Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Pan's People


Over on fav blog ‘A Novice Novelist’ the question was recently posed; ‘If you were in a band, what would you be?’ For example, are you the fidgety drummer or the extrovert vocalist and so on? But an interesting side issue was raised and it was this; if you were not a musician then what would you be? Roadie, Dancer (Bez-like), a member of Pan’s People? Hmm...I’m not sure I’m the right shape to join Pan’s People (although that didn’t stop Morecambe & Wise) but it’s an interesting thought. After all, where else can you get to boogie to 'The Monster Mash' and wear horror make-up or dance around a load of dogs that promptly and unexpectedly leave the stage?

For all you overseas types who are probably thinking ‘What the hell is he prattling on about?’ Pan’s People was a fondly loved all-female dance troupe who graced episodes of Top of the Pops between 1968 and 1976 to replace bands who were unavailable to appear before the days when music video could step in. Originally they comprised six members, ‘Flick’, ‘Dee Dee’, Babs, Louise, Ruth and Andi and wore colour-coded outfits long before the Spice Girls. The American member, ‘Flick’ Colby, relinquished her dancing role in 1971 to become full time choreographer and the diminutive Cherry replaced the departing Andi in 1972 thus arriving at what many aficionados consider to be the classic line-up. Numerous further changes took place in 1974-5 and by 1976 they were gone.

But why is Pan’s People such a cherished part of our heritage? Why are there countless websites devoted to them and why is YouTube awash with vintage clips? Some recent clips have been painstakingly created by mashing up old footage with contemporary songs thus creating the illusion that they are still operating. However, let’s be honest, their costumes were often 1970s fashion victim disasters, the moves almost ridiculously literal and their dancing synchronicity left a little to be desired. The undisputed fact that they had precious little time to construct and rehearse routines has a bearing here and mitigates for them but it doesn’t answer the question.

I think the real reason why they had so much appeal was that they embodied the role of the ‘enthusiastic amateur’ and they did it with smiling gusto. I do not cast aspersions on their professionalism with this remark as I think to be an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ is a role that strikes deep into the psyche of the average Briton. We love them with a vengeance from the Sherlock Holmes of literature to the contestants in reality shows. We don’t like our heroes to be too perfect, we like them to be underdogs in the face of overbearing authority. Triumph by enthusiasm is enough and that’s exactly what Pan’s People achieved and it's why they are still well loved by people of a certain age.
For those of you who wish to learn more, join the forum at http://www.panspeople.com/

After extensive research on YouTube (well, someone’s got to do it), I found this neat compilation of PP doing what my dad would call ‘flinging yourself around’. 

17 comments:

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I don't think I could dance in front of anyone if you paid me (unless it was a solo performance for someone special....)

I would be the lead guitar if I was in a band :)

musicobsessive said...

Hi Barb! No, me neither. I'm not a dancer at all - but I could be a musician. I think I'm a natural bass player, but could do guitar at a pinch. Strange that many lead guitarists tend to be introverts. Is it the hiding-behind-an-instrument thing?

Renard Atkins said...

Hello. Does anyone out there know how to get or download photograph of Ruth Pearson of "Pan's People"? Every video I've ever seen of her is so fleeting that there is no clear features of her to oogle.

Atomank57@Yahoo.com

musicobsessive said...

Hi Renard. Good point. For people who were in the public eye for nearly a decade there is precious little about them personally on the web. I suggest you try www.panspeople.freeserve.co.uk which has photo collections of the troupe together and individually.

Renard Atkins said...

Thanks Musicobsesive. i hope I get what I'm looking for. The young Ruth Pearson bore a striking resemblance to American actress Jane Alexander, whom I love among five of my other all-time favorite actresses. While watching a TouTube vid on the Chairman of the Board group, this booty-jiggling troup turned-up, who I've never heard of before. And this particular sultry young woman(Ruth P.) burst on my screen. (Of what little of her shown). I couldn't get enough! So I hope there are plenty of stills and individual vids of her to satiate not only my demand, but I'm sure of every R. Pearson fan across the planet. She looks great in her middle age as well. Lucky is the mutt who married her!

musicobsessive said...

