The Manfreds head to Worthing, Southsea, Eastbourne and Guildford

Original Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones will be joined by his 1966 replacement Mike d’Abo as The Manfreds, pioneers of British rhythm and blues, take to the road once again.

Mike d’Abo
Mike d’Abo

Dates include Worthing’s Assembly Hall on October 16; Southsea’s Kings Theatre on October 17; Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre on October 26; and Guildford’s G Live on November 4.

“Paul had said ‘Let me leave the band’, and they struck a deal that he would stay until they found a replacement,” Mike says. The rest of the band saw Mike and agreed he could be a contender.

“Manfred Mann came up to me and asked me for my telephone number. I had a girlfriend that became my first wife and I said to her ‘What the hell is Manfred Mann asking me out to lunch for?’ She said ‘He wants you to join the band’ so by the time the lunch came I was thinking that maybe my girlfriend had a point.”

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    And indeed she had. The approach came – and Mike was duly sworn to secrecy. In the event, it was a tough gig: “I had seen Manfred Mann perform and Paul Jones had such a big stage presence and a very confident ego. I knew my own ego was very frail and fragile. I was very, very self-conscious. Part of me thought that I couldn’t do it; part of me thought that I could.

    “But I suppose it all came together bit by bit. I evolved my style. Manfred made it clear from day one that I could not hide behind my keyboard, that I was going to be the singer, the frontman.”

    Manfred Mann formed in London in 1962, quickly finding success with their breakout single 5-4-3-2-1, recorded for ground-breaking TV pop show Ready Steady Go! They went on to secure three number-one hits in the UK, as well as 13 more in the top ten, with their first number one Do Wah Diddy Diddy landing them in the vanguard of the British pop invasion of America alongside The Beatles and The Animals.

    Following several more hits including Pretty Flamingo, a song which was often played by Bruce Springsteen during the early years of his career, and Bob Dylan’s Mighty Quinn, by the end of the 60s, the band members had decided to pursue their own separate musical directions and Manfred Mann disbanded. Fast forward just over 20 years later to 1992 and several original members of the band reformed as The Manfreds to mark Tom McGuinness’ 50th birthday.

    Mike was delighted to be part of it: “I can’t call myself one of the originals. I was the new boy in 1966, but I never stopped loving the music. I did leave the country for five years in 1977. I emigrated and went to live in America and I couldn’t believe how much things had changed by the time I got back. I realised that Dave Berry and bands like that were still playing music on the nostalgia circuit. But I had completely left the business. I just wanted to be a songwriter, but I formed a little band and I inched my way back into it, and we became quite in demand on the social circuit, and then we reformed as the Manfreds in 1992 for Tom’s 50th birthday.”

    It’s been a long and successful career, and Mike would have been forgiven for thinking he had seen it all: “But there are always surprises around the corner.”

    The past 18 months for instance: “I do think that things will have been permanently changed now by all this and that we might never go back to what you might call the good old days, PC, pre-Covid. I know that flying has dropped in the past 10-15 years, but 20-30 years ago it was a doddle – until they started to have to have all the terrorist inspections that we need now. And I do think global warming is here to stay. It is a fact of life. I love writing pop songs or love songs, but I have written a song about global warming which I am quite proud of, which is called Universal Message or it may be called Global Crisis. And I have also written a song about us all coming together like a brotherhood of man.”