Childhood friends

Listen to Geoff MacCormack telling the story of how he met David (then Jones) when they were children.

David Jones and Geoff MacCormack, aged 8, 1955. © Geoff MacCormack

Transcript of interview:

Interviewer: So the first two that you see upon walking into this amazing exhibition are two cherubic little faces looking back at us and that’s you [Geoff] and David.

Geoff: That’s right, and I suppose we would have been around 8 years of age. We met at primary school in Bromley where we both lived, we lived around the corner from each other and met at Burnt Ash Primary School and we had an interest in a new form of music that hit us from America called Rock ‘n’ Roll. Everything here had been very mundane until then and there was a huge bang of Americana that exploded to our ears and to our eyes and everything about it was exciting and colourful and the music was from Mars, it was stuff you’d never heard. The music here was very mundane and it was quite ballard laden and hearing Little Richard for the first time and seeing him, it was just from another world entirely.  There was Bill Haley of course Rock Around the Clock,  like 50 or 60 year old man in a tartan suit didn’t scream youth or rebel. Whereas Elvis Presley with his slinky moves and increasing quiff and Little Richard, they were astounding.

Interviewer:  Were these two little chaps here be dancing like Elvis Presley in the playground?

Geoff:  I don’t think at this stage we would have done that but we would sing stuff and there was a group called Frankie Lymon and The teenagers and Frank Lymon was like some 10-year old kid so it was like Michael Jackson before Michael Jackson and he had a couple of hits, one was quite well known, ‘Why do fools fall in love’ and he did one in particular which was called ‘I’m not a juvenile delinquent’ and David and I used to sing that in harmony and we would sound rather like a poor man’s Frankie Lymon because we used to have these tiny high voices and we used to sing together in a choir in Bromley, St Mary’s Choir. And there was also the Cubs, we went to the Cub Scouts together as well so that was that, that was these two little urchins.

Interviewer: Do you think seeing someone that young doing pop songs and getting that kind of attention, did it feel like, oh that’s an achievable thing because that guy is doing it and he’s young like us, did it sow the seed of it being something you could then….. 

Geoff: I think it was more clandestine, like it was something that was slightly  illegal, something that was not your mother’s or your uncle’s, it was definitely new and a secret almost.

Interviewer: There was so much fear around it, it was like shut it down, it’s unacceptable and yet it ignited so much in the younger people. What did you learn at the Cubs?

Geoff: What did we learn at the Cubs? We learnt how to smoke marijuana. You asked for that! Right, next!