Mingling with Donovan…
I ran the Cricketers Dance Hall, as it was known then, after Dennis Knott left and before Rodney Saxon took over.
Fred and Em Spring, the owners, knew I had a bit of experience as an occasional singer with the Monotones (Elms Dance Hall) and as a Butlin’s Redcoat. Nothing though as a promoter, as in those days a female in her early 20s running a dance hall was unheard of.
It was a fantastic time – so much local talent. Not just rock and roll but also very talented country musicians as well as folk, blues and jazz. The venues were many and varied, as were the coffee bars.
I first met Donovan in a coffee bar called the Shrubbery, in Royal Terrace.
Southend then was so vibrant, so full of talent, the atmosphere was amazing and we were a really happy community. We did not have to get drunk to enjoy ourselves – we were high on music and dancing.
Photo caption – Happy days – Vicky outside the Capri in August 1963
I played in so many of the bands
After reading these excellent articles about the Sixties, I just had to add a few of my memories.
I played drums with many of the bands during these years – The Pack, Phase 5, The Loradoes, Kenny Baxter and the SMJQ, plus Vic Sutton and the Planets.
I was also drummer with Pasadena – the lead vocalist and guitarist, Doug Parnis, went on to run Club Riga. Whatever happened to Karen Baker, our female singer?
I was second drummer with the Barracudas. Ted, my brother, played guitar, and Norman played bass and vocals.
I think my biggest adrenaline rush was when we played a New Year’s Eve at the Kursaal, with hundreds dancing on the sprung floor. Howard Baker’s resident band were playing there at the time, and we were the spot turn.
I am still playing drums with a Status Quo tribute band. In fact we are looking for a keyboard player – anyone interested?
The Barracudas ran dances at the London Hotel, in Tylers Avenue, every Tuesday and Thursday evening. Tickets were half a crown (12.5p). So you really could go to a dance, boogie, have drinks, and have change from a ten-bob note (50p). We also played at the Cricketers, the Elms and the Crown, in Rayleigh.
The Capri coffee bar was nicknamed the Magnet, because everyone used to meet there.
I remember Tina – who worked behind the counter – the jukebox, and of course “Uncle Denny Knott”, who owned the place.
Many of us, including me, met girlfriends there. I was also a biker and went to the Zanzibar, Shades, and all the other coffee bars at the time.
I would love to hear from anyone who remembers the groups and would certainly go to a reunion of musicians.
Thanks, John; and Jill, for the typing
More about the Paramounts