Manfred Mann (1940) musician
He came from South Africa and his name was Michael Lubovitz. In the beginning of the 1960s London opened up for him: music lovers were all over the city and jazz aficionado Lubovitz thought it would be a perfect place to start his musical career. Johannesburg was a thing of the past, in Europe he would earn his fame as a jazz pianist.
In London Lubovitz (October 21, 1940) met some matches: Tom McGuinness, Mike Vickers, Paul Jones (whose name actually was Paul Pond, but that wasn't a cool handle to go by), and Mike Hugg. Jones was the best known of the five musicians. He had played with Eric Clapton and Brian Jones in a band called The Roosters. In 1963 the men played everywhere in the British capital. Their gigs in the famous Marquee Club attracted several talent-spotting managers. Within a short period, the band was known under the name of Manfred Mann (although Manne at first, after Shelly Manne), as Lubovitz had baptized himself. That sounded better, he declared. The other band members were far less excited.
The group debuted with Why should we not?. It did nothing. But a month later, things were turning. The reputed and loved BBC radio show Ready, Steady, Go! was looking for a new tune, since their original jingle Wipe Out by The Surfaris sounded old-fashioned. Manfred Mann recorded 5-4-3-2-1 on vinyl and a success story had begun.
It wasn't pop, nor blues, nor rock. It was Manfred Mann. Whichever band member played, the sound was right, the songs were hits, the whole world could sing and whistle along, and with the speed of light Do Wah Diddy Diddy (shamelessly stolen from The Exiters), Sha La La (taken from The Shirelles) and Come Tomorrow (their own alright) were recorded. The prominent use of Jones' harmonica gave them a distinct sound.
After Oh No, Not My Baby, Paul Jones decided to quit the band. This seemed to stop the flow of success until Mann himself wrote down If You Gotta Go, Go Now and instantly scored another hit. Jones was replaced by the unknown bassist Jack Bruce, who quickly departed for Cream after the band made Pretty Flamingo, written by Mark Barkan. Bruce explained:
"Manfred Mann is too jazzy".
Bruce's replacement was called Klaus Voorman. The German was actually a graphic designer, but managed to do well on the bass as well. Later he would get well acquainted with John Lennon. In Michael d'Abo the band members found a new lead singer (Rod Stewart failed the audition), marked by a new hit under the name of Just Like a Woman, a Bob Dylan cover. Along with the Byrds, they were regarded as the best interpreters of Dylan material, a view backed by the songwriter himself. Manfred Mann's Ha! Ha! Said the Clown captured the entire globe, but with the strong Quinn the Eskimo the inspiration breathed its last breath in 1969. Ragamuffin Man marked the end of a success story, the band members went their own ways and one of the most interesting bands of the 1960s had ceased to exist.
"In many ways, Pretty Flamingo was the crowing pop moment for the early, Paul Jones-led Manfred Mann. A great slice of '60s folk-pop, the song is built on a simple, classic G/C chord pattern and a simple melody. Aside from the delicious melody, the song is a showcase for Jones' personality-driven singing. On top of this, Klaus Voorman' exquisite flute pattern provides an unusual but wonderful break. The rhythm section is one of the tightest in their records, possibly due to new (temporary) bassist Jack Bruce. Flirting with the bubblegum style that was already dominating the airwaves, this simple love song provided the band with a much-needed Top 40 hit in the U.S., while it went Top Ten in England."
Matthew Greenwald (allmusic.com)
Lubovitz, who nonetheless maintained the name Manfred Mann, returned to jazz after the split-up. He formed his Manfred Mann's Earth Band and scored two surprising hits with the forceful Bruce Springsteen song Blinded by the Light and the sad Davy's on the Road Again in the 1970s. Apart from that, he just chose to play the music he really loved.