NOSTALGIA: Pompey’s Mr Pop

Mick Cooper with long hair and his band Heaven. Mick is sitting in the bottom left corner.
Mick Cooper with long hair and his band Heaven. Mick is sitting in the bottom left corner.
An amphibious DUKW as used by Adam to distribute arms over sea and land.

NOSTALGIA: Civilian who ended up on D-Day beaches running an arms race

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The name Mick Cooper is synonymous with Portsmouth FC.

He has researched and compiled three books about the club. Pompey – The History of Portsmouth Football Club was written in conjunction with former News chief sports writer Mike Neasom and Doug Robinson.

The 'Rampant with Ritchie Peters (vocals), Ron Hughes (lead guitar), Ken Hughes ((drums), Tom Golding (bass) Mick Cooper (keyboards).

The 'Rampant with Ritchie Peters (vocals), Ron Hughes (lead guitar), Ken Hughes ((drums), Tom Golding (bass) Mick Cooper (keyboards).

Titles by Mick himself are The Definitive Portsmouth FC and Pompey People – A Portsmouth FC Who’s Who from 1899 to 2000.

Mick’s love of Pompey does not only extend to the football club.

Along with Dave Allen they put together a marvellous selection of anecdotes and photographs about the history of popular music in Portsmouth during the 1950s and 1960s.

The book, Pompey Pop Pix, sold out quickly. If you are a musician and played in the city in that era, it is one of those must-have books.

Mick Cooper today.

Mick Cooper today.

Mick is not just a writer but a musician playing organ/keyboards in many bands and as a solo artist. He also has a record collection that’s the envy of any vinyl collector. At the moment it stands at more than 7,000 singles and more than 3,000 albums.

His musical journey began when his father brought home a copy of Diana by Paul Anka. Mick bought his first record Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis from Weston Hart’s music shop in Cosham.

Mick began his musical career trying to learn the saxophone but couldn’t get on with it so learnt keyboards and eventually joined a group, as they were then known.

In 1964 Mick joined local group The Fortunes but as there was already a band with that name it was changed to the Original For-tunes and then The Rampant.

Pompey Pop Pix ' an essential guide to who played where and when in the Portsmouth area in the 1950s and '60s.

Pompey Pop Pix ' an essential guide to who played where and when in the Portsmouth area in the 1950s and '60s.

Two-and-a-half years later he joined Soul Society, a seven-piece band with whom he played for 18 months leaving in 1970. From 1960 Mick had worked on the railway as a clerk but gave it up in 1969 to turn professional.

In 1969 Mick played with Heaven at the warm-up sessions to the Isle of Wight festival – the one starring Bob Dylan.

In 1970 he gave up the music scene before joining the Geoff Davis Band in 1972, also known as the Honky Tonk Band. They started with a residency at a holiday centre in Clacton, Essex, in 1973 playing five or six nights a week.

Between 1974 and 1980 Mick played the Honky Tonk Bar at South Parade where he was resident six nights a week.

From 1981 to 1983 he formed a duo with drummer Mike ‘Clump’ King and they had a residency on South Parade Pier. Over the years he formed duos with several different drummers playing in most of the many music venues in Portsmouth and the surrounding area.

Later he bought a keyboard with an electronic drum system and went solo playing regularly all over the south.

One New Year’s Eve while playing in Worthing there was Mick on keyboards and an orchestra playing the likes of big band numbers.

The latter did not go down well with the young audience who wanted modern pop music. In the end the organisers asked Mick to play and sing all evening!

In his last 25 years of work Mick took up wedding photography and a keen short story writer, he self-published a book in 2015 called My Six Minute Stories.