It’s getting close to the 70s and the sun’s going down. I make a detour past an electricals shop catching a bit of the Moon landing on the window display of TV sets and instantly fancy a bowl of Shreddies. Ignoring this Pavlovian conditioning I take the 15 bus back to 1967, getting off at The Three Rabbits pub on Romford Road. The castle-size pub that is The Three Rabbits has long been an important venue on the music circuit. Tonight my Cousin Keith is playing, I’ve promised so many times to see him. He recommended this particular night to me.
Up until the late 60s/early 70s, being a musician was a bona fide job option. You could make a decent living out of it. All the bands had a repertoire of rock’n’roll standards, ballads, special tunes (Wedding March, Happy Birthday, etc.) as well as all the hits of the day. Some of the groups recorded their versions for compilation LPs such as Top of the Pops and Hot Hits, records that sold enough to top the LP charts. Some regular semi-pro musicians who recorded frequently for these cheapo compilations included: Reg Dwight (then, now Elton John) and James Page (then, now Jimmy Page).
Cousin Keith is a special musician and he’s put together an excellent band. Keith was making waves in the shark-infested waters of the music biz. Tonight, the record company A&R men had ventured out to see him. It’s reckoned they would have to fight to sign him, Keith was Hot Property.
It’s a hot summer’s evening, the air still, not a breeze in sight, the crowd spill out of the packed pub and on to the pavement, making the gig look even busier. I duck inside, if you’re going to see a band you really have to see them. Soak up the atmosphere. And the cigarette smoke. I forgot everyone smoked in those times.
With Keith not yet on-stage, his band brings an instrumental to a close: a buzz of expectancy ripples through the audience, cutting through the haze.
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Text: Excerpt from ‘The Playlist’, (Hard Egg Publishing 2020) available from Amazon soon
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The following video is purely an illustration of the excellent music around at the time and is for enjoyment purposes only