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

Next:

Part V – Fliers, Buttons and Other Memorabilia

Previous:

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

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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Playlist

  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

Next:

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

Previously:

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

Gallery of Images – Clubs, Bands and Music

When We Were Mods – Part I

Featured

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….

Next:

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