Tuesday, 20 October 2009


It was November 1940 and bombs were falling on Coventry destroying houses, roads, schools. Even the mighty cathedral couldn’t withstand the assault of the Luftwaffe and come morning it was found crumbled and broken – the protection of god no protection from the bombs which seemed to have been sent by the devil himself.

In Nuneaton, something equally earth-shattering occurred. Roddy Boing was born. Christened Zakary Epheseus Flame, he spent his early years in a two-up, two-down, forty-eight across terraced mansion in the midlands, where he practiced his working class accent in between polo lessons, latin and badger baiting. It was at the tender age of sixteen that his father tragically passed away, choking on goose-down, and young Zak inherited his title, his estate and his Hammond organ.

Lord Zakary Epheseus Flame the third played his first gig in Nuneaton civic hall on the 23rd September 1957. It was here that he met and signed with his manager, Cyril Klean, who immediately persuaded him to change his name:

“Well, kids were never going to buy records by anyone with a name as naff as Lord Zak Flame, especially not when his backing band is called The Firestarters. I just couldn’t see how that would appeal to a sixteen year old audience….I told him he needed something different, something dangerous.”

So Zak Flame became dangerous Roddy Boing. “Boing suggested bouncing,” Klean was later to explain, “and bouncing suggested dancing. That was dangerous at the time. Especially in Nuneaton”. Recently discovered papers in Klean’s hand (they were nearly buried with him) show some of the earlier suggestions for names. These include Jimmy Sweaters and The Cardigan Boys, and Fred Leaps and The Jumpers. It seems that comfortable clothing was much on Klean’s mind. He’d made his fortune after inheriting his fathers woollen mills in Meltham and, of course, his first success in the pop business came from Emma Gloves and The Bobble Hats. It is ironic to note that this was the only group who retained their original name.

Eventually Zak Flame & The Firestarters were renamed Roddy Boing and The Bouncers. The Bouncers immediately quit and from this point on Roddy was a solo artist. In 1963 The Bouncers renamed themselves The Doormen and helped to kick-start the British Ska movement when they took up residence at their energetic but woefully ill-attended “You Ain’t Coming In” club nights in Truro’s top nightspot, The Stable-Door.

NEXT TIME: Roddy Boing, Royalty, How to Hurt a Hammond and “God?”

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