The Scaffold – the name comes from a Miles Davis LP, Lift To The Scaffold (Ascenseur pour l’échafaud) – were formed in 1965 by Liverpool poet Roger McGough, Mike McGear (Paul McCartney‘s brother who – not wanting to cash in on the Beatles connection – insisted on the changed surname) and former GPO engineer John Gorman.
Despite being formed in Liverpool, The Scaffold were not musically inclined – their forte lay in satire. Featured on late-night television programs they later performed their act at the Establishment Club in London and regularly in Edinburgh.
In 1967, they were encouraged to record their satire by EMI Records, who released their first single Thank U Very Much on their Parlophone label.
The novelty element pushed the single into the Top Four, and although the public knew McGear was related to McCartney, the famous sibling had no hand in Scaffold’s success.
The follow-up, Do You Remember?, staggered into the Top 40 during March 1968 before the trio pulled the rabbit from their hat with Lily The Pink.
Like their debut release, this song offered absurd lyrics which attracted the record-buying public.
It was released during the Christmas period of 1968 and the trio watched it roar to #1 with amazement.
If ever there was a perfect party song, Lily The Pink was it. The lyrics (foolish as they are) could be sung with the greatest of ease when alcohol flowed. The song originally predated World War I and was appropriated by rugby teams who re-wrote the lyrics in ribald fashion.
Also in 1969, The Scaffold provided the theme tune to the hit Liverpool-based sitcom The Liver Birds. The song’s full title is On A Mountain Stands A Lady.
A year on, The Scaffold released Gin Gan Goolie – usually associated with the Scouts and schoolboy banter. It entered the British chart at #38, then during January 1970, re-entered to reach the Top 50.
The group had their own children’s TV series in 1970 – 1971, Score With The Scaffold. Series One saw the group pose questions for the audience to answer, while Series Two took the form of a quiz between two teams, with former Doctor Who assistant Wendy Padbury as co-presenter.
A larger conglomerate of Liverpool-based satirists eventually swallowed up Scaffold, and with no group to front, Mike McGear recorded the solo single, Woman. The single was not successful so he re-formed Scaffold to perform with members of the Average White Band and Zoot Money to combine humour with rock music.
During 1977, Scaffold enjoyed chart success again, with Liverpool Lou. Released by Warner Brothers, the single soared to #7 in the British charts. The members of Scaffold then pursued individual careers.
John Gorman moved into television to appear on Tiswas and became a recording artist again in 1980 when The Bucket of Water Song – featuring Chris Tarrant, Sally James and Lenny Henry – reached the Top 30 in May.
Roger McGough returned to poetry, his first love, leaving Mike McGear to continue as a soloist until his recording contract with Warners expired. Mike became a successful photographer.