Manfred Never Was Main Man; They Were One of the Biggest Bands of the Sixties. MIKE LOCKLEY Talks to Tom McGuinness on the Decision to Get the Manfred Mann Group Back on the Road, and Heading to Birmingham

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), October 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Manfred Never Was Main Man; They Were One of the Biggest Bands of the Sixties. MIKE LOCKLEY Talks to Tom McGuinness on the Decision to Get the Manfred Mann Group Back on the Road, and Heading to Birmingham


TOM McGuinness, an integral part of well-oiled 1960s hit machine Manfred Mann, laughs mischievously as he verbally shreds the legendary band's musical heritage.

"The records won't be remembered," the guitarist, now 70, smiles. "I won't be remembered.

"Five hundred years from now, there might be one person in Polynesia who will dig out Do Wah Diddy Diddy and think 'What strange things people got up to in the 20th century'."

It's hardly the gushing PR spiel expected from someone 'selling' the Manfreds' milestone 50th anniversary tour, a tour which reaches Birmingham Town Hall on November 17.

But father-of-nine McGuinness - "I inherited some of them," he points out - is a man who feels hiding one's light under a bushel is not merely enough. It needs to be extinguished first.

The self-deprecation, however, cannot dull the glitter of McGuinness' gilt-edged CV.

Fame He played on 16 of the band's 17 hits from 1964 to 1969 - a catalogue of chart-toppers which includes classics such as Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James, Pretty Flamingo, The Mighty Quinn and My Name Is Jack.

And when the band disbanded, he reluctantly courted fame again, notching up two more hits - When I'm Dead and Gone and Malt and Barley Blues, with McGuinness Flint.

"I was incredibly lucky," he says dismissively.

Add to the heady mix McGuinness' early musical collaboration with Eric Clapton in unsung blues band The Roosters ("I didn't spot his talent," he says matterof-factly, "it was 1963 and we were both learning the guitar and loving the blues") and you have the stuff of legend.

That's a lofty status McGuinness loathes.

Throughout our interview at his Cambridge home, he is at pains to point out that fame, if not fortune, was a by-product - at times an unwelcome one - of his simple desire to play guitar.

"I never thought it was something I could earn money from," he admits, "but then I was given the chance to play guitar and earn PS15 a week when Dad was earning PS12."

Blame success on Paul Jones, a mate from Wimbledon during the days before stardom. He had been scraping a living as a travelling salesman while McGuinness earned a crust in an insurance office.

Jones ditched the nine-to-five to front Manfred Mann and, with single 5-4-3-2-1 cut and set to storm the charts, invited McGuinness to fill the vacancy for a bass player. The rest, as they say, is history.

McGuinness, who has been married to current wife Jennifer for 16 years, is too honest to deny that his head was turned by adulation.

"Boy, it was enjoyable!" he grins. "You had girls screaming; money was rolling in; you were eating well. I was living a very comfortable lifestyle and seeing the world."

Admittedly, there wasn't enough money rolling in, but McGuinness refuses to dwell on draconian contracts and rock rip-offs.

"I try not to look back," he reasons. "In his later life, Noel Redding - bassist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience - had a sole topic of conversation: how he had been ripped off and how it almost consumed him.

"You could have put a blank piece of paper in front of us and we would've signed it. …

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Manfred Never Was Main Man; They Were One of the Biggest Bands of the Sixties. MIKE LOCKLEY Talks to Tom McGuinness on the Decision to Get the Manfred Mann Group Back on the Road, and Heading to Birmingham
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