Thursday, February 01, 2007


- from MA & the BBC Radio 4 website. pal Richard Barnes (author of books on the Mods, The Who & Pete Towshend's art school roomie & 'namer' of The Who) once gave me walking tour of the area...a lovely part of London:


By Jo Meek (!)
Producer, BBC Radio 4's The Eel Pie Island Hotel

Catch a train to Twickenham, west London, down to the edge of the Thames. Walk over the bridge to the tiny island of Eel Pie. Where sheds, boat-houses and picket-fenced gardens now line the water's edge, the grand Eel Pie Island Hotel once stood.

The Eel Pie Island Hotel had a colourful history. Charles Dickens described the hotel as a "place to dance to the music of the locomotive band". In the 1920s it hosted popular tea dances.

But perhaps what has come to define the hotel, at least as far as music fans believe, is the incarnation of the hotel as a jazz club in 1956.

The Eel Pie Island Hotel played host to some of the most influential British performers of traditional jazz including Ken Colyer, Acker Bilk and Chris Barber.

George Melly

"You could see sex rising from it like steam from a kettle - it was very difficult not to get laid on Eel Pie Island."

George Melly, who appeared at the club regularly, describes the run down hotel, with its ornate columns and arches, as being like "something from a Tennessee Williams novel".

"In those days you got to the island by boat, you had to pull yourself across on a rope, it was fairly primitive and you could hear jazz playing in the distance," he recalls.

"The island had a reputation for sex. When you approached it you could see sex rising from it like steam from a kettle. It suited us randy young musicians. It was very difficult not to get laid on Eel Pie Island."

In the 1960's the club's focus changed. With the growing popularity of the British R&B scene, regular players like Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies brought in musicians of the future as their fans.

Mick Jagger played regularly at the Eel Pie Hotel

For Ian "Mac" Mclagan - who was to become the Small Faces' keyboardist - the Eel Pie club became a regular haunt.

He says: "I was at Twickenham Art School and we'd have our end of term dances at the club. I went to see the Stones play there one night and helped them with their equipment and very cockily said to Mick, 'who's your agent?'"

"The next Monday I went up to Regent Street and hung around this office and booked them. My band The Muleskinners opened for them. I can't remember what we paid back then though."

Ronnie Wood would join the Rolling Stones after the club's heyday, but he was there in the big melting pot that Eel Pie became in the days when they were just starting to play.

"It was great, you might bump into Mick Jagger at the bar. It was an art school crowd. I remember once going in and having a wee upstairs in a bucket - it leaked and when I came down I saw it was leaking onto the stage onto my brother's band!"

Members of The Yardbirds and The Who, Rod Stewart, and many a barefooted hippy were tempted over the bridge by the promise of great live music.

What many didn't know was that the club was set up as a personal project by a former army sapper, junk shop manager and social researcher called Arthur Chisnall.

He wanted to see how the generation born at the end of World War II would develop and so created a world where they could come and be themselves, meet influential people, and if they needed it, gain advice about further education and training.

Eel Pie Island flyer

The fact that he was providing a stage to young artists like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Long John Baldry and many others, he saw as just a means to attract the right crowd.

Shortly before his death in December, he told BBC Radio 4's The Eel Pie Island Hotel: "I didn't know what impact I was having on the music scene. You've got to remember that my job was to create a world for people and I created that world.

"The people who were originally there were 300 art school people and they remade themselves until - bang! - you had The Who and The Rolling Stones."

Yardbirds were among the acts nurtured at Eel Pie

In 1967, the club was forced to close because the owner could not meet £200,000-worth of repairs, which the police had deemed necessary.

But it was to enjoy a short renaissance in 1969, when the hotel briefly reopened as Colonel Barefoot's Rock Garden, welcoming bands like Black Sabbath and the Edgar Broughton Band, as well as international travellers and idealists trying to create an utopian commune.

Demolished in a mysterious fire in 1971, the hotel's history is still preserved in the stories, poems and songs of the old islanders and the musicians who played there.

NP: Robert Caro on WNYC. his "The Power Broker" book on Robert Moses is probably the definitive urban study. WNYC also did a radio series of his lectures on Moses, LaGuardia & Al Smith that rool.


JOIE DE JOUR: credit.

N.B.A.T.W.P. (Never Be At The Wrong Party):


- BB writes:

Whether you know him as "Q", "?", "Question Mark," or "Rudy Martinez," the man is equally screwed. A few weeks ago Q's house burned to the ground taking with it his dogs and 40 years of memorabilia, including his gold record for "96 Tears" and an organ that once belonged to "The" Pink Floyd. I don't know about your band and your favorite local venue, but mine are making me do something about it. Though facing fierce competition from Ennio Morricone at Radio City Music Hall, we are nevertheless going to headline a benefit for Q this Saturday night at the fabulous, most beautiful, I mean really swinging Magnetic Field in Brooklyn - the borough of compassion.

Leave the canned goods at home, but bring a double sawbuck for Q and enjoy the sights and sounds of the A-Bones (stop me if you've heard this one, but I think we'll do some stuff we haven't tried in a while. We might even tune up. I intend to make Alessandro Alessandroni jokes between songs. You have been warned), ex-Raunch Hand numero uno Mike Chandler and the Chasers (who are fantastic, btw), Muck and The Mires (Little Steven approved but cool nevertheless), and lotsa others. Raffles of Norton and Crypt, etc. junk, Lenny Kaye in the MC spotlight, a whole bunch of beers on tap, WTF and LOL, people, what more could you beg for? A hundred piece orchestra performing the theme to EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC ? Well, than go to Radio City, which is in Manhattan. You cannot promote supporting Q in his time of need in Brooklyn. Details in the poster image below (2/3/07 - 97 Atlantic Ave. - Doors at 7 if the pic doesn't compute.)

cb...where are you?



Anonymous Rocky said...

Great stuff! Wonder if any film of the place survives? Glad to see li'l skeletor is still hangin' tough...

All the best on your Q benefit tomorrow

7:10 AM  
Blogger mr blur said...

I met Mr Townshend once at an art exhibition by Peter Blake near Eel Pie Island (Ah, the clang of dropping names!). Beautiful part of West London - the river, Kew Gardens...those were the days.

3:17 AM  
Blogger CBeezwax said...

...and Jane Horrocks house!


6:52 AM  

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