Who was that man?


From Graham Laker to me:

“Now that your definitive list of Birdcage appearances is nearing completion (correct), I wonder if you can solve this for me: It was a Sunday afternoon show, ’65 or ’66, with a performance from a tall, black, soul guy, pompadour hairstyle, wearing a salmon pink suit.  He was brilliant (‘tho I can’t remember what songs he did). Part of his act was getting members of the audience to join him on stage and challenge them to sing as high as he could – I clearly remember John McInnes joining him and failing spectacularly (John sadly died in a diving accident not long after). I’ve always thought the performer was Arthur Alexander, or, if not, could it have been Wilson Pickett, Major Lance or someone else? – pretty sure he was American and a ‘big name’.”

I think I’ve solved it, as Arthur Alexander but pleased to hear from anyone else. My reply was as follows:

I’m pretty sure it’s Arthur Alexander although I wasn’t there. I know that Wilson Pickett and Major Lance both played on Tuesday evenings (I saw them both and don’t recall that participation bit).  Arthur played on Sunday 17 April 1966. I have no record of it being an afternoon, but I’ll check that out and see what I can find.

I wish I had seen Arthur Alexander who I reckon is one of the great under-rated black singers. His songs included “Shot of Rhythm & Blues” (Johnny Kidd), “Anna” (the Beatles), “You Better Move On” (Stones), “Go On Home Girl” (Ry Cooder) plus versions of “The Wanderer” and “A Hundred Pounds of Clay”. What a Cracker! Anybody fancy forming an AA Tribute band?


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

12 thoughts on “Who was that man?

  1. Thanks, Dave, for solving that one.
    I’d always thought (or, rather , hoped) it was the great Mr A.A. – in hindsight, I just couldn’t believe such a legendary performer would ever give such a show at a small’ music venue on the south coast of England on a Sunday afternoon.
    How lucky we were!
    Wonder who is backing band was?

  2. Dave, I feel certain that it wasn’t Wilson Pickett. I would have been clawing the doors down to get in.!!! At that time the Stones version of You’d Better Move On was probably one of my favourite tracks of all time. In my naivety then I didn’t realise about the Arthur Alexander original.
    The Sunday afternoon gigs that I remember most were the wonderful Ike and Tina Turner Review Show and I’m sure I saw Gene Vincent on a Sunday. The frustrating Sunday show was the infamous Bo Diddley show when he failed to turn up ! I think that was down to the Farr/Gunnell connection!!!

    • Now I’m in a panic! When you say about Wilson Pickett – he DID play there on the evening of Tuesday 23 November 1965. That’s confirmed by the original circulated Birdcage list and Geoff’s diary – plus my memory of being there.

      Ike & Tina Turner certainly played a Sunday afternoon on Sunday 16 October 1966. But Gene Vincent? I’ve never seen any mention of Gene Vincent at the Birdcage and never heard of him playing there.

      As for the Bo Diddley debate – Geoff swears to this day he saw him, with full entourage and it’s in his diary, whereas everyone else says he didn’t show up – read all about it on here in March 2013. But whether he did or not, no one has ever previously suggested it was on a Sunday afternoon; it was Saturday 2 October 1965

      Unless of course my “definitive list” is still some way off!

  3. i think Brady could be very helpful regards to who did and who didn’t play .. i’ll try and contact him, he was living in York but i think he’s in Sussex these days … i do know that Bob Yeates saw AA and also Bo Diddley ..

    • I used to email Brady when he was in York. He wasn’t well and never over keen to look back – he was still involved in experimental music projects – but any info welcome. I’m fascinated that Bob says he saw Bo Diddley because apart from Geoff (& diary) all the other evidence suggests he didn’t turn up. There was a local support band that night called the St Louis Checks … ring any bells?

      • well no bells ringing here .. i remember joining the Checks 1965 but don’t remember the month and the only gig i remember doing at the Birdcage was support to Ike and Tina T and we rehearsed there once, regards to Bob he was confused in the 60s so he could have seen BD in London .. also i think Brady’s in better health these days and i’ve got a plan, a cunning plan in fact, and maybe Graham Parker remembers the date your referring to …

  4. BTW Dave, i notice you haven’t moved the Blog’s clock forward, it’s an hour behind …

  5. Dave , I’m just having a pint of HSB in the 5th Hants Volunteer Arms and the staff know nothing of any proposed closure. That’s good news and the pint is good too. PUP!

  6. It seems to have been common knowledge around the city too – but if it’s wrong, I’m very pleased to hear it.

  7. Many thanks AW and any info you can gather in will be very gratefully received.

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