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Popping out for a pint with Gary

Letters to Southend’s Standard Recorder, mid-August 2005


I moved back to the area in April, coming to Shoebury after working for ten years in heavy manufacturing at an iron foundry in Leicester.


I also have memories of the Shades coffee bar, the basement of which was known as the Shades Club.


You had to register as a member to go down and see The Paramounts playing there.  If I remember correctly, Robin Trower – or his family – were the proprietors of the Shades coffee bar at that time.  I first went there in about 1961.  I was not into any special music.  I was happy as long as it had a good beat and rhythm and you could hear the words of the singer – mostly Gary Brooker.  I remember in the interval, several of us – including Gary Brooker – used to nip out to the Castle public house for a pint or two.


Then of course, there was the Cricketers pub, which was my local, as I lived in North Road at the time.  I must admit, I’d forgotten how many different groups performed at the Cricketers.


One I have not seen mentioned here was a band from Canvey Island, who called themselves Dr Feelgood.  The lead singer  [Lee Brilleaux] used to sweat profusely – like a tap running. If I had not read last week’s Standard, I would not have believed how many famous groups actually visited Southend and went on to greater things.  Of course, the Beatles played twice at the old Odeon cinema in Southend High Street in the Sixties, along with the Dave Clark Five.  Not the kind of venue to hear the music though too much screaming from the girls!  In the past two weeks, I have been told Denny (Dennis) Knott is still alive.  I don’t think he made much money out of promotions at the Cricketers, as he had to pay the door staff (bouncers to us old’uns).


VW Thompson

Kingfisher Close, Shoeburyness


As always, we’re suckers for rock’n’roll nostalgia here at the Standard, so keep it coming!  Since Mr Thompson raised the subject of Dr Feelgood, how about your memories of the early days of the Feelgoods, the Kursaals and Eddie and the Hot Rods?


Photo Caption:  Club night – The Paramounts playing in the Shades, with Robin Trower second right and below, on his 2005 tour.


Robin Trower’s dad remembers…


I’m writing in response to Martyn Bailey’s letter in the July 15 Standard, asking for memories of the Shades Coffee Bar. My wife (Shirley) and myself well remember the days from 1959 to 1963, when we owned the Shades. The Paramounts were a regular Saturday night event.  The Oreoles also played at odd times with good support. Robin Trower and Gary Brooker were later universally famous in Procol Harum.


We often meet “oldsters” and talk over times and tribulations when we enjoyed many evenings. By the way, Robin, my son, has just finished a tour of Europe, though recently he has mostly operated in US. Good luck to all the old Shades members!


Mr L Trower

Westbourne Grove, Westcliff (More from Len Trower here)


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Really good to hear from you, Mr Trower!  Next time you speak to him, please remind Robin that the Standard would LOVE the chance of a chat about the old days.

Thanks, John Bobin, for sending this in ... and to Jill McMahon for typing it out

More about the Shades Club