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Diary Dates

Almost a repeat but extra info for the Friday Radio show

Thursday 2 February: Banana of Youngbloods + Reet Petite & Gone at the Eastney Cellars

Friday 3 February: I’m starting a new one hour 60s show at 3pm on Express Radio, called “The Weekend Starts Here”. First week, 1962 in Pompey and in Pop – http://www.expressfm.com/

Sunday 5 February: The Big Band at the Blue Lagoon, Hilsea (lunchtime)

Tuesday 7 February: 6pm at the Omega Centre, Portsmouth Film Society present Citizen 63 plus Kojak on Pompey. Check their website and book – NOT £5 (as I suggested) but £2 – http://www.portsmouthfilmsociety.org.uk/



Pompey News

It’s just a page from the middle of a Melody Maker in September 1956 but there are three stories with Pompey links. On the right the “MM Champion” is Johnny Lyne in a piece about Reg Bannistra’s Band playing in the city (at the Empress), at the foot is a tale of Gosport’s adopted son Nat Gonella forming a rock & roll group but the main story is the now well-known tale of Tony Crombie & his Rockets about to make their British debut at the Theatre Royal – despite growing stories of rock & roll ‘riots’ in the cinemas.

(To see the detail just click on the pic)


Back to Bert’s

Mick found this pic and the following story in the News. Is this the original Bert’s Cafe? It sounds like the same location:

This was the one-time paddle steamer Solent which in her heyday plied between Lymington and Yarmouth in the Isle of Wight. But she ended her days as a cafe alongside the A27 at Paulsgrove, moored near, says transport historian Brian Jackson, what is now Mother Kelly’s fish and chip restaurant.

He says this boat was launched in February 1902 and was the third vessel used on the route to bear that name. He says: `Solent was the last vessel employed to tow barges and, following the introduction of the car ferry Lymington during 1938, she became a spare vessel.But she returned to service during the Second World War and was transferred to the Portsmouth Ryde route for various periods during the war.’

Brian adds: `She returned to Lymington for the summers of 1946 and 1947 after which she was sold to the scrap dealer Harry Pounds in Portsmouth in September 1948 and moved to a corner of Portsmouth Harbour at Paulsgrove where, alongside the A27 road, she became a transport cafe – Bert’s Cafe – and was also reputed to be a lodging house for lorry drivers. Alas time took its toll and by the late 1950s she was derelict and broken up.


The Ray Baker Story (Part Two)

See, I told you. There’s places far worse than Pompey …

Here’s Ray:

Another very notorious gig haunt of ours was “The Shoreline Club” at Bognor Regis. New Years Eve 1967/8 saw me playing with two ex Royals, Ray Brook on Tenor Sax and Rick Semark on drums plus the “Gentle Giant” Ray Todd on Bass.

Just after midnight a huge ‘on stage’ brawl broke out between us and some drunken locals who wanted to get up on stage and sing and they demanded that we give them our instruments to play. Tenor sax player Ray Brook was quite a big guy who rode a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike and I can tell you now that it is a very unwise thing to demand of a very stroppy young guy like Ray Brook that you want his saxophone, particularly if you are standing looking up from the dance floor and he is standing above you on stage.

Ray was pleased to oblige but  “bad accidents’ can (and sometimes did) occur …… Have you ever seen the damage that the vertical flange joint under a saxophone can inflict upon a guy’s forehead if he should suddenly jump up onto the stage and the sax “accidentally” strike his head with great force? I can tell you that it’s not a very pretty sight to see a guy slowly slide down off the stage as his forehead opens right up between the eyes….. Ooooh! very nasty and in that horrible key of B flat as well !

After several minutes of bloody battle that night, I ended up with an old-style solid glass Coke bottle smashed into the back of my skull which rendered me unconscious and during which time I had my night’s earnings of about five quid stolen out of my trouser pocket. Fortunately I’d had the very good sense to put my Strat safely away before launching myself into the melee.

Further punishment of several hours at Bognor hospital emergency unit with a very unsympathetic, typically obese Matron shaving my long locks off and digging glass out of my skull with a scalpel and pick without any anesthetic brings back very nasty and painful memories.  I think I got off lightly compared with the two poor buggers that were “Selmered” in the head by Ray Brook’s Tenor sax.

Fortunately there was no police follow-up at all although my Dad was absolutely furious at the theft of my wages and he swore for weeks afterwards, ” I’m going to pour 5 gallons of petrol round that bloody Shoreline Club and set light to the f*****g place”. I think it did eventually burn down a year later… didn’t it?

