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Cornwall in the 60s

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by rprest, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. rprest

    rprest

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    Hi, I've just come across the picturepenzance website and I notice a couple of threads about the 60s. I wondered if some of you guys might be able to help me out with a project I'm currently working on....

    Did you play in a band in the 60s?
    - Did you, a family member or a friend play in a band in Cornwall in the 60s or 70s?
    - Did you spend your weekends at The Blue Lagoon, The Flamingo Ballroom, The Winter Gardens, PJ's, Penmare Hotel, etc.?
    - Did you attend the annual Rock and Rhythm contest at Truro City Hall?

    If so you can help with a new project to chronicle the vibrant music scene in Cornwall in the 1960s & 70s - www.kernowbeat.co.uk

    I'm looking for stories and recollections from the time, as well as any photos or memorabilia you may have from those days.

    If you can help please me an email! - cornwall60s@yahoo.co.uk



    If you played in a band, no matter how small!, or have stories and pictures of the Winter Garden or any other venues - please do drop me a line I would love to hear from you!!

    ......also some of you may remember The Onyx from the 60s/70s. They regularly played the Winter Gardens and Barn Club, and almost hit the big time. I recently launched a website for the band, which can be found here - www.the-onyx.co.uk


    Richard
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  2. symons55

    symons55 Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi rprest, check your pm's (private messages).::15:
     
  3. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    Hi rprest, I can't help you personally because I wasn't old enough to go to pubs and night clubs in the 60's... but there are plenty of members on here who know all about the 60's scene locally.
    Perhaps I'll put together a list of members worth sending pm's to... unless symons55 has already done that for you.
    We have some images on our site, but you'll need to obtain permission to be able to use them.
    Also you might want to check out the Cornishman newspaper archives from the public library. You'll find a whole wealth of information and pictures in the Cornishman.... Again you'll need to obtain permission to use the pictures and text... but the Cornishman is a good paper and I'm sure wouldn't usually object.
     
  4. rprest

    rprest

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    Thank you for your help! If you could send me the way of folks on here that might be able to help that would be fantastic!

    I've started making my way through the local papers (West Briton and Cornish Gaurdians) and plan to work through the Cornishmans next. Anybody have any idea where I might be able to locate photos of the old venues?

    Rich
     
  5. Halfhidden

    Halfhidden Untouchable Staff Member Administrator

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    As for the Barn Club I would highly recommend getting in contact with either of the long time managers Neville Brown (now a guest house owner), Duncan Warren (now BBC radio presenter) and the Goodhew family (Duncan Goodhew MBE Olympic gold medallist) who owned the Barn club after the Jelbert's.
    My understanding is that the Barn Club was only the second discotheque ever to be built, but still boasted a lot of local, national and international groups. It is possible that they still have an awful lot of pictures in thier procession from those days gone by.
    I am in contact with some of the above so I'll see what I can do for you. You'll have to give me quite a few days... as I have a busy diary at the moment.
    I'll send the list of members who might be able to help via pm.
     
  6. rprest

    rprest

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    That's a great help, thank you. A quick google brings up Neville's details, so I'll give him a shout. No rush at all, any help as and when is much appreciated

    Rich
     
  7. breizh

    breizh

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    For concerts in Penzance I found an excellent list a while back, particularly for the early seventies and up to the early punk era. Lindisfarne, Queen, Hawkwind, Blondie, The Police, Genesis, Manfred Mann's earthband, Bert Jansch... (http://www.marmalade-skies.co.uk/RTT2.htm)
    Very often in those days acts played Plymouth and then Penzance on tours. Concerning concert dates, the Western hotel used to have some of the big folk names of that era - Mc Tell, Pete Atkin...
     
  8. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    Thanks for that URL @breizh, the site reminds me of the vitality of the age .. the music, the thoughts and the art was incredible ... and all I hear now is the boring endless rubbish same old junk churning out from the sampled and beat low down crutches bare whities of the imported pseudo culture; is there a radio station that broadcasts Good Music anymore? Just look at that poster ... Pink Floyd, Mountain and The Faces on one sheet ...
    That's really cool man ... ::3:
     
