Friday, April 8, 2011

Get that Ealing Feeling!

I wonder how many times the teenagers of 50 or so years ago had their father’s tell them ‘It’s rubbish this rock and roll. Rubbish. It won’t last’. I’d hazard a guess that everyone who fought to squeeze a ‘pop’ record onto the family gramophone between Dad’s Pat Boone and Grandma’s Doris Day heard it. Yet as Cliff Richard sang in his first 1958 hit, Move it, ‘They say it’s gonna die but let’s face it, they just don’t know what’s a going to replace it’ and the ensuing years have proven that rock’n’roll is, as more than one singer has screamed into his mic ‘here to stay’!

2012 marks a host of rock anniversaries with three big 50th celebrations; the Rolling Stones, the Beatles (yes, they were of course around before, but not with Ringo), and the legendary Ealing Blues Club.

The last is probably least well-known, yet in the annuls of rock history the Ealing Blues Club ranks right up there with the Marquee, Cavern and the Crawdaddy. Formed as a breakaway from the original Marquee by Alexis Korner, the club, its damp soaked walls giving it the better-known sobriquet the ‘Moist Hoist’, gave many a fledging artist their first opportunity of live performance. Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Charlie Watts, Graham Bond, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Paul Jones, Manfred Mann all played here; the list is endless. It was also where Jagger, Richards and Jones came together for the first time.

Unusually, the actual basement club is still there, occasionally even functioning as a nightclub. Needless to say, there’s no plaque recognition of the place’s history – despite Ealing borough council having spent zillions over the years in vain attempts to attract a tourist market. Thank God then for the guys who promote and run the annual Ealing Jazz and Blues Festival – itself celebrating 25 years in 2012 – who are working hard to get some form of official recognition for club site in time for the big 50th. There’s talk of some musicians who played at the original club playing at the annual festival, and of an appeal to locals for memorabilia with an exhibition in mind.

Meanwhile, just down the road, another Ealing landmark is disappearing. I doubt that many of its latter day hamburger-munching, chip-eating clients knew of its rock history but the West Ealing Wimpy Bar on Uxbridge Road was a post-gig, late night hang out for 1960’s bands. How do I know? Because Doug Sandom, original pre-Keith Moon Who drummer, told me while we were spending a memorable day scouting old Who sites around the borough.

More on the Ealing festival, exhibition and Doug’s memories in laer blogs but at least we go a picture of the Wimpey Bar before it was torn asunder!

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