nights in white satin … my final days as a disc jockey

nights in white satin
having now left edinburgh, i had an 18 month stint as resident disc jockey in large velvet sticky red carpeted cabaret clubs around england..
just round the last two years of the 1970’s.
the lyceum up the strand in london…then birmingham,and finally leicester.

 

the interesting thing about that was catching fading stars on the slide, up close.
it was bazaar to see slade, of all groups play to a half empty mid week room full of couples at dinner tables eating scampi and chips.
punk rock had rendered these dear souls ‘cattle out to graze’ in one chop of an axe.
the heartbreaking, yet life affirming thing about that was how those sweet maestros still cared..
i’d arrive early before opening time to watch noddy and the boys sound checking for the week ahead with keen exactness,
like it was wembley or something,but it was just a fairly large cabaret club,where they’d play for the whole week.
the audience were married men and wimmin at round tables either getting drunk or on the pull..
lovely folk really…but much more about entertainment than actual music.
i loved watching the weekly soundchecks/rehearsals on the monday, before doors opened…
it could be quite funny watching someone like the three degrees…
one of them was a proper cow,and i enjoyed lounging around before opening time, taking it all in while she shamelessy humiliated her musical directer…chucking coffee around..
in her own head she was still a big star,but in reality she was on the slide, and no spring chicken either.
a big let down with pop groups on the slide is you imagine you’re gonna recognise each member instantly,
but the thing is, the wise ones jump ship before it sinks,only to be replaced with vague lookalikes.
i remember the drifters coming, and feeling very excited about that,yet the only one i recognised was the little tubby bald one.
it was just so odd for me, still a teenager, encountering these satin clad stars i’d watched on top of the pops,but now in the context of a threadbare midlands cabaret club.

 

it kills me to say it,but the comedians were far more gripping to behold…
it occurred to me that when people grow up and join the vulgar world of adulthood,they switch from rock n roll to comedy.
it would seem that for lots of folk, once life becomes hum drum,there’s more escapism in laughter than music.
comedians just seemed to have more edge than the musicians…
musicians only gain edge if they make that crucial leap from bog standard jobbing muso, toward fully blown fucked up artist….most don’t,or can’t….they choose to flatline.
only the bravest derail their success, for the sake of a creative future.
generally,there was a deeper neurosis about the comedians…they’d either hide in their dressing rooms like the utterly miserable tommy cooper did,
or they’d be mingling afterwards like needy fuckers.
jim davidson was classic stuff.. he was quite young at the time, and off his rocker on lines of speed.
it totally informed his fast talking performance..he was addicted to the sound of laughter,and he entertained the staff well after closing time…it took surgery to remove him from the after hours bar so  everyone could go home.
then there was bernard manning…sailing very close to the wind with his dodgy humour…
he would walk up to the microphone apologising for being late on account of having trouble with his heameroids.
same script everynight….and that’s the one thing the comedians and music acts had in common..
a script.
even those personable spontaneous little ad-libs that singers do during the intro of a ballad..
it was exactly the same every night…i was shocked..
it was a revelation to know every word and subtle move was planned.
….even more compelling was the up and coming comedians who hadn’t quite got it together yet…
a remember lenny henry screaming desperately at an audience to laugh at a string of jokes that didn’t quite have legs.
singer or comedian..they both have one thing in common..they stand or fall by their material,
which is probably one of the reasons i love songwriting…it’s a life blood.

 

regardless of now having seen the gritty workmanlike reality of music and entertainment,it didn’t put me off for a second.
i was now on a mission to be in the very grooves of a record,rather than be playing them.

 

dear readers…on my previous post i said i’d write about that, and how the dodgy svengali manager in my first pop group ended up dying in his hot tub,
but this part of my life story has taken up more words than i planned,so i’ll get into that on my next post.

 

y’know a strange thing about writing stuff down at this stage of life, is the feeling of how past present,and future all merge at the same time.
be here now for it all, folks…lots of love..
mary wilderbeast.
 bibendum
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8 Responses to nights in white satin … my final days as a disc jockey

  1. great insight into the dark underbelly of success

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  2. thanks kathy…very sweet of you to write and say.

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  3. Thomas Black says:

    I’m enjoying your witty and slightly wistful reminisces Gregory,keep them coming..

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  4. Richard malpas says:

    I enjoyed reading this so much. It made me smile at the obvious. I’ve always felt that your music depicts your observations of life…looking forward to the next one…take care Mary..

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  5. Tim says:

    You should write a proper book. Deliciously scandalous. Some ”stars” would shit their pants. Thanks for keeping it real….let me know when that anthracite needs topping up

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    • you’re very kind and encouraging as always tim,but y’know,i don’t really want to lay anyone to waste…..for the best part i admire my fellow entertainers/artists/writers ..they work hard at what they do… it’s a road that would drive anyone nuts, every now and then. xxx

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