  9. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    Sabres

    It's coming back to me, as the bloke said when he spat against the wind ...
    I joined Drewitts (with glue, they say) in 1961, Malcolm Jackson joined shortly afterwards and Geoffrey Drewitt 'placed him under my wing'. We discovered a common enough connection in guitar music, so a great deal of the time was spent in going through music ... playing 7 inch 45 rpm records, over and over, writing down the lyrics and working out the chord changes; point was that then it was Sheet Music that ruled the Music World, and it cost the earth to buy. Lyrics were sung the way they sounded and not necessarily the way they were written for the originals. At the time, not a lot of attention was paid to 'performing arts' and the law. Although I do remember the Musicians Union being involved in some performances. It was a time of playing by ear, the traditional way; some sheet music was bought, and that was in the main for piano, and it all had to be transcribed into another key, and re-written for different fingering. Then chords had to be transposed for different instrumentation, instead of piano, it was lead, rhythm, bass, various numbers of voices, a number of groups had a saxophone player, which was steam hot.
    You will find the picture of The Sabres in the gallery Time Past, with the names I can remember. The first venue that I can remember was in the long barn just down from Penrose Terrace, facing on to Lescudjack Road, became a sawmill. It was Shadows style, one very popular piece was Czardas, a two rhythm Polish dance given the full Hank Marvin treatment. St John's Hall was a venue for a number of groups, but the main one for The Sabres was The Church Hall at St Just I think it was called, a large theatre room, given the full dance hall treatment; I was involved in wiring management and safety, no good striding across the stage and the mike being yanked out of grip because it got caught up. One of the worst sound ever, a disengaged jack plug - and earth roar. Coax cables were pricey, so had to be properly wound, or they had to be thrown out. That was when amplifiers were powered by the good old triode valve, and it was down to me to service them electronically and ensure we had a proper supply of spare valves; there was also the Pendeen Church Hall. Being an extrovert I dressed in what was then continental gear, of white trousers, a caribbean shirt, and the obligatory red tie, and they asked me to start dancing when the hall was getting slow. Oh yes, I often wore a straw hat. James organised events and bookings, as well as transport. Malcolm and I sorted Posters where the event organisers of the hall had nothing. Another venue was Marazion Church Hall. Rock'n'Roll mixed with Skiffle and later it was Twist. There was no division with Trad Jazz either, it was wide and I never saw any punch ups over what was happening in other places in the UK. Punch ups were over girl friends or standard differences over drink ... wann make anyfing of it mate? Yea ... But that was rare. I have never seen such cameraderie, everyone wanted to know who had what guitar, what to play, chord changes and riffs were exchanged, amps (amplifiers) were discussed, and the various pieces of reverberators (loose spring loaded) and the echo chambers, that used repeating tape loops, never been bettered electronically; had 'endless' fun cutting and splicing tape loops, that was another of my jobs. I may be able to remember more of that time later on ...
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  10. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    I do remember 'Fatty Smith' and his white Epiphone that caused a sensation at The Barn, The Blue Caps, Buccaneers, Druids (Penzance, Golden Boy lead singer? ), Layabouts (Ricky lived just up the road from me); and the incredible Staggerlees (at the Pavilion, before it became the machine paradise) ... Little Eva performed there as well. The Staggerlees, I remember had an alter ego, Johnny (or was it Ricky?) and the Hayseeds they dressed in smocks and wide 'farmer's straw hats and he had a length of straw in his mouth; It was not long after The Staggerlees performed in Penzance that we had the shock news their lead drummer had died of some brain pressure due to his excessive drumming technique ... he was totally amazing, but so intense. It was an incredible era ... electric, in more ways than one. Never was a time of a unified youth, before or since. I remember going to the Acker Bilk concert at The Flamingo (Redruth/Pool) the roof was lifting. I also remember a massive Christmas dance at Truro, with a group, from the Royal Navy, Plymouth, I think ... nearly as good as The Staggerlees. The air was 'pressurised' due to the amplifier speakers, on the chest. When we got home, hearing was hampered by a continuous ringing. No doubt the 'elthn Safety would have gone off on one about damaging effects, but it was all a part of the experience. Not at all like trying to chatter in a Pub that now has 'music' playing. Just remembered groups had another amplifier called a PA, public address, for the microphones. Different kettle of fish, different cross section of frequencies. Major problem was the cross modulation and feedback speakers to microphone, and heven help if the group did not have a separate system .. sounds like a Banshee on a steam Loco.
    Frowns and hands on ears for a while, and then back to the business of Rockin' or Jivin' ....
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  11. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    John Fry

