Blue Mink tells RICHARD KAY how they are in a spin after only ONE complaint has received their melody BANNED
On a summer day in 1969, musician Herbie Flowers and fellow members of the newly formed pop group Blue Mink ended a recording session when singer-songwriter Roger Cook sat at the piano and played a song he had just written.
It was called Melting Pot and the rest of the band loved it. Within 20 minutes they had it recorded and studio bosses were convinced that they had a first hit.
By November it had reached number three in the Top 20 and with 15 weeks in the charts, it was one of the best-selling 45-rpm records of the year.
Even according to the 1969 standards, the texts on racial harmony were pretty crazy. It was revealed yesterday that almost exactly 50 years after Blue Mink said that the world's problems could be solved by "a big melting pot," their debut hit by regulators was banned as "offensive."
Controversy: a song from pop group Blue Mink (pictured at the height of their fame) that refers to & # 39; coffee-colored people & # 39; and a & # 39; Red Indian boy & # 39; was removed from a radio station after a listener complained that the lyrics were offensive
Ofcom said that references to & # 39; curly Latin kinkies & # 39; and & # 39; yellow Chinkies & # 39; were too extreme for a modern audience.
The media watchdog said "Chinky" was an unacceptable anti-Chinese lie and was exacerbated by the use of the word "yellow."
Other words that were deemed inappropriate for the ears of easily offended modern listeners were "Red Indian boy" and "coffee-colored people" because of the risk of pain for minority groups.
In his house in Ditchling, East Sussex, bass guitarist Flowers, 81, admits he is stunned by the queue caused by a single complaint to Ofcom about the broadcast of the song on golden oldies radio station Gold.
& # 39; I suppose we were just rather naive musicians. Racism and sexism were not part of our consciousness at the time & he said.
"I don't think it occurred to us that something was wrong with it. People didn't say "what a terrible text," they thought it was quite contagious.
"Of course I understand why it would not be acceptable now, but because nowadays much worse things are being played on Radio 1, songs full of obscenities and violence."
For flowers, the dispute resembles a similar row over the Lou Reed song, Walk On The Wild Side, on which he played and that was banned from the air because of references to & # 39; colored girls & # 39 ;.
In 1969 the group's debut single Melting Pot was seen as a statement against racial intolerance by a British band
"I think there are far more important things to worry about today than musical lyrics, such as the speed trucks driving through our village and the lack of a pedestrian crossing," he says.
In the summer of 1969, Herbie, who played his first instrument for nine years in the RAF, joined other session musicians to form Blue Mink.
They were keyboardist Roger Coulam, classically trained guitarist Alan Parker, who then wrote scores for Hollywood movies and TV shows, and drummer Barry Morgan, who learned his trade on cruise ships and played on many of Tom Jones' greatest hits.
Initially the group was intended as an instrumental band, but they decided to use not one but two vocalists, the Afro-American former gospel singer Madeline Bell and Roger Cook, who had written the Fortunes No 2 hit, You & # 39; ve Got Your Problems with his partner for writing songs, Roger Greenaway.
At that time there were few British pop groups with a singer and even less where the singer was black. If the band had a sense of novelty, it might have been intentional.
Until then, Madeline, who was a background singer for Dusty Springfield and sang on the cover of Joe Cocker from The Beatles & With A Little Help From My Friends, had limited success.
Melting Pot has changed all that. The optimistic texts depict the creation of a single person from people of many races.
"Take a pinch of white man, wrap it in black skin, add a dash of blue blood and a little red-Indian boy.
Curly Latin kinkies, mixed with yellow chinkees, you know you are right, and you have a recipe for a get-away scene. Oh what a beautiful dream, if only it could come true, you know, you know. & # 39;
All very idealistic, but immigration was a sensitive subject in Britain in 1969. Enoch Powell & # 39; s infamous speech & # 39; rivers of blood & # 39; was made just 18 months before the release of Melting Pot.
The lyrics in which the song Melting Pot from Blue69 from 1969 was banned
& # 39; Take a pinch of white man, wrap it in black skin,
Add a touch of blue blood and a little red Indian boy.
Oh, curly Latin kinkies, mixed with yellow chinkees,
If you put it all together And you have a recipe for a shooting scene;
Oh what a beautiful dream
If it could only come true, you know, you know.
What we need is a great big melting pot,
Large enough to conquer the world and everything it has
And keep stirring for a hundred years or longer and turn out to be coffee-colored people by the score
Rabbis and the brothers
Vishnus and the gurus
We have the Beatles or the sun god
Well, it really doesn't matter which religion you choose
And be thankful, little Mrs. Graceful
You know that livin & # 39; can be tasteful
We must all come together in a lovin machine
I think I'll call the queen
It's only fair that she knows, you know, you know.
What we need is a great big melting pot
Great to conquer the world and have everything and let it stir for a hundred years or more
And coffee-colored people turn out by the score. & # 39;
Although the first indignation about the West Indian Windrush arrivals had declined towards the end of the 1960s, there were concerns about the figures coming from India and Pakistan.
Within two years they would be swollen by another 50,000 Gujarati Indians who had been driven from Uganda by dictator Idi Amin. Culturally, 1969 was a crossroads. The summer of love and the hippie movement ended in an orgy of violence.
A Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California, ended in a riot in which a fan was stabbed to death by Hells Angels motorcyclists hired to provide safety, while in Los Angeles the Manson gang killed a pregnant Sharon Tate and four other adults .
At home, the Beatles broke up – Paul was married to Linda, while John and Yoko left their & # 39; bed-in & # 39; for peace trip had turned into an anti-Vietnam war protest.
Musically, the Stones and Beatles dominated the charts, but Motown was also conquering the country. So perhaps the idea that we could eliminate racial differences through music was not so bad.
At that time, the sound of Blue Mink was described as "white soul".
For her part, Madeline said about the text: & # 39; They have caught the mood of the moment, I assume. They were meant to fool the tongue, but many people take them seriously. It is clear that the idea of confusing all colors, races and religions is quite ridiculous.
& # 39; And even if we were all green with blue hair, we would still find something to argue about. & # 39;
For the band, which had its name from a breed of Tonkinese cats, it was the beginning of five years of pop fame.
Blue Mink had successful singles including Good Morning Freedom, The Banner Man, Stay With Me and Randy, but split in 1974 when the hits dry up. Elton John announced them on stage for their last performance in America.
But it wasn't the end of the story for the band members. Madeline remained very popular and sang on the soundtracks of films A Touch Of Class and The Last Tycoon.
In the 1980s, she was the voice behind advertising weales for British Gas and Brooke Bond tea. Now 77, in recent years she has lived in Spain.
Two of Blue Mink are dead, founder Roger Coulam and drummer Barry Morgan, who owned the studios in North West London where Melting Pot was recorded.
Alan Parker, 75 years old, the youngest surviving member of the band, still plays the guitar.
Roger Cook, a former plasterer friend from Bristol, who wrote a series of hits for stars, including Cliff Richard, Cilla Black, Gene Pitney and Andy Williams, is now based in Nashville.
Herbie, who co-wrote Dad & # 39; s army star Clive Dunn & # 39; s No. 1, Grandpa, is still playing music.
Reflecting on the Blue Mink line, he smiles: "I'm glad I'm a bit of a cat breeder, but you would have thought the world had bigger fish to bake than this."
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