The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers were formed in London by keyboard player Manfred Mann and drummer/vibes/piano player Mike Hugg, who formed a house band in Clacton-on-Sea that also featured Graham Bond. Bringing a shared love of jazz to the British blues boom, then sweeping London's clubs (which also spawned Alexis Korner, the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds), the band was completed by Mike Vickers on guitar, alto saxophone and flute, bassist Dave Richmond and Paul Jones as lead vocalist andharmonicist. By this time they had changed their name to Manfred Mann & the Manfreds. Gigging throughout late 1962 and early 1963 the band soon attracted attention for their distinctive sound.
After changing their name to Manfred Mann at the behest of their label's producer John Burgess, the group signed with His Master's Voice in March 1963 and began their recorded output that July with the slow, bluesy instrumental single "Why Should We Not?", which they performed on their first appearance on television on a New Year's Eve show. It failed to chart, as did its follow-up (with vocals), "Cock-a-Hoop." The overdubbed instrumental soloing on woodwinds, vibes, harmonica and second keyboard lent considerable weight to the group's sound and demonstrated the jazz-inspired technical prowess in which they took pride.
Early success (1964–1965)
In 1964 the group was asked to provide a new theme tune for the ITV pop music television programme Ready Steady Go!. They responded with "5-4-3-2-1" which, with the help of weekly television exposure, rose to No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. Shortly after "5-4-3-2-1" was recorded, Richmond left the band, though he would record with them occasionally later. He was replaced by Jones' friendTom McGuinness—the first of many changes. After a further self-penned hit, "Hubble Bubble (Toil And Trouble)," the band struck gold with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", a cover of the Exciters' minor hit earlier that year. The track reached the top of each of the UK, Canadian and U.S. charts (The Exciters' version had only charted No. 78 in the US).
With the success of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" the sound of the group's singles moved away from the jazzy, blues-based music of their early years to a pop hybrid that continued to make hit singles from cover material. They hit No. 3 in the UK with another girl-group cover "Sha La La", (originally by the Shirelles) which also reached No. 12 in the U.S. and Canada and followed with the sentimental "Come Tomorrow" but both were of a noticeably lighter texture than their earliest output. Meanwhile "B" sides and four-song EPs showcased original material and instrumental solos. The group also returned to jazz and R&B themes on their albums: their first, 1964's The Five Faces of Manfred Mann, included standards such as "Smokestack Lightning" while the second and last with this line-up, Mann Made, offered several self-composed instrumentals and a version of "Stormy Monday Blues" alongside novelties and pop ballads. With a cover of Maxine Brown's "Oh No Not My Baby" began a phase of new depth and sophistication in the arrangements of their singles. The group began its string of successes with Bob Dylan songs with a track on the best-selling EP The One in the Middle, "With God on Our Side", next reaching No. 2 in the UK with "If You Gotta Go, Go Now". The EP's title track reached the British top ten singles, the last self-written song (by Jones) and the band's last R'n'B workout to do so. The run climaxed with a second UK No. 1 single, "Pretty Flamingo".
The group had managed an initial jazz/rhythm-and-blues fusion, then taken chart music in its stride but could not hope to cope with Paul Jones' projected solo career as singer and actor, and with Mike Vickers' orchestral and instrumental ambitions. Jones intended to go solo once a replacement could be found but stayed with the band for another year, during which Mike Vickers left. McGuinness moved to guitar, his original instrument, contributing the distinctive National Steel Guitar to "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and "Pretty Flamingo", and was replaced on bass by Jack Bruce, who had been playing for the Graham Bond Organisation for some time before a recent brief stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In his brief tenure before leaving to form Cream Bruce played on "Pretty Flamingo" and on the EPInstrumental Asylum,(on which Jack Bruce and brass players Henry Lowther & Lyn Dobson were included in the group on the cover photo) which began the group's experiments with instrumental versions of chart songs. He was replaced by Klaus Voormann. The band changed record companies just after, although EMI quickly released an EP of earlier unissued 1963-66 era songs titled 'As Was' (a pun on their current 1966 new studio album title), a hits compilation; 'Mann Made Hits' (1966) which included one unissued instrumental track, an instrumental compilation LP; 'Soul of Mann' (1967) and most controversially used session players to complete the unfinished track; 'You Gave Me Somebody To Love' c/w 'Poison Ivy' (both sung by Paul Jones) which made No.36 in the UK singles chart upsetting the group, hence Tom McGuinness wry comment; 'Manfreds disown new single' on the sleeve of their next studio album for their new record label.