From Henry Moss : gigs
1/ Sonny Boy Williamson at the Flamingo backed by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. 1963?
2/ Ike and Tina Turner at Blaises. 1966.
3/ Ray Charles’s first three concerts in the UK. Lewisham Odeon, May 14/15/16 1963
Myles emailed Henry:
Yours is the first letter I’ve clicked on this morning, Henry
Please tell ANR readers what you can remember about clubs and those 3 gigs.
What was the age & character of the audience?
How old were you and who got you into R&B?
From Henry Moss: Modernists
In 1961 my brother and I were 18 and 15 and dressed at Sportique, John Michael and Austin’s on Shaftesbury Avenue.
We had the concession for the cloakrooms and bars at The Discotheque, Wardour Street and The Last Chance, Oxford Street. The Discotheque was known as “The Disco”.
It had the distinction of being the first discotheque in London and owned by Peter Rachman (Christine Keeler etc.) and later on by Raymond Nash and Norman Mann.
On the door Bert Assirati and Norbert Rondell (Google them). Baccarat on the floor above the disco
Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds and Neil Christian and the Crusaders were the resident bands at the Disco along with a four-piece classical quartet that would occasionally play a set accompanying Nash on the Bongos.
The only band I remember playing at the Last Chance was Emile Ford and the Checkmates.
On a Friday and Saturday night after the clubs had closed we always went to the Flamingo which was to the left up the road primarily because Georgie was playing and the DJ played the music the black US servicemen bought to the Flamingo on their 45s.
We heard soul, Blue Beat, Blues, Jazz, Mose Allison, Oscar Brown Jr. Nina Simone. Quite a wake up call compared to Billy Fury, Cliff Richards, Wee Willie Harris etc. even Bobby Vee and Ricky Nelson, etc.
I also remember Elkie Brooks singing “Stormy Monday” with Georgie, I think she was about 17 at the time.
Before Georgie’s set it was usually The Yardbirds playing with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck.
I once took a pill down there called a “Black Bomber” and couldn’t sleep for three days.
That’s about all I can remember off the top of my head.
Most of the music I heard was playing while I was working in the clubs so I absorbed it without realizing.
After the Disco closed, The Scene took over and gave birth to the UK Mod movement e.i. The Who etc.
When Ray Charles toured England for the first time my pal and I went to the Lewisham Odeon and waited for the first show to leave, jibbed in through the exit doors, and hid in the toilets until we heard the second show’s audience coming in.
We were able to find seats easily because the place was about half full and I might add that we were the only white people there.
The stage was as it always is for Ray, sparse and with a big band I believe David “Fathead” Newman was on sax and flute.
1966m : Trying to impress my soon-to-become first wife, I took her to Blaises in South Ken.
As we walk in, to the right there is a small square stage basically on the same level as the regular floor and among the crowd are Stones, Beatles and the usual mob.
I have to say Ike & Tina blew everyone away with their set.
As this was about 50 years ago, you’ll have to forgive me if I can’t remember much more at this time.