Most Merseyside bands of the 1960s tried to pick a catchy name when they took their first steps in the music business.
Something like the Beatles perhaps, or the Searchers or even the Escorts.
Not so the Scaffold. They started life as ‘The Liverpool One Fat Lady All Electric Show’.
But then the Scaffold were no ordinary band. In fact, they weren’t a band at all!
The now familiar trio of Roger McGough, Mike McGear and John Gorman were actually part of a wider group of poets, comics and musicians who performed together in 1962.
The long-winded title came from the bingo term for 88 – ‘One Fat Lady’ – as most of the artists lived in the Liverpool 8 district.
Another founder member was painter and poet Adrian Henri, who went on to establish the poetry and rock group known as the Liverpool Scene.
The Scaffold only really formed as a band when poet McGough, musician McGear and comic entertainer Gorman broke away from the One Fat Lady group in 1964.
The trio performed a wide variety of songs, sketches and poetry on the Liverpool circuit as well as releasing tunes on a number of record labels.
The most famous was Lily the Pink which went to Number One in the UK singles charts in 1968.
Based on the folk song The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham, the single celebrated the healing qualities of medicinal compound – so ‘efficacious’ in every way.
The backing vocalists on the track read like a who’s who of British rock music! Joining in were Tim Rice, Elton John and Graham Nash of the Hollies.
Just for good measure, Jack Bruce of Cream played bass guitar!
It was common for the Scaffold to use session musicians to supplement McGear, the brother of Beatle Paul McCartney.
A regular contributor was guitarist Andy Roberts, from the folk-rock group Plainsong, who studied at Liverpool University.
The Scaffold followed up Lily the Pink a year later with the theme tune to the popular Liverpool TV sitcom The Liver Birds.
The 1967 single Thank U Very Much, composed by McGear, went to No. 4 in the charts – complete with the much-debated reference to the Aintree Iron. McGear has still not fully explained what it means.
Their other chart success was Liverpool Lou, recorded during McGear’s 1974 sessions with brother Paul McCartney’s Wings. It peaked at No. 7.
The Scaffold’s early albums, The Scaffold and L. the P. released in 1968 and 1969, contained a large proportion of poetry and sketches from McGough and Gorman.
The later albums, Fresh Liver in 1973 and Sold Out in 1975, featured more musical tracks.
In 1971, the Scaffold teamed up with Viv Stanshall and former members of the Bonzo Dog Band to form a group of performing artists called the Grimms.
Liverpool poets Brian Patten and Henri were part of the line-up, featuring on the Scaffold’s 1971 single Do the Albert. Also involved were the Who’s drummer Keith Moon and Les Harvey from Stone the Crows.
McGear, Gorman and McGough even made their own children’s TV programme in 1971 called Score with the Scaffold. It was a mixture of quiz questions and sketches co-presented by actress Wendy Padbury.
After the Scaffold split in 1977, Gorman returned to national TV on the anarchic Saturday morning show Tiswas. McGough remains a respected poet and author.
McGear changed his surname back to McCartney and became a professional writer and photographer.