When We Were Mods – Part III

Part III – Clubs, Bands and Music

Above: The Concert Factory on Mod Night in the Fall of 1982 when The Untouchables played – Photo by David Shelton

Orange County Clubs and Bands

In Orange County we had 3 places that had “Mod Nights” with bands and DJs on a regular basis – The Concert Factory, Circle City and Radio City.

Both The Concert Factory and Circle City had their own mod scenes, while Radio City was just a place to go see shows.

The Concert Factory was in Costa Mesa and was the place where we moved our center of action after the summer at Pizza Pete‘s.

The place used to be called The Cuckoo’s Nest, a legendary Orange County punk rock club. My brother David (the one who took many photos included with this story) got his nose broken there several years before defending the bass player from Jodie Foster’s Army.

One of the earliest mod bands in OC was The Jetz, and they played often at The Concert Factory. Other band that played there were The Modbeats, The Question, Sidewalk Society, The Targets, The Torries, The Shapes, Manual Scan, The Fixation, The Howling Men, I-Spy, The Three O’Clock, and The Underground.

Above: A group of mods from Corona Del Mar at The Concert Factory – Photo by David Shelton

Every month or so, The Untouchables from LA played, who were, hands down, the most popular band. They sold the place out every time they played.

From Orange County To LA

During late 1982 and into 1983 I started spending a lot more of my time up in LA and Hollywood, going to The Club Lhasa every Wednesday night for The Bullet.

Above: Flier for The Bullet at The Club Lhasa

This was THE mod club to go to at the time. Bryan Fox was the DJ and spun tunes you loved and ones you hadn’t heard of yet. There was plenty of dance floor, a big side room to hang out in, and it felt like we had the run of the place.

At the same time as The Bullet was happening, The Untouchables were playing regular gigs at The Roxy and a new mod magazine came out called Twist – it was a great time to be a mod…

Music and dancing were the center around which we orbited…

For me, the music was even more important than the scooters. I was fortunate enough to have had some good friends with great tastes in music who taught me how to find the music I was looking for – the best soul song on a 7″ single that nobody else had heard yet…

Bryan Fox, the DJ from The Bullet had a really good record collection. DJ John “Rudy” Wright not only danced better than anyone and dressed extremely sharp, but also had excellent taste in music.

There was a Northern Soul guy from England named Gabby who would show up sometimes at The Bullet. He always had the most amazing singles with him in his little black bag along with baby powder for the dance floor and dancing shoes. I got a number of nice records from Gabby.

In my opinion, If there hadn’t been The Jam or The Who, if there hadn’t been Two Tone Records or if a lot of old soul singles hadn’t been waiting to be discovered, there wouldn’t have been mods.

We listened to a range of music, from newer (at the time) Power Pop bands like The Jam, The Purple Hearts, Squire, Merton Parkas and Secret Affair to old 60’s bands like The Who, Small Faces, The Animals and The Yardbirds. We also listened and danced to a lot of 60’s soul, from Motown classics to Northern Soul rarities and Ska music from bands like The Specials, Madness, The Selector, Bad Manners and The English Beat.

Mixtape: Scratchin’ Soul Singles

I collected records and sometimes I would DJ at The Concert Factory. Some of my old soul singles are rather worn now, and some are a bit scratched up, but here is a mixtape of some great songs from my collection for your enjoyment. I call this mixtape Scratchin’ Soul Singles

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  1. Agent Double O-Soul by Edwin Starr
  2. Roadrunner by Jr. Walker and the All Stars
  3. The In Crowd by Dobie Gray
  4. Boogaloo Down Broadway by The Fantastic Johnny C
  5. Sock It To Me Baby by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
  6. C’mon and Swim by Bobby Freeman
  7. Dancing Fast, Dancing Slow by The Intentions
  8. The Dog by Rufus Thomas
  9. Grove and Move by Jr. Walker and the All Stars
  10. Last Night by The Mar-Keys
  11. My Aching Back by Lowell Fulsom
  12. Did You Ever Love A Woman by Rufus Thomas
  13. Gimme, Gimme by ZZ Hill
  14. I’ve Been Takin’ For A Ride by The Saints
  15. But It’s Alright by JJ Jackson
  16. Night Before by The Mar-Keys
  17. Shoot Your Shot by Jr. Walker and the All Stars
  18. I Never Had It Better by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
  19. We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet by The Blues Magoos


Part IV – The Untouchables and the LA Mods
Part V – Fliers, Buttons and Other Memorabilia


Part I – My Scooter
Part II – Orange County Mods 1982/83

Gallery of Images – Clubs, Bands and Music

When We Were Mods – Part II

Part II – Orange County Mods 1982/83

Above: Mods with scooters parked outside Pizza Pete’s on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach. Mine is the red and white one in the middle…

Our group of mods in 1982 wasn’t the first group of mods from Orange County, the first wave arrived a couple years before we did.

