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It Was 50 Years Ago Today (well tomorrow …)

It seems as we head into 2012 that there will be all kinds of celebrations and major events in the next year – some in the present, some about the past. For some reason I never quite get, we shall mark the centenary of the disaster of the Titanic; meanwhile the Queen will get another Jubilee. Then in the summer there will also be the Olympics in London and a few other bits of the country which means we can rediscover our deep passion for curling/ weight lifting/fencing/shot-putting (etc – take your pick).

But we could celebrate the 50th anniversary of a year in which Pompey won the (old) third division and even more one of THE most significant years in the history of Popular Music, especially in Britain. Consider for example how in 1962:

The Beatles recorded for Decca on 1st January 1962, and later in the year appeared for the first time on an album (backing Tony Sheridan). Then they signed to Parlophone, recorded their first sides with George Martin, replaced Pete Best with Ringo and in October 1962 released their first single “Love Me Do”.

Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated – the nursery for British Blues – began playing regularly and when in July they had to miss a night at the Marquee Club for a radio broadcast, Long John Baldry stood in and a brand new support band called the Rolling Stones appeared on stage for the first time.

The first two Bob Dylan albums were released and in December 1962 he appeared in London for the first time (apparently the only British Dylan gig John Roberts ever missed) as well as in a BBC TV play.

Around Pompey fifty years ago, Cliff Richard and the Shadows followed The Young Ones with a national tour, and the Guildhall’s Box Office set a record by selling 2,500 tickets in one day. Spinner noted his “quiet, neatly cut black suit” and the fact that “every other song was a ballad” – the young rocker was becoming respectable as the Beatles, Stones and Dylan loomed.

In May, Louis Armstrong came to the Guildhall and played many favourites including “The Saints”, “Blueberry Hill”, “Mack the Knife”, and “Georgia”. The Evening News correspondent ‘MRH’ suggested it was only the second time (after Sir Thomas Beecham) that he had heard genuinely “thunderous applause” in Portsmouth. On the local jazz scene, the Rendezvous moved to St Paul’s Square off King’s Road and opened with the Riverside Jazzmen, then the Downtown Syncopators. Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Ken Colyer and others visited and many fans adopted Beatnik habits and fashions – in October The Evening News ran a feature on them.

1962 was also the year in which Marilyn Monroe died, the Twist was everywhere (including the Guildhall for a visit from Chubby Checker) and The Sunday Times published the first colour supplement. There was still smog in London and capital punishment with the famous hanging of James Hanratty. October saw the release of the first James Bond film but also in the real world the alarm of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the last week of 1962 the three months big freeze began.

At the end of the year, in the Evening News, Spinner anticipated older style entertainment and “the return of music” in 1963. Citing recent hits for artists like Stan Getz, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Frank Ifield, Ronnie Carroll and Acker Bilk he “confidently forecast we shall see the end of the guitar era”, after the “long” and “wearing” process since Bill Haley and Elvis emerged. He believed music had “taken a back seat” but things were going to change.

He was right of course, but not at all as he imagined!

Happy New Year!

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Gone but not forgotten


Here’s another Black Cat pic from Dave Knight, this one of John Bullock bass player of Lace (and the Talismen) who died this year. As 2011 passes into history we can pause again to remember and thank other local musicians no longer with us. In 2011 we’ve lost guitarists Colin Quaintance and Barry Sutton, pianist and broadcaster John Ainsworth and drummer Graham Bowden. If you wish to read more, just type their name into the search box (on the right) and press return.

If you know of others please add their names (& details) in a comment.

Thanks to them all for making our lives happier with their music


Happy New Years

Well Pete it’s around an hour since my last reply to you (and now it’s Smokey singing “Ooh baby baby”) and I’ve been thinking about favourite New Year’s Eves in the distant past. My old dad never bothered stopping up on the grounds that things rarely did get better so I don’t recall one until 1965 which I spent watching the wonderful Action at the magical Birdcage. Twelve months later I was there again to see Graham Bond (probably for the last time) and the In Crowd which I think was embryonic Keith West/Tomorrow. Maybe not as good as the Action but I’m sure still a great night and Pete, you were probably there?

