Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lord Bonkers' Diary: “You're out of touch my Blaby, My poor old-fashioned Blaby"

This is why I enjoy working for Lord Bonkers: here is a hitherto unsuspected episode in the history of Leicestershire and the history of popular music laid bare.

And if you'd heard the stories the old boy tells me about Blaby in those days, you'd know that was the right expression.


When cultural historians turn to the British pop scene it is Merseybeat and my own Rutbeat that dominate their writings. There is, however, another movement that should be given its due: Blaby Beat. Yes, this unassuming Leicestershire town has left its mark on musical history. 

James Taylor, for instance, was so taken with the place that he moved there and became known as ‘Sweet Blaby James.’ He was following a trail blazed by Bobby Vee who, though he was unable to stay for long, urged his listeners ever after to ‘Take Good Care of My Blaby.’ 

Whether The Supremes ever visited Leicestershire I know not, but their song ‘Blaby Love’ was careful to namecheck what was rapidly become the hottest and the coolest town in the world. Nor were they alone. One thinks of The Beach Boys (‘Don’t Worry Blaby’), The Rubettes (‘Sugar Blaby Love’), Wizzard (‘See My Blaby Jive’), Vanilla Ice (‘Ice Ice Blaby’), Bread (‘Blaby I’m-a Want You’), George McRae (‘Rock Your Blaby’) and Britney Spears (‘Hit Me Blaby One More Time’).

For a while it was a boomtown. The Beatles’ ‘Blaby You’re a Rich Man’ was taken as a cynical comment on the phenomenon and one I had some sympathy with, having seen Melton Mowbray after the Pork Pie Bubble of the 1890s burst. 

Ultimately, however, the Conservative-run council in Blaby proved a poor fit with the counter-culture and rigorous enforcement of its by-laws saw the end of the town’s pop fame. Bob Dylan’s ‘It's All Over Now, Blaby Blue’ served as the requiem for an era, and my old friends the Rolling Stones sang: “You're out of touch my Blaby/My poor old-fashioned Blaby/I said Blaby, Blaby, Blaby, you're out of time.”

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10.

Earlier this week in Lord Bonkers Diary...

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