Mu­sic his­tory at its best

Whangarei Report - - MUSIC - By Brian Kelly

Back in July I wrote in this col­umn about a Lon­don Mu­sic Club called Eel Pie Is­land and the in­flu­ence that club had on the 60s sound of Lon­don.

I was lent a book re­cently about the Red­car Jazz Club.

This amaz­ing book by Den­nis Weller, Chris Scott-wil­son and Gra­ham Lowe, called Back­stage Pass, de­tails the bands that ap­peared at the Coatham Ho­tel in a North­ern English sea­side town called Red­car.

In the late 50s Red­car was the play­ground for the steel and chem­i­cal work­ers and min­ers from the Durham col­lieries.

In 1958 The Red­car Jazz Club opened in the Coatham Ho­tel and for the next decade it be­came the venue for the big and up and com­ing names on the Bri­tish jazz and R&B scene.

I love mu­sic his­tory, in par­tic­u­lar Bri­tish mu­sic his­tory, and this book has so many sto­ries to tell along with an in­cred­i­ble se­lec­tion of pho­tos. The de­tail the au­thors have gone to in re­search­ing the story of The Red­car Jazz Club is fan­tas­tic, right down to who played the venue, on what date and how much they were paid.

It brought back some mem­o­ries of groups I had for­got­ten about, like Zoot Money and The Big Roll Band. They were a pop­u­lar band per­form­ing live at the club on many oc­ca­sions through the mid-60s.

They had very lit­tle suc­cess on the record­ing scene. Per­haps their best-known track was Big Time Op­er­a­tor. In Au­gust of 1965 they were paid £75 for a night’s per­for­mance.

One of the big­gest earn­ers at the club in 1965 was Long John Baldry with Rod Stew­art who were paid £150 for a night’s work. On the same bill that night were Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger and The Craw­dad­dies.

The book is jammed packed full of amaz­ing sto­ries like the night Pete Townsend played at the club and threw his gui­tar up into the air and it stuck in the ceil­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a club mem­ber, Townsend just car­ried on while it was feed­ing back. He even­tu­ally pulled it down and car­ried on.

The Who’s fee for ap­pear­ing at Red­car in 1972 was £375. Within a month they were paid $13,000 up front be­fore they even set a foot on stage in Amer­ica.

If you were a club mem­ber in 1969 you had to pay 10/ad­mis­sion and guests paid 12/6.

From Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen to Aker Bilk, Jethro Tull, The Spencer Davis Group, Fleet­wood Mac, The Herd, Traf­fic, Cream . . . the list reads like a who’s who of the Bri­tish mu­sic scene that have played gigs at this venue.

If you love mu­sic his­tory, you will ab­so­lutely love this book. I know what I want for Christ­mas.

If you love mu­sic his­tory, you will ab­so­lutely love this book.

Rod Stew­art per­form­ing in Auck­land.

Brian Kelly is a host on Coast Break­fast ra­dio.

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