Tuesday, 6 April 2010

1969 the end of a decade

Dobells on Charing Cross Road is a regular lunchtime hang out, I love the blues import section and today I found a Muddy Waters album - Muddy Waters - Folk Singer. I love this album, it feels so real like you're in the studio with them - Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Clifton James and Muddy Waters - wouldn't that have been something.

One evening I got home from work to find Pete waiting there for me. A really nice surprise, good to have him home from the wars, and soon we are back clubbing, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, a few movies thrown in, a great Hammer Horror double bill 'Pit and the Pendulum' and 'Horrors of the Black Museum', 'Bullitt', 'Twisted Nerve' and 'Les Bicyclettes de Belsize' a strange pairing, the Hendrix film and 'Wonderwall', good movie, nice music. 

Me and my Dad were watching the evening news when surprisingly The Beatles came on. They were performing on the roof of their Apple building in Savile Row causing all sorts of chaos in the neighbouring streets, so of course, the police had to be called. They had not performed since August 1966 in San Francisco until today 30th January. They get through a few numbers from the Let It Be album before the authorities bring it to an end. It was a great performance, aggressive and with a lot of of energy.

The desire to get musical has not gone away and I really want to play bottle neck, Pete said he would teach me. My brother has been having guitar lessons at school from, as we are stunned to find out, Derek Bailey, a well known jazzer, who tells him the guitar he's using is awful - it's got an action you could drive a bus under. Bobby gets something playable and I use the old one. Today is the first lesson and I'm very nervous. it's a strange feeling performing in front of someone even if it is my boyfriend, or maybe because, in his living room.

Weather report - it's snowing, I love London in the snow, it never looks better. Tonight we have tickets for Freddie King at Regent Street Poly. I've got a dental appointment in the afternoon, the dentist is injecting my gum, but the novocaine is trickling down my throat, it's hard to speak with someone's hand in your mouth, but I get his attention and he has another go. A few hours later and back home, my tooth is still aching, I take an aspirin with some gin. We drive to the gig, but for most of the evening I sit on the floor half asleep, I managed to stay conscious and vertical for Freddy's set, which was difficult but well worth the effort. I was really made aware of Freddie King by blues bands over here, it was a real thrill to hear his music played by the man himself. Pete took me home, I fell asleep in the car and again when I got indoors. Remember not to mix those things again unless I want to be unav. 

Jimi Hendrix is playing the Albert Hall, of course he's top class, but the sound in that place is diabolical.

Roy Harper is on at Gary's club, I told you he gets everywhere. Good fun though.

Gary pays for me and Pete (an event worth noting in itself), to check out Led Zeppelin at the Hornsey Wood Tavern on the 7th March. I already knew they didn't knock me out, but there was no denying the club was rammed. We reported back and as far as I know he booked them for his club although I can't see it in any of the listings. Hey Mr. Shombert if you happen to read this - did they or didn't they?

A bit of a Polanski fest for us 'Rosemary's Baby' nice and spooky.  Followed by a fabulous double bill of  'Repulsion' featuring Catherine Deneuve and 'Cul de Sac' with Francoise Dorleac (Catherine Deneuve's sister who'd died two years earlier), she gave a fabulous performance and looked marvellous.

Lindsay Anderson's 'If...' is on the go too, inspired use of the 'Missaluba', and a beautifully shot film.

Duke of Edinburgh is visiting our library today, why I have no idea, but there have been many meetings and we have been told in no uncertain terms not to make eye contact, seemed OK to me. I was considering not turning up at all, but I did and as soon as he walked in my eyes locked with his like heat seeking missiles. Nothing happened though, no complaints are received and I didn't end up in the Tower. A huge wind up for not very much.

An amazing piece of television tonight 7th April, Jimi Hendrix Experience live on the Lulu show, they open with 'Voodoo Chile' and after an intro from the lovely Lulu herself, they begin 'Hey Joe' get a couple of verses in when Jimi announces they are going to stop playing this shit and launches into 'Sunshine of your Love' dedicating it to Cream who are splitting up. Things are obviously going on around them in the studio and they are eventually stopped from finishing the number. Live TV is so entertaining.

Pink Floyd have increased their profile and now we have to see them at the Festival Hall instead of the Country Club, and while you don't begrudge them their success, these bigger venues do not have the atmosphere of a club. This concert features a conceptual piece 'The Man and the Journey' mixing old songs and new material that will turn up in some form or other on the 'Ummagumma' album later this year. I like the Floyd at lot, but sometimes they make me want to be unconscious.

I've been to so many gigs and have lots of favourites, but Howlin' Wolf at the Marquee on 29th May must be the most emotionally powerful of them all.  Being in the same room as Chester Burnett when he sings 'Smokestack Lightning' is the biggest thrill ever. Total voodoo. I am a 19 year old white girl, born in London and somehow feel a complete and utter connection to this old black blues singer from America's deep south. I don't know what it is, but he is on a direct line to my soul.

