If you’re a fan of the Who — and watched or listened to their 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia — you’re up to speed on the two warring British youth subcultures known as the Mods and the Rockers that came to worldwide notice courtesy their numerous, violent confrontations in mid-1960’s London. And you know about their roots in the frames of Marlon Brando’s The Wild One (1953) and the music of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
And Euro-cinema knew good fodder for a script when they seen one.
So Ennio De Concini, who wrote more than his fair share of sword n’ sandal and spaghetti westerns, and director Franco Montemurro (internationally known for 1962’s The Police Commissoner and 1964’s Divorce Italian Style), came up with a story about a Liverpool gang war between the Mods (who dress in the latest fashions and style ala Gene Vincent) and the Rockers (adorned in a ’50s greaser style ala Marlon Brando). Ricky Fuller (Euro musician Ricky Shayne), the son of a wealthy businessman, is a Mod musician who, after a bloody a gang fight that leaves his girlfriend dead, flees Liverpool for Rome — and he starts an affair with his father’s mistress.
A 1970 Radio Luxemburg “Golden Lion” award-winning singer, Ricky Shayne (aka George Albert Tabet) was born to a Lebanese oilman and his mother, a French-born painter, in Beirut, Lebanon. After moving to Paris at the age of 15, he began his music studies; with a move to Italy at 17, he began his recording career and, courtesy of his cinematic good looks, quickly found acting work. In 1965, he co-starred in an Italian rock flick Altissima pressione (Highest Pressure). He quickly transitioned into leading man roles with the 1966 German rock film Siebzehn Jahr, blondes Haar (Seventeen Years, Blond Hair) and the 1967 Italian rock flick Una ragazza tutta d’oro (A Girl All In Gold). Of course, all of the films featured Ricky’s latest hits, with the The Battle of the Mods featuring his tunes “Uno dei Mods” (“One of the Mods”), along with “No No No No” and “Crazy Baby I Got You” (which also served as the film’s alternate title).
American classic rock aficionados came to know Ricky Shayne by way of the American pop band Stories, fronted by Ian Lloyd (1973 U.S. #1 “Brother Louie“). In lieu of importing Ricky Shayne to the States via his 1971 European smash hit single “Mammy Blue” (the German language version hit #7 in that country; the French language version hit #8 in France, the English language version hit #1 in Argentina and Brazil, and the Top 10 in Belgium and Japan), the song was re-recorded by Stories, who placed it in the American Top 50 — and proved to be the last hit by the band. Shayne, meanwhile, became a U.S citizen in 1975, but continued to hit the European charts with a variety of singles while starring in European film and television roles. Now, at the age of 76, he still performs in Eurasia as part of nostalgia package tours.
While a quick search of Ricky’s music on You Tube will turn up a wide array of his singles, here’s his original 1971 version of “Mammy Blue” to enjoy (alternately titled with one “m” or two, depending on country of release.)
A VHS rip of the English dub of Battle of the Mods from a UHF-TV replay is available on You Tube. You can also watch rips of A Girl All in Gold and Highest Pressure, along with an extended clip of Seventeen Years, Blonde Hair, all courtesy of You Tube.