50 years on, Manfreds on road again
IT ISN'T all that long since Tom McGuinness was last in South Devon.
And he can't wait to get back again.
Surely one of the country's busiest musicians, he hasn't long finished a tour as a member of the Blues Band, a tour which brought him to the Palace Theatre, Paignton, which he loves.
Now he is on his way back to Torbay with fellow Blues Bander Paul Jones as a member of The Manfreds, playing at the Princess Theatre, Torquay on November 1.
The Manfreds are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year with a 35-date UK tour and they are thrilled to be on the road again.
Tom, breaking off from Manfreds rehearsals, Blues Band gigs and a TV appearance on the Alan Titchmarsh chat show, says he is keen to get back on stage with one of the best-loved British bands of the Sixties and beyond.
Original Manfred Mann members Paul Jones, Mike Hugg and Tom McGuinness, plus former member Mike d'Abo, are joined by Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie in the current Manfreds line-up.
That means both of the band's original singers — Jones and D'Abo — appearing live on stage on this tour.
The seven-strong Manfreds have had more hits among their respective players than almost any other band.
As Manfred Mann they clocked up an impressive 17 with 14 Top 10s including three Number Ones – but also as solo artists and in subsequent groups.
Paul Jones had hits in his own right then went on to form the Blues Band and become an influential radio broadcaster. Tom McGuinness formed McGuinness Flint with ex-John Mayall drummer Hughie Flint, enjoying massive hits. Mike Hugg went on to write hundreds of award-winning jingles plus the theme tunes to Up The Junction and The Likely Lads.
Mike D'Abo, who replaced Paul in Manfred Mann, wrote some huge best sellers including Handbags And Gladrags (recorded by Chris Farlowe, Rod Stewart and the Stereophonics) and Build Me Up Buttercup (The Foundations) as well as major soundtracks and jingles while the three remaining members, Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie, have all played with some of the biggest names in the industry carving their own successful solo careers.
"The only point in doing it at my age," says Tom, who is 70. "Is that it has to be fun.
"In a band you have got to get on together. You do it because the music is fun and that's how it is with The Manfreds."
Manfred Mann formed in 1962 and scored their first UK Top 10 two years later with 5-4-3-2-1 which became the signature tune for the popular music TV show Ready Steady Go. Further hits followed with Do Wah Diddy, Sha La La and Pretty Flamingo.
When Paul Jones left to pursue a solo career in 1966 he was replaced by Mike d'Abo and the group went on to score some of their biggest European hits: Ha Ha Said The Clown, Mighty Quinn, Fox on the Run, My Name Is Jack and others.
Disbanding in 1969, Manfred Mann reformed as The Manfreds in 1991 for Tom's 50th birthday.
"We've done hundreds of gigs since then," says Tom.
"We still only do about 60 gigs a year, maximum, as The Manfreds, but we're enjoying every one of them."
Tom was with Manfred Mann on bass and then guitar right up until the disbanding in 1969, but within a few months teamed up with ex John Mayall drummer Hughie Flint to form the highly successful McGuinness Flint.
Their song When I'm Dead & Gone shot to number two in the charts in November 1970.
In 1979 Tom and Paul Jones were among the founders of The Blues Band.
He says the time between 1969 and the 1991 reunion gave The Manfreds time away from their songs, time that allowed them to appreciate them all over again.
He adds: "We had a long period away from those songs and I am really looking forward to this tour.
"We're all doing other things in addition to The Manfreds, so I'm really looking forward to getting back together, playing the songs and shouting at each other again!
"We're very lucky in that we're not bored with the songs at all.
"We did a gig a while ago where there were a lot of Sixties bands.
"A member of one of them came up to Paul and said 'This is money for old rope, isn't it?'
"If I ever hear anyone in The Manfreds say that, I'm off.
"I would hate to have done a gig and come off saying something like that."
Fans can expect to hear all the hits played just the way they like them, although a band with the skills of The Manfreds never stand still for long.
"We do fool around with the songs a little," says Tom.
"It's a dangerous thing to do, because people expect certain things, but we do alter them around a little and stick instrumental sections in.
"We are planning perhaps a few acoustic versions, EP tracks and B-sides.
"As a band we were always a little bit different.
"We weren't really a guitar-based band, and very few of our songs were just 'I love you, you don't love me'.
"They are all slightly odd and a little bit offbeat.
"I guess we had a lucky knack of spotting great songs that still crop up all over the world."