    One big factor in Penzance at that time was the arrival of John Fry and his photographic shop. Right next door to the Wimpy Bar, when they were good. Wimpy was the place to gather and chat, in comparison to the present day sedate clinical eating house, the cafe was buzzing. The buns were bigger and the burger was thick and dripping with onions and juices. Real cheese and real chips (not 'fries'). That was it, Mac (drummer) had a massive appetite, nothing for him to start the day with a large breakfast, on the way through town to have a sausage roll, head for the Wimpy eating a large Cornish Pasty on the way, and then in to the Wimpy for a plate of chips and a cheese burger, announcing "ansom, needed that" as he was 'bloody starving'. He was deeply involved with The Sea Scouts, often seen on parade with the scouts on special days in town. He learned drumming through his military connection, drawing on Sandy Nelson. He would often, in the middle of a roll, or after a drum run, look at me in amazement at himself and what he had just done. Yes, the lead guitar gave the music and the rhythm and bass gave the rest of 'the orchestra', but anything could gloss over a bum note, except a drummer without that precision, that wider sound; dancing requires a strict tempo, like joke telling it requires good timing. So, after all the buzz in the Wimpy, with all the good humoured banter with the girls, everyone would troupe out ... and in to next door. That was the second meeting point on the Saturday. John Fry's. It was a smart new shop, clean lined, and it had a glass front with glazed doors which opened into a first room. One of the first places to have downlighting from the ceiling spots. In view was this pool of light, the only other aspect was the fact there was a large glazed desk, backed with a giant print (on a decorative laminate) of the wreck of the Jeune Hortense on the shore of Mount's Bay, again the first time I had seen such a display anywhere. Already you get the idea it was innovative and alive. After a few minutes, we shuffle into the hallowed ground, through the sound curtains. There at the far end of the room is a small stage set, with curtaining, and set up with mikes, guitars and amps. This was where we tried out the equipment and the
    latest guitar against the favourite, testing for action, weight and balance. The steady trade was done in guitar strings and plectrums/plectra here and in James Music Shop. Steel, wire wound; I remember the excitement when phosphor bronze tape wound came in, to give the lower strings a smooth finger run as well as the upper two. They had their problems in that you had to check them all the time, as it was quite possible to strip your finger tips on a piece of loose tape winding; harmonics were not so easily accessible. The new guitar was passed around and tried by all ... occasionally a sale was made. That was where I first met Geoff Marshall, as he worked there. Later he opened a photographic shop in Causewayhead, it is still a photographic outlet (a good one) and Geoff (one of the best) has his studio above the shop. He must have some amazing memories. But now that card shop by the Wimpy bar hides a lot of history.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  12. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    Strings & things

    You have the vision and the drive, perhaps even the guitar. It was all very well listening to records and trying to play the sounds, but there was that matter of chords and fret positions, the technique was the mystery followed by Malcolm Jackson of The Sabres. His idea was eventually to have red jackets, by the way. Malcolm was the original drive, and living next door to another guitarist, and not that far away from another, the three just gravitated to practicing together.
    John Mac was already 'a character' then, well known and a drummer was wanted. At first he had problems as he was trained with the straightjacket of the paradiddle. It did not take long to break out once he had mastered the technique of Sandy Nelson. Malcolm took his guitar rather seriously, in fact he took life rather seriously, to the eventual cost of the group and others. His parents Reg and Nora lived next door to my mother in law's sister in St Just. Reg rather looked to me for his son's guidance, though Malcolm had other ideas relating to the intake of alcohol which did him no good at all at his age. He was a master at the guitar, it has to be said, his heroes were Ivor Mairants, Eddie Lang and Django Reinhardt, and he studied the styles of each along with their extraordinary banks of chord groupings. On stage though it was all the punchy music and ballads that had taken Britain's ear by storm. Again, it has to be said, music was recorded and played on a small 'record player', or 'gramaphone' the auto play was a different thing than in our digital age. It took ten EPs (extended play) and played them in sequence; one of the most popular makes was the Dansette. An oval speaker in a narrow band of cloth faced plywood,
    with a small valve amplifier. The 'pick-up' being the arm that sat on the record, fitted with a stylus and it all retained its old name from the days of the 80rpm and later 78 rpm records, of needle, actually being a steel pointed needle; When the rockers went to the dance hall, they were hit by a wall of sound; it was an ultimate experience. It was
    way beyond the sound they were used to at home. It is all too easy to ignore the fact that there was no such thing as MP3 or earphones or samplers and the machines that produce sounds as they do now. This was REAL and it was so in your head, it was near impossible to separate yourself as soon as you entered the hall and that guitar sound just punched out the music. Beyond the power delivered by Vox amps or the Marshall amp (generally considerd the thing to have), there was the raw energy used to play the guitars, it had to be loud. Only too often the player wouuld end up wrapped in a length
    of steel wire, or there would have to be five minute breaks for a re-string or even just the tune up check. Mostly by ear, on stage, but sometimes off stage using the mini-pipe (I stll have one). Then there was the ongoing discussion as to the most responsive strings, or the ones that cut fingers, or the ones that needed too much tension for the guitar action.... A good supply was essential. One of the major suppliers was Sydney Evans [Violin Shop], in Birmingham, although John Fry and James had good stocks in, some wanted to get right to it. It mattered to Malcolm, and he needed to get replacement
    machine heads; he was a perfectionist and occasionally stormed off disgusted that he had made a mistake of his equipment had let him down; we had then to apologise to the assembled hall and chase after him. I believe they call it temperamental. I seem to remember Cathedral and Selmer Strings being popular. Malcolm's guitar was a Futurama at one point. The bass guitar was a Vox Clubman Bass and the Rhythm guitar was a Hofner Senator. I thought the drumkit was a Zildjian.
     
