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Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Sussex rockers remember south coast battles of 1964

Former rocker Andy Cook with his motorbike
Andy Cook with his bike

By Nick Tarver
BBC Sussex

"Surprisingly we did very little damage to each other's bikes - the Mods were in the same position as us, we all had to get home at the end of the day."

Andy Cook was a 16-year-old Rocker when he rode to Brighton with 20 of his friends and unwittingly became part of British pop culture.

Lord Attenborough with a film camera

Film critic Jason Solomons says that Lord Attenborough would have encouraged the remake.

The fighting between the Mods and the Rockers over the Whitsun weekend in May 1964, not only hit the headlines at the time, but has continued to fascinate, becoming the backdrop to films such as Quadrophenia and the recent remake of Brighton Rock.

But were the Rockers unfairly labelled as troublemakers and was their rivalry with the Mods genuine?

"We were just opposites," said Andy, 63, who grew up in Handcross, Sussex. "They were into pills and we were into adrenaline - even to this day I have never associated with Mods.

"I don't know whether that's a deliberate thing or just nature sorting itself out.

"Most Mods came from London and most Rockers were from around here, I think the police favoured us because of that.

Andy Cook with his bike
Andy Cook: 'the tabloids were organising the fights themselves'

"Rockers used to frighten grannies and kids, but that was just the noise from our bikes."

In 1964 the tabloid press whipped themselves up into a frenzy over clashes between the two youth subcultures, who clearly defined themselves by what they wore, listened to and rode.

Violence first erupted between the two groups in Clacton, Essex, during the Easter weekend.

"We were brought together by the newspapers," said Andy. "The tabloids used to say things like, we've got inside information that everyone would be at Brighton on Saturday or Sunday for a fight, but they were just making it up.

"In essence the tabloids were organising the fights themselves because we all turned up to see if they were right. That's when the trouble started."

According to Andy, the focus on the fighting with the Mods has distorted what being a Rocker was mostly about.

"People never talk about the bikes, it's always the fighting," he said. "We were wet and cold every night and were always running out of petrol, but we loved bikes."

Trevor Addison
Trevor Addison: 'The rivalry was crazy when you think about it'

Trevor Addison was another 16-year-old Rocker who was also more fascinated with motorbikes than fighting.

Wearing his leather jacket and sporting a Billy Fury quiff he made his way to Brighton seafront from his native Hove on his motorbike.

"Everyone just stood around looking at each other, then something would break and it kicked off," he said. "There were no knives, but I think the occasional chain came out.

"You just had what religion you wanted to follow. The Mods wanted the clean cut look, but we were always playing around with motorbikes and getting dirty. The rivalry was crazy when you think about it."




SEE ALSO
Sam Riley on Brighton Rock
27 Jan 11 |  People & Places
'Rose' talks about Brighton Rock
27 Jan 11 |  Sussex
In Pictures: Mods and Rockers
11 Jan 11 |  History
Brighton Rock - a classic legacy
25 Jan 11 |  Sussex
Mods recall 1964 Brighton clash
25 Jan 11 |  People & Places
Brighton Rock remake "fantastic"
25 Jan 11 |  Sussex
Turning Eastbourne into Brighton
22 Oct 09 |  People & Places

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