Tuesday, 29 June 2010

As it began: Doug Puddifoot and PJs (again)

The book by Jackie Gunn and Jim Jenkins is the nearest there is to a Queen official biography...

I read the first chapter again today and it says a few things that are very relevant that I missed first time. I'm writing them on the blog so I dont forget!...Firstly Doug Puddifoot, the man who took all the early Queen photos and designed the first album cover, was a friend of Roger's from Truro. This begs the question of whether anyone down here knows him or is still in touch with him, and also whether he might have taken pictures of the band down here...

Secondly whilst the 1970 PJ's gig was not Queens first gig it (that was at the City Hall) it was the first time they were billed as Queen. (Though Jacky's book is a bit misleading here because the picture of the advert that is shown alongside it is not Queen in PJs but Queen in the City Hall...the PJs advert is the one above)...They had played at Imperial in between the two Cornish gigs but presumably that was not advertised. ie if nothing else we can say it was the first time the name had appeared in print.

Another first mentioned in Jacky and Jims book was the Tregye gig in 1971 being the first open-air gig by the band: something they repeated later many times when they outgrew indoor venues...

UPDATE 4/7/10  Jill Johnson has explained that, actually, Doug Puddifoot was known to Roger from Truro because, as one of Jill's relatives, he visited regularly, and would have met Roger in around 1967. He lived in Ruislip, however.

Geoff Daniel

Geoff Daniel - guitarist in The Reaction and Roger's schoolmate - has sent me an image of the band from the night they won the Rock and Rhythm championship...this is one that is not anywhere else on the internet to my knowledge. L to R: Jim Craven, Geoff Daniel, Roger Brokenshire, Roger Taylor, Mick Dudley, 'Acker' Snell.

This is the better known image, used I think in Queen: The Early Years but it's been heavily cropped.

And this is another more posed image. It's a photo in Roger Brokenshire's collection. I think other versions exist eg on the web but I can't remember where exactly...so it'll be worth my while going back to see Roger to get a better copy...

Monday, 28 June 2010

PJs corner

PJs is a venue that Smile and Queen between them played more than 10 times. I'm still hoping to find a decent picture of it but at the moment this aerial photo is best I have. The arrow is pointing down Moresk Road, and the building above it in the photo is PJs.

For a long time the whole area was mainly residential. The heavy black line was drawn on the photo to show the extent of the area that was to be demolished and redeveloped.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mike Grose with Queen: thanks Jill

Jill Johnson has sent me another picture of Mike Grose with Queen. Dont think this is elsewhere on the net  - but it is another Doug Puddifoot promo shot. And it's rather good actually.

The Jays

Known variously as The Jays, Jay-jays, Three Jays and then lastly the Jayfolk, Jill Johnson's folk group were close friends of The Reaction, and recorded with them and played live with them. Jill has very kindly e-mailed me more information about their history as well as some delightful pictures.

The group started in 1964. I was 14. The first line-up was myself, my sisters – Janet & Jennifer (twins) and my best friend Sue Johnstone (later ran the Queen fan club for years with her sister Pat – then EMI…). We sang mostly at special events, hotels, concerts, etc. The folk club scene wasn’t really established at that time.

In 1967 and 1968 the Jayfolk played regularly at The Navy Arms in Truro and the Roseland Inn in Philleigh, as well as a variety of concerts, holiday camps and clubs. In the summer Roger, with Reaction, ran a series of beach dances in marquees set up by Rik Evans. Reaction played the main set, and the Jayfolk would do the acoustic intermission. September 1968, Josie and Penny left for college. Sue and I continued the band – added a flute.

I was planning on joining Roger in London (he was at University), so I got hired by the BBC and was supposed to start working for them later that year. Then the JayFolk played a gig in Wadebridge where I met the Famous Jug Band and they recruited me for the band. Dumped the BBC offer, and I started playing with them in November ’68 (I think) and then we went on tour early in 1969.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Pat and Sue

Jill Johnson has, very kindly, just sent me lots of fascinating information about the music scene in Cornwall in the late 60s...

I will post some of this tomorrow. But she has reminded me that Pat and Sue who were running the Queen fan club in the 70's were friends of hers and Roger's from Truro. Sue in fact was one of the other members of Jill's group The Jays.

Its a funny coincidence to think that earlier today I was looking at material that they had sent down to Karen Silverlock in 1974...Looks like they were very conscientious about it too...

Karen Silverlock


Karen contacted the Queen in Cornwall blog a couple of weeks ago. She lives in Truro now and it was lovely meeting her today.

In '73 she was a Bowie fan, but bought the first Queen album from a shop in St Austell after a friend had recommended it. She was entranced, and leapt at the opportunity to watch them play when they came to the South West early in '74, seeing them both in Plymouth and in Penzance (see earlier post below re John Adams).

In Penzance Karen and her friend took lots of photos of both the performance and of the band backstage. She remembers Brian in particular being very kind and patient, and later that year he responded to a letter she wrote to him.

She was one of the first members of the fan club, having joined in 1974. Her membership number was 479, and as a member she received newsletters for several years which she has kept.

