COVENTRY Music Museum Curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
Blue plaque for Lieutenant Pigeon
A blue plaque in association with myself and The Coventry Music Museum was unveiled last Friday, February 18, at 25 Kingsway – exactly 50 years since ‘Mouldy Old Dough’ by Coventry band Lieutenant Pigeon was released.
This unique pop hit was recorded in the front room studio of that very house, and as they say – love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it.
This virtually instrumental record (save a few growls of the title), hit the top spot in November 1972 for four weeks, and became the first number one record by a Coventry band (The Specials would have to wait till the next decade).
‘Mouldy Old Dough’ was unique in so many ways – its ragtime style with military drum and flute mash up, complete with two syncopated pianos gave the song a melancholy darkness, despite its outward good time merriment vibe.
It remains a powerful anthem to the world of Stock Car racing and Oldham Athletic Football Club. It is played by marching bands in Northern Ireland, it was a favourite of Jarvis Cocker and Fatboy Slim and even Depeche Mode.
It was a hit all over the world and remains the only number one record to feature a mother and son in its line-up.
Indeed, pianist Hilda Woodward – already in her 60s at the time – gave the band another angle of curiosity (if another one was needed) she also gave the band her front room to use as a studio.
Long before the Coventry Ska/2-Tone movement, Pigeon helped to put Coventry on the map.
In November 1972 when Pigeon was flying high at number one in the UK charts, Chuck Berry was chart topping with My Ding-A-Ling in the USA, both songs were recorded in Coventry.
The plaque was unveiled by surviving members Rob Woodward and Nigel Fletcher on the windiest day of the year and in front of ITV and the BBC news crews and small crowd of fans, along with the current owners of the house – Deepak and Rhea Bagga, owners of local estate agent Regalbridge Estates.
In order to make the blue plaque a reality, £700 was raised in less than 30 hours on an online funding site – a large part of the donation came from Oldham Athletic fans whose team use the song as their entrance music.
Nigel and Rob dedicated it to their late bandmates Hilda Woodward (Rob’s mum) and bass player Steve Johnson.
This event was followed by the opening of a year-long exhibition at the museum dedicated to Mouldy Old Dough, Lieutenant Pigeon and their legacies.