Stavely Makepeace was formed by three schoolboys in Coventry, including erstwhile pop hero Rob Woodward – aka Shel Naylor, purveyor of a brace of classy Decca singles in 1963.
They released a number of unsuccessful singles and decided a side-line novelty band may help their careers.
They plumped for the name Lieutenant Pigeon and recorded Mouldy Old Dough – dominated by a heavy honky-tonk piano which was played by frontman Woodward’s piano teacher mother, Hilda – in a front room.
The single took eight months to reach the top of the charts (it reached #1 in 1972) and had almost no vocals, except for the words “mouldy old dough” repeated over and over again.
Their next single, Desperate Dan, featured more of the same and peaked at #17 in 1973.
Lieutenant Pigeon scored a further hit, in the autumn of 1974, when they reached #3 in the Australian charts with a cover version of I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.
They broke up in 1978, although bassist Stephen Johnson re-formed the band in the 1980s, touring to notable success in Scandinavia.
Drummer Nigel Fletcher explained their recording process in an interview with NME in 1972: “Hilda’s front room in her semi in Coventry was the scene of the crime. We didn’t use the best equipment – it was recorded on a domestic machine. We find we get a better sound using the front room.”
Hilda Woodward died, aged 85, on 22 February 1999.
Piano, guitar, tin whistle
Bass, tin whistle