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Rock and Bowl

In this special edition of PDCC we take a detailed look at the movers and shakers of Rock and Bowl, its history and how it changed the world for ever. Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Bowl.

Ed Sullivan: "How has your reception been so far?"

Ringo: "Terrible, I can barely get Test Match Special."

Sullivan: "Let me put it this way. America is Beatles crazy and we want to make you boys feel welcome. Are we getting close?"

John: "You can have the whole Yorkshire side for all I care; I'm a Lancashire supporter. "

(The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show 1964)

" Here's a grip. Here's a chord. And another grip. Here's another chord. Now bowl. Then form a band."

("Sniffin' Linseed" fanzine June 1977)

"If it wasn't for Rock and Bowl then there wouldn't have been Elvis, there wouldn't have been The Beatles; there wouldn't have been Lieutenant Pigeon."

(Derek Pringle: "Pringle on Pop "Faber and Faber" 1993).

Many cultural and sporting commentators have attempted to define Rock and Bowl.

For the majority it was a simple mixture of popular music and cricket.

But for some it was more complicated than that.

photo of Pommie Power
Short lived TCB endorsed boy band outfit Pommie Power. They split up after a commercially disastrous tour of non cricketing countries with The Mike Hendricks Experience.

Derek Pringle's influential essay in his book Pringle on Pop considered the question carefully.

He wrote: "Rock n Bowl wasn't just a load of hairy Brummie rockers singing a song about Geoff Humpage - although that was part of it - but more of an emotional connection. It was a feeling that lived deep in your soul; a sense of being, the exhilaration of being young and having no fear. It was the thrill of being part of something - of upsetting your parents, the Establishment, the Selectors. It was about sticking it to The Man. It was a way of life."

Spot on Derek! But there's more.

Rock and Bowl was about thumping good tunes. It was about men in whites singing the blues. It was about the power of music to change LBW legislation. It was about the greatest sport in the world played through guitars. It was Botham, Willis and Boycott in song form.

It didn't last - it couldn't have - but it was a great innings.

Here's what we've got:

The Bowling Stones. Rock n Bowl's most famous sons but were they originators or copycats? Read our exclusive interview and find out what really happened.

The story of Radio Dorothy. Take a bunch of out of work umpires, a leaky ship and a box of records. Modern radio is born on the high seas.

Genesix. Progressive Rock, Alan Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Mellotron madness, and scientific excesses.

Punk. Never mind Bob Willis here's the Sex Pistols. The punks loved their cricket. We ask those who remember it best to tell us the full story.

Highway to Hell. Rock n Bowl didn't always get it right as Aussie rockers AC/DC found out.

The Man with the Golden Gunn and Moore. Films featuring cricket playing secret agents abounded in the 1970s. This one was written by an umpire and contained the worst soundtrack of all time.

Rock and Bowl timeline

1933: Douglas Jardine releases the first known cricket recording My Bodyline Baby as a 78 on the RCA Victor label.

1942: Arthur Pickwicket records his patriotic war time umpiring classic: There'll be a Six Ball Over on the White Cliffs of Dover.

1950: Slow scoring American blues singer Stonewallin' Hopkins releases the seminal record My Baby Left Me (Because I Batted All Day for 12).

1953: The Lord's Shop Quartet hit Yes Sir, That's Tom Graveney tops the charts for thirteen consecutive weeks.

1954: Percy Fender invents the Fender Stratocaster

photo of Cliff Richard
"Rock around the Stumps" starred a young Cliff Richard as skiffle loving umpire Harry Webb, who wins the girl by no-balling local hoodlum, Tommy Nonce, for throwing.

1955: Release of the British teen flick Rock Around the Stumps starring Dirk Bogarde, Cliff Richard and Trevor Bailey.

1956: Elvis Presley watches a news item in his motel about Jim Laker's 19-90 at Old Trafford and writes Off Break Hotel in honour.

1958: Chuck Berry gets called for throwing and pens the sarcastic riposte Johnny Bowl Good.

1959: Buddy Holly killed in a plane crash when the pilot loses control after hearing Brian Johnson on Test Match Special say: "Now over to Edgbaston for some more balls from Rex Alston".

1960: Jerry Lee Lewis has a hit with My Old Man's a Twelfth Man.

1961: Del Shannon dedicates Runaway to "anyone who has got out on 99".

1963: Bob Dylan releases Bowlin' in to the Wind.

photo of Brighton 1964
Brighton 1964. A bitter feud erupted between Groundsmen and Umpires in the early '60s after a series of controversial referrals to the TCB's much reviled pitch inspectors.

1964: Groundsmen and umpires clash at Brighton on Bank Holiday Monday.

1965: Bob Dylan uses an electric light meter when umpiring at the Newport Cricket Festival, prompting a member of the crowd to shout "Judas".

1966; John Lennon states in interview that the Beatles are bigger than Ken Higgs. He quickly changes this to Jesus to avoid alienating Lancashire fans in their native Liverpool.

1967: Ken Barrington leaves the Maharishi led religious camp in Wales. He is joined by John Lennon and Colin Milburn.

1969: Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band record the influential Wally Grout Mask Replica album.

1969: Altamont Festival ends in disaster as Hell's Angels acting as security men kill a concert goer. The Rolling Stones had originally used MCC Stewards as security but the Lord's officials caused anger after refusing to permit entry to anyone not wearing a tie.

1971: The Glam Years: Jim Foat sticks glitter on his batting gloves at a Gloucestershire Second XI game at The Oval and inspires the watching David Bowie to invent his short lived alter ego 'Jammy Sparklepads'.

1976: Sniffin' Linseed - the first cricket/punk fanzine produced featuring interviews with The Damned, Slaughter and the Dogs, and Arnie Sidebottom.

photo of the New Romantic Movement
The rise of the New Romantic Movement was directly inspired by England's tour of India 1981/82.

1977: Cricket goes disco! The Bee Gees' How Deep is Your Mid Wicket is the biggest hit from the soundtrack to the year's most successful film about a left-handed seam bowler: Saturday Night Lever.

1982: Ted Dexter's Midnight Runners perform their single Jackie Hampshire Said on Top Of The Tops. Due to a mix up on set the band perform in front of a picture of actress Susan Hampshire.

1987: The Singing Postman re-records his classic hit Hev Yew Gotta Light Roller Boy for his forthcoming tour of the USSR.

1998: Rock and Bowl is dead! Genesix release the genre killing: Pass Keith Dutchie on the Left Hand Side.