A great singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist he influenced many other artists, although his own path to rock’n’roll heaven
wasn’t always paved with gold records.
Repertoire has re-issued Mickey's 1970 album 'Legend' and now 'Juppanese' first released in 1978,
is being restored from the archives. We caught up with Mickey at his remote home in the Lake District where he moved
several years ago, having tired of the music biz rat race and too much sushi. He now runs a craft shop and rarely plays
any gigs these days but he has fond memories of the old days. He tells how he first got hooked on rock’n’roll in 1950s and
how he joined the ranks of teenagers desperate to emulate their idols. Perhaps it was not surprising that his home town of
Southend in Essex gave birth to a lively music scene as there were so many seafront cafes, clubs and pubs to play.
One of the best local bands was The Paramounts led by Gary Brooker and Robin Trower, who later formed Procol Harum.
The Paramounts encouraged Mickey when he took his first steps to becoming a musician. Jupp was born on March 6, 1944
and began performing with The Orioles in 1963. They built up a following at The Shades coffee bar playing standards like
‘Brand New Cadillac’ and ‘Money.’ The Orioles broke up in 1965 after Mickey served some time in prison over a domestic
problem i.e. not paying maintenance to his wife. But he returned with his new band Legend in 1968 and recorded an album
for Bell Records. It was the start of a recording career that would result in his solo album ‘Juppanese’ partly produced by his
old pal Gary Brooker and first released on Stiff in 1978.
Explains Mickey: “Nick Lowe produced one side and Gary Brooker did the other. I had known Gary since the days of the Orioles
when he was in The Paramounts and we used to play down at The Shades. This album started off with Gary producing but Stiff
wanted to start again with Nick Lowe and the band Rockpile.”
Back to Mickey's teenage years. He left art college in April 1962 and took a job at a paint and wallpaper shop only to walk out
one Saturday afternoon, desperate to become a musician. “I have regretted doing that ever since. After 40 years I’ve begun to
realise I wasn’t really suited to the music business! Talent-wise I was okay. I had a fair voice and wrote a few songs and
gained quite a bit of respect. But I regretted walking out because I shouldn’t have let people down.”
When he quit his job aged 19, Mickey was already married and was expected to support his wife. But he really wanted to rock’n’roll.
“Even then I didn’t do it professionally. I sorted of drifted and went with the flow. My first serious group was The Orioles.
I was a bit of a late starter really. That lasted two or three years but we split up in 1966 when I was unexpectedly called away
and had to do a bit of time inside. It was nothing serious, just non-payment of maintenance. We were married before I was 20
and it was totally my fault the marriage split up. All of a sudden I was in a rock’n’roll band and a teenager hero,
so it must have turned my head.”
The group got its name after playing at The Shades supporting Gary Brooker & The Paramounts.
“Gary introduced us but didn’t have a name. He said ‘Ladies & Gentlemen we have a new band tonight,
please welcome The Orioles.’ There were quite a few good local bands. The pop groups were into Helen Shapiro but I was
into Chuck Berry. I loved his guitar playing and lyrics and he was a huge influence as well as The Coasters, because they
sang those great Leiber & Stoller songs.”
Mickey later moved to Somerset and worked at a builders’ merchant in Bath. He then started writing songs and the first
batch was good enough to land him a contract with Bell Records. He recorded ‘Legend’ for Bell featuring acoustic blues.
Mickey: “I did one gig with Legend but it wasn’t a touring band. We just did the album to see what might happen.
We were the first English band signed to Bell. Although it was a nice album it didn’t work. Then I got a call from Robin Trower
who was now in Procol Harum. Davey Knights their bass player wanted to go into management. Robin recommended me to
Davey and it was arranged that I would get a band together and he would be my manager.
And that’s how the second electric version of Legend started."
But things didn't quite go as planned. They played a gig in the Kings Road one night and Juppy confesses: "We were awful.
I said ‘That’s it.’ We’d had enough. Yet Pub Rock was just starting. If we'd stayed together another six months we would
have been famous. We just missed the boat. That was the end of Legend.
Every group I’ve had since has been called the Mickey Jupp Band.”
Juppy returned to Southend and managed a music shop. He also booked bands into a club such as
Dr. Feelgood and Kilburn & The Highroads. “I was blown away when I saw the Kilburns in 1975.
They were the best live band I’d ever seen and I thought ‘If that’s the opposition, I quit.’
Pub rock was great until punk came in and destroyed it all.”