(Blimey it’s Fontella Bass now – honest!). I think (not sure but seem to recall) that in 1967 (by which time the ‘Cage had closed) I was In Harlem Speakeasy playing at the Waterfront in Southampton. 1968 has gone in a haze – I was between HS and Rosemary which started in February. Then in 1969 Rosemary were one of five local bands at Kimbells (Coconut Mushroom were there too)

By December 31 1970 I was working as a labourer for the City Council on Southsea seafront and in those days 1 January wasn’t a Bank Holiday so I was at work for the 8am (winter) start. I guess New Year’s Eve was probably quiet BUT on Monday 28th, three days earlier, I was playing at the Tricorn as a member of Gilbey Twiss supporting DaDa – so I guess that’s another (almost) New Years we shared Pete?

Since then the best thing about NYE has been the fees paid to working musicians although these days I don’t play that kind of stuff …

Any memories out there?


What About Rangers? (Happy New Year)

Just one offering of music for the New Year’s celebrations and a pretty mixed bag so take your pic. I’m rather fond of the Orioles and Carla/Otis but not much of a fan of New Year’s Eve fuss in general so more likely to listen to the many sides of the Dead until I’m allowed a kip:

“Auld Lang Syne” – various including Duke Ellington, the Drifters and John Fahey

“After New Year’s Eve” – The Heartbeats

“Bringing In a Brand New Year” – Charles Brown

“Celtic New Year” – Van Morrison

“Christmas & New Year’s Blues” – Tampa Red

“Christmas Ain’t Christmas, New Years Ain’t New Years Without The One You Love” – The O’Jays

“Happy New Year” – ABBA

“Happy New Year Blues” – various including Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mary Harris

“New Year’s Eve Blues” – Smokey Hogg

Happiest New Year of All” – Vera Lynn

“Happy New Year Darling” – Lonnie Johnson

“Happy New Year, Baby” – Johnny Otis Orchesta

“Hello Mr. New Year” – The Coolbreezers

“Let’s Start The New Year Right” – Bing Crosby

“Merry Christmas And Happy New Year” – Martha Wainwright

“New Year” – the Sugarbabes

“New Year’s Resolution” – Carla Thomas & Otis Redding

“New Year’s Resolution” – Roy Milton & Solid Senders

“A Really Swinging Christmas And A Gear New Year” – Private Eye

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” – various including The Orioles, Rufus Wainwright, Nancy Wilson, Diana Krall, and King Curtis


“We Bid You Good Night” – Grateful Dead on the album Live At The Cow Palace: New Years Eve 1976

Next morning/afternoon?

“New Year’s Day – U2

“After New Year’s Eve” – the Heartbeats

Any more?

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More BC, More RA



A couple of pix from Dave Knight’s Black Cat album that link to this morning’s piece about Richie Anderson. Top are Tangerine Slide including Mick Legg on bass guitar who joined Harlem Speakeasy in their later days. Richie used to roadie for TS if we weren’t gigging as he had the nice double wheel-base Ford Transit . I remember going once with him/them to Covent Garden’s famous Middle Earth Club. Meanwhile the drummer is Roger Chantler from Southampton’s Brother Bung. In the summer of 1968, Harlem Speakeasy were looking for a new drummer and Roger played with us on one night in a club in Stoke. I guess he wasn’t too keen on English ‘soul’ as he said “thanks but no thanks” and returned to BB. Instead we were joined by Alan Williams (St Louis Checks etc) who I’m glad to say remains a good pal. He lives in London now but often visits the Monday night Open Mic with Mick McGuigan (also a Check), Alan Christmas etc

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More Black Cats (Lace)


This is Pete Pinkney of Lace, a band that emerged from the Talismen. Pete later played in Aubrey Small. I remember doing a gig with Lace once (1968?) but I know very little about them and I think this is the only pic we have so more info would be most welcome.