The cast

Oral histories




There were a hell of a lot of novelty hits in the 70s, records that didn't fit into any known pop format but attracted an entirely different response. Most of them - apart from the 'comedy' records - were accidents: a DJ (normally on Radio Two) would pick up on an oddity, play it to death until sufficiently large numbers of non-pop fans bought it and got it onto Top of the Pops, where several million other people who didn't much care for pop would also go for it.

The one major exception was the Band of the Black Watch under Norman Rogerson. Appointed as bandmaster in 1973, Norman deliberately set out to have hit records. Knowing the popular appeal of bagpipes - particularly following the success of 'Amazing Grace' - he recorded an irresistibly catchy instrumental called 'Scotch On The Rocks', confident that it would be a success: 'All the way through, I felt that we had a hit with "Scotch On The Rocks". I just needed to convince people, and fortunately people like Terry Wogan were convinced - he helped it immensely on Radio Two.'

'Scotch On The Rocks' and the album of the same title sold fantastically well in 1975, the album hitting the top twenty and the single reaching the top ten in Britain and making similar impacts abroad. Thereafter there was no stopping Rogerson: during his decade with the Black Watch, the band released twenty-four albums, a record for a British military band under a single bandmaster, and fifteen singles.

Only one of these singles - 'Dance Of The Cuckoos', better known as the Laurel & Hardy theme - followed 'Scotch On The Rocks' into the British charts, but there were successes elsewhere, and some genuinely intriguing records. Amongst them were 'Super Sonic Tartan Tonic' - a Rogerson original - backed with 'Y Viva Espana', a disco version of 'White Christmas' and 'Highland Hustle'. Weirdest of them all was 'Papa's Got A Brand New Bagpipe', which Norman quite accurately points out was 'the first rap record that was produced with band and pipes'.

These records helped raise the profile of The Black Watch, which was clearly a useful thing in terms of recruitment, but they also helped the diversity of the charts, and diversity was - perhaps above all else - what we cherished about the 70s. In Norman's words: 'It was that era, I think, when almost anything seemed to go. There was a certain amount of luck in it, of course.'

click for photo

click for hit singles

Eddie Amoo
Ken Andrew
Dave Bartram
Mike Batt
Wayne Bickerton
David Blaylock
Trevor Bolder
Jacko Boogie
Tony Burrows
Sally Carr
Tina Charles
David Courtney
Rob Davis
Richard Dodd
Patrick Doonan
Ray Dorset
Herbie Flowers
Ken Gold
Graham Gouldman
Dave Hill
Harvey Hinsley
John Hughes
Jim Irvin
Jimmy James
Steve Jones
Lorraine Kelly
Paul Layton
Les McKeown
Russell Mael
Johnny Moore
Mike Moran
Chris Norman
Bill Oddie
David Paton
Lyn Paul
Phil Pickett
Suzi Quatro
Chris Rae
Chris Redburn
Norman Rogerson
Ron Roker
John Rossall
Andy Scott
Eddie Seago
Mat Snow
Chris Spedding
John Springate
Ray Stiles
Alwyn W Turner
David Van Day
Phil Wainman
Johnny Wakelin
Jeff Wayne
Alan Williams
Pip Williams