In these photos the stage at the Garden in Penzance looks like it's really small - but there was room for a grand piano in one corner. Karen remembers standing within touching distance of the band, who were lit by one or maybe two spotlights only.

These photos are the only known photos of Queen performing in Cornwall. When they played in Cornwall in 1970 and 1971 they were unknowns and perhaps that is why there are apparently no photographs from that time. But by March 1974 they'd had one top ten hit (Seven Seas of Rhye) and had a burgeoning teen fan-base.

Late in 1975 Queen had their monster hit: Bohemian Rhapsody which in the UK was number one for 9 weeks, and top ten or number one in many other countries. As a result Queen quickly went global. So, after a long and close association with Cornwall, which had started 10 years previously when first Roger moved to Truro, this gig in Penzance turned out to be the last they played here.


John The Fish

Yesterday I spent more than an hour speaking to John The Fish in his tranquil front garden in Perranwell. Something of a legend in Cornwall, in 1964 John was one of the original artistes booked into The Count House at Botallack, the first of many folk clubs that would spring up all round Cornwall in the '60's.

Whilst there he began his long association with Brenda Wootton, whom he accompanied throughout the early part of her career. He recorded four albums with her during this period. We also talked about 'The Folk Cottage' in Mitchell and 'Room at the Top' in Redruth, both only ten minutes or so from Truro by car. The former was significant in the early careers of Wiz Jones and Ralph McTell both of whom lived nearby. During Summer 68 - the time that the Reaction were playing some of their last gigs - Ralph McTell made his first recording of Streets of London on the album Spiral Staircase, helped by musicians from Cornwall. Later some of the same musicians teamed up with Clive Palmer to form 'The Famous Jug Band' and 'COB'.

'Room at the Top' was a bigger venue run by Dave Penprase after he split with Pete Bawden, and the club moved from Truro. John the Fish described a memorable gig by Davy Graham at 'Room at the Top' performed by the pioneering guitarist whilst, allegedly, strung out on heroin.

The Famous Jug Band, with Jill Johnson, played at both venues and Mike Grose and other members of Reaction remember visiting. Below is a picture of Ralph, Brenda and John with someone (and her dog) who was probably a visitor to the club. John thinks the guitar is probably Ralph's.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Summer '68

Jill Johnson, a Truro girl who was close to Roger and the members of the Reaction, was, with her sister and a friend, a member of Jayfolk.

This is an interesting advert because not only were Jayfolk apparently breaking up, but in the audience that night was Clive Palmer (ex Incredible String Band) who spotted Jill and asked her to sing with The Famous Jug Band. Although, at the time, she was only 17 within 6 months she would be touring with them and recording an album.

UPDATE 27/6/10: Jill has contacted me and confirmed the story above, and indeed, even sent a picture of her just before she went on to perform the gig above. The reason why Jayfolk were splitting was that she had planned to go up to London, and would have done if Clive Palmer hadn't asked her to be in his band.


e-mail from Tim Staffell singer and bassist with Smile

Tim says his memory of the Smile gigs is very hazy but:

All I can really say is, (and please say Hi to Pete Bawden for me) Yes, Smile played at PJ's Club in Truro; I can remember that, and the 2 Sue's (can't remember surnames) who followed Queen later. As to how many times I played there, I genuinely have no idea at all. I did not keep any diaries or memorabilia , and I'm not naturally a nostalgic person.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Mistakes, tricks of the mind or poetic license?

I've decided to keep a record of things that appear in other biographies that can't be true just so I don't get confused when compiling the info for the exhibition...sorry if it seems a bit anal.

I'm not criticising other biographers because as I'm discovering its difficult to know what is true and what isn't, and whose memory is the more 'accurate'. Remembering is a very subjective process and in the process of making a coherent story or narrative not only biographers, but also their subjects, elaborate or invent things, often unconsciously or becaused they're encouraged to do so by circumstances.

The other thing that happens is that biographers are prone to pass off as facts things that their subjects are actually much more unclear or tentative about...and some of that more nuanced stuff gets lost in translation. But in the end you have to do the best you can with the material you have.

Queen: The Early Years
I really enjoyed reading this book and it was this that stimulated my own research. There are lots of mistakes particularly relating to dates and places though. eg The Reaction could not have played at PJs because it did n't open until late in 1968. They only played once in a marquee on Perranporth, ie it was not a regular gig as implied in the book. Smile played at the Winter Gardens in Penzance (and Mike Dudley has a recollection along those lines), but Queen probably played there on more occasions. The advert for 'Legendary Drummer' playing at Driftwood Spars in St Agnes was in relation to a Queen gig not a Smile gig.

Record Collector 1995: Roger Taylor's Reaction
There is the implication that Beat Unlimited/Cousin Jacks formed in 1964, but it was probably a shade earlier than this. The Individuals won the Rock and Rhythm championship in 1965 but not whilst wearing parkas, that was another group. Jill Johnson's singing group The Jays or Jayfolk were never called the Three Jays and Pat Johnstone was not a member (see earlier posts below)

As it Began
As it Began is derived from interviews with the band, and is still the most authoritative of all the biographies, though goes into less detail regarding the very early years. It says Roger was lead singer at the '66 rock and rhythm championships, and, amusingly for the Reaction members who have read it, that Acker Snell replaced a saxophonist called John Snell (they are of course the same person). Both these are probably examples of the biographers misunderstanding something that Roger had told them. It says that Reaction played at PJs (The Early Years must have copied this error). Another strange one: it also describes Mike Grose's windscreen smashing on the way up to London: something that he has no recollection of now.
There are others which I will add gradually...

