From “Fit Like, New York?”. The London group, The Pretty Things gained a reputation for their unruly behavior. Even worse, their management missed an opportunity to book them on THE ED SULLIVAN Show in the States.
“In early 1964, the group signed with Fontana Records. The label proposed that they add Viv Prince (b. 1944) on drums. Although only 19, Prince was already something of a music business veteran, having played with the Dauphin Street Six and Carter Lewis and the Southerners. Earlier he had also been an income tax officer in Loughborough, Leicestershire. Executives at Fontana believed that Prince would bring a degree of stability and professionalism to the Pretty Things’ rather undisciplined sound. Their misread of Prince would emerge later, but in the meantime, Prince fit perfectly into the group-his skillful, energetic drumming giving their music a powerful drive. For their first single, the group recorded a track penned by Jimmy Duncan. ‘Rosalyn’ (backed with ‘Big Boss Man’) was released in June, and the screaming, hard-pounding A-side received encouraging reviews. ‘Not a great deal of melody,’ wrote New Musical Express, ‘but ample enthusiasm, sparkle and drive.’ Likewise, Record Mirror described it as a ‘Bo Diddley beat, wild vocal, good song, but maybe a little too confused for the charts.’ An appearance on the TV show Ready, Steady Go! followed, and the group’s long hair, frilly shirts and animalistic sound sparked sufficient press furore to propel the single into the lower regions of the charts. An American agent who had seen them on Ready, Steady Go! offered the group a US tour and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, an opportunity their management failed to take advantage of.
Although together for less than a year, the Pretty Things were now touring extensively throughout the United Kingdom, creating mayhem both on and off stage. Such media headlines as ‘Adults Hate Us More Than the Stones' and ‘Would You Take the Pretty Things into Your Local?' became commonplace. Early articles dwelled incessantly on their appearance, particularly their long hair, with one newspaper observing, ‘Phil May must have the longest hair on the long-haired current pop scene.’ Ironically, while the group was being bashed for their fashion sense, they were making plans to open a woman’s boutique called the Penny Halfpenny near London’s Portobello Road. While outrage ‘Stones’ style was limited to schoolboy pranks, the Pretty Things were attacking grand pianos with axes, setting fire to stage sets, and being arrested for pulling out a sawn-off 12 bore shotgun to deal with some violent mob after a gig.
Finding a suitable follow-up single to ‘Rosalyn’ was not easy. They considered several titles, including a slow Jimmy Reed song called ‘The Moon Is Rising’. The group found the perfect number penned for them by Johnnie Dee, former lead singer of the Bulldogs. Dee travelled with the band to ‘soak up the atmosphere.’ ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ backed with ‘We’ll be Together’ was issued at the end of October 1964. The A-side’s crashing, wailing tempo changes and leering, sexually provocative vocals combined to ignite more controversy, and more sales. The single smashed into the UK Top Ten in November, and Fontana capitalized on the group’s success, recycling their first two singles on an EP by year’s end. To promote the single, the group embarked on an eight-day Scottish tour on 12 October, followed by television appearances on Ready, Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars.