Beaten in Play It Cool
I’m writing about the Shades coffee bar and the music scene in Southend in the Fifties. I played in a band called Terry Fane and the Torleados and remember playing lots of times at the Cricketers, which was then run by Denny Knott.
We also played many times at the Elms in Leigh, the Londoner and the Palace Blue Room. We held our own dance at the Cambridge pub [in Shoebury], which used to get packed with soldiers from the garrison.
There were lots of bands playing in Southend at that time – The Paramounts, The Monotones, The Sundowners, The Baraccudas [sic] and The Whirlwinds, to name a few – there are too many to mention them all.
We played at the ABC cinema in a competition called Play it Cool, run by the ABC. The Paramounts were in the final and won. They deserved it because they were very good. We came second and I believe the Sundowners were third.
On a Saturday the Palace Blue Room would have a dance, with many bands playing. My best friend, Ken Walker, was lead guitarist with Micky Law and the Statesmen. He and I are still playing in bands today!
I wonder if anyone remembers a magazine called Spot Light. (I am lucky enough to own an original copy.) It highlighted the places bands would be playing and cost one shilling. I imagine this was from the early Sixties, although there is no date on the front cover.
I wonder if any ex-members of bands can remember Rock Across the Channel, from Southend Pier to France? Some bands from Southend played, although I cannot recall who they were.
Also around the same time a coach trip from Southend was arranged to go to the Granada at Walthamstow to see Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. Lots of musicians from Southend went, including Terry Fane and the members of my band.
With regard to the coffee bars, I remember Shades very well with blonde Shirley running it, also the Capri, which I think was owned by Denny Knott, the Zanzibar, plus the 4Bs.
It would be great if you could arrange for a reunion of musicians of that era, perhaps at the Cricketers, to discuss old times.
New Park Road
Did you play in any of the bands mentioned here, or see them play? If you have memories of those magical days, drop us a line. We’d particularly like to hear from you if you have photos or memorabilia.
(Please include your full address and a daytime phone number)
Restoring Denny’s Roller
We hope you keep this thread going, as so many names are being mentioned that we remember. The young Chris who was killed was Chris Blackman, my husbands’ [sic] best friend. He is remembered fondly by us.
My sister, Sandy, and I are so pleased Jenny wrote about the Capri. Our parents insisted on going to the coffee bar and meeting Denny before we were allowed to go there. As far as we are concerned, it was the start of our socialising.
Ironically, my husband, who restores cars as a business, is in the process of restoring the interior of Denny’s old Rolls-Royce. We wish him well.
The Sixties were happy days. Perhaps someone will organise a reunion.
CAROL NEWBURY-SMITH (née Slade)
Thanks, John; and Jill, for the typing
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