Saturday, May 12, 2012

On this Spot Stood ....

Another iconic rock landmark has disappeared… no more white men in Hammersmith Palais. Actually, the last gig was in April 2007; no less a person than Mark E Smith (The Fall) was the final act to grace a stage immortalized in Joe Strummer’s lyric for the Clash, and mentioned in the Ian Dury and the Blockheads song 'Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3'. The venue had been hosting live music since 1919. Originally named the Palais de Danse, one can imagine all of the returning Great War soldiers being part of the original dancing crowd. Over the 70s and 80s it was rock’s for soldiers who went over the top to the Stones, Police, U2, the Who and Pistols, to name but a few campaigners. Now it’s apparently going to be a student hostel. And will the new fa├žade be graced with a plaque to remind future generation of what once stood here? If organizations like English Heritage have any say, then sadly probably not. Unbelievably, English Heritage, the body responsible for placing the Blue Plaques on London’s buildings, has just decided that Brian Epstein Chapel Street house is not going to get one. Epstein, apparently, is not considered important enough – despite the Beatles referring to him as the ‘Fifth Beatle’. ‘Don’t have the budget’ is their lame excuse. fer christ’s sake!!i> How difficult would it be to raise the few hundred quid necessary from fans? They have promised to revisit their decision in 10 years… Anyway, at least there’ll soon be one on Keith Richards Dartford family flat; but more of this in a later blog.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Of All the Bars ....

London’s rock history is littered with some legendary clubs; the Scene, Studio 51, Marquee, Roxy, 100 Club, the Troubadour, Blaises, Bag O’ Nails, Roundhouse, the 2is .. the list goes on and on. But, standing out in terms of legendary status, is one name; the Scotch of St James. The Scotch, situated in Mason’s Yard just off Piccadilly, must surely claim to have witnessed more rock history in the making than any other. This tiny club, with Gered Mankowitz and the Indica Gallery as neighbours, was the favourite of rock’s 60’ aristocracy. The Beatles had their own table; Hendrix agreed terms with Kit Lambert to sign to Track records and some sources claim that Jimi played his first ever UK gig on its tiny stage. It was certainly a ‘fave rave’ with The Who, Moody Blues, Eric Burdon, P.J. Proby … it was a case of be there or be square! The rare shot here shows a Merseybeats member dancing with George's soon to be, Patti Boyd. Unlike other famed bars which were closed, demolished, or turned into offices, the Scotch, renamed as The Directors Lodge, continued as a cellar bar, albeit catering to the ‘beer ‘n’titties’ crowd. But here’s the BIG news! It’s back! The Scotch relives. The small stage is once again graced by the rock fraternity. In fact, on this very day (3rd May) a certain James McCartney is due to play. ‘Private party’, we’re told. What’s the bet dad shows up. What a blast. McCartney senior sitting at his old table. So far information about who has purchased and reopened it, and what they intend to do there is scant but we’re on the case! It’s likely to be a member’s club due to the restricted size, and there’ll probably be little change to another Scotch legend; astronomical drink prices. But if you’re taking our new evening tour, ‘Ticket to Ride’ you’ll get to see the place, and perhaps even the in-crowd filing in.