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Grandad / I Play The Spoons by Clive Dunn

Originally Released: Columbia Records (P) 1970
Cat No: DB 8726

Clive Dunn - Grandad
(Flowers / Pickett)

Clive Dunn - I Play The Spoons
(Clive Dunn)

December 31 1970, Clive Dunn -- Sudan War veteran Corporal Jones, Dad's Army -- not really an old dodderer-pop star, Grandad No1 in the hit parade. (Scan's courtesy of David Noades)

Love it or hate it, the fact remains that for 3 weeks from 9th January 1971, Clive Dunn sat at the top of the UK pop charts with the record "Grandad".

CO-written by legendary bassist Herbie Flowers and Ken Pickett from 60's band the Creation, Record Collector magazine took up the story of how the single came about.

'According to Pickett, Flowers met Dunn at a party, their conversation following the lines of, You're a songwriter, eh? Write a song for me! So he did. "Clive was playing an old chap in Dad's Army, so it seemed ideal. Herbie gave me the tape which sat in my machine for weeks before he called to say he was about to play the song to Clive, did I have the lyrics So I quickly sat down..."

"...A thing on TV about old flying machines gave me my first inspiration. ' I've been sitting here all day, thinking / Same old dreams 10 years away, thinking / Now my days are gone, memories linger on, thoughts of when I was a boy / Aeroplanes tied up with string, flying'.

I had a box of Quality Street on the table; the picture round the edge got me further, 'Radios were funny things, sighing / Bowling hoops and spinning tops, penny dreadfuls, lollipops...' Do you know, I can't remember the next line."

Clive Dunn recalled in his 1986 autobiography:

"Grandad, Grandad, Yer luverly,' it trilled on. and I guessed it was just what I needed . a few days later, with Herbie playing bass and then euphonium, we put the track down; the children and I then sang our bit and we all listened in the control box.

'I think we've got a monster, Clive," Herbie said, looking round and positively beaming confidence and goodwill. I didn't know at the time but monster meant an enormous hit.."

"...Before long I was booked into every possible children's show, appearing with Ed Stewart and Basil Brush and on many radio shows. It was all plug-plug-plug, and Tony Blackburn decided it was his favourite record."

Following Clive's appearance on BBCtv's Top of the Pop's the record reached Number 9 in the chart, but then ran into difficulties...

"as it reached this exalted position, the power workers became totally sick of being underpaid and went on strike. During this absolutely justified action one of the places that ceased production was the EMI factory where the records were made..."

Demand for the single was high, but the strike probably saw off any hopes of a Christmas Number One, but the single eventually made it, to the hailed position in the New Year.

The record went on to sell in million's, and was featured on Clive's "Permission To Sing Sir!" album.

The single had been in the charts since 28 November 1970 and would ultimately spend 27 weeks on the chart (and would also reenter for a further week on June 27th 1971 - a feat that most number one records find hard to achieve over 30 years later).

Along with his role as Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, the song has become eternally linked with him, however it has also brought its share of dodgy fan mail...

"Dear Sir,
I wrote the song 'Grandad' and have never received any money. If I hear you sing it again I shall kill you.
Ward B, East Block."

Written and compiled by Andy Howells.

With thanks to David Noades and acknowledgment's to Record Collector and Clive Dunn.

This Presentation: Copyright: 2003


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