 Queen: the definitive biography
Written by Laura Jackson, and the last of the four to be published. Its enjoyable to read and has a fair bit of new material eg some good stuff by Tim Staffell on Smile. But it has repeated the PJs/Reaction error! Poor old Roger Brokenshire gets a name check but again his name is spelt wrong (Brokenshaw).  There are a few other names spelt wrongly, like Doug Puddifoot who helped with a lot of the early publicity shots. Mike Grose feels that Laura misunderstood what he said when he said he stayed with Roger Taylor in Earls Court. He may have stayed there for a night or two but mainly he was with Brian in Barnes and thats where many of the rehearsals took place. Finally the second bassist, Barry Mitchell, was not from Cornwall, though may have been contacted via a friend in Cornwall.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Mike Grose: Queen's First Bassist

Met up with Mike today. Thats him second on the left. He said that Doug Puddifoot took a whole lot of photos of the band mainly in and around Imperial College, and that the better known image of him with the other band members (see below) was also taken there.

Mike was able to describe PJs in a lot more detail and was even able to draw a plan of the layout. He would have spent time with Queen and Smile there - partly because in the late sixties there weren't many other places in Truro where you could get food and other refreshments outside normal office hours.

He remembers Jill Johnson and the Navy Arms on Fairmantle Street, and in particular a drinking session with Tim Staffell, with whom he became  friendly, the same weekend he split with Smile.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Early history of PJs: Room at the Top

Smile and Queen  played several times at Pete Bawden's 'PJ's'. When I spoke to Pete (see earlier post below) I promised to look up adverts relating to 'PJ's' and to 'Room at the Top', the club that Pete ran with David Penprase prior to PJ's.

Room at the Top was located, according to Richard Prest at 25 King St originally: upstairs in a building opposite the Cathedral (now Animal).

It seems that adverts for gigs at 'Room at the Top' were still being placed in The West Briton as late as February 29th 1968. In fact none other than Status Quo had been booked to play on the 2nd March (see above).

At the time, however, the club had moved to Moresk Hall which was possibly the building that became PJ's...

UPDATE: 22/6/10  Looking closely at the 'you are invited' pages of the West Briton, the last advert for Room at the Top at 25, King Street was on 25/1/68

UPDATE: 23/6/10 Contacted by David Penprase (who was cofounder of RATT with PJ) last night: he says that Status Quo didn't actually turn up for the gig having got stuck in snow in Devon, but the plan had been to put it on in the bigger Moresk Drill Hall currently used by the TA. Also, apparently, Empty Vessels who were from the Torbay area of Devon later became Wishbone Ash.

UPDATE: 24/6/10 Looking at the photocopied adverts again there are mentions of Room at the Top in Redruth opening on October 12th 1968 and PJs opening in Truro in time for Xmas on December 13th 1968. Onyx were the first band booked to play at PJs which they did on the 7th January. The first band booked at Room at the Top was, I think, called Underground Sound during early December 1968.

UPDATE: 28/6/10 There is an advert in The West Briton announcing the opening of Room at the Top in Truro on 29/9/67...but as there was a gap of around 6 months between the Truro club closing and the Redruth one opening then it was clearly quite a short-lived venture. It was advertised as a 'Discotheque Club'.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Creatively weird....neither Reaction or Smile gigs are well documented...

Spent some time looking at the West Briton microfiches again today. Found a few adverts and articles of relevance to Queen in Cornwall. One advert for The Summer Coast Sound Experience was the pick of the bunch. I dont think it has been reproduced before...

The text is fantastic: 'Easter Monday Happening at Trevellas Cove...signposted specially...witness the sounds of the incredible REACTION...Creatively weird LIGHT SHOWS. Food and drink, all in the most LIT-UP MARQUEE ALIVE. We'll sell you this experience for only 6s'

This advert was probably placed by Rik Evans in consultation with Roger Taylor.

This gig at Trevellas Cove was described in Record Collector as one of Reactions last. May be someone told them it took place in September 1968, just before Roger and Mike went back to Uni. But unless there were two gigs at Trevellas (or the advert in the paper is wrong) it didn't, hence the line-up in the picture below with Rick Penrose still on bass...