Oh the joys of being a young muso eh? I can still feel that scar on my head to this day.”



The Ray Baker Story (Part One)

Ray is Pete White’s pal. Pete you will probably recall is in the USA – Ray is now in Australia but he’s sent some good stories. Here’s the first one  which leads to the early days of Heaven, one of Mick’s old bands:

“My old mate Ray Brook (ex The Royals tenor sax) and I put together a band with Ray Todd ( Ex Metors UK Bass Guitar ) Nobby Glover on drums and I recall a gig we did at HMS Mercury one night. ) I had an old Standard Atlas van and had picked everybody up and on our way driving through the dark country lanes to the gig when we caught sight of a mouse in the headlights. There was no chance of me stopping in time and I ran over it and killed it.

The group all called me “The Mouse Murderer”  that night and somebody swore that the spirit of the mouse would come back to haunt me. We did the gig and on the way back home in the early hours of the morning we all heard a strange squeeking noise coming from under the van. Of course the boys all said it was the curse of the dead mouse haunting me. This noise went on for some time until I noticed the van started to labour and it wouldn’t progress very well so I pulled over, got out and looked underneath and to my horror saw not the mouse, but my complete front offside wheel hub glowing red hot in the darkness.

The wheelbearings had seized up. I managed to nurse the van back to Nobby’s Mum’s place at Bedhampton where we all dossed on the loungeroom floor that night. Everybody inventing songs and verse containing titles like “The Curse Of The Mouse” until we all eventually collapsed into sleep. It was my van, and I was an engineering apprentice so no guesses as to who had the job of fixing it.

So this band which contained me as an ex “Furie”, one ex “Royal” and an ex “Meteor UK” member with the later addition of Ray King (Baritone Sax) and Dave Gautrey (Trumpet) morphed into “The Frenzy” and eventually evolved into “Heaven”.

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Hippie Entrepreneurs

From Nigel

“All this talk about the Isle of Wight festival and hippies, except the old plod, is getting me all nostalgic. In 1969 my good friend the late Roger Courtney, nice guy, photographer, folk musician and club MC and I hatched a plan to make a few bob from the holiday makers that once flooded into Southsea for the summer season by me painting a full size hippie cartoon and taking it down the sea front to entice holiday makers to stick their bonce through the ‘ead ‘ole. It worked, at 50p a time we made quite a few bob, but little old ladies who were too short to get their ‘ead in the ‘ole had to be lifted up, I wondered where that rupture came from!

The photo shows me testing out the ‘ead ‘ole in my back garden in St. Edwards Road.”

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Dear BBC

Did anyne watch We’ll Take Manhattan on BBC4 on Thursday night. It told the story of David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton going to New York exactly 50 years ago (January 1962) and coming back with photos that took the USA by storm and revolutionised Vogue and fashion photography in Britain

I enjoyed it hugely – I’m a great admirer of BBC4’s regular documentaries about popular culture. HOWEVER, it opened with four statements:

In 1962, no one had heard of the Beatles

No one expected to be famous who was not born rich or titled

And there was no such thing as youth culture

But then David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton went to New York

This is of course ‘dramatic licence’ since it boosts the significance of the story that follows but it annoys me because it’s simply not the way things are. It implies that history is always the consequence of single events and individual actions and it hardly ever is that simple. Consider for example

1.Between Jan-April 1962 the first Beatles single with Tony Sheridan was released, they were playing regularly in Hamburg and at the Cavern and had already auditioned for Decca and the BBC

2. Try Gracie Fields, George Formby, Max Miller, Dirk Bogarde, Lonnie Donegan, Diana Dors, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard (add your own)

3. “No such thing as youth culture” – this is such crap it barely warrants a response but in brief try reading Jon Savage’s Teenage: the Creation of Youth 1875-1945 – a huge book, over 500 pages and finishes well before 1962 or Adrian Horn’s Juke Box Britain: Americanisation & Youth Culture 1945-60.

The film ends with them coming back on the plane still in january 1962 and hearing “Love Me Do” playing on the plane’s sound system with Jean Shrimpton wondering if it’s Cliff Richard. “Love Me Do” was released in October 1962.

That last quibble is a little pedantic (in dramatic terms) but overall I wish people would stop making up stories about our world – the truth was sufficiently groovy wasn’t it?