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How the Mods modelled the world: Part two

Rob Stares

From music to race, the mods paved the way for big changes in Britain. Find out more below...

Bradley Wiggins
Champion.. Wiggins gets the Gold. Photo: Department of Culture, Media and Sport (via Flickr)

OLYMPIC champion, most successful British Olympian, Tour De France champion and self-confessed ‘mod’, Bradley Wiggins is a truly great Brit - but what is a ‘mod’? GB Mag is here to show you five moments that revolutionised the sixties:

Read part one here.


All of the extra money and personal freedom meant that music played a huge part in Mod culture. With continental travel becoming quicker and easier, supplies of soul and rhythm and blues records from the US started to trickle in to the UK, influencing the jazz-loving Mods.

Dave Brubeck - Take Five

Over the next decade, bands such as The Who, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces and the Rolling Stones encapsulated the Mod lifestyle with hard grooving tunes that started to make waves back across the Atlantic. In fact, The Beatles’ Helter Skelter was written by Paul McCartney after hearing that The Kinks’ You Really Got Me (below) was supposed to be the heaviest guitar track written – even though he hadn’t heard it!

If it wasn't for The Kinks and The Beatles' heaviness, then artists including Paul Weller (nicknamed 'The Modfather'), Oasis (who included a cover of The Who's My Generation in their live sets) and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age (who, as a fan of The Kinks, has covered a number of their songs) may not have picked up guitars. A scary thought.


The modern day mod may be associated with effortless cool, but it certainly wasn’t the case in the sixties. Mods and ‘rockers’ – the leather-clad, motorbike riding country kids of the 50’s – had a series of mass brawls in seaside towns.

Towns such as Margate, Bournemouth, Clacton and Brighton were the scene of violent clashes between the two subcultures, where weapons such as flick-knives, bike chains and razor blades were often used. The mass hysteria that was whipped up by the press was a first in British journalism, leaving sociologist Stanley Cohen to coin the term of ‘moral panic’ to describe the uproar.

Misleading articles were printed to stir up debate in the public. Both mods and rockers were labelled for many social ills, including teen pregnancy, drug use and sustained violence.

Even though the mod name was tarnished by these clashes, perhaps one of the most telling contributions to British society is how the Mod culture in its later years helped to integrate the styles of West Indian and Jamaican immigrants into British life.

Following a new influx of immigrants after the Second World War, African American soul and blues music became a staple part of Mod culture, with some Mods taking to wearing clothing and hanging out in West Indian clubs. It wasn’t long before ska music that came to soundtrack the 1970s and 80’s was discovered by young Brits – and the rest, as they say, is history.

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