Renard - I hope you find what you're after as well. In the 1970s Pan's were a religion here in the UK and it's great that Youtube has many of their classic routines (have a look at the Temptations' 'Papa was a Rolling Stone'). Much as I like Ruth, Louise will always be my favourite...

Renard Atkins said...

To musicobsessive and all the other contributors, I say much thanks and as much love. I've been able to download only five stills of the "peerless" Ms. Pearson, and she now reigns in my digital files as one of only five musesin earthly form. I would like to obtain more pictures, however. So, if possible, do a new-found "old romantic" a favor.

And again, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh, to musicobsessive in particular: I read your profile as I was beginning to log-off. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that you need not make any apologies for this your particular love of music. You among all people should realize that you are a 'boomer', and a product of your times. As the old adage states that "music soothes the savage beasts", consider yourself and your peers in this matter ahead of the curve of, especially, the Dick 'Lon' Cheney war-monger creeps, who, as Skakespear has said "HEARS NO MUSIC". As I've stated more than once to my YouTube freinds who are exacerbated over the copyright mongers cancelling-out their "shares": That "while the music-corporate industry demands money, intellectual property, and therefore ones's soul, The Muses demand absolutely nothing of mankind but their devotion to art and one's own talent.

Verbose, yes, but I had to throw that out there for all true music lovers.

musicobsessive said...

Renard - glad to be of service!

Anon - you are quite right. Baby Boomers have much to be thankful for and music heads the list. It is something that today's generations have little 'feel' for, regrettably.

Anonymous said...

For Renard..Agree about Ruth (Pearson)...her looks are absolutely smoulderingly drop dead gorgeous. (Erm, if its unrequited love I've had it for about 38 years).
For other (mid aged) obsessed Pearsonphiles, and Panphiles in general visit:
www.panspeople.net

You can find links there to various things Ruth (and the others) including pics and videos.

Anonymous said...

Had to make another post here-for REnard again. I just looked up Jane Alexander -and yes she does look like Ruth Pearson of Pans People (at least in one photo-very much-though I prefer Ruth myself).
But here is the STRANGE spooky thing...I looked upo Jane Alexander on Wikipaedia and it turns out Jane Alexanders mothers maiden name was:
Ruth Pearson
!!!!
Now, this IS strange ...Twilight Zone stuff.

musicobsessive said...

You're right, that is very wierd indeed!

I'll have to have a look at panspeople.net. As a committed Panophile I can't ignore it. Keep checking YouTube as new stuff gets posted every month or so.

ej7In5sl0vxoQsL4F9QeXs7m3zvkDQ-- said...

Sorry to respond so late, People. Wowee Gasowee. Jane Alexander's mother's maiden name was...??!!
I knew my initial gut reaction(of which I rarely pay attention to) was right! Well, you all deserved to be pleasantly freaked at this revealation. A YT-er, responding to my comment on Ruth\Jane query, tried to contact Ms. Alexander on this matter. He claims she never responded. There may be a reason why. In the crazy world of show-biz nepotism, It is usually prudent that certain performers keep heir family ties secret lest their credibility as "artists" are questioned. We grown-ups know, of course that crony-ism is one of three prime movers in society. Nonetheless, as with all our reactions, this revealation has proven a very pleasant foray. A very special thanks to "Anonymous" (Hey, are part of ANONYMOUS 4 madrigal singers? ha, ha!)

Thanks to all of you for contributions.

Later,


Renard Atkins

musicobsessive said...

Renard - is this a conspiracy theory...? :)

BTW thanks to everyone who has made this the longest comment list in my entire blog! Who'd have thought Pan's People would be the subject?

Anonymous said...

Hi there. To make this comment list longer still, I wonder if you might entertain this question: on One For the Dads, you made a post beginning "As I intimated on my Louise Compilation comment..." Where would I find this compilation? My thanks in anticipation of your assistance.

music obsessive said...

Hi! You'll find it at http://legsandco.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/louise-in-pans-people.html (just use the 'Louise' filter on One For The Dads and page through!)

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Thank you for that, you're a gent.