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They charted an impressive number of singles from 1964 through 1969, and developed a large, loyal international fandom that lingers to this day.South African-born keyboardist Manfred Mann, born Manfred Lubowitz in Johannesburg in 1940, was originally an aspiring jazz player.Released as a single in July 1964, the impact was immediate."Do Wah Diddy Diddy," recorded a month earlier on June 11, 1964, moved Manfred Mann to the front lines of the British Invasion.The EMI audition in May of 1963 was the one that worked, and they were signed to the latter company's HMV label.The band was assigned producer John Burgess, who was intrigued by the mix of jazz and R&B in their style.
By early 1963, the Mann Hugg Blues Brothers had shrunk back to five members -- Manfred Mann (keyboards), Mike Hugg (percussion), Mike Vickers (guitar, sax, flute), Paul Jones (vocals), and Dave Richmond (bass) -- and also picked up a manager, Kenneth Pitt, who arranged auditions for the group with Pye, Decca, and EMI Records.In the course of his playing at the Butlins resort in Clacton during 1962, Mann met percussionist Mike Hugg, and the two soon began playing together in a band that included Graham Bond.Hugg and Mann eventually formed their own band, the Mann Hugg Blues Brothers, which grew into a septet, including two saxmen and a trumpet player.Their update of a minor hit by the Exciters from earlier in 1964, however, would hurtle Manfred Mann to No. (Barry and Greenwich's take, recorded as the Raindrops, would remain unreleased until 1994.)It was frontman Paul Jones who'd stumbled across the Exciters' take."We were working our way through my record collection," he once said. I loved the Exciters' version of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy." What a great song, and what a great euphemism for sexual dalliance."Jones' gritty vocal served the scuff things up, reshaping the song with a distinctly modern personality -- all while Manfred Mann and company kept its original pop sound intact.