January 1967 was the first full month of gigs at Woodgrange Road's Upper Cut club, following its opening the previous December (see here, for details). And a pretty impressive month it was too, beginning with local favourites, The Small Faces.
|Upper Cut club venue, photo from 1991|
This mod band was founded in 1965, with Manor Park boys Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. They were joined by Stratford musicians Kenney Jones (drums) and Jimmy Winston, who was replaced the following year by Ian McLagan (the only surviving member of the band, now living in Austin, Texas) as the group's keyboardist - because of his lack of talent and abrasive personality. Although the band were only together for four years, it was one of the most innovative and influential of the 60's.
|Local boys, - Small Faces|
The band signed for Decca in 1965 and their early hits, all of which had been released by the time of their Upper Cut gig, included Whatcha Gonna Do About It? (number 14 in the charts), Sha-La-La-La-La-Lee (number 3 in the charts) and All or Nothing (number 1).
Small Faces - All or NothingThe band's eponymous first album was a big hit and the group featured regularly on TV music shows, Top of The Pops and Ready, Steady, Go!
Despite their considerable success, they made little money and had an acrimonious breakup with their notorious manager, Don Arden, in 1966, amid much mutual recriminations. They then teamed up with ex-Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. It was soon after this that they made their Upper Cut debut.
The band went on to have other massive hits, including Itchycoo Park, Tin Soldier and Lazy Sunday and the seminal album Ogden Nut Gone Flake. The band went their various other ways in 1969.
The Stratford Express reported on the Faces Upper Cut gig, on 12 January 1967, in a rather quaint way:
Predictions that Forest Gate's mod beat centre The Upper Cut would flop because of high admission charges fell flat on Friday when nearly 2,000 youngsters paid between 10s and 12s to see the Small Faces.
... Girls screamed and burst into tears as The Small Faces came on to the stage, and during their half hour act the stage was guarded by eight "bouncers". Over a dozen girls fainted.
We just kept playing" said guitarist "Plonk" Lane after the show. "All we can see is girls and pretty underwear carried across in front of us".
This was the group's first home-town appearance for six months. They spent the afternoon rehearsing at the Woodgrange Road club and then went for a meal at Plonk's brother's cafe in Stratford.
"This was one of our best nights" said club DJ Paul Hobbs afterwards. "It's probably because the Faces are a local group and have hundreds of fans around here."The Faces gave the Upper Cut a great start to 1967, and the bands who followed them in January added greatly to the venue's rapidly growing reputation as East London's premier pop/rock venue, as the list below indicates.
Mindbenders (8 Jan)
This Manchester-based band was established by leader Wayne Fontana in 1963, and by the time of their 1967 Upper Cut gig had had hits with Game of Love and A Groovy Kind of Love, although Fontana had left them in 1965. The band itself broke up in 1968, with members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman going on to help establish the influential 10cc.
|Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders|
Mindbenders - Groovy Kind of Love
Another North-West band with a short career (1962 - 1966), best known for their only to ten hit Juliet.
|Mid month gig list - January 1967|
Terry Lightfoot was a stalwart of the British Trad jazz generation, who had a number of minor hits in the 1960's. He and a variety of "Jazzmen" continued to perform well into the 21st century, until Terry's death, just eleven months ago.
|Trad jazz stalwarts - |
Terry Lightfoot and his Jazzmen
Sounds Incorporated (20 Jan)
This Kent-based combo backed many visiting US artistes in the early 60's, before moving on the support Cilla Black and to open the bill for the Beatles on some of their world tours. They had a walk on part in the Sgt Pepper album, before disintegrating in the late 1960's.
The Fourmost was part of the Merseybeat boom on the 1960's, whose greatest claim to fame was that they played the Cavern Club three weeks before the Beatles. They had half a dozen minor hits in the 1960's, most famously A Little Lovin'. A version of the band still plays cabaret on the nostalgia circuit.
Fourmost - A Little Loving
Jamaica born Michael "Jimmy" James has been the lead singer of the Vagabonds soul band since the early 1960s. In its heyday the band supported Rod Stewart and Jimi Hendrix (who was to appear at the Upper Cut the next night - see below). The original Vagabonds disbanded in 1970, but James has put together a succession of other groups with the same name and still performs on the nostalgia circuit. Former Vagabond, Russ Courtenay, has a track on Tina Turner's latest, 2014 album.
|Jimmy James and the Vagabonds|
|End of month line-ups|
- impressive stuff!
January's gigs ended with a Jimi Hendrix ("The Jimi Hendrix Experience ("American top soul singer and guitarist extraordinary", as the promoters advertised it) revisit . This time the organisers managed to spell his name correctly, Jimi got a night time slot, instead of the matinee appearance in December, and the entry fee had increased from 5/- to 8/6d!
|Jimi makes it twice in a month in Forest Gate|
Jimi playing Purple Haze at Woodstock
- the song written in the changing rooms
of the Upper Cut in December 1966,
which doubtless had an airing at his January gig
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