Lord Rockingham's XI were a group of musicians put together to play as the heavily sax laiden resident band on 'Oh Boy!'.
Jack Good had created this TV rock and roll show shortly after being dismissed by the BBC. Although Good had produced the very successful 'Six-5 Special' for the Beeb, he was deemed to be too reckless for Auntie and given his marching orders.
Unfortunately for the BBC he was not unemployed for long and ITV were then able to host one of the UK's definitive TV popular music programmes.
Lord Rockingham's XI actually had 13 musicians in all if you included bandleader Harry Robinson and lady organist Cherry Wainer. Well known jazz 'buff' Benny Green played alto saxophone with the band, but was so embarrassed by it that he often played in sunglasses to hide the fact. Although most people identified Elgin born Harry Robinson as Lord Rockingham, this wasn't the case according to Jack Good.
After achieving fame with their single 'Hoots Mon' and wanting to go 'on the road', there was considerable argument about who had rights to the name Lord Rockingham, and lawyers had to be brought in to settle the dispute! Although Good had created the name as a play on words 'rocking 'em', there really had been a real Lord Rockingham in times past.
The band achieved one further minor novelty hit apart from 'Hoots Mon' and the joke was over. Harry Robinson did try again with a modified line-up during the hey day of the Twist a couple of years later, but got no significant response. Lord Rockingham's XI remain a delightful, if transient, piece of 1950s fun, and should never have been taken as seriously as some musicians apparently believed they should be.
The BBC were terrified of Good's ability to think on his feet and to follow his instincts, so eight months after the show started, they appointed the reliable Dennis Main Wilson (later to become well-known as the producer of Top Of The Pops) as co-producer. His main previous experience had been producing the Goon Show on radio.
None of the 6.5 Special productions shows was taped, so they are lost for ever, but a low-budget film based on the show survives.
Although Jack had given the BBC a show that was attracting 12 million viewers, he was being paid only £18 a week . He left for independent television and launched Oh Boy! in June, 1958. After trial broadcasts in the Midlands, it went national, in direct competition with 6.5 Special on Saturday evenings.
6.5 Special stuck to its mix of rock, jazz, skiffle and crooners, but Good was in his rock 'n' roll element with Oh Boy! The programmes were broadcast from the Hackney Empire, London and made a star of Cliff Richard, as well as showcasing Billy Fury on several editions.
The show is also remembered for the brilliantly-named Lord Rockingham's XI - actually a 13-piece band put together by arranger Harry Robinson.
He shut himself in a caravan at a seaside resort and analysed the appeal of a pile of American records, before settling on a line-up of two tenor saxes, two baritone saxes, a double bass, a piano, an organ (played by Cherry Wainer), Latin American percussion, three guitars and drums and whatever else might be needed.
The band had two hits, the novelty numbers Fried Onions and Hoots Mon, but it all ended in tears with Good and Robinson arguing over the rights to the band's name. (They settled out of court, with Good keeping television and recording rights, and Robinson being able to use the name on tour.)
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