Manfred Mann himself was originally named Manfred Lubowitz (born October 21, 1940). Born in South Africa, he originally formed the band in 1962, with his friend Mike Hugg, but both took a background role in live performances. The lead vocalist and undoubted star of the band in the early years was Paul Jones (later a successful actor). With Jones fronting, they had number one hits in the U.K. with their cover version of the Exciters' "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and with "Pretty Flamingo". When Jones left in 1966 at the height of their fame, he was replaced by Mike D'Abo, and this was one of the few occasions when a band has successfully swapped lead singers and remained at the top. With D'Abo as vocalist, they enjoyed several more hits, including a number one with Bob Dylan's "Mighty Quinn" in 1968. They split up in the following year.
Manfred Mann went on to write advertising jingles after the group's demise, and later formed Manfred Mann's Earth Band (who had a number 1 hit with Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light"). While the Springsteen version from 1972's "Greetings From Asbury Park" album has a folky, acoustic sound, the Manfred Mann's Earth Band version is driving rock with the electronic keyboards of the 70's. The lead vocalist actually singing Blinded By The Light is Chris Thompson, Manfred can be heard singing at the end of Blinded By The Light, in the round, with Thompson.