Rosie - Rosie's Coming To Town / The Zoo Song 7" [Reminder Records]
Rosie are one of those quasi-mystical glam rock bands from the 1970s for whom the phrase “quintessentially English” could have been coined. From their King’s Road vs Ken(sington) Market boutique chic to their very name; Cockney Rhyming Slang for the great British cure-all “cuppa”, Rosie (Lee) tea, after the infamous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. So authentic were Rosie that they even had their own gun-toting Gypsy in tow in the form of roadie Sven, himself sartorially a parrot and a wooden leg short of being Long John Silver.
However, Rosie was actually formed in snowy Belgium, following a meeting in St. Nicklaas in 1973 when former Streak (“Bang Bang Bullet”) member Rick Sharp (voc/gtr) answered a “loony ad” (sic) placed in Melody Maker by “Killer” Kane lookalike and songwriter Paul Ketley (voc/bass), Leo Lehr (gtr) and Jochen Mayer (drums) who had driven several hundred miles from Berlin to welcome Rick into their fold.
Returning to Germany with Rick, plus his suitcase and guitar, looking like stick-thin stunt doubles for The Hollywood Brats, they started playing their self-described “fun rock” to the Berlin decadents, who, like Queen Victoria, were not amused.
Quickly deciding that Germans were no fun, Rosie relocated to the UK.
Playing a shop opening for Monty Tree’s Gladrags “jeantique” in 1974, their set was cut short by a stage invasion by the Mid-Sussex police. Such was the luck for a band with the aesthetic of a bunch of dodgy fairground operators escaped from the set of then current coming of age drama “That’ll Be The Day”.
Rosie may have only recorded a handful of songs, but the pre-punk snarl of their Rolling Stones-at-their-most-nonchalant louche rock‘n’roll swaggerings guarantee them a place in musical history alongside bands like the aforementioned Hollywood Brats, Brian James’s pre-Damned Bastard and The Snivelling Shits, who picked up the mantle.
The four surviving Rosie songs (there is rumoured to be a lost tape), recorded at Micky Lehr’s studio in Berlin in 1973, consist of the two originals that form this single: their “lock up your daughters”-warning anthem “Rosie’s Coming To Town” and “The Zoo Song”, a “Satisfaction”-era Stones-gone-punk classic which sees Rick actively seeking someone to “fix” his head. And, two Rolling Stones cover versions (“I Wanna Be Your Man” and “It’s All Over Now”).
In the end Rosie lasted little more than a year before all going their separate ways. But what a year it was. As singer Rick recalls, “we played a few gigs, had loads of parties (some lasting all night) and were always broke”.
They had everything in place, save that all-important record deal.
But all is not lost... looking into Sven’s crystal ball, we see that Reminder Records will be releasing a Rosie single: Rosie’s Coming To Town/The Zoo Song.
So, as sure as “Jim The Whipper had a Big Dipper”, Rosie, like the circus, are coming to town... for all the fun of the fair. So, you’d better get your knickers down and bend over backwards to please them. Or things could turn ugly.
Prepare to collectively drop your drawers!