chapter  1
20 Pages

‘A West Indian? You Must be Joking! I Come out of the East End’: Kenny Lynch and English Racism in the 1950s and 1960s

The statement used in the title of this chapter, delivered in a broad cockney accent, comes from the 1965 film, Dr Terror's House of Horrors, in which Kenny Lynch plays Sammy Coin pronounced Cohen a calypso and jazz singer who has a contract to work in a club in Haiti. Like his character, Lynch is a working-class Londoner: a cockney. Having a cockney accent, Lynch suggests, gave him a key, but not crucial, marker of Englishness as opposed to post-Windrush migrants who spoke with a variety of Caribbean accents. Lynch importance within the pop industry of the 1960s is highlighted by interview material from Lynch being included in Andrew Loog Oldham's Memoir of London in the 1960s', Stoned. This is something of an oversight as Lynch's personal history, career trajectory and recorded output belie a complex negotiation of the way in which popular music in Britain was coded along racial lines during the period.