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Disappearing Lewes - The Lambrettas

It was 1979, and Mod fever was at its height. Quadrophenia was a smash hit in the cinemas, the Jam were hitting number one in the charts, and everybody who had soul in their bones was wearing thin-lapelled suits, small-knotted ties and fishtail parkas. Then a remarkable thing happened - Lewes’ very own mod band, The Lambrettas, suddenly made it big, reaching number 7 in the charts with a cover of the Lieber/Stoller hit Poison Ivy. Suddenly a couple of Lewes Priory lads, Jez Bird and Doug Sanders, along with a bassist from Brighton (Mark Ellis) and a drummer from Seaford (Paul Wincer), were doing Top of The Pops. Here is lead singer Jez Bird’s story of the band’s overnight rise to success: and their almost equally precipitous fall from grace.

“We were part of a little contingent of Lewes Mods. We had all the clothes and that, which we bought in Lewes charity shops. We decided to form a band. We didn’t pull any punches with the name: the Lambrettas. Couldn’t have been more moddy, could it? We played a couple of outside gigs in Lewes - one was in the Paddock I remember - when we heard that there was a Mod gig on Hastings Pier. This was in the summer of 79. We weren’t invited to play, but we just turned up anyway. The promoter said he hadn’t heard of us, but we persuaded him it would be worth it, so he put us on the bottom of the bill. We started playing in the middle of the day, in this completely empty ballroom. There wasn’t a soul in there. But the Mods who were in town heard the sound, and came charging in. By the end of the gig the place was heaving. The promoter, who was called Peter Haynes, asked if he could be our manager, and it all went from there.

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The Lambrettas they were the Mods, they were the Mods, they were,
they were, they were the Mods