Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Early photos of Roger

Here are a couple of low res images of Roger Taylor which are on the internet. I'd be interested to know where they came from because as far as I know they are not in the biographies. The lower image looks like Cornwall - and I think Roger maybe the bigger boy on the left - but its hard to say....Can anyone help?

UPDATE 8/2/11 Miklos from Hungary has identified the source: Eastern Daily Press - magazine. March 20, 1999. 4 page article, Trevor Heaton speaks with rt about the solo tour. The text includes Roger's recollections of his early childhood in Norfolk. Miklos is hoping to send me a scan of his own copy of the magazine soon which will be good...

Batoum Gardens

This fairly well known early picture of Freddie was, according to Denise Craddock, taken in a flat at 6, Batoum Gardens. Denise hasn't spoken to biographers before, and nor has her close friend Pat McConnell, but as well as living with Roger and Freddie in Barnes, they knew Ibex - the band that Freddie sang with in 1969 - and also knew Celine Daley who lived at Batoum Gardens. Celine was guitarist Mike Bersin's girlfriend at the time and was the recipient of a long letter from Freddie describing his feelings about the band.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Imperial College Union

Immediately adjacent to The Albert Hall is Beit (pronounced Byatt) Quad: a big courtyard with an entrance from the road. Looking across the quad from the pavement Imperial College Student Union is just visible. The porter on the gate assured me that the internal layout of the Union has n't changed in 30 years. The main bar is still on the ground floor, with the concert hall (where Smile and Queen played regularly) on the second floor.

I was surprised and indeed thrilled to be able to simply walk straight in there this Sunday when I was in London. Here are some of the other photos I took...

Above is the main entrance hall (at ground level). The main bar is on the right going in (its door not visible in the photo). Below is the entrance to the Concert Hall on the second floor with the Concert Hall itself below that...

Back downstairs: this last picture is the bar as seen from the front entrance hall...It was here (or hereabouts), in October 1968, that Les Brown saw the 'drummer wanted' poster that Brian May had left.

UPDATE 25/1/11 Les Brown: Concerning the Union, the interior looks familiar, except that the bar I remember was much smaller: more like the snug of an old-fashioned pub (although, for gigs, I think they also opened a bar along the back wall of the hall). In my first year it was men-only, and mainly frequented by loud rugby drinkers. Then a woman got elected president of the student union so they had to let her in, so they cancelled the rule. Tough cookie, she was too. Probably knew all about the offside rule.

Kensington Market, The Greyhound, Maria Assumpta

Kensington Market on High Street Kensington is now a PC World. (Actually I went in there to buy a USB hub when I was in London last weekend). The striped brick effect in the building next door is clearly discernable in both photos. In the 2010 photo a scooter is about to disappear down a street that leads directly to Kensington Square, where The Greyhound pub is. (Freddie Mercury was a regular there together with others from the market like Alan Mair, Nigel Chappell and Sue Johnstone).

In the opposite corner of Kensington Square is the Maria Assumpta building: now Heslop College, once a teacher training college where the other members of Queen first met John Deacon and where Brian and John met their wives...The picture below is how it looks if approached from Kensington High Street. Maria Assumpta was an all women's college run by nuns.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Map of Kensington Market

Alan Mair, who employed Freddie Mercury to work at his stall upstairs at Kensington Market has drawn this map of the market that gives a really good sense of how the different shop units related to each other. The market closed several years ago and there are remarkably few photos of it as it was in the early 70s (or indeed later). If anyone has any please let me know!!

Freddie worked at the market between 1969 and 1974, most of that time working for Alan, but for a while running his own stall with Roger Taylor. Their stall was about 10ft by 10ft.

Pat and Sue Johnstone who were originally Rogers friends from Truro, have explained to me that they first set up the Queen fan club whilst working in their own shop-unit which I believe was near Alan's...will need to clarify this. (nb its a bit misrepresentative to call them stalls because they were rooms with fairly solid plaster walls between them - so more like an old fashioned arcade or modern mall)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Godolphin Hall

Thanks to Mary and her colleagues in Helston I've got hold of these nice old photos of the Godolphin Hall in the town centre: a fairly regular gig for The Reaction in '65-'68. The photos were taken in 1977, just before the interior was refurbished. I will ask if this is how it was when The Reaction played here, complete with octagonal stage. My guess is that it is.

This second photo is looking towards the main entrance doors which lead to steps leading downstairs to the front entrance. Looking at it from outside, the Godolphin Hall is a large, imposing granite civic building built, I would think in the 19th Century. 

UPDATE 11/1/11 comment from John Snell of The Reaction suggesting the venue changed in the 70s: I remember the Godolphin Hall as having a stage that projected forward into the hall but it did have curtains too – maybe everything had been cleared for refurbishment when the pictures were taken. The stage must have been fairly big because I think I played there with the Bobby Knight band and we took up a lot of space! I remember the big doors at the end leading to the granite entrance steps. It was the biggest hall on the Pascoe/Brokenshire West Cornwall dance circuit that Reaction played in their early days after the 1965 Rock & Rhythm Championship

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Dental School...the last piece of the jigsaw

I feel like I'm nearing the end of the Queen in Cornwall project now. I really want to express gratitude for everyone who has given their time to it.

One issue that has only come to light in the last few weeks concerns the uncertainty around the year that Roger Taylor actually left Truro School. It is looking, increasingly, like he didn't go up to London until Autumn '68, and that therefore he must have joined Smile within -literally - days of leaving Cornwall. In fact the London Hospital Alumni office have said to me that he commenced studies on 30 September 1968, withdrawing on 30 December 1969.

Smile are known to have played with Pink Floyd on 26th October 1968 and, according to keyboardist Chris Smith, probably played together at least a week or two before this, suggesting, remarkably, that Roger found Brian May within a few days days of arriving in London.

UPDATE: 5/1/11

There is also a yearbook from Truro School that confirms that Roger had three years in the sixth form there and therefore must have left in 1968....