Roger 'Mad Dog Cole' Allen (centre left)
Is it me or does he look like John Kennedy?
In January 1966 Midland Beat gave the front page over to Roger Allen and his groups. The headline used was THE MAN BEHIND THEM. The story included the following paragraphs:
’...the enthusiasm of their manager, Roger Allen, who spends as much time as possible with the groups he represents.Roger doesn’t send his groups off to Germany and then sit back in Staffordshire hoping everything goes off well for them. He makes a point of visiting the venues they are booked into to check on the conditions for himself.Apart from sending his own groups to Germany, Roger negotiates appearances for others over there, but any groups paying a visit arranged by his agency have the satisfaction of knowing that he has first-hand knowledge of the venues concerned.'
While he was not a member of any of the groups, he was one of the most influential and flamboyant personalities on the local music scene. It was impossible to know him and not to have an opinion of him (good or bad, but never indifferent). He began promoting in a very small way from his front room in Merridale Street West in about 1963. He saw himself as Wolverhampton's own Brian Epstein.
His earliest work was via the Social Club at Courtauld's where he did an engineering apprenticeship. His first group, the Strollers, developed out of Courtauld's. Later he had responsibility for some of the area's most successful groups like the Black Diamonds, Californians, Finders Keepers, his personal favourites, the Montanas, and The 'N Betweens.
He was one third of the PMA organisation (Perry/Maddocks/Allen). He formed his own agency with offices in High Street, Tettenhall, hiring Maurice Jones who was the original manager of The 'N Betweens.
"Astra Agency was where we were at the start, with the old bands The Vendors and The ‘N Betweens as well. What happened was that Roger Allen also had an agency in Wolverhampton and he and Astra came together and became the Astra Allen agency."He joined with Astra to form Astra-Allen. In November 1967 he announced he was leaving agency work because of the pressures of other business interests. Roger Allen was extremely successful in negotiating recording deals for his groups.
Don Powell: The Slade Forum 2011
He managed to arrange an audition for The 'N Betweens with Fontana Records and to this day none of them has any idea how he managed it! It was just typical of 'Mad Dog Cole' as he was known to the group.
He became their agent after their unfortunate experiences in the Bahamas. By that time he was part of the Nita Anderson Agency. In January 1968 he opened the Oasis Club in Berry Street. During the next few years he was to become involved in a number of business enterprises, including time-share in Tenerife and in Israel. All very typical of someone that Noddy Holder describes as a '60s version of Del Boy'.
*Bastardised from the excellent 2002 online book by Keith Farley. 'N Between Times: an Oral History of the Wolverhampton Group Scene of the 1960s . It's certainly worth a read.