Anyway for the record here, based on the adverts, are other Reaction venues and dates from 1968 (and all these adverts will be reproduced in the exhibition at the museum)

January 15th, Truro City Hall, Top Group Championship as ‘The Fantastics’
January 19th Penmare Hotel, Hayle 'Beat Night with The Reaction 7.30 - 11.00'
February 17th Princess Pavilions ‘The Peace and Quiet plus the Fantastics’
March16th, Godolphin Hall, Helston 'Fantastic New Reaction: Light Show, oils etc Records, best, latest, Go-go Girls, Cokes, in fact everything'
April 5th, Penmare Hotel, Hayle,
April 6th , Blue Lagoon, Newquay, ‘Fantastic Harmony Action The Californians plus THE RE-ACTION’April 11th, Winter Gardens, Penzance;
April 15th Trevellas Cove, St Agnes ('Preview of the Summer Coast Sound Experience...creatively weird light shows)
May 3rd Penmare Hotel
May 18th Princess Pavilions, Falmouth The fantastic Trucial State plus the Reaction
June 1st Perranporth Memorial Hall Perranzabuloe Improvements Committee
3rd or 17th May, Penmare Hotel, Hayle (the advert was placed twice - I think the first was a mistake);
July 7th, Perranporth Beach (Ladies Surf Championships)
July 13th Princess Pavilion, Falmouth;
July 27th, Mullion WI;
August 28th Godolphin Hall, Helston Recently returned from London Cornwall oldest-established and best group The Reaction!

These should be considered alongside the Summer Coast Sound Experience gigs that Rik Evans has described (see earlier posts below). As well as Trevellas Porth these were at Carnon Downs, Mevagissey, Perranporth, St Mawes and possibly Porthtowan. It should also be noted that Roger and Mike were at University in London and Oxford respectively hence, particularly in 1968, the gigs tend to cluster around holiday periods.

UPDATE 8/7/10: Mike Dudley has been able to confirm that being at College in London and Oxford respectively was no impediment to Roger and Mike performing with Reaction in Cornwall: they would happily just drive down for the weekend, and this was particularly the case during their first term at College (Autumn '67)

Some sources have said that a gig at Princess Pavilion was the last one Reaction played...that will be worth trying to double check. There is no advert for a gig there, however, other than the one on July 13th.

UPDATE 21/6/10:
Two more 1968 gigs in the microfiches
March 15th, Penmare Hotel, Hayle
March16th, Godolphin Hall, Helston
The advert for the latter reads: Fantastic New Reaction: Light Show, oils etc Records, best, latest, Go-go Girls, Cokes, in fact everything

UPDATE 22/6/10
Mike Grose says he recalls playing guitar at the Penmare Hotel with Reaction shortly after the Goss Moor accident

UPDATE 27/6/10
As promised microfiched adverts from 1967 together with other significant events:
January 7th The Flamingo, Redruth (support to Wishful Thinking)
January 16th Truro City Hall Rock and Rhythm Championship (as guest artistes)
January 26th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
Feb 11th CRASH ON GOSS MOOR (en route to gig booked in Dobwalls)
Feb 18th The Flamingo, Redruth (support to The Quiet Five)
Feb 24th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
March 4th Princess Pavilion, Falmouth (support to The Charade)
March 10th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
March 11th Blue Lagoon, Newquay (support to Chris Lamb and the Irish Show Band)
March 30th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
April 7th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
April 15th Flamingo (support to the Mighty Anzacs)
April 21st Truro City Hall Annexe
April 28th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
May 4th Skating Rink, Camborne
May 25th Winter gardens, Penzance (support to Danny and the Belmonts)

UPDATE 28/7/10:
The rest of '67 West Briton ads
June Roger and others taking A-levels?
July 27th Skating Rink Camborne
August 4th Hayle Rugby Club 'Beat Dance Barbeque: Open Air Floodlit Dancing'
August 9th Flamingo (support to the Kinks but not advertised)
August 23rd Truro City Hall Annexe (with Modesty Blues)
August 24th St Agnes Beach 'Barbeque and Dance'
Sept 2nd St Keverne Village Hall 'Beat Dance'
Roger T, Mike Dudley and Geoff Daniel go to University
October 20th Penmare Hotel, Hayle
October 21st St Keverne Village Hall 'Beat Dance'
November 10th Penmare Hotel, Hayle 'Beat Night'
November 24th Dungeon Cellar Club, Old Prison, Bodmin (with Sam's Brothers Band)
December 1st Penmare Hotel, Hayle 'Beat Night'
December 2nd Dungeon Cellar Club, Old Prison, Bodmin
December 8th Majestic Discoteque, Camborne
December 9th Moresk Drill Hall 'St Kea Youth Club, Christmas Dance'
December 16th Truro City Hall 'Rave nite'
December 22nd Penmare Hotel, Hayle 'Xmas Entertainment'
December 23rd Princess Pavilion, Falmouth 'Beat Dance' (with The Cellar Rats)

UPDATE 30/6/10:
West Briton ads from 1966
8th Jan Princess Pavilion, Falmouth (support to The Couriers from Plymouth)
12th Feb Lambeage Hall, Coverack (Coverack Youth Club Grand Dance)
5th March Lambeage Hall, Coverack (Helston and Kerrier Young Conservatives Beat Dance)
7th March City Hall Truro, Rock and Rhythm Championship.
10th March West Briton article
12th March Princess Pavilion, Falmouth (Rock and Rhythm champions supported by Blues by Four)
17th March Flamingo, Redruth (supporting Gerry and the Pacemakers)
24/3/66 advert: 'Don't book a group book a spectacle'
7th May Godolphin Hall, Helston ('Big Beat Dance' Supported by Little Johnny and the Giants)
14th May The Flamingo Ballroom, Redruth (support to Don Shinn's Soul Agents)
20th May Penmare Hotel, Hayle ('Friday Night is Beat night with the Reaction Cornwalls champion group')
11th June The Old Barn Club Eastern Green Penzance