Our mod season began around the time of the last tour of The Jam in May of 1982.

Early in the summer of 1982 me and my friends Mark, Rodney, Dana and a few others started hanging out on Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach at a place called Pizza Pete’s. We would park our scooters right in front for hours, smoking cigarettes, drinking, listening to music and watching the people go by.

Soon we started to attract a number of other mod kids as word got out that a group of mods were hanging out at Pizza Pete’s every night, getting into all kinds of trouble.

The Garden Grove mods joined us as did the Huntington Beach mods, and the Costa Mesa mods and the Santa Ana mods, and then more and more…

Above: Richard “Sparky” Sihilling, one of the leaders of the Orange County scooter club called The 100 Klub

Some nights we had 30-40 scooters and 40 to 60 kids hanging out and going for late night scooter rides.

By the late summer a mod girl (whose name eludes me) who lived on Balboa Island had joined our nightly group. She had Quadrophenia on video tape and a very lenient mom – many nights we would all crash there and watch the movie until daybreak.

From 1982 through 1983 the mod scene exploded.

Soon we had several clubs like The Concert Factory, Circle City and Radio City to go to, listen to bands, hear DJs spin cool mod and ska tunes and dance. By the summer of 1983 there were hundreds of mod kids in Orange County, many with new Vespa scooters.

That spring and summer we had several scooter rallies which each had a couple hundred scooters riding together down Pacific Coast Highway.

Above: Zoot Scoot Rally II rolling down Pacific Coast Highway – Spring 1983 – Photo from The Register Newspaper.

From all corners of Orange County there were new bands forming, lots of parties to go to and various scooter or mod related things going on all the time. Or, at least that’s how it seemed to me… but then again, this was practically all I was doing.


Part III – Clubs, Bands and Music
Part IV – The Untouchables and the LA Mods
Part V – Fliers, Buttons and Other Memorabilia


Part I – My Scooter


Gallery of Images – Orange County Mods 1982/83

When We Were Mods – Part I


Part I – My Scooter

This is a machine that changed my life…

This is the 1977 Vespa Rally 200 that I bought in April of 1982 for $300 when I was a senior in high school.

Before I bought this scooter I had never heard of mods, but by the time I graduated two months later I was already changing from a punk/rockabilly kid to a clean dressing, soul music loving mod.

Two mods at my high school – Mark Hackworth and Rodney Sheppard (Rodney later went on to be the guitarist for Sugar Ray) – took it upon themselves to instruct me in the proper way to be a mod – dress sharp, stay out all night, listen to the right music, and always go, go, go…

Above: (from left to right) Mark Hackworth with one of my friends at the time, Jeff.
Photo by David Shelton.

I turned 18 the same week I graduated from high school, and the next week I rode my scooter 35 miles (by freeway) from Irvine to Hollywood with a friend of mine named Jeff to go to the On Klub and see The Untouchables.

After The Untouchables played that night I joined a group of scooters headed to a party “just around the corner” and ended up getting a grand scooter tour of Hollywood and LA all they way down to the party in Santa Monica.

The party was still going at close to dawn when I got back on my scooter and rode 30 miles down the 405 freeway to my job in Irvine, just in time for work at 7:00 am.

And so it began, over 30,000 miles (before my speedometer died and I lost track) of scooter riding around Orange County and Los Angeles from the summer of 1982 through the spring of 1984.

Lots of crazy adventures, broken brake cables, blown-out tires, paint jobs, accessories, lights, mirrors, stickers – when my scooter finally died in 1984 I knew everything about that machine – inside and out.

It was because of my scooter I entered a whole sub-culture of sharp dressing, great dancing, scooter riding people that would be my life for the next two very important years of my life….


Part II – Orange County Mods 1982/83
Part III – Clubs, Bands and Music
Part IV – The Untouchables and the LA Mods
Part V – Fliers, Buttons and Other Memorabilia

Gallery of Images – My Scooter