Post-War Britain

The Black Country 1950



Post-War Britain was pretty glum everywhere but it was more evident as you travelled up the country. The phrase 'It's grim up North' applied. In the West Midlands during the 1950s, Working class families generally struggled for money. Life was far from easy and luxury wasn't a word that applied to many.


The centre of their universe was the Town Hall, in the tough working class area of Walsall, a mere seven miles away from Wolverhampton - the heart of the industrial region known as The Black Country. They were born at the right time, belonging to a particular breed of post-war Midlands born rockers who dominated the 1960's music scene in that large industrial region. This scene is popularly known as Brum Beat which featured a whole generation of rock artists who shaped the way the genre evolved. It eventually turned into Heavy Metal with help from earth-shattering Midlands bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Alongside Slade, other Midland's rock artists born and bred in the post-war years include ex Judas priest singer and co founder Allan Atkins, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, Robert Plant and John Bonham from Led Zeppelin, Steve Winwood and Magnum's Bob Catley. The Brum Beat period is integral for many reasons and will be discussed later.


Although Midlands people are commonly believed to have a Brummie accent, the Black Country, as opposed to Birmingham , has it's own accent which is less grating. The nasal accent of the Brummie and it's sister dialect from the Black Country, has provided much material for comedians over the years. Americans have openly declared their love of British rock star's accents as immortalised in film's such as This is Spinal Tap and Wayne's World.


Robert Plant regularly frequented The Seven Stars Blues club in Stourbridge and later, Mother's Club in Birmingham in 1968 to hear some real Blues played live.
"My own childhood was a pretty black and white world - colour arrived later- but at least I was able to be exposed to different types of music. I could go to Birmingham Town Hall at fourteen to see Son House."
Robert Plant, Uncut
In 1960's Britain, black men came from America to tell their tales of woe and white kids picked up guitars and sang their own stories of hardship and frustration. US army service men who arrived in rainy Britain, in cities such as Liverpool and Southampton, carried Pall Malls, glamour magazines, 'Cheesecake pin-ups' and old, often scratched, 78rpm Blues records. Those records eventually landed in the hands of record collectors, musicians and radio broadcasters.


The BBC broadcast Blues orientated radio shows during World War II featuring songs by artists such as Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and the like which, it is claimed, helped people get through the horrendous Nazi bombing of Britain


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