West Briton ads from late 1966
6th August The Flamingo Ballroom, Redruth (support to the Applejacks)
15th August Dartmouth (Ricky Penrose joins band to replace Tim Craven)
16th August Torquay (support to the Kinks)
Roger Brokenshire leaves after these gigs. Acker Snell leaves soon after, leaving Reaction as a four-piece.
15th September The Blue Lagoon, Newquay (support to The Creation)
23rd September The Old Barn Club Penzance
24th September the Guildhall St Ives '1966 Beat Champions just returned from Westcountry tour'
8th October The Guildhall St Ives 'By popular demand  the return of the Reaction Cornwalls BIG sound'
15th October Blue Lagoon, Newquay (support to Anthony James Scene)
22nd Oct Flamingo, Redruth (support to The Mighty Anzacs)
28th Oct City Hall Annexe, Truro Halloween Dance TCGS Swimming Pool fund (may have been recorded by Neil Battersby)
1st Dec BCD entertainments ad 'Promoters Please note that we are now Sole Agents for Cornwall's top group The Reaction'
24th Dec Flamingo Ballroom, Redruth 'Christmas Eve Dance' with Circuit Five and The Spartans
31st Dec The Blue Lagoon ('The Night of the Year' support to Screaming Lord Sutch and the Roman Empire)

UPDATE 8/7/10: I spoke to Mike Dudley yesterday and he said that most of the info on the Record Collector article was obtained from him and Neil Battersby, but there are quite a few errors and inaccuracies and, in addition, he feels he was misquoted in more than one place.

He also said that the band played several gigs in Devon during Summer '66, and the following Summer too.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

John Adams: Penzance

Its been tempting to focus only on the very early years but Queen also visited Cornwall in 1973 and 1974. The former gig is not well documented, but John Adams, proprietor of The Winter Gardens in Penzance, e-mailed Queen in Cornwall to say that they were added in July of that year at the last minute as a support act to Caravan.

As this poster proves they were the headline act when they came back in March the following year, even though at this stage they 'd only had the one hit: 'Seven Seas of Rhye'.

UPDATE 18/6/10: John has just sent me a copy of an original poster still in his possession (below). Thanks very much John.

UPDATE: 21/6/10 email from John: Yo' Rupert, I am pretty sure it was last minute because I remember we did not need a support for Caravan as they took up most of the stage and played a long set. The agent phoned and really pushed me to take them on, telling me it was important for the band to get a support as they were in the area and the drummer in the band came from Truro. I agreed and paid them £25.00. Hence when they 'broke' six months later they wanted to play gigs where they had been well-received...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mike Grose: Queens first bassist

Mike Grose - Queen's first bassist (pictured above to the left of the picture) - hasn't spoken to any journalists or writers for more than a decade but he is still in Cornwall and I managed to get hold of him on the phone today.

He said it was PJ (Pete Bawden - see earlier post below) who persuaded him to pick up the bass and play with Smile at PJs in Truro after Tim Staffell left the band early in 1970. He said they were playing a lot of covers and blues standards so he didn't really have to rehearse beforehand. Also, significantly, with Tim the lead singer having left, that night he remembers sharing the singing duties with Brian and Roger.

A few days later Roger Taylor phoned him to invite him up to London to join the band permanently. He lived in Barnes for 4 or 5 months, and remembers rehearsing with them in the garden in Barnes and at Imperial College. Many of the songs featured on the first album, and were only half-formed when Brian or Freddie, the main song-writers, presented them as ideas to the rest of the band.

It was whilst in the garden in Barnes that he remembers Freddie coming up with the name 'Queen'. Everyone recognised the gay connotations of the word, and he thought it risky in that sense but memorable.
I'm expecting to meet up with Mike soon which should be great.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Wreckage (Freddie Mercury) Green


Richard Thompson (drummer with 1984 (Brian May's first band) and IBEX and Wreckage (Freddie Mercury's bands in 1969)) has contacted Queen in Cornwall and provided some more information about Smile's many visits to Cornwall in the late sixties:

I didn't keep a diary then so most dates are very hazy.

I do remember watching the Moon landings at Roger's mums house in 1969.
They must have had a gig that night too.

We used to go to the beaches as well but we didn't surf !
I mainly stayed at Les Browns parent's house in Truro.

He was at Imperial with Brian, but I lost touch we he went to Paris
to work.
We went down almost every other weekend in those days as petrol weas cheap.


Graphite at Tregye Carnon Downs 1971

Somebody at the Tregye Festival in 1971 had a tape recorder...this is a CD that was made using a recording of the Graphite performance...and what's exciting is that the sleeve notes include a photo of the stage at Tregye. Having visited the site with Rik Evans earlier this month (see below) the audience were actually sat on a naturally steep incline.

