- 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.