My Legends of Pop Music – Part Five – Joe Brown

If I get this right, there will be many cover versions by future bands.  I shall try and link live versions if they exist from the tellybox or a film, the sound quality may not be the best, but there is nothing like watching a real talent live.

So, in a sort of chronological order, my fifth legend is Joe Brown.

Some brief notes first, courtesy of Wiki: Joe Brown

Joseph Roger BrownMBE (born 13 May 1941) is an English entertainer. As a rock and roll singer and guitarist, he has performed for more than six decades. He was a stage and television performer in the late 1950s and has been a UK recording star since the early 1960s. He has made six films, presented specialist radio series for Radio 2, appeared on the West End stage alongside Dame Anna Neagle and has written an autobiography. In recent years he has again concentrated on recording and performing music, playing two tours of around 100 shows every year and releasing an album almost every year.

Described by the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums as a “chirpy Cockney”, Brown was one of the original artists managed by the early rock impresario and manager Larry Parnes. He is highly regarded in the music business as a “musician’s musician” who “commands respect and admiration from a wide spectrum of artists”.

I have enjoyed his music since I first heard him on the radio when I was about 6.  I also remember going to the pictures to see his film “What a Crazy World”  (Cannot find the whole film, but the end clip is linked).

In 1958 Brown was spotted by television producer Jack Good who hired him as lead guitarist in the orchestra of his new TV series, Boy Meets Girls. During this period he backed a number of U.S musicians such as Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on their UK tours.

Brown signed a management agreement with Larry Parnes and signed to Decca Records. He charted with “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball” in 1960, and had UK Top 10 hits on the Piccadilly label in 1962–63 with “A Picture of You“, which reached number two on the NME charts (the main chart of the day); “It Only Took A Minute”, and “That’s What Love Will Do”. Piccadilly’s release of Brown’s “Crazy Mixed Up Kid” in April 1961 was the label’s first single. Brown’s recording band was a collection of session musicians, and was named the Bruvvers by Jack Good to give Brown the identity of having his own backing band for record releases. It was in 1962 when he needed a band to tour with him that ‘Joe Brown and the Bruvvers’ was cemented, containing two members of the Spacemen, brothers Tony and Pete Oakman, who had also remained with him in the “Boy Meets Girls” band.[2]

Brown was voted ‘Top UK Vocal Personality’ in the 1962 NME magazine poll. During the 1960s he appeared in a number of films, pantomime and stage musicals. In December 1963, the film What a Crazy World, based on a stage play, starring Brown and Marty Wilde among others, had its world premiere in London. Brown also starred in the hit musical Charlie Girl in the West End between 1965 and 1968; and in the musical comedy film Three Hats for Lisa in 1965 with Una StubbsSophie Hardy and Sid James. He also made a cameo appearance as himself in the 1964 film The Beauty Jungle, and presented the children’s television series Joe & Co on BBC Television.

George Harrison was best man at Brown’s second wedding in 2000; Brown had appeared on two songs on Harrison’s album Gone Troppo, and also was featured on a track on Harrison’s last album, Brainwashed. Following Harrison’s death from lung cancer on 29 November 2001, Brown appeared with his group at the tribute concert Concert for George, held on the first anniversary of his death. Brown played guitar whilst singing “Here Comes the Sun“, mandolin on “That’s The Way It Goes,” and ukulele on the closing number, “I’ll See You in My Dreams“.  On stage Joe often talks about his parties with George and mass ukulele playing (not a euphemism)

What may not be well known is that Joe Brown is known in British rock music history to have introduced lead guitarist Hank Marvin of the Shadows to the Italian Meazzi Echomatic echo unit (because he himself could find no use for it), in so doing contributing greatly to the sound of the Shadows and Cliff Richard.

A full list of his songs is here:   Discography – Joe Brown:

The featured track is from a pop show in 1976.  I could not find a live 1962 version sadly.  He looks very much of the 1970’s here!  There is little live footage from the early days, so most of these are from the 70’s or later.  If you ever get a chance to see him live, it is not just a show of tunes, but he has had a wonderful life and shares it with you, very funny bloke.

A Picture of You

In addition to this classic, some more of my favourites are:

Joe Brown – Darktown Strutters Ball – Live in Liverpool – This contains a few songs and lot of funny anecdotes.

What A Crazy World we’re Living In

Joe Brown & The Bruvvers – It Only Took A Minute – 1962 – Introduced by Terry Hall and Lenny the Lion (feeling old now?)

Joe Brown, Vicki Brown & The Bruvvers- Sea Of Heartbreak

Joe Brown, Hey mama

Joe Brown and Family – Little Children

Joe Brown – Thats What Love Will Do

I do like a good Ukulele song.  Joe often does some classics songs on his little Ukulele, and bloody good too!

Mr Blue Sky

You’ve Got Your Troubles

Then if you like this, you will love the whole Ukulele Album (Includes an entertaining version of Ace of Spades!

Joe Brown Ukulele album

Singalong, enjoy and be happy!

Featured Image: “Joe Brown On Stage” by garryknight is licensed under CC BY 2.0

© Phil the ex test manager 2021