Although the West Briton took photos of the concert their published pictures were, sadly, of people in the audience only.

Graphite - Freedom (Live)

Here is one of the tracks Graphite played at Tregye. There are more on youtube...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Paul Brown

Paul Brown phoned me tonight. He was the keyboardist/synthesizer player with Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come when they headlined above Queen in Carnon Downs at the Tregye gig (see earlier posts below - and above).

At the time that he joined the band he had never seen a synthesizer before. But he learnt to play one of the very early EMS synths as used by the BBC Radiophonic workshop on the Dr Who theme.

He remembered the Tregye gig very well, and was able to confirm that although there were no burning crucifixes that night (shame), the set both musically and in terms of the 'visuals' was very similar to that at Glastonbury (see video below).

He spoke very fondly of Arthur Brown who he has stayed in touch with, and explained that the singer was held in very high regard by all the important artists of the late sixties/early seventies.

More to come on this!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

A neighbour remembers...

One of the current residents of Park View, who moved in there in 1961 and has been there since, remembers the Taylors moving in in 1963. Living next to the future drummer of Queen rather tested her patience: 'those damn drums: the noise was incredible!' She confirmed that Roger used the garage to practice in...

Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come - Internal Messenger


The sister-in-law of the keyboardist Paul Brown (Julian Paul Brown from Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come) contacted Queen in Cornwall this morning asking about the Tregye Concert. Rik Evans was at Tregye (see earlier posts below) having been involved with organising the concert and remembers Arthur Brown's performance that night in 1971, which included the same crucifixes as are featured in this film of Glastonbury from the same year...

Rik said Roger Taylor had pleaded with him to include Queen on the bill. At that stage they were still relative unknowns and sharing the bill with Hawkwind and the other bigger bands...

Arthur Brown is a real rock legend. He had a great voice, pioneered make-up and theatrics on stage and was a big influence on Alice Cooper, Kiss, Marilyn Manson etc etc. He was also good friends with Jimi Hendrix. Thats Julian Brown next to him on the album sleeve. Kingdom Come were one of the first bands to use a drum-machine. Now in 1971 that is progressive...

The Tregye concert had extensive - negative - coverage in the local media. Most of the articles make very grim reading. Rural NIMBYism 1970s stylee. 'We'll hire guards and dogs to save homes'. Ah those were the days...

Friday, 11 June 2010

Info on the Drill Hall: PJs took over a venue that had been used for dances for decades

Researching PJ's again the site may have previously been known as Moresk Drill Hall. Here is a recollection of war-time Truro that I found on the web. The Doughnut Dugout sounds scary...

'Our girls weren’t slow in getting to know the Americans, often at the Doughnut Dug-out or in the dance halls. Moresk Drill Hall was popular and Tremorvah, where we would pile in for the Swing Band sessions. St John’s Ambulance Hall was also used for dances. We got to know new music - swing, jazz and jiving to One O’clock Jump, In the Mood and Skyliner. To see our girls being lifted and thrown around in a jive session was something else, with the Yanks adopting awkward stances, spinning the girl, swinging her on his hips. Sedate ballroom dancing was out of it'.

There are photos too from this time: this was a party at Christmas 1941.

The only problem with this is that there is another Drill Hall in Moresk. And another in Hendra and one near the cathedral that is a DVD rental shop now...while I'm trying to figure out which one is which, here is a map of the area from 1930 that a kind lady in Redruth Cornwall Studies found for me.


The two crosses show where PJs must have been and where the current TA Drill Hall is. Between them, there are mainly smallish residential plots by the look of it. It's very different now (see earlier post below)...The current TA Drill Hall looks like it was built in the 30s or 40s but it is not shown on this map.

I found PJs under 'clubs' in a 1970 phone book, address: Moresk Road. Also, looking at an O/S map from 1880, I noticed the lower end of Moresk Road was then called Goodwives Lane...


Thursday, 10 June 2010

What we know about Queens first gig pt 1


re Queens first gig at Truro City Hall: Jacky Gunn's book says that the band opened with 'Stone Cold Crazy'. It was nt as polished as they'd have liked and the audience was relatively small, but Freddie 'hadnt played in front of a proper audience before...'

Perhaps more importantly it was the first gig where they glammed up in black and white satin and jewellery. It was also at this time, or very shortly after that Freddie changed his second name from Bulsara to Mercury...

Laura Jackson's biography includes excerpts from interviews with Cornishman Mike Grose who was Queens first bass player. She says he was co-owner of PJs. His comment regarding the gig was 'we tried to hide the gaffes but to be brutally frank we were rough'.

What we know about Queens first gig? pt 2


Stone Cold Crazy: heres Metallicas version...Quite good but it takes a while to get going...

Its a good song that has stood the test of time. Interesting that though Queen were playing it in 1970 it wasnt put onto vinyl till their third album Sheer Heart Attack...

PJs: a reminder of how much this part of Truro has changed...

