Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Jack Good



Jack Good was the man who revolutionised music on television. Good really brought rock 'n' roll to the teenage television audience in Britain in the late fifties and early sixties and launched the careers of several artists including Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde. Good was born in Greenford, Middlesex, on 7th August 1931. He was involved in amateur theatricals, studied for a time at the London Academy of Music and Dance, dreamed of becoming a Shakespearian actor and, when attending Balliol College in Oxford, formed a drama society there. For a time he also appeared as a stand-up comic. He married German student Margit Tischer in 1955.

In 1957 he went to work for the BBC and the music programme 'Six-Five Special' produced by Josephine Baker. He talked her into letting him co-produce the shows with her and introduced more music, particularly featuring new performers such as Tommy Steele. The programme had twelve million viewers. He wanted more teenage appeal and less sports and general interest in the programme and was so frustrated at not having a free hand that he left his £18 a week job with the BBC to join ITV and launch 'Oh Boy', an exciting weekly rock 'n' roll show, based at the Hackney Empire. The series was a sensation and introduced performers such as Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, Vince Eager and Dickie Pride, with vocal backing from the Vernons Girls. 'Oh Boy' was an exciting, fast-paced show that dazzled audiences - the first genuine rock 'n' roll show and one that actually presented rock 'n' roll in all its glory.

Apart from promoting British artists such as Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele and Adam Faith he was the first to introduce American artists such as Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent to the British public. In fact, he was to completely change Vincent's image. When he arranged to collect Vincent at Heathrow Airport, Good was so disappointed to see a rock 'n' roll idol dressed simply in checked shirt and jeans that he took him in hand and had him dressed entirely in black leather - an image based on Richard III. He also said that Vincent should emphasise his disability, caused by a motorbike accident, and wear a caliper on his leg and start limping!

Good knew music, knew artists and when EMI were issuing Cliff Richard's single 'Schoolboy Crush', it was Good who talked them into flipping the record and promoting the B side 'Move It', the record that established Cliff in Britain. Good also produced Billy Fury's breakthrough album 'The Sound of Fury'.
Jack Good

Jack Good in Father Goose Following 'Oh Boy', he launched another rock series in 1959, 'Boy Meets Girl', which helped to establish Marty Wilde, and followed up the next year with yet another series, this time called 'Wham!'. In 1960 he left for America, deciding he wanted to be an actor, and appeared as Lieutenant Stebbings in the Cary Grant film 'Father Goose' and Mr Hathaway, manager of Shores Hotel in the Elvis Presley film 'Clambake'. Brian Epstein wanted him to produce a Beatles special, so he returned to London and directed 'Around the Beatles' in 1964.

Good had wanted to become a serious actor but could only find bit parts in films and TV shows in America (Captain Henderson in 'Hogan's Heroes', Sidney Cruikshank in 'Run For Your Life' and an auto salesman in 'The Andy Griffith Show'), so he decided to return to rock 'n' roll and launched 'Shindig' for the ABC network in America. Apart from artists such as The Beatles, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers, he wanted to feature some of the brilliant black artists whose music he admired but who had few outlets on American television. The station bosses battled with him to prevent this, but he threatened to report them to the Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, and they backed down. As a result he was the first to bring Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner to the screen and also promoted artists such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and The Miracles on the programme.

His major love was still the theatre and, in 1968, he produced and wrote 'Catch My Soul' - a rock version of 'Othello' starring Jerry Lee Lewis as Iago, which he staged in Los Angeles. He then produced it in London's West End with P.J. Proby as Iago and himself, blacked up, as Othello. He was also to produce a film of 'Catch My Soul' in 1974 starring Ritchie Havens. In 1969 he returned to television with '33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee', which he also wrote and produced. He continued to produce specials on artists such as Andy Williams and also another television rock show featuring Ray Charles, Jethro Tull and The Nice.

His life changed when he was the subject of a 'This Is Your Life' show on 18th March 1970. A former college tutor of his appeared and said "Jack Good could have done anything". Good recalled, "I thought, 'what have I done?' I have destroyed and corrupted the youth of this country and corrupted myself too. I have failed because I have not done anything useful to improve people's lives".

Good then went to Spain and taught himself how to paint. He hadn't entirely turned his back on the stage and rock music, despite his misgivings, and was to direct a West End production of 'Elvis' in 1977 at the Astoria Theatre, featuring artists such as P.J. Proby and Shakin' Stevens. Discussing his attitude to music on television in 1981, he said, "I hate light entertainment shows and I hate smart looking fellows in dinner jackets saying, 'Good Evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to…blah, blah, blah…and it goes on! I just want Wham Bam De Boo Bop, Do Wop Bam Boo. Tutti Fruitti…then next number, next number…and bored with that…next number!"

He next moved to New Mexico with his wife and children. When his marriage broke down in 1987 he even considered becoming a monk. He seemed to become more and more involved in religion and also became a Catholic. In the Nineties, British actor Greg Wise portrayed Good in the West End musical 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. Intrigued by the character, he set off in search of him. He discovered Good living in an adobe chapel in New Mexico, dressed in monk's robes and painting religious pictures, inspired by the Bible.

He wanted to know why Good had turned his back on the pop scene to become a hermit and began to interview him and film him over a period of years, resulting in the television documentary 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find', screened on BBC2 on 16th January 2005. After living for many years in New Mexico, Good finally returned to England to live in Oxfordshire.
Jack Good

Footnote: Jack Good played and recorded with Lord Rockingham's XI whose recordings included 'Fried Onions' and the universally known UK Singles Chart #1 'Hoots Mon'




Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


Article Bill Harry 2017               Original Graphics SixtiesCity 2017

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