Although Stateside fans may best remember Manfred Mann for their catchy mid-60s classic “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and a fiery rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded By The Light” a decade later, the band was actually one of the more innovative British Invasion groups. They blended jazz with R&B to form a core sound and were unabashed about admitting that they only played pop to reach a wider audience. They are still remembered as one of the UK’s biggest beat boom artists. While working at Butlins Holiday Camp in 1962, South African-born keyboardist Manfred Lubowitz met drummer/vibraphonist and British native Mike Hugg and formed The Mann Hugg Blues Brothers. When singer Paul Jones, bassist Tom McGuinness (quickly replaced by Jack Bruce), and guitarist Mike Vickers came on board, the band changed its name to Manfred Mann. By 1964 the group had written "5-4-3-2-1" as a theme tune for popular British TV show Ready Steady Go, and was on its way to superstardom. Their cover of the then-obscure song "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy" (originally cut by The Exciters) immediately knocked the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" off the top of the charts. "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy" topped both the UK and U.S. charts and sold in excess of 650,000 copies.
Four top five hits followed in 1964/65, including their cover of Bob Dylan’s "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" before some changes in personnel took place. Eric Burdon of The Animals subbed for Paul Jones during a number of London gigs, then, following the number one success of "Pretty Flamingo,” Jones left to pursue a solo career. Meanwhile, Jack Bruce moved on to form Cream with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.
After some failed auditions by the likes of Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry and Wayne Fontana, Mike D’Abo from A Band of Angels joined Manfred Mann as lead singer. Through the sixties the group enjoyed immense popularity with a variety of Top Ten hits, including more Dylan covers ("Just Like A Woman," "The Mighty Quinn"), in addition to "Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James," "Ha! Ha! Said The Clown," "My Name Is Jack," "Fox On The Run," and "Ragamuffin Man." In 1969 the group split and for four years its members tried jazz rock experiments with the bands Emanon and Manfred Mann Chapter Three.
Reforming in 1973 with a new lineup as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, the group had Top Ten successes "Joybringer" and the multi-million selling U.S. chart-topping single, Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light." In 1983, the original Manfred Mann line-up reunited for a 25th anniversary gig at the Marquee Club, and during the 80s, a series of concept albums, including Somewhere In Afrika, Criminal Tango and Masque, met with considerable critical acclaim. After another split in 1988, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was resurrected in early 1992. At first, the band consisted of Mann, Noel McCalla, Mick Rogers, Steve Kinch and former Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker. Later the trademark voice of Chris Thompson completed the line-up. In the 90s the majority of the band performed regularly as the Manfreds. Without Manfred Mann they could not use the original name, in his place they recruited Benny Gallagher (bass/vocals) and ex-Family drummer Rob Townsend. They toured Europe throughout 1996.