Smile (Roger Taylor, Brian May and Tim Staffell) played PJs 8 times in 1969, and 5 times in 1970 (possibly with Freddie Mercury singing on a couple of occasions as it is known that Tim didn't always come down to Cornwall - but this needs confirmation) and Queen played there once. But the site has been developed extensively and these pictures tell the story:

This building may have had something to do with PJs (Roger Taylor himself has sent us a message regarding this (see post below)). Except that the entrance to PJs was on Moresk Road (not Pydar Street which is the street pictured). In fact there seem to be very few pictures of Moresk Road as it was but lets hope something will yet turn up.

The site was redeveloped over the next few years: by 1972 St Clements Road linking Trafalgar Roundabout and Moresk was built...


And this is what came instead!


The photograph is 1978, the Tesco development was I think, 1977.

Below is a different angle of Pydar Street from the early 70s...Note Clive Mitchells bike shop.

And lastly whilst we're on views of Truro, this shows WHSmith when it was near the City Hall on Boscawen Street in the late 60s. Rik has said that the railings in front of the shop were where Roger Taylor, together with a number of other lads, used to meet up. You can see matching railings nearer the camera to the right of the picture too. The building on the right is Lloyds bank and it's still there.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Leaf Must Fall The Famous Jug Band Clive Palmer


This ones for you Rick...I told you it was a lovely song...georgeous in fact. This was a band that was formed in Cornwall by Clive Palmer (ex Incredible String Band) and was active on the folk circuit down here. Jill Johnson, the singer, knew Roger Taylor in the 60s and may have sung with The Reaction.

Ricky Penrose: bassist with The Reaction during 66/67/68

Met with Rick in the middle of Truro, where he is currently living midway between the City Hall and Hurland Road. He had lots of interesting stories, and talked very fondly of Roger Taylor.

He was able to explain about how Roger used to play the frame of an old piano using tympani style drum-sticks as a way of improvising and extending the length of the Wilson Pickett rabble-rouser 'Land of a Thousand Dances', which they often played as a finale.

Rick was with The Reaction when Roger really found his style as a drummer by playing Hendrix and Cream numbers in 1967 or so: 'We were the heaviest and loudest band in Cornwall'. He said they would simply listen to the records and try and copy them as exactly as they could. He said it was a matter of pride that they could play them to the point of being note-perfect.

He talked a bit about Jill Johnson (who sang with The Famous Jug band), and is sure that she sang backing vocals when he recorded with The Reaction at the Plaza Cinema in Truro.
re Reaction gigs: he remembers Reaction playing nearly every night for two years: in fact so much that they didnt have time to rehearse much in between so instead they'd tend to work on a new number the same night before the doors opened. There are venues that arent listed elsewhere eg Perranporth Memorial Hall was somewhere they played several times.

He described the City Hall in Truro where Queen played their first gig as a great venue, with good lighting, good dressing rooms and a great atmosphere. He had supported Adam Faith there earlier in the sixties with his previous band 'The Strangers', when the Hall was packed, and had played there on other occasions too.

And, yes, later on he was asked by Roger whether he would consider going to London to become Queen's bassist but at the time he had a job, a marriage and a mortgage so the timing wasnt right for him....More to follow with Rick.

Wilson Pickett - Land Of 1000 Dances - Live `66

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

More locations...

For those of you that know Truro these early photos of Roger and his schoolmates were all taken in the Truro area (at least according to Record Collector 1995).

So the one above is in a barn in New Mills owned by the parents of Dave Dowding (the guitarist on the left). And the one below is The Christmas Dance, 1965 at Truro School. Not sure where exactly, perhaps its one of the boarding houses.

UPDATE (9/6/10): Speaking to Ricky Penrose this evening: he remembers rehearsing with The Reaction in Roger Taylor's front room, in the old Boys Club at the bottom of Lemon Street, and in Dave Dowding's barn in Newmills, some years after this photo was taken. He says the barn rehearsal was particularly memorable. It was a hot Thursday in early Summer 1967 when the three-piece (Rick, Mike Dudley and Roger Taylor) got to grips with new Hendrix and Cream material in what turned out to be an important change of musical direction for the band.

UPDATE (23/6/10): Dave Dowding is still in Cornwall. He says the barn in question is at Little Canaan Farm, but has now been converted into a residential dwelling.

roger taylor drum solo

Roger Taylor~Interview 1976


Not sure if this is the oldest TV interview with Roger on the web....I think it probably is.

Roger Taylors recollection of PJs

Just heard back from Roger Taylors' PA, Justine, who has asked him about the location of PJs. Thanks Roger and Justine. It does help - but we havent yet found any good pictures.

> Roger said it was "at Moresk on the junction of Pydar St on the

> right side (near the old T.A drill hall) Gone now i think. May have
> been in another location since"
> Hope this helps.. hope ive spelt Moresk properly !
> Justine

Last of the Smile adverts

I've been going through microfiches of the West Briton again, concentrating on the first half of 1969.
Smile are known to have come down here several times but to my knowledge there is no definitive record of the gigs. For example the excellent official biography 'As it Began' simply says 'Many of Smiles early gigs were played in Cornwall, Rogers home territory, where he was quite well known from his Reaction days'.

Record Collector ran an article in 1996 that shows some of the dates but not all of them. I think I've found the remaining ones....or at least I ve found some that have not been documented elsewhere as far as I know, and I've looked at the paper in sufficient detail to satisfy myself that there are no others...

So the first one (above) is confirmation that there was a gig at The Flamingo though they are billed as 'The Smile'. The date of the paper is Thursday March 20th, and the gig was on 22nd, 1969.

The advert above is another weekender at PJs. Smile are already known to have played there twice in March and once in April 1969. This is a double booking for the 28th and 29th of June 1969 which doesnt appear elsewhere on the web to my knowledge.

The other booking at PJs that is not listed elsewhere is the one in April 1970 that is more interesting historically because there is a chance that they had already broken up at the time...Ive already posted it once but here it is again

It seems pretty clear that Smile's first gig was as support to Pink Floyd in October 1968, so adapting Martin's list from QueenConcerts.com this should be a more accurate list of all the Smile gigs (though I cant vouch for the London gigs):

26.10.1968 Smile Imperial College London UK
31.01.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
27.02.1969 Smile Royal Albert Hall London UK
28.02.1969 Smile Athletic Club Richmond UK
15.03.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
22.03.1969 Smile Flamingo's, Redruth UK
28.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
29.03.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.04.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
19.04.1969 Smile Revolution Club London UK
31.05.1969 Smile Whisky A Go Go London UK
28.06.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
29.06.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
19.07.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
??.08.1969 Smile Fowey Carnival UK
13.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
14.09.1969 Smile PJ's Club Truro UK
18.10.1969 Smile College Union Watford UK
01.11.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
06.12.1969 Smile Imperial College London UK
13.12.1969 Smile The Marquee Club London UK
31.01.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK
17.04.1970 Smile PJs Club Truro UK
18.04.1970 Smile PJs Club Truro UK
24.04.1970 Smile Eel Pie Island Twickenham UK
09.05.1970 Smile Imperial College London UK

UPDATE: 11/6/10 Laura Jackson's biography includes interviews with Tim Staffell who also remembers gigs at Fowey Carnival and St Ives as well as the Flamingo. The gig in Fowey may fit with them staying with the Bawdens in St Austell. The Carnival, together with Fowey Regatta have always taken place in August so Ive added that to the list.

Heres a picture of Fowey town band during the 1968 carnival...

The same book includes excerpts from an interview with Mike Grose who was manager of PJs just before he joined Queen 'One night they turned up for their gig and Tim had left so I stepped in and played. A few weeks later Roger phoned and asked me to join the band'

This gig must have been the PJs double bill in April 1970. But who sang that night?

UPDATE 17/6/10: Having now spoken to Mike Grose he was adamant that Freddie did not sing with Smile after Tim left - certainly not at PJs anyway.

UPDATE 22/6/10 Pete not Mike did all the listings and advertising for the club...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Another rather important microfiche

This is the historic first performance by Queen. Theyre billed as Smile but the band themselves have said that this is the first time they played as Queen...ie with Freddie singing and with the name decided upon. It was a concert organised by Rogers mother who was involved with charity that is mentioned. June 27th 1970...

Jeff Spence: where are you now??

This advert appeared in Jacky Gunns biography - but I think its nice seeing it with the other ads around it. I have better scans of this if anyone wants one. (If you do please contact me via the e-mail address or leave a message below)

UPDATE 8/6/10 There is some discussion of this on the Queenzone forum now. http://www.queenzone.com/forums/1232837/important-discovery-regarding-early-concerts.aspx
Sorry this did appear in the Record Collector article.

Pete Bawden

Pete Bawden, now living near Redruth, features in 'Queen: The Early Years' as founder and manager of PJ's discoteque in Truro (PJ are his first initials) He was involved in the music industry for several years having been in the band The Staggerlees in the 60s. I met up with him earlier this evening and we had a good chat about the many occasions he worked with Roger, Brian and Freddie. (Smile and Queen between them played at PJ's more than 10 times). He also knows Mike Grose, Queen's first bassist because for a short while Mike was co-owner of PJ's with him.

Apparently PJ's was two storeys, somewhat smaller than New Look is now. Upstairs was painted black, and there was a stage at the Pydar St end of the hall. There were lights and a glass booth for a DJ and this is where Smile and Queen played. On one of the walls was a giant painted mural of Jimi Hendrix. There were seats around the outside of the hall and the capacity was about 200. Downstairs was a coffee shop. PJ's didn't have a changing room or any musical equipment so bands had to bring all their own gear, ready to play.

Pete doesn't remember that much about the concerts but he remembers some of the conversations he had with Queen personel eg Brian May showing him his Red Special guitar, and Freddie Mercury correcting him about the name: 'its not 'The Queen': its 'Queen''. These conversations took place in PJs. He also remembers the fact that a younger Roger Taylor babysat his children, and also that Brian made a model of the solar system for him (since lost forever it seems) whilst he was staying with the family in St Austell.

Pete continued in the music business for a while and booked Queen to play at the City Hall in Truro after he left PJ's...

We're going to need to do a bit of detective work to firm up the dates as best we can...Pete has also said he will see if he can find some photos of that time...Thanks Pete if youre reading this now!