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The Action: The Mod Sensation of the 1960s

The Action's journey is a testament to the resilience and passion of musicians dedicated to their craft.

The Action

The 1960s witnessed a musical revolution that transcended boundaries and defined a generation. Amidst the British Invasion and the rise of iconic bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, there emerged a lesser-known gem, The Action. This English band, originally formed as the Boys in 1963, played an influential role in the mod subculture and left an indelible mark on the music scene. In this article, we delve into the captivating journey of The Action, from their early days as the Boys to their evolution into a sensation of the 1960s.

The Birth of The Boys

In the heart of Kentish Town, North West London, in August 1963, The Boys came to life. This promising band featured a lineup that included Reg King (lead vocals), Alan ‘Bam’ King (rhythm guitar, vocals), Mike “Ace” Evans (bass guitar, vocals), and Roger Powell (drums). Little did they know that they were about to embark on a remarkable musical journey that would eventually redefine their destiny.

A Musical Odyssey

The Boys began their musical journey with a brief stint as a bar band in Germany, acquiring valuable experience along the way. Their transformation truly began when they became the backing band for Sandra Barry, also known as Sandra Barry and the Boyfriends. Their collaboration led to the creation of the single “Really Gonna Shake” in 1964, marking a pivotal moment in their early career.

Becoming The Action

As they continued to evolve, The Boys welcomed Pete Watson as their lead guitarist, marking a significant turning point in their journey. In 1964, they made a bold decision to change their name, becoming “The Action.” This name change represented a new chapter in their musical endeavours, setting the stage for what was to come.

The Parlophone Deal

The Action’s talent did not go unnoticed. They signed with Parlophone under the guidance of renowned producer George Martin. Their debut release, “Land of a Thousand Dances” b/w “In My Lonely Room,” received critical acclaim but faced challenges in terms of sales. Despite the initial setback, the band’s dedication and passion for music continued to drive them forward.

Charting the Uncharted

Despite their undeniable talent and the support of a prestigious record label, none of The Action’s singles managed to achieve success in the UK Singles Chart. The journey was fraught with challenges, but the band remained undeterred, determined to make their mark on the music world.

Winds of Change

Dissatisfaction with their manager Rikki Farr led to Pete Watson’s departure from the band in late 1966. The Action continued as a quartet but faced yet another setback when they were dropped by Parlophone in mid-1967. However, they refused to let these obstacles define their fate.

A New Direction

Taking matters into their own hands, The Action sought to expand their sound and secure a new recording contract. Keyboardist Ian Whiteman joined the band, but his tenure was short-lived due to Reg King’s unpredictable behaviour. Guitarist Martin Stone was soon recruited in his place, infusing fresh energy into the band.

Struggling for Recognition

The Action embarked on a quest to gather original new material for an anticipated LP. Their 1967/68 demos, characterised by a Byrds-influenced psychedelic style, failed to secure the recording deal they had hoped for. Despite their talent, they found themselves at an impasse.

A New Chapter

Amid these challenges, Reg King’s behaviour became increasingly unpredictable, leading to his departure from the band in mid-1968. Ian Whiteman returned, sharing vocal duties with Alan King. At this point, The Action decided on a brief name change to “Azoth,” but they soon reverted to their original name to record a new set of demos. These demos saw the band explore a mid-tempo West Coast-influenced psychedelic ballad style and transition into folk rock.

The Mighty Baby Era

By January 1969, The Action signed with Head Records, a fledgling independent label run by their former roadie John Curd. The band was re-christened “Mighty Baby” and released two albums in 1969 and 1971 before eventually disbanding at the end of 1971.

A Legacy Lives On

The Action’s story didn’t end with their disbandment. Alan King went on to form “Ace,” which achieved a US hit in 1975 with “How Long?” Their music continued to resonate with audiences, and in 1998, the original lineup of The Action reunited for a memorable concert on the Isle of Wight. The band enjoyed a resurgence, playing regularly over the next six years.

A Phil Collins Connection

Remarkably, The Action garnered the admiration of Phil Collins, who even performed with the reunited band in June 2000. Collins himself described the experience as akin to “playing with the Beatles,” a testament to the enduring influence of this iconic English band.