My song today is ‘Rocking All Over the World’. This song was written by John Fogerty, formerly of ‘Credence Clearwater Revival’. It made its debut on Fogerty's second solo album in 1975. It was also released as a single, spending six weeks in the US top 40, peaking at Number 27. Status Quo recorded their own, heavier arrangement of Fogerty's song for their 1977 album ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’.
During the recording of Status Quo's music video to the song, bassist, Alan Lancaster, who was living in Australia refused to return to the United Kingdom for the recording, so he was replaced by a dummy with a bass guitar in the video. Quo's version was their 8th UK top-ten hit,
Other versions of this song have been recorded by Bon Jovi: Carl Wilson: The Beachboys: Bruce Springsteen, among many others. The song has become a favourite that is played on the football grounds of Leyton Orient, Millwall F.C. and Bolton Wanderers after every home win. It is also played after major rugby league finals.
Although I was 33 years old when this song was first recorded, it reminded me of my wild teenage years when I would go rocking and rolling three nights every week of the year in Batley, Dewsbury, Cleckheaton and Halifax. We would certainly be ‘rocking all over our world’.
There were three reasons that encouraged us to rock and roll. The main reason was ‘picking up young women’, and secondly, we just loved dancing; especially bopping. The third reason we rocked and rolled far and wide was our way of life of engaging in gang fights. Just as the gunslingers of the Wild West might brag about who was the fastest draw, so gangs of the 1950s would fight other gangs for the ‘top-dog’ spot on the rock and roll scene. Fighting in the days of the late 50s, would never involve the use of weapons like knives, or the use of one’s feet, although I’ve been involved in a few fights where a chair was used to Christen an opponent, just to remind him not to mess with the ‘Windybank Wild Ones’ as we became known in our years of ascendancy on the fighting scene.
Each Wednesday night, a group of a dozen teenagers would go to the dance hall in Halifax. We would usually walk a few miles part of the way before jumping on the bus to complete the journey.
The dance hall in Halifax had a circular wooden floor and when it was full, it bounced up and down in its centre. Usually, the toughest gang at the dance that evening would occupy the centre-ground of the dance floor as they bopped away with their female partners. When we arrived, we would usually try and get off with their women and this would usually lead to trouble and fighting at the end of the night. There would be a couple of huge, weighty bouncers patrolling the dance floor and we would keep our fighting until the end of the night if possible.
The last bus home would be at 10:50 and the dance would always end by 11:00 pm. If our gang numbered enough to give the Halifax crew a good fight we would hang around until the dance had ended. If, however, we were too few in number, when it got to 10:45 pm, a mate would signal and we would make a run for it to the bus station (about three minutes away) and hope we’d get on the departing bus home before the Halifax posse caught up with us and gave us a good hiding.
When we had enough in numbers though and decided to miss the bus and end the night off with a big gang fight, we would invariably walk home with cuts and bruises, rehearsing tales of glory we would speak of for weeks to follow along the way. On those occasions when the Windybank gang went to Halifax and showed them who was ‘top dog’ in the fighting stakes, you could guarantee that the following Saturday night at the Cleckheaton Town Hall, we would be invaded by the Halifax gang who’d come across in high numbers to break a few arms and legs and get their own back in spades.
I will never forget being up in the balcony area of Cleckheaton Town Hall one Saturday night having some light refreshment with a young woman who I was chatting up. Suddenly, down below on the crowded dance floor, a fight broke out involving dozens of young men. The Halifax crew had arrived at the dance hall ‘for revenge’ and they lost no time letting everyone know that they’d arrived to kick some butt. As I moved to join my mates fighting below, about six of the Halifax crew came up to the balcony and noticed me. The bottom line is that a few of my mates also arrived upstairs to join this secondary skirmish at the same time and we finished up with almost the whole of Cleckheaton Town Hall fighting in lumps both upstairs and downstairs. Within five minutes, I had been knocked unconscious after having had a chair crashed over my skull. A mate of mine called Colin Dean hit a Halifax youth so hard that the invader went over the balcony and fell on the crowd twelve feet below. When I came to, I was furious; not because of my busted head that was streaming with blood, but the damage the blood would cause to my best clothes. I was worried that the blood had stained my new shirt and suit and that I’d scuffed a new pair of shoes in the fight.
All I can say is that there were degrees of offence a young man of my generation would incur. If any chap tried to steal my girl off me, we’d always finish up fighting for her. If someone took the floor and was a better dancer than me, I’d just stand the loss of pride, and remember his face; just in case we ever had occasion to fight each other at a future date, when I’d cheerfully break his leg and keep him off the dance floor for a good month of Saturday nights. Were someone to beat me in a fight, although I might limp away with wounded pride after the battle, he’d automatically have gained my respect for being a better fighter than me.
All the above, however, would pale into insignificance to the level of anger I’d show if someone damaged my best clothes in a fight! As a young man who’d been brought up in a large family with little money to spend on new clothes, until I started work, I often wore second-hand garments. When I started to earn wages of my own, my priority was always to wear good clothes and footwear; and I must admit, this has remained so ever since.
On those nights that I proudly wore a new suit and attended the dance, I would avoid trouble if possible. If I couldn’t avoid a fight though, I would make all efforts to avoid getting knocked down, rolling over and grappling on the ground. In the event that I could not prevent this and fought on the ground as well as being upright in battle, in the event of my new shirt getting dirty or my new suit getting torn, I would instantly become an uncontrollable wild man who was determined to do damage to my opponent. Nothing got my anger up as much as ruining my clothes! It was like the line in a song of Elvis Presleys that ran, “You can knock me down, step on my face, slander my name all over the place, do anything that you want to do but…….DON’T STEP ON MY BLUE SUEDE SHOES.”
These were the days I moved in and would be ‘rocking all over the world’, whether I was dancing romancing or fighting.
I dedicate my song today to my Facebook friend, Teresa Bates and her husband, Colin, from Corby in Liverpool. Thank you for being my Facebook friend, Teresa. Have a nice day. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx