Mouthwatering musical fayre on Woodgrange road

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

In the third of our monthly glance backs at the golden age of the Upper Cut club, we feature what was on offer, locally, 46 years ago - in November 1967. For links and details of the others, see footnote.

Upper Cut Club - 25 years after its
demise, as it faced demolition
Although the Club's regulars may not have known it, this was probably its last, great, month.  We'll examine reasons for the Upper Cut's demise in our next look back. But one factor, without question, was the emergence on the scene of serious local competition.

The Upper Cut had had pretty much a free run at providing high quality gigs locally, in the 10 months since it had opened. Other potential promoters began to wake up, however, to the money making possibilities that good quality live popular music offered in East London.

A bit of rescued memorabilia
from this iconic music venue
So, although the Upper Cut continued to offer tasty gigs for local youth, serious rival attractions were promoted for the hard earned East End pocket money.

In November 1967 alone, the Lotus Club, just across the road from the Upper Cut - above what is now the 99p stores - featured the Moody Blues, for 7/6d (about £6, today) and the Foundations for 6/6d (a little over £5) - a cheaper price than any "name" band the Upper Cut featured at the time.

Serious competition for the Upper Cut
- just across the road
These were no mean acts. The Moody Blues had formed in 1964 and by the time of their Forest Gate appearance had already been on Ready Steady Go a number of times and issued their smash number 1 hit: Go Now. Denny Laine had by now left the band and the inspirational Justin Hayward had joined. At the time of their Lotus Club gig they were about to release the ground breaking concept album Days of Future Passed, a rock version of Dvorak's New World Symphony - much of which doubtless got an early airing on Woodgrange Road.

The Foundations appeared at the Lotus club three days later! They were a much more basic British soul band, whose prime was 1967 - 1970. By the time the starred in Forest Gate they had already had their first number 1 hit, Baby Now That I've Found You and were about to release their second, co-written by Manfred Mann's Mike D'Abo, Build Me Up Buttercup.

Foundations album, released
shortly after Upper Cut gig
Meanwhile, down the road, at Leyton Baths, even more competition was promoted for the Upper Cut, with the appearance of The Troggs on Saturday 18th and Georgie Fame, a week later.

Fame had already appeared at the Upper Cut two months previously (see footnotes) and so could have expected some of his fans to have drifted from Woodgrange Road on the 25th to see him in Leyton. This would have been bad news for the door takings of the Eddie Floyd gig, held in Woodgrange Road the same night.

The Troggs themselves were no slouches, lead by the eccentric, and now recently deceased, Reg Presley.  They were big box office at the time of their Leyton gig, having over the previous twelve months had huge hits with: Wild Thing, With a Girl Like You, I Can't Control Myself  and Any Way You Want Me. They were on the point of releasing Love is All Around, which was later to become a better known hit for Wet, Wet, Wet, as part of the sound track for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

 The Troggs and Wild Thing

Meanwhile, at the same time, the Upper Cut was presenting PP Arnold - good as she was, she would have struggled to match the appeal of the British chart toppers.

So much for November's rivals  - what of the Upper Cut, itself?

Some serious UK and US acts for
the Upper Cut club in November
Sunday 5 November, the day after the Moody Blues were at the Lotus, saw Simon Dupree appear at the Upper Cut. It must have appeared poor competition to local youth, for the weekend's entertainment . They were very much a band in transition at this time.

Having been fairly unsuccessful recording covers of US soul singles, they gradually moved to become a psychedelic rock band, and the Forest Gate gig caught them on the cusp of this change.  They appeared in Woodgrange Road just as their first hit in this new genre: Kites, began to take off.

Simon Dupree and The Big Sound,
with Kites, recorded a little
before Forest Gate show

It was about this time an unknown pianist, Reg Dwight, joined their line -up, for £25 per week, for a short stint. The band politely declined his request to record some of his self penned songs with them.  It is not clear, however, whether the person later to emerge as Elton John tickled the ivories during their Woodgrange Road gig.

Within a week, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, one of Britain's most influential blues bands,  were appearing at the Upper Cut. The band was originally formed in 1963, and over its chequered past has included over 100 members.

That number included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce - who left to form Cream, and Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, whose departure signalled the formation of Fleetwood Mac, just before their Forest Gate gig.
Meanwhile, Mayall had recruited Mick Taylor - later of the Rolling Stones - to the line up, who would have featured at the local gig.

John Mayall's groups were never as successful as record makers as they were as star spotters, and probably their biggest single hit, Parchment Farm had been issued just before their foray into Woodgrange Road.

