The Way I Was: What I do wah diddy did next: Paul Jones talks to Nicholas Roe about his last few months as a pop star with the group Manfred Mann and his decision to go solo

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Indy Lifestyle Online
MY FIRST reaction to this photograph is that we don't look terribly happy - but then we had deliberately cultivated this 'we're really serious musicians' look - and secondly, we don't look as if we're exactly pleased to be in each other's company.

It's the body language: we all look as if we're pulling away from each other, and I particularly look as if I'm desperately avoiding physical contact with Manfred. I don't know why exactly, but this was between the middle of 1965 and the middle of 1966 and I'm about to leave the group.

I had actually said that I wanted to leave in September, but they made me stay until they found a replacement, so here I am serving out my notice.

I'd been with them for three and a half years and we'd had 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' and others by this time, but we hadn't yet had 'Pretty Flamingo'. I was beginning to feel that I wasn't as much in control of my career as I wanted to be. I wanted to be me, I know that. I was unhappy walking down the street and having people call me Manfred.

It might seem a trivial thing, but at the time I wanted to be Paul Jones. Because here I was, having all these hit records with either my songs or songs I had found and brought to the group, and not getting - I didn't think - my share of the kudos.

When I look at that face now, I see a sort of arrogance which I don't think is there any more, at least not to the same extent. I really did think I was terribly special and if I could go back the only thing I'd change is that I'd be more humble.

Oh God, that sounds horrible, but I think I made myself unhappy by being so opinionated. I used to be so mouthy about other people's talent. I can't think how I had the nerve.

But in my defence I would say that it's partly an assertiveness which had to be there, because I was having to say, 'Look, I'm sorry but I am going to leave this group, I am going to have a solo career, and whether that is more or less or equally successful, none of that is as important as the fact that it is going to be solo.' That's there in my expression.

I left. I signed a recording contract with EMI, I went on tour with the Hollies and I made the movie Privilege, and by October 1966 I had made more money than in all the time I was with the band.

I feel that it was exactly the right move for me to go solo, and in about 95 per cent of ways I'm very happy about the way my career has subsequently developed.

The only thing I regret is that not being Manfred Mann didn't work. Because I just came out of a chemist's shop the other day in north-west London - I was on my way to a recording session and stopped to get some cough pastilles - and I came out of this shop and two blokes stopped on the pavement and said, 'Manfred Mann]'

I just got into my car and drove off, you know? I didn't know what to say. It happens quite regularly.

Look, the thing is that the most famous thing that one has done is the most famous thing that one has done, and there's no arguing with it.

'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' was the most high-profile thing I've ever done in my life, and I don't expect two chaps on the pavement in Harlesden to know that I've been at the Royal Shakespeare Company or the National Theatre or whatever it is.

But I wouldn't swap the career. After all, it ought to be a comment on the subsequent career of Manfred Mann: they ought to know that he was Manfred Mann. Manfred Mann's hits have now been re-released and are available as 'Ages of Mann - 22 Classic Hits of the Sixties' by Polygram TV.

(Photograph omitted)