The most fondly remembered London club act of the 1960s was, perhaps, Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band whose Big Time Operator was their only Top 30 entry.
George Bruno Money acquired his stage name at his Dorset secondary school through his verbose worship of saxophonist Zoot Sims.
However, his jazz purity polluted by rock ‘n’ roll, young Money became a fixture at pop presentations at the Pavilion on Bournemouth pier as the South Coast answer to Elvis – though reports suggest he had more in common with the Big Bopper.
An excellent showman, his outrage often extended after hours. Dave Dee once witnessed him ritually hurling a faulty amplifier into the sea after one gremlin-plagued performance.
The Big Roll Band that Zoot took to London in 1964 included future Police guitarist Andy Summers, Johnny Almond on baritone sax, drummer Colin Allen and bass player/second vocalist Paul Williams.
With a blues and soul set stretching from Marvin Gaye smoothness through James Brown panic to Rufus Thomas clowning, keyboard pumping Zoot and his band were better live entertainers than Georgie Fame, Geno Washington and other draws at The Flamingo where their management, the Gunnell Brothers, established them.
Zoot’s stage presence, however, has been described as being like “a psychotic Bud Flannagan” with face-pulling, trouser-dropping, dressing up and comedy routines (like Zoot’s Sermon and Self-Discipline) which lost him the credibility of a Georgie Fame or Geno Washington. Zoot was a laugh, but he wasn’t cool.
When the Big Roll Band disbanded in 1967, Money and Summers formed Dantalian’s Chariot and recorded the psychedelic classic, Madman Running Through The Fields – which was re-recorded by Eric Burdon’s New Animals which both Summers and Money joined the following year.