By John Tresidder
I HAVE been fortunate to have attended quite a number of Concerts, for some of the World’s most famous Underground/Progressive Rock Bands, who performed LIVE, in my Duchy of Cornwall Homeland, from: 1967 – 1972, especially.
Firstly, at the legendary Flamingo Ballroom Club, Pool, Near Redruth, Cornwall – lying, mid-way, on the Redruth – Camborne, Mining Heritage conurbation, on the fringe of the Great Flat Lode Trail:
The Year of 1967, saw Simon Dupree & The Big Sound (Gentle Giant, in latter years), including, amongst the personnel, the three Shulman Brothers - Derek, Ray and Phil - visiting, with Kites, the hit single, featured on the evening – thank goodness, we all sighed at the time..
Then came Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, in 1967 and 1969, respectively, who featured in the top billings at the popular and well-attended Cornwall Technical College Annual Dances. (“Cornwall Tech” – called Cornwall College, Trevenson Campus, Camborne, today),
Floyd, from the “Psychdelic Underground Era”, who went on to produce the acclaimed Album, Dark Side of the Moon, in 1973, proved to be innovative, flamboyant and dynamic, with a superb light-show, but they did disappoint, a little, owing to them not playing their hit single, See Emily Play.
However, the Group, with the charismatic Syd Barrett, as the Lead Singer, were almost invisible, on stage, owing to them performing beside a dozen, or more, 1800mm (6’ 0”) tall “prop” speakers, free-standing, with additional speakers, the same size, perched, crucifix-fashion, on the top – an impressive sight, indeed!
Then, in 1973, Slade, with the affable Noddy Holder, Leading, proved very popular, at the Flamingo, as well, with an enthusiastic audience which packed the Ballroom to the rafters – as happened with The Animals Group, in 1965, a Neighbour informed me, post event.
Meanwhile, Yes at the Winter Gardens, Penzance (1970) and Free, in the Old City Hall, Truro (c. 1971), proved to be wondrous Gigs, well attended, as well. A tragedy that Free and music, generally, lost Paul Kossoff, one of the World’s foremost blues guitarists, aged just 26 in 1976.
YES – reported to be peerless when in full flight on stage:
Indeed, the YES INTRO: Yours Is No Disgrace, at the Winter Gardens, Penzance, was the most exciting I have ever witnessed. Furthermore, I read that the Band in full flight, on stage, including Jon Anderson, lead vocalist and the two world-class guitarists in Chris Squire (base) and Steve Howe (lead), were said to be peerless. With my experience, I would endorse this professional assessment.
I was also privileged to have attended two Kernow concerts by Status Quo and Mott-the-Hoople - with Ian Hunter, as lead singer - and Skid Row, on one occasion, each. The Quo’s Pictures of Matchstick Men, their debut hit single, remains as their best, to me.
THE WHO, appeared at “Skating Rink”, Camborne:
Unfortunately, I missed The Who, at the “Skating Rink”, The John Francis Basset Building, Camborne, in 1965, who went on to make another appearance at the Flamingo, where the Small Faces also topped the Bill on another evening.
At Camborne, I was told that Keith Moon – in his element, with My Generation, on his drum-kit - was his usual, enthusiastic bundle of energy and, was surely, the greatest Rock / Beat Showman, in drumming history and one of the foremost, technically, as well, with Ginger Baker (Cream and Blind Faith), also in the frame.
Favourite Rock Group:
My favourite Progressive Rock Group (known as “Prog. Rock” – “Underground Music”, formerly), was Deep Purple, undoubtedly, with Ian Gillan as the inspirational lead vocalist.
And, I would rate Roger Daltrey and Ian Gillan as probably having the most innovative lead singing voices, in Beat and Rock Music, respectively.
THE FLAMINGO – one of The South West of England’s foremost and most elegant Ballrooms:
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, especially, the Flamingo Ballroom, Nationally renowned and owned/managed by Businesswoman, Pat Hone, had the reputation of being one of the best Auditoriums in the South West of England and the deepest stage attracting top-flight, iconic groups and bands, on a regular basis.
The Building, with one of England’s longest Club/Pub Bars and, incorporating a Main Hall, which measured some 150 feet long x 50 feet wide (47 metres x 15 metres) was, in addition, an Auditorium, multi-purpose, also putting on wrestling and boxing bills, which proved most popular with the clientele.
The Flamingo had a great advantage, over some other venues, in that it could offer accommodation - eighteen rooms, In-house, which could cater for bands, management and roadies, a “Crew”, complete - for the night on Site, post Gig.
I also recall those mouth-watering pasties, at the wrestling events, on Friday evenings, in the 1960’s, with a full-house on each occasion - those were the days!
In addition, three British Prime Ministers have delivered speeches in the famous Hall, over the years, I understand.
Today, it is the Visitor Site of the Morrisons Supermarket, with the National Trust’s Mining Heritage Site, East Pool Mine, with the famous Chimney Stack Landmark - EPAL - in the background.
* John’s favourite Progressive Rock Bands & Beat / Pop Groups:
1st Deep Purple,; 2nd Traffic; Small Faces; 4th equal: Yes; Genesis; The Who; 7th equal: The Moody Blues; The Rolling Stones; Uriah Heep; Pink Floyd; Jethro Tull; Duran Duran; Spandau Ballet; Kinks; Yardbirds; Fairport Convention.
For the attention of the CDM Readership – what do you think, folks and should anyone else be up there in the “Lights”?
I would rate the following as being the greatest and / or most Influential GB Lead Singers, in Rock Bands and Beat & Pop Music Groups + Solo Artists, since 1962 (In no particular order):
Steve Winwood, (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Humble Pie + Solo). - the World’s “Foremost White Rhythm & Blues (R&B) Artist/Singer”, as far as I’m concerned. A true musical genius – singer, guitarist, keyboard-player and church organist, supreme;
John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney, Singer Songwriters – can’t separate them as Lead Singers - The Beatles - the most influential/innovative GB Beat Group, indeed World Group, in fifty years;
Peter Gabriel (Genesis + Solo). A Classic, the Video “Lawn-mower Song” Video, from Album: Selling England By The Pound, with Gabriel at his singing/theatrical best, on stage – well worth a viewing;
Steve Marriott, The Small Faces - 1960’s “Mods’ Group” and Humble Pie + Solo. Sha La La La Lee and Itchycoo Park, my favourite tracks. The other day, I listened to Steve’s If I were a Carpenter, recorded with the Small Faces - what a truly remarkable performance - well worth a listen. Some people say he is arguably, the greatest Beat/Rock Music singer in history; quite a claim, but it could well be correct - so sad he departed this World, in 1991 - RIP, Steve.
Sir Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones; Roger Daltrey, The Who; Ian Gillan, Deep Purple; *Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin; Jon Anderson, Yes; Justin Hayward, Moody Blues; Rod Stewart, The Faces + Solo; Ray Davies, Kinks; Keith Relf, Yardbirds; Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention; Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet; Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran;
David Bowie. Bowie’s Aladdin Sane Album, one of the best, to my mind. Space Oddity (featuring poor Major Tom, with his “one-way ticket” to Outer Space) and China Girl, my favourite Tracks;
Sir Cliff Richard - Summer Holiday - remains as my favourite track; Sir Tom Jones – an affable Welsh Gentleman, with such a distinctive and powerful voice; Dame Shirley Bassey; Dusty Springfield; Cilla Black; Annie Lennox. Ultravox.