Black Music

This documentary is directed by Sandie West based on the book 

Ian SnowballPete McKenna

Black Music White Britain

Front Cover
Available from New Haven Publishing 
It has often been quoted that if you can remember the 1960’s then you weren’t there. Sure enough the 60’s was a time packed full of exciting cultural, political and musical change. This in turn impacted on the youth of the day, a youth that was really still finding its steps having found itself breaking away from its post war teenager cocoon into something which at that time was unrecognisable. But then some might say so were the 50’s. Gradually youth was finding a voice…and it was backing it up with a sense of style and new sounds. Jazz music was always going to be cool. But for many teenagers jazz was also ‘dug’ by their older brother and parents. The 1950’s teenager was ready to embrace something new. That was when the first Modernists appeared on the streets of Soho and it wouldn’t be long before the black artists, many who had been previously, to the larger part, ignored, would be embraced and welcomed in Britain and every note and drum beat lapped up.

Nolan Porter: ‘Considering I saw my first R&B television review produced in Britain, in approximately 1958, I realised that Britain’s love affair with black music and black musicians was there way before I came on the scene. England has kept alive so much of the old R&B and their love for the artists has given hope and gratitude to many of the performers who are still around today, myself included. It’s hard for me to measure the impact that it has had on the UK. But I can measure the profound effect it has had on my life. I feel that my music found a home in the UK and we have become musical friends forever. When I perform in the UK I feel I’ve come to my musical home. My heart beats faster there!’






About the authors (2018)

Born and raised in Kent. Ian has an admiration for music and cult writers such as Pete McKenna and John King and tends to read any books with musical connections. An early fascination with music kicked off after having bought his first 7 inch record That’s Entertainment by The Jam. From here on there was a musical discovery that included Northern Soul, Reggae, Ska, Punk, House music and such bands as The Jam, The Small Faces, The Prisoners and The Who. Ian began writing books in 2008 and had his debut novel Long Hot Summer published in 2009. His next project was a book about British youth cults called Tribe: Made In Britain, which he co-wrote with Pete McKenna. Ian and Pete then collaborated on a crime fiction novel about Mods and East End gangsters that was set in 1967. The book called In the Blood was published in 2012, the same year as Thick as Thieves (Personal Situations With the Jam)-co-written with Stu Deabill, of which Paul Weller said was ‘the best book on The Jam and its audience I’ve ever seen’. 2013 then saw the publication of Supersonic (Personal Situations With Oasis) and From Ronnie’s To Raver’s (Personal Situations in London’s Clubland) which were also co-written with Stu Deabill. And in November that year Ian and Pete had their northern soul fictional short stories book called Nightshift/All Souled Out published. In 2014 Ian had three books published. His book about Ocean Colour Scene called Soul Driver was published one month after his book on Dexys Midnight Runner’s called The Team That Dreams in Caffs which he co-wrote with Dexys band member Geoff ‘JB’ Blythe was published and finally that year Ian’s other published book about the Medway garage and punk scene was called the Kids Are All Square. In 2015 Ian co-wrote That’s Entertainment ( My Life In The Jam) with The Jam’s drummer Rick Buckler. 2016 also saw the publication of Ian’s book Keith Moon: There Is No Substitute with an introduction by Pete Townshend and a foreword from Clem Burke. This was Ian’s third best-selling book.

Pete McKenna is a Blackpool born writer living between Spain and the UK. His published books include Nightshift, the first book on the 70’s northern soul scene in and around Wigan Casino Soul Club. A fictional crime novel Who the Hell’s Frank Wilson?. Co-writer of Made in Britain which is a history of UK street cultures from the 60’s to today. Maradona Good; Pele Better; George Best – a personal tribute to George Best and his latest, Tinseltown – A childhood memoir of growing up in the 60’S and 70’S in London and Blackpool. Current projects are Jerusalem – a semi fictional insight into the slashed and torn social and moral fabric of contemporary Britain seen through the eyes and mind of the main protagonist Johnny Hodges, an ageing skinhead who after release from prison quickly discovers that Britain is no country for old men prompting him to embark on a final apocalyptic mission of revenge. Holocaust Past Present – a factual comparison of the sixty seven year old Jewish persecution of the Palestinians and the Nazi persecution of the Jews in world war two. Beyond the Firm – the hard-hitting humorous harrowing autobiography of George Dorling who went from being a 1980’s casual soccer hooligan and petty criminal to an elite Parachute Regiment soldier serving time in the Paras own Special Forces unit The Pathfinders. Autumn Leaves- a dark stylish fictional crime novel set in the 60’s about an old tarnished haunted jazz tenor saxophone and the mysterious disappearance of the young man who owned it. Dead Mans Journal – a fictional novel in diary form of the final year of a former Mod diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who goes on a final journey determined to sample as much of life as possible before he dies. A Summer in Provence – a factually based fictional story of the unfolding events when a stranger with a dark past settles in the hills above Menton hoping for a quiet life but for some men their past is inescapable. The Arkitekt – a factually based fictional narrative of the life of Kurt Hoffmann beginning in post-world war one Germany to the edge of the abyss at the end of the Second World War. Obeying Orders- a study of the personal profiles of some of the worst Nazi war criminals during the Second World War.


Bibliographic information


Between them, Snowy and Pete McKenna have emerged as the leading authros in the collective of UL modernist writers. Snowys achievements include his acclaimed books on Oasis, Ocean Clour Scene and the Jam – the only ever book in the bands history to be personally endorsed by Paul Weller himself. Petes achievements include Nightshift – the first ever true account of what it was like to be a part of the 70’s northern soul scene and Who The Hells Frank Wilson – the first novel to be set arounf the northern soul scene. Working together Snowy and Pete produced The Team That Meet in Caffs – a celebration of one of the greatest into albums of all times – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels by Dexys Midnight Runners and Made In Britain which is a history of the many diverse long standing UK street cultures since the 1950’s.

What Snowy and Pete don’t know about the scene isn’t worth knowing and Black Music White Britain represents their personal homage to the UK’s black music scene imoprted from America beginning in 1948 when the MV Windrush arrived in London with the first boat load of Caribbeans looking forward to a new life in Britain but acceptance into a bigoted UK society wasn’t easy. Tensions flared in the 1950’s when the Kensington race riots occurred fuelled by the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Thankfully things ended as quickly as they began and paved the way for the now multi million event that is the Notting Hill Carnival as well as integration into British society who found themselves falling in love with the colourful style of their new neighbours especially so in the dancehalls where many heard and danced to ska and reggae for the first time.

Without Americas rich musical heritage the UK music scene would not have become the dominant music force it is today changing many people ways of living, dressing, eating, dancing and singing. From the plantations in the deep south confederate states where exhausted negro slaves found comfort in strumming the blues – to the clubs in New York and Chicago where jazz became the new black music – to the many gospel church choirs where many future stars first found their voices – to ska and reggae born in the clubs and studios of Jamaica – to the new sound of 1960’s soul courtesy of the big three labels Atlantic Stax and Tamla Motown who commercialised black soul music to a whole new level before importing it to the army of discerning UK kids searching for a new scene and identity – to the underground northern soul scene in clubs like the Golden Torch – the Twisted Wheel and the legendary Wigan Casino where working class kids danced their weekends away to the new stripped down infectious four four beat of northern soul produced in countless small US studios UK kids discovered an unswerving lifelong passion for in a scene that is bigger than ever today that started out in the swinging 60’s London clubs almost sixty years ago. To many of who were there back then and are still here today, the reality of living life without black music in white britain is simply unthinkable.