Mothers of Invention are doing the Albert Hall, I know I've said this venue has rubbish acoustics, which it does, but it was a real treat to hear Frank Zappa play 'Louie Louie' on the mighty Albert Hall organ. The current LP is 'Uncle Meat' and 'King Kong' is one of my favourite all time tracks.

8th June 1969 Brian Jones is fired from the Rolling Stones, the band he started. I guess it had to happen, he is a total mess and there really is no place for him in the band, certainly not with the Keith and Anita double act. I guess the upside is, this gives him the chance to put something new together, but it does feel dreadfully wrong.

3rd July 1969 finds me working at the Library taking a phone call, Hilary, one of my colleagues comes in shouting 'Brian Jones is dead'. The other library assistants are all looking at me, one of them takes the phone from my hand. I've stopped speaking, tears are rolling down my face. I walk out into the street, the billboards are screaming 'Brian Jones dies in pool tragedy' I couldn't bear it. It was too real and all I wanted to do was to make it not be true.

He'd been working on putting another band together, there were plenty of musicians and singers interested in playing with him, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, even though his drug convictions caused touring problems, it wouldn't stop him recording. He was fascinated by the Pet Sounds album and the amazing things they'd achieved in the studio. The Mellotron had already attracted his attention, he would have loved and made great use of all the new inventions that were coming.

5th July the day of the Hyde Park free Rolling Stones concert with new guitarist Mick Taylor. This was arranged as a show case for the new guitar player, now it is all about Brian. Mick Jagger does his Shelley reading for him and sets free a whole load of white butterflies, many of which are roasted by the lights, how ironic. The whole event is somewhat excruciating and then they play so out of tune I could hardly stand it. What a dreadful day.

21st July the Eagle has landed, it's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. It was also dreadfully dull, interminably long and ultimately a bit of an anti-climax. Apparently it was very important that the west made it to the lunar surface before the USSR, so hurrah for the USA.

I'm planning to make some changes in my life, I have started making clothes for people. Working in the library is becoming increasingly frustrating - it's a dead end job and my boss has left and her replacement has zero sense of humour and I've had enough.

30th - 31st August will be the Isle of Wight festival. We leave on the Friday night, drive down in Pete's van, take the ferry across to the island in the morning. I've no holiday left and I need to take the Monday off work. The only option is to pretend to be ill, of course no one will believe me because they all know exactly where I'll be. Oh well...

For our shelter we are carrying two tarpaulins and a whole bunch of rods, we plan to build a Bedouin tent. This is a good idea and a really bad idea, good - as it is very easy to spot in the field because it looks so crazy, bad because the component parts are extremely heavy, amazingly we do manage it without arguing or crying. The best place we can find is on a slope and the ground is full of rocks. Eventually the thing is erected, but I don't recall getting much sleep. Masses of people, tents, long queues for the toilets and the usual warnings of bad acid, there was no doubt we were at a festival - quite a line-up Free, Battered Ornaments, Family, Pretty Things, Richie Havens, Marsha Hunt, Pentangle, The Who... I know for sure I saw Bob Dylan although it seemed more like a hallucination.

Stones 'Let it Bleed' album is released on 5th December and contains the incredible track 'Gimme Shelter' with that amazing vocal from Merry Clayton, and even though I believe they were a better band with Brian Jones, I don't think they've ever written a more powerful song. Brian is only on a couple of tracks on the album as is Mick Taylor

6th December the Rolling Stones put on another free show. this time at the Altamont Stadium in California. Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby Stills and Nash are all on the bill of this now infamous event. After using Hells Angels to successfully do the security at the Hyde Park gig, the same plan is put into action here. Sadly this does not go well, Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane is knocked unconscious on stage and a member of the audience, Meredith Hunter is beaten and stabbed to death by those who are meant to be providing protection, after someone says he has a gun. The film documentary 'Gimme Shelter' made by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin marks a very clear end to the sixties.


  1. Hi Jackie - I'd like to use your scan of the Marquee programme for a piece on the blues band McKenna Mendelson Mainline for my website http://thestrangebrew.co.uk/
    Please get in touch via http://thestrangebrew.co.uk/contact-us
    PS love the blog - Jason Barnard

  2. Hi Jackie,

    It's been fun reading about old times - you've straightened out my memories in a couple of places. I was pretty much a regular at Middle Earth in '68...

    I've been in the US since '74, and am finally coming home for good. I'll be trying to make various re-connections - I wonder if you'd get in touch via http://art.andrewmaben.com

  3. The goodbye Cream gig at the Albert Hall was on Nov 26, 1968 - and not on Apr 22, 1969.