Music history at its best
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.