Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hey Crawdaddy!

Giorgio Gomelsky, an experimental film-maker who was full of enthusiasm for musical adventure and possessed a close affinity with jazz and the blues, by early 1963 was running his own club in the rear room at the Station Hotel, Richmond. Brian Jones met Gomelsky at a crucial time in the Stones's evolution. Gomelsky came to see the band at the Red Lion pub on February 6, 1963, and liked what they were doing. As soon as one of his own acts goofed, he said, he would bring the Rolling Stones into one of his promotions.

And then one day Giorgio had exiting news for the band: the Dave Hunt R&B band (featuring Ray Davies, later to lead the Kinks) had given up their Sunday residency at the Station Hotel, and the Rolling Stones could take over. And so from February 24 until June 16, 1963 the band had a solid residency at one of London's hottest venues: the Crawdaddy Club (named after the Bo Diddley tune "Doin' The Crawdaddy") at the Station Hotel, Richmond.

Ian McLagan, keyboard player of Small Faces and Faces fame, attended some of the gigs, and here's what he found: When I walked along from Richmond Green to the back door of the pub, all I could hear was a booming bass, chanking rhythm guitars and a wailing harp above it all. The band were rocking out on a Jimmy Reed tune and it sounded so good I couldn't believe my ears. Finally we squeezed our way in and fuck me, they're not old black guys at all, they're white, young, and they're dynamite! Instantly I'm a Rolling Stones fan. In the coming weeks I never miss a Sunday night at the Crawdaddy.

Brian Jones and Keith Richards sat on stools either side of Mick Jagger, who'd wail over our heads while Keith spat out licks, weaving in and out of Brian's slide guitar lines. Ian Stewart, or 'Stu' as he was known, was on the piano and was pretty inaudible during most of it, but when things quietened down you could just hear his trills and bluesy licks, giving it all a genuine Chicago feel. Bill Wyman's bizarre, home-made bass throbbed, boomed and echoed of the ceiling, along with Charlie Watts' steam-train drumming.

Adapted from the following sources:
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.
Ian McLagan, All The Rage, Pan Books, 1998.

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