John Mayall and Blues Breakers, Parchment Farm,
a couple of months before Upper Cut gig

A week later saw the PP Arnold gig at the Upper Cut, where she was playing "against" The Troggs at Leyton Baths (see above).  The American soul singer Arnold had started her musical career backing Ike and Tina Turner, and came to England in 1966, to support the Stones.

PP Arnold, facing serious competition on Woodgrange
Road, but with Stevie Marriott as local compensation
By the time of her Upper Cut appearance, she was in a relationship with local Small Faces maestro Steve Marriott, and had recently recorded what was probably her biggest UK hit - which surely would have got a Woodgrange Road airing -the Cat Stevens penned The First Cut is the Deepest.

In her prime, Arnold toured with Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Kinks, Blind Faith, David Bowie and Delaney and Bonnie - most of whom also, of course, appeared in Forest Gate in this era.  Still active in the entertainment business, PP Arnold continues to record and appear on stage in musicals.

Five days after the her performance, Ben E King was back appearing at the Upper Cut - almost a month to the day after his previous appearance. See here, for details.

Ben E King - second Forest Gate
gig in as many months

Three days later Eddie Floyd was headlining in Woodgrange Road, for 7/6d admission charge (about £6, today), in "opposition" to Georgie Fame, who was playing Leyton Baths.

Although Floyd was never huge in the UK, he had recently recorded his biggest UK hit Knock on Wood, which had chart topped in the US, earlier in the year.
Floyd was born in Montgomery Alabama and was signed by the Memphis-based Stax label.

Eddie Floyd, knocking on wood
and on Upper Cut door
His most successful recording period was over, but he prospered for a while afterwards as a songwriter.  He is still on the road today, often making guest appearances on the bill with other 60s and 70s soul greats.

The mouthwatering local musical fayre on offer in November 1967 (Upper Cut, unless indicated)

Sat 4 Nov - Moody Blues - 7/6d (Lotus)
Sun 5 Nov - Simon Dupree - NO price
Tues 7 Nov - Foundations - gents and ladies 6/6d (Lotus)
Sat 11 Nov - John Mayall and the Blues Breakers - (no price shown)
Sat 18 Nov - PP Arnold - gents and ladies 9/6d
Sat 18 Nov - The Troggs - gents and ladies 7/6d (Leyton Baths)
Weds 22 Nov - Ben-E-King - gents and ladies 7/6d
Sat 25 Nov - Eddie Floyd - gents and ladies 7/6d
Sat 25 Nov - Georgie Fame - gents and ladies 7/6d (Leyton Baths)

Back catalogue

This site has published a number of articles on the history of the Upper Cut club: the first detailing the time when Otis visited it, in March 1967. This post was followed by two, recording the first six months and the final six months of the club's existence.

These posts were followed by almost monthy updates on who played at the club, that month, 47 years previously. The final blog is a record of a recent meeting with former boxer, Billy Walker, the name under whom the club exisited, on his memories of it and Forest Gate almost half a century ago.

Below is a list of those blogs: the hyper links are the titles of the articles, and when hit upon should give access to them. The dates (in italics) are the time covered by the blog and the date in bold are the months the blogs were posted.

Although the content, and some of the comments on the individual posts, is pretty definitive, we'd love to hear any memories readers may have of the gigs, or corrections they could make to the copy. Just post in the Comments box, below.

When Otis played Forest Gate (March 1967) May 2013

Upper Cut (1) - a summary of the emergence of the first six months of the club (December 1966 - July 1967) July 2013

Upper Cut (2) - a brief survey of the second, and final half year of the club's existence (August 1967 - December 1967) July 2013
Georgie Fame, The Tremeloes and Unit 4 + 2 - (September 1967 at the Upper Cut) October 2013

When Stevie Wonder played Forest Gate - (October 1967) November 2013

Mouthwatering musical fayre on Woodgrange Road - (November 1967) December 2013

Club bills for the Upper Cut's two Decembers - (Decembers 1966 and 1967) January 2014

The Upper Cut beds down - (January 1967) February 2014

Essex comes to Forest Gate - (February 1967) March 2014
Stax comes to town - (March 1967) April 2014

A mixed bunch at the Upper Cut in April (April 1967) May 2014

Upper Cut - May 1967 (June 1967) June 2014

Summer of Love in Forest Gate (Summer 1967) August 2014

Golden Boy, Billy Walker's Forest Gate memories September 2014

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