Juppy was encouraged back into performing by Lee Brilleaux of Dr. Feelgood and Paul Shuttleworth of the Kursaal Flyers.
Both bands recorded some of his songs and he formed his own nine-piece outfit in 1975. “We had some great reviews
but unfortunately that band fell apart in 1976 as it was difficult to hold together.”
In 1977 Keith Reid, Procol Harum’s lyricist became Mickey’s manager and the singer signed to Arista who released his
single ‘Nature’s Radio’ in 1978. This led to a contact with Stiff and the release of ‘Juppanese’ an album of new material.
Gary Brooker had been asked to produce the whole album until Stiff suggested Nick Lowe take over.
Nick produced side one using Rockpile veterans, Dave Edmunds and Billy Bremner (guitars), Terry Williams (drums)
and himself on bass. Gary Brooker produced the second side using Chris Spedding (guitar), Bruce Lynch (bass),
and Dave Mattacks (drums) with Mickey on vocals, guitar and piano.
Nick Lowe's first seven tracks on the CD are ‘Making Friends’, ‘Short List’, ‘Old Rock’n’Roller, ‘ ‘School’, ‘If Only Mother’
‘Down In Old New Orleans’ and ‘You’ll Never Get Me up In One Of Those.’ Gary did ‘Pilot’, ‘S.P.Y’ and ‘The Ballad Of Billy Bonney’,
Parti C’est Mourir Un Peu’ (trans: To Leave Is To Die A Little) and ‘Brother Doctor, Sister Nurse.’
Says Juppy: “There is no particular theme to the album. Roger Chapman really liked ‘Short List’ and even called his
own band Short List. ‘Old Rock’n’Roller’ was written when my band supported Elvis Costello on a UK tour.”
Mickey dashed off the lyrics in a hotel bedroom as he underwent a crisis of confidence.
“I didn’t want to do the tour anymore. I felt too old and way out of touch. ‘School’ was about being told ‘Don’t do this,
don’t do that.’ ‘If Only Mother Could See Me Now’ was about being in a rock’n’roll band. ‘Down In Old New Orleans’ goes
‘I’m a guitar picker and my name is Slim.’ That’s been covered many times.”
Mickey says that ‘You’ll Never Get Me Up In One Of Those’ was based on one of the two things he vowed he would never do.
One was fly in a plane and the other was join a trade union. “Of course I’ve done both since. Dave Edmunds and The Hamsters
have both recorded that song. ‘Pilot’ was written in ten minutes after the break up of an affair.
It goes ‘You set me up woman and you shot me down.’ A lot of fans think that was one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
‘S.P.Y’ was a spoof on the ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E’ TV series and ‘The Ballad Of Billy Bonney’ was about outlaw Billy The Kid.
‘Partir C’est Mourir Un Peu’ is about a French lass Mickey fell madly in love with in 1976, who then went back to France.
Among the bonus tracks ‘Nature’s Radio’ is based on a phrase Mickey misheard but sounded good. He can’t remember what
‘You Made A Fool Out Of Me’ was about. ‘‘Be Stiff’ is a ‘live’ version from the 1978 Stiff Records UK ‘Rail Tour’ Mickey joined
after the release of ‘Juppanese. ‘Don’t Talk To Me’ was a single that got a lot of airplay.
Juppy: "The album got a lot of airplay and sympathetic reviews. At the time I was aged 34 and rated as ‘most deserving
but least likely to succeed’ sort of person. When I did the Stiff tour I was the oldest person apart from the train driver!”
He quit the tour before a scheduled visit to America because of his fear of flying. Juppy explains: “The Stiff Tour wasn’t much fun
as far as I was concerned. I remember playing at Newcastle City Hall one night and thinking: ‘What the hell am I doing here?
Why am I doing this?’ I hated it. The whole experience of being on stage just wasn’t me. I’m grateful that people appreciate
my talents as a musician and writer but I never had the desire to strut my funky stuff.
In my career I said ‘no’ more times than I should have said ‘yes.’ My band decided to go to America while I stayed at home."
Mickey has given up touring and runs his craft shop in a village called Boot. This is appropriate as ‘Legend’ (Repertoire REPUK 1064)
is known as the ‘red boot’ album, due to a cover design depicting a red winkle picker. “I bought my shop eight years ago because
I wanted to get out of touring and be my own boss. I admit moving here was a bad career move. But as I got older and the road
got harder I thought it was time to stop. I don’t want to do gigs anymore. I never was Ethel Merman,
desperate to get up on stage and be a star!”
Posted on Apr 12, 2006 12:19 pm by Chris