Friday, 4 January 2019

Witches Brouhaha

Janie Jones, I hear you say. Where do I know that name from? Didn’t the Clash have a song called Janie Jones?

Yes they did, and this is the very Janie Jones they sang about, and who they – and a couple of members of the Blockheads - would later join forces with under the name Janie Jones and the Lash for the single House of the Ju-Ju Queen.

Born in 1941 in Seaham, County Durham as Marion Mitchell, Janie Jones has had a colourful career, at one time vying with Cynthia Payne as Britain’s most notorious madame. She started out as a clog dancer, winning championships in County Durham before becoming a cabaret artist in late 1950s London. It was then that she began to get herself in trouble.

In 1956 she was given 12 months’ probation for shoplifting, and in 1957 she was jailed for nine months for trying to smuggle a hacksaw in to prison. The following year she was fined £50 for allowing her home to be used “for the purpose of habitual prostitution.” She performed at the Windmill Theatre and reached notoriety in August 1964, when she attended the film premiere of London in the Raw wearing a topless dress.

Shortly afterwards Janie embarked on a career as a pop singer. Issued in November 1965, her debut single, the cackling novelty number Witches Brew, peaked at number 46 in the UK Singles Chart in 1966, despite one reviewer reporting that “the bubbling cauldron sounds more like a washing machine in full spate.” Later the same year that she was at the centre of an S&M vice scandal, and was charged with attempting to blackmail one of her clients for £2,450. After a lengthy trial Janie was acquitted, but just over a fortnight later – while she was performing in cabaret at the Astor in Berkeley Square (with Jack Hammer, author of Down In the Subway) she was arrested again, this time charged with running a brothel from her flat in Kensington Park Gardens. In May 1967 she was found not guilty.

It’s hardly surprising, given the notoriety Janie attracted, that subsequent releases failed to chart, despite her appearances on television programmes including Thank Your Lucky Stars and the Mike and Bernie Winters show. After a few years out of the spotlight she hit the headlines again after holding sex parties at her home, and in April 1974 was jailed for seven years for running what the papers of the day referred to as “a VIPs vice racket.” Janie was released on parole in 1977, the same year that The Clash sang about her on their debut LP. Five years later they returned the favour, backing Janie on the 1983 single House of the Ju-Ju Queen.

Here are both sides of her debut 45, Witches Brew and Take-a My Tip, plus the A-side to her third single, the ridiculously fun Tickle Me Tootsie Wootsies. You can find out more about Janie's colourful career at http://janiejones.info

Enjoy!

Download Witches HERE

Download Take-a HERE

Download Tickle HERE

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