  13. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    Thinking about venues, Penzance Pavilion has been left off your weblist as well as St John's Hall, as well as others I mention above. I also remember The Ritz (cinema) was used on a couple of occasions for Rock bands (not dances).

    The singer in The Druids (Penzance) was Roy Drew, Golden Boy, he wore a Gold Lamé suit, and he had an opinion of himself to match. The most beautiful girl in Penzance was already his but his eyes were wayward (allegedly).

    For the most part the chaps wore black suits, white shirts (sleeves & collars) and a red tie was 'the thing'. Then a square cut knitted silk dark tie; I can't remember when, but the bootlace tie was also in. Smart lot we were; as I have said elsewere, In the late 50s I wore a Velvet jacket padded shoulders; and bumpers the feet, my hair was Fabian style ; I remember once going with a group in to Morrab Library for a talk on Pride & Prejudice, getting some odd looks, a suitable title I thought, especially considering the high fashion of the time of the book.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  14. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    That guitar of Malcolm's was a Futurama 2 Solid .... price 35 guineas.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  15. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    I have placed some pages from the John Fry catalogues in my album 'Solid, man', together with some prices of strings and the actual relative cost.
     
  16. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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    The Flamingo

    Just remembered one of the most incredible nights.
    Off by bus to Camborne/Trevenson (Pool). Acker Bilk and the Paramount Jazz Band, totally stomping stuff, the walls were sweating and shaking. That was a time when lines were not drawn between genres ... it was music for the young at heart. There was no Blast from the Past or Golden Oldie. It was the blackbottom, waltz or THIS!
    The Flamingo was the top notch place to go, and they held wrestling matches, dances and stage performances, besides the greasy cafe for lorry drivers on their haul to London with the market produce. All gone, now it is clever to remember clips and snips for quiz shows, CDs are released of golden oldies, endless bad mp3s stream the internet, with sleazy companies ripping you off. It was a different world then, we lived through it, with all its vibrancy and life, its cameraderie and smartness. No backsides sticking out over badly fitting jeans then. Snazzy drainpipes or trouser suits and ties. The red pocket handkerchief, neatly folded to show as a triangle.​
     
  17. Tropicgal

    Tropicgal Janner/ Senior Member

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    Cornwall in the 60's

    I grew up in Penzance in the 60's and the Barn was the place to be on Saturdays and the Wints on Fridays. I remember Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch appearing at the Wints. I also remember a group who were great favourites at the Barn, don't think they were local, called The Wishful Thinking. I remember the lead singer was extremely good looking!

    I remember traveling by coach to the Flamingo on one occasion to see Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band.

    Thursday nights was the night to catch the coach to Culdrose for their weekly dance. That's where I met my husband!
     
  18. treeve

    treeve Major Contributor

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  19. symons55

    symons55 Moderator Staff Member

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    I also remember Wishful Thinking, Dave dee, Onyx etc. in the sixties, also apart from dancing in those places I worked behind the bar in both of them. Wints only for a couple of months, but Barn for a couple of years, so got to see and know a lot of bands. Good days, all gone now, bands no longer hone their craft by playing live, you can become a star overnight not ever having sung in public......
     
  20. Tropicgal

    Tropicgal Janner/ Senior Member

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    Good Grief, I'd forgotten that the Wishful Thinking used to be the Emeralds!! Just read it on their website!
     

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