5-4-3-2-1...the Manfreds were coming to Luton

Manfred Mann at the Odeon in Luton
Manfred Mann at the Odeon in Luton
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‘They’re Coming...’ screamed the front page headline in the Pictorial, a sister paper of the Luton News.

Pop music fans throughout the area were getting excited about the arrival of one of the top bands in the 1960s.

Manfred Mann, an English beat, rhythm and blues group, were performing at the Odeon Cinema in Dunstable Road, Luton, in February 1964.

Named after their keyboard player, Manfred Mann were chart regulars after they were asked to provide a new theme tune for ITV pop music show Ready Steady Go! They responded with 5-4-3-2-1 which, with the help of weekly television exposure, rose to No 5 in the UK singles chart.

Hence the photo opportunity for the Pictorial, which was essentially a picture paper published on Tuesday – two days before the Luton News and two days after another Home Counties Newspapers title, the Saturday Telegraph.

The group, whose lead vocalist and harmonica player was Paul Jones, had several more hit singles, including chart-toppers Do Wah Diddy Diddy and Pretty Flamingo, Shah La La, Come Tomorrow and If You Gotta Go, Go Now.

The venue for their Luton gig opened as the Odeon Cinema in 1938 with seatingfor nearly 2,000 people.

It became a triple screen picture house in 1974, but closed nine years later and was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club/Mecca Bingo Hall, which closed in 1999.

The building was Grade II listed that year and soon converted into a church, the Calvary Church Of God In Christ, while retaining the essential aspects of the structure.

As for Manfred Mann, he later led the successful group Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.