Bend It (2013)
Happy New Year to all visitors, sistren and brethren, of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.
When this blog was created on the eighth day of the eight month of the eight year, more or less as a harmless prank, we didn't know yet it would grow into a little monster when, in a weird apotropaic collision, synchronicity and serendipity morphed into Iggymania.
The Holy Igquisition interrupts this post for the following message:
We had our good and lesser days in 2012 and a quick glance at the articles we published learn us that this blog would not have existed without our friends, colleagues and (sometimes reluctant) informants from Argentina, England, Germany, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden... we may not always have the same opinion but the common thing that binds us all is our love for Syd & Iggy...
2008 - 2013: 5 years in the name of the Rose
This year we will celebrate the Church's first lustrum and how can we honour this better than with a little dance that brought a certain Iggy the Eskimo into the spotlights.
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich formed a band in 1961 but it would take until 1964 before they got a recording contract (together with their impossible name) with Fontana. After a few false starts DDDBMT finally hit the British charts late 1965 and the next year they were ready to conquer America. September saw the release of 'Bend It', a catchy tune with some saucy vocals. However, the suggestive lyrics put their managers (and authors of the song) Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley (nicknamed Spike & Owly) before a dilemma:
The song stormed the charts in no time. It teased the audience with its sped-up tempo and an offbeat guitar break midway but mostly with its salacious lyrics! The heavy tongue-in-cheek suggestiveness arose some moral outcries - but exactly that was probably the extra boost to shoot the single to #2 in UK in September and even #1 in Germany! (Taken from: www.dddbmt.com)
Conquering decadent Europe was one thing, but to win puritanical America over some drastic measurements had to be taken. NME reported:
Dozens of US radio stations have banned Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich's 'Bend It' because the lyrics are considered too suggestive, and the group have responded by recording a new version in London with a different set of words.
According to the official DDDBMT website the band recorded two new versions of the single, a clean one for the American market and an even smuttier one, that is - as far as we know - still unreleased 47 years later. The band apologised in an open letter:
As a pop group we have no right or wish to set ourselves up as arbiters of public taste or morals. But neither would we want to be viewed in any way as corrupters of these standards. Our two countries are so close in most things that it is always surprising to find the exceptional cases where meaning and innuendo differ between us. (Taken from: www.davedeedozybeakymickandtich.nl)
The replacement of the dirty single for a clean one was done with almost KGB secret service efficiency as the catalog numbers of both versions are identical. Collectors, however, can recognise the different versions by comparing the master number and the duration of the single printed on the label. On Youtube a 'clean' version can be heard in the cover version by Barbara Eden: 'Bend It!'.
By re-recording the single an American boycott had been avoided but at least one British radio station had threatened to put the single on the blacklist as well (see also: To bend or not to bend). A somewhat cheaper trick was used to divert the attention from the English censors. It was explained that The Bend was really a brand new dance craze sweeping the country, like The Watusi or the Twist.
The only problem, there wasn't a dance to start with, so one had to be invented, and really fast.
In came Patrick Kerr, choreographer of Ready Steady Go!, who didn't mind creating a few steps that, if we may be so bold, look a bit like Zorba the Greek staggering home after his eleventh ouzo. On the 23rd of September 1966 Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich played their single on RSG! and the dance was promoted in the teenage pop music papers. (See also: Ready, Steady, Kerr!)
BEND IT! STEP-BY-STEP
It had to happen! That smash hit for Dave, Dee, Beaky, Mick and Tich - “Bend it” - has just been crying out for some bright person to devise a '66 dance for it. And who better than Patrick Kerr who introduced countless dances to “Ready Steady Go” viewers? Above is his step-by-step idea of how it should be done. Read it, put on the record and get bending!
1. Step forward on to left foot, at the same time bending at the knees and lowering the left shoulder.
2. Step forward on to right foot, still with knees bent, but on this beat lower right shoulder.
3. Take a step back with left foot at the same time beginning to straighten.
4. Take a step back with the right foot, now straightening to upright position. Repeat this three more times.
5. Step to side with left foot. Close right foot to left. Bend knees and then straighten again. Step to side with right foot. Close left foot to right. Once again bend knees and then straighten them. Repeat this three more times. Now repeat first step four times. Now repeat pattern once more but this time make a quarter of a turn each time on the first variation and a half turn on each of the second variations. With feet slightly apart, bend at the knees and sway from left to right. Repeat this three times more.
6. Take a step forward with the left foot at the same time bending at the knees and lowering left shoulder. Without moving feet sway back so that weight is on the right foot. Repeat three more times. Now go back to the first variation for four more times. Then, starting from first variation, do each of the other variations doing only one of each. Kepp going until fade of the record.
© 1966 by Lynn Music Ltd., 142 Charing Cross Road, London W.C.2.
The above instructions, we are afraid, read a bit like a Korean micro-wave manual and therefore a Bend It video was shot by Pathé News who showed it in the ABPC movie theatres all over the country as part of their Inside The Playboy Paradise documentary. Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich mime their greatest hit (so far, there would be others) in the London Playboy club and Patrick Kerr, in a Bend shirt, demonstrates the dance with his group Tomorrow's People, a few Playboy Bunnies and some random guests who miraculously know the dance moves as well. One of them, the girl in the plastic triangle dress, will even show up in The Cromwellian, a few weeks later. The full documentary is on British Pathé (with an annoying watermark) but the song (and dance) that make up the biggest chunk of it anyway can be found on YouTube:
To give The Bend a status of authority there was even a national competition although it can be discussed if regional contests were ever organised. A so-called final took place in November at The Cromwellian with as one of the contestants an unknown model named Iggy the Eskimo. The report about this event in NME started this blog, almost five years ago: Bend It!
Happy New Year!
(This text is a partial rehash / redux / upgrade / update from a 2010 article that has even more detailed information about Patrick Kerr, DDDBMT & the different Bend singles: Rod Harrod remembers The Crom.)
Sources (other than the above internet links):
Tobler, John (editor): NME Rock ‘N’ Roll Years, Hamlyn, London, 1992, p.163.
Many thanks to: Ron Cooper, Herman van Gaal.
♥ Iggy ♥ Libby ♥