When We Were Mods – Part IV

Part IV – The Untouchables and the LA Mods

Above: The first issue of Twist with The Untouchables on the cover.

Dig The New Breed

The cover story* of first issue of Twist magazine was about The Untouchables and began:

“The show didn’t so much begin as explode. Seven men run onto the stage, grab instruments and microphones and begin an energy assault…”

The Untouchables (or The UTs as they were also called for short) usually played for a couple hours at a time and when I first saw them at the ON Klub I think I must of danced for 3 to 4 hours, or at least that how I remember it…

Above: VIDEO – News report about the LA Mods and  The Untouchables. It’s about as accurate as most news stories…

The Untouchables at The Roxy

By late 1982 they had become so popular that they started having regular shows at The Roxy, where I must have seen them play a dozen times.

Above: The Untouchables at The Roxy – November 1982 – (from left to right) Clyde Grimes, Herman Askerneese, Kevin Long, Chuck Askerneese, Rob Lampron, Terry Ellsworth and Jerry Miller – Photo by David Shelton

At The Roxy the shows were filled to capacity. The Untouchables hadn’t been signed yet and every time they played I felt the anticipation of something big about to happen.

I’m glad I was able to get my older brother David to come to a show and bring his camera. David was a roadie for various punk bands and wasn’t into our mod scene, but he liked The Untouchables and their ska tunes. Thanks to David I still have these photos of The UTs.

The first UT I got to know was Terry Ellsworth, the rhythm guitarist.

Above: The Untouchables at The Concert Factory – Fall 1982 – Rhythm Guitarist, Terry Ellsworth – Photo by David Shelton

Chuck Askerneese, the lead singer, Herman his brother who played bass and Jerry Miller, the percussionist, would often show up at The Bullet to hang out and dance. I got to know them a little, mostly I was on the “head-nod and smile” level of acquaintance.

Their lead guitarist and main songwriter, Clyde Grimes, was a genuinely cool guy with a clean style – very mod. I got to know Clyde better than any of the other UTs, and I often find myself missing him.

Above: The Untouchables at The Concert Factory – Fall 1982 – Lead Guitarist, Cylde Grimes – Photo by David Shelton

The more time I spent in LA in early 1983, the better I got to know some of The Untouchables as well as some of the mods that wrote for Twist magazine, the ones who happened to be the Face (the people to watch) of the scene.

The Scene During 1983

I remember the summer of 1983 as “The Style Council Summer” – The Jam had broken up and Paul Weller, the lead singer had started a new band with the keyboardist from The Merton Parkas, Mick Talbot.

Our movement had grown very large and was beginning to fragment. We had groups of ska kids, scooter boys, soul boys, power pop mods, skinheads and psychedelic mods – and every group had it’s purists that didn’t like the other groups.

I was one of the soul boys and we headed off in the Northern Soul direction.

Above: Flyer – Out On The Floor – 60t and Northern Soul Music at The Concert Factory with DJ Jon Shelton (that was me)…

We removed all the patches off of our parkas and started adopting the more casual style Paul Weller was now wearing. We listened to his new songs Money Go Round and Long Hot Summer and smiled and danced.

There were weeks when I rarely made it back home to my parents house in Irvine. Instead I was often crashing, along with my friends, at different mod’s houses, always on the go…

Above: The Untouchables second single with several backstage passes still attached…

I think one of the last UTs shows that I went to was when they played at UCI in Irvine on August 7th. I still have my backstage pass from the show, and I remember them dedicating the song “Free Yourself” to my girlfriend Angela and me… The next month we did, and broke-up.

Above: VIDEO – The Untouchables  Free Yourself Video


Part V – Fliers, Buttons and Other Memorabilia


Part I – My Scooter
Part II – Orange County Mods 1982/83
Part III – Clubs, Bands and Music

Gallery of Images – The Untouchables and the LA Mods


* Twist Magazine, Spring 1983, pages 4-5, Making MODern Music by Michael Coates and Dawn Fratini

One thought on “When We Were Mods – Part IV

  1. I’d read this post (and the rest of your mod story) a few years back; could totally relate as I got into the L.A. mod/ska scene but from ’85-’89, just after your phase. It’s interesting to note that by 1985, when I first got into it, the scene truly was compartmentalized as you’d seen happening in ’83. Mods, rudies and skins co-existed and held the scene together, but each stuck true to their guns and strived to make their identities clear. There were no “sort-ofs” or in-betweens.

    Anyways. I just had to mention that with the recent unfortunate passing of Clyde Grimes, your page/story will certainly stand as a memorial and testament to the UT phenomena and the magic of Grimes’ talent—hometown heroes that we L.A. mods, rudies and skins were lucky to have witnessed firsthand. Thanks again for sharing your story.

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