men's club in Sheffield. Since the crowd was mainly made up of Teddy boys and hard-drinking workers, the band were paid off after three songs. Despondent, they walked into the mod-orientated King Mojo Club nearby (then owned by a young Peter Stringfellow) and offered to perform for free. They played a set that left the local mods wanting more and started a strong buzz."
"The club hosted up and coming live acts, including Pink Floyd and The Who. The Small Faces played their first gig outside London at the Mojo, and The Kinks worked out the arrangement of "All Day and All of the Night" while at the club."
Which means that the initial club must have been one of: Limes Social Club and Institute or the Pitsmoor Working Men's Club as it was only "a few steps away".
From The Atom Retro Blog : 14 April 2007
“The Small Faces.
The name is synonymous with the Mod Movement and Mod Music, and so too it is with the infamous King Mojo Club - for who knows - without The Mojo there very well may not have been The Small Faces as we know them.
The Small Faces were first brought to the attention of Maurice King, a local London nightclub owner, by the singer, Elkie Brooks. She recommended them to Maurice after seeing them play, noticing frontman Steve Marriott's powerful and unique voice. Equally as impressed with Marriott and the rest of the band, King began to act as their manager finding them gigs in London, and before too long, in the rest of the country.
The Small Faces first out-of-London gig was booked in Sheffield, the industrial north of the UK. The venue was a small Working Man's Club, north-east of the city centre and frequented by coal miners, steel workers and manual labours, along with their own brand of Sheffield hard drinking, hard living Teddy Boys. The Small Faces were out of place, to say the least.
Met by a band of young men, with slicked hair styles, sta-pressed trousers, three button blazers and button down checked shirts, the audience were not impressed.
The Small Faces managed to get Jimmy Reed's 'Baby What You Want Me Do' and got part way into James Brown's classic, 'Please, Please, Please' before they were dragged from the stage by the clubs management. Paid off and kicked out, The Small Faces despondently left the Working Mans club and wandered only a few steps down onto Pitsmoor Road. Here they followed a group of likely looking young mods and ravers to what at first appeared to be a house. Instead, this was The King Mojo Club.
With nothing to loose, the band walked in and offered to play for nothing. The club's owner, and legend in his own right, Peter Stringfellow insisted he paid them. The Small Faces finally took the stage and history was made. Steve Marriott described the night...
'Our stuff wasn't right for them. We were paid off after three numbers. We walked through the streets feeling utterly brought down. Then we came to the entrance of a club that looked bright and with it. We could see lots of young people going in. On the spur of the moment we went in and told the owners we would play for nothing. They agreed. We played for all we were worth, taking courage from the fact that the audience were mainly teenagers. All mods in fact. Well we went a bomb. The audience raved like mad and kept yelling for more.'
The Small Faces' lasting relationship with The King Mojo Club had begun.
In 1966, two weeks after The Small Faces had finally topped the charts with 'All Or Nothing', the band returned triumphantly to the Mojo. The band were now firmly at the forefront of Mod and indeed, mainstream Sixties music and were one of the hottest bands around. For the gig, artist Colin Duffield had designed this poster, which he has kindly allowed Atom Retro to reproduce. During the gig, The Small Faces paid homage to the club that brought them to the attention of the rest of the world, by wearing King Mojo Club T-shirts. That night really had been All Or Nothing for the band, so it is apt that we named this Mojo Poster T-shirt after their hit song...”
Also, from the mouth of Marriott and Jones:
“Meanwhile Maurice King saw great potential in the Small Faces and went out of his way to get them gigs. King dropped an almighty large when acquiring their first gig though, when he booked the boys into a working men's club in the land of the cloth cap, Sheffield. The club was full of hard-drinking coal miners and middle-aged teddy boys waiting to be entertained by what they thought was a a cabaret circuit group singing oldies and a selection of "safe" chart material. Just what were these softy southerners playing at, sporting sculptured bouffant-styled haircuts, wearing window pane check button-down shirts, white Sta-press trousers, tonic trousers, Italian turquoise hand-made shoes and candy striped three button jackets with the waif-like teenage lead singer belting out the blues like an elderly black soul brother who had just found his way out of the Mississippi Delta?
Needless to say, the band went down about as well as a pork chop at a barmitzvha and after steaming through Jimmy Reed's Baby What You Want Me Do they had the plugs pulled out on them halfway through their faithful version of James Brown's Please Please Please. Undeterred, the boys stumbled across a club called the Mojo where the local species of mod hung out. When they arrived at the Mojo, they found that the place was packed with young hipsters dancing the night away in an amphetamine-induced heaven. Two brothers ran the club and Steve and Ronnie asked them if they could play there. The brothers gave the boys the go-ahead and the whole place went crazy.
Steve Marriott recalled the night they left the working men's club and found the Mojo: "Our stuff wasn't right for them. We were paid off after three numbers. We walked through the streets feeling utterly brought down. Then we came to the entrance of a club that looked bright and with it. We could see lots of young people going in. On the spur of the moment we went in and told* the owners we would play for nothing. They agreed. We played for all we were worth, taking courage from the fact that the audience were mainly teenagers. All mods in fact. Well we went a bomb. The audience raved like mad and kept yelling for more. Although we told the owner we didn't want anything, he gave us a fiver each towards our expenses. So we went back to London happy. Or at least we started happy. What took the edge off things was that we ran out of petrol on the way back and had to wait for the filling station to open."
Kenney Jones on Sheffield: "One of our first fans was an old lady of sixty who knew all the James Brown numbers we were playing and kept asking for more. She knew 'em all."
Mods understood the Small Faces as the bands were mods themselves and seen as such. They also had a great gift for sending themselves up and, at their peak, had a lovely knack of bringing down pretentious pop stars a peg or two which gave them an approachable down-to-earth appeal without being banal. A bit like mischievous barrow boys who got lucky and were living life to the full.
It was due to their constant **** taking and leg pulling that most stars couldn't handle them! the leading mod band at the time, in the media's eyes at least, was the Who, who despite being a brilliant band with a great opo image weren't really mod at all.
They were being groomed as mods by a publicist called Pete Meaden. Now, Meaden was a mod and in the Who he saw a focal point for his movement. He needn't have looked any further than the Small Faces. Pete Townshend wrote about mods and probably the definitive mod/punk anthem My Generation. But it was the Small Faces who had their finger on the pulse because they were into the black R n B soul that their audience was into.*
There's a famous photo of the late Keith Moon and Pete Townshend dancing "the block" (a mod dance step) in the Scene Club in 1965. But this was just another publicity stunt out together by Meaden to improve and reaffirm their image and status and leaders of the mod movement. The Small Faces didn't need to pull strokes like that, as they lived the lifestyle almost every night of the week.
Steve Marriott on being a mod: "Any money we got, or money we could hold onto, went on clothes. These used to be a little know of us from the East End and we would go down to Carnaby Street, which is nothing like it is now of course. It was a dowdy little street with very gloomy little shops. They were very small shops but very exclusive. They were also expensive but stylish with it."
Sonny and Cher were ever-present at their early gigs after first stumbling upon them in Sheffield.
Previously published in Darlings of Wapping Wharf Launderette Issue 3, source: http://www.makingtime.co.uk/rfr/story3.htm#.WAOKdvkrJhE
Some other references worth taking a look at: