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The Legacy of Skiffle

Alec 29 Jan 07 - 07:33 AM
bubblyrat 29 Jan 07 - 07:47 AM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 07:57 AM
Scrump 29 Jan 07 - 07:59 AM
bubblyrat 29 Jan 07 - 08:13 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jan 07 - 08:55 AM
Scrump 29 Jan 07 - 09:37 AM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 10:59 AM
Scrump 29 Jan 07 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 29 Jan 07 - 11:33 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jan 07 - 11:36 AM
Scrump 29 Jan 07 - 11:40 AM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 29 Jan 07 - 11:59 AM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 12:07 PM
Rusty Dobro 29 Jan 07 - 12:11 PM
Scrump 29 Jan 07 - 12:12 PM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 12:19 PM
bubblyrat 29 Jan 07 - 01:02 PM
GUEST 29 Jan 07 - 02:22 PM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 02:52 PM
fat B****rd 29 Jan 07 - 03:31 PM
BanjoRay 29 Jan 07 - 03:44 PM
Leadbelly 29 Jan 07 - 03:50 PM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 29 Jan 07 - 04:09 PM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 04:19 PM
Leadbelly 29 Jan 07 - 04:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 Jan 07 - 04:51 PM
Alec 29 Jan 07 - 05:00 PM
Fidjit 29 Jan 07 - 05:57 PM
Leadfingers 29 Jan 07 - 06:10 PM
Leadbelly 29 Jan 07 - 06:10 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 Jan 07 - 06:29 PM
Leadbelly 29 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 29 Jan 07 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Big Bill. 29 Jan 07 - 08:08 PM
Alec 30 Jan 07 - 03:31 AM
Roger the Skiffler 30 Jan 07 - 09:34 AM
Desert Dancer 09 Feb 12 - 02:03 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Feb 12 - 04:52 PM
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Subject: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 07:33 AM

It is 50 years since Lonnie Donegan had his first U.K. top 5 hit with "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-o".I think this was a key moment in the history of skiffle which inspired a great many young Britons to stop merely listening to music & to start making it.
I think its lightweight blend of R&B,Folk & Trad Jazz was/remains appealing & the fact that it was performed on relatively cheap or homemade instruments must have helped at a time of postwar austerity.
Most of the people who got me listening to contemporary popular music started off as skifflers.
Has anybody out there got any memories of skiffle they would like to share?
Would love to hear them. :-)


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: bubblyrat
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 07:47 AM

I certainly feel that it inspired me,Alec, although I had been interested in "folk " music since I was about 8 or 9, having been introduced to it,so to speak, at primary school !! In those days I played tunes like "Westering Home" on the mouth-organ ( Still do !!--ANNIECAT drives, I play !! We don"t have a CD player !),but Skiffle was a breath of fresh air as far as I was concerned---And,since I was /am a great lover of trad.jazz, I got the best of both worlds with Lonnie,as he played banjo with Chris Barber"s Band as well.I believe Mr.Barber reciprocated by playing double bass for Lonnie !!
    But,yes,a major influence for a great many people,I should think..


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 07:57 AM

That's the stuff bubblyrat! Keep'em comin'. Now if you excuse me I'm just off to persuade herself we should sell the C.D. player. ;-)


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 07:59 AM

I guess you could say Lonnie Donegan was an influence on me too. But probably this was about 10 years after he was in the charts with "Rock Island Line", "Daddy-o", etc.

I remember liking skiffle as a young kid, but it wasn't until I was a teenager I started playing guitar, and my first big influence was Bob Dylan. I started to play guitar and harmonica like him, and learned to play/sing a lot of his songs, then started looking around for other stuff to play, and Lonnie Donegan seemed an obvious source of songs, because his stuff was mostly easy to play, and was good fun.

From those two early major influences, I started delving deeper into traditional folk (e.g. the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs), and of course discovered more contemporary artists of the day such as Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Paxton, and this side of the pond, the likes of Ralph McTell, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, etc.

Some might say I haven't progressed a lot beyond those days! ;-)


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: bubblyrat
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 08:13 AM

I saw him "live" at Sidmouth a couple or three years ago,not long before he died, and he was SUPERB !! His voice was a lot deeper, and he just sounded so "mature ". But he didn"t do "My old Man"s a Dustman !!". But otherwise he was STUNNING ,I thought----his passing was a great loss for us all.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 08:55 AM

Alec - Apart from the record title and the date , you are correct
The FIRST Skiffle hit was Rock island line / John Henry in 1955 , which was relased as The Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group while Lon was still playing with Chris Barber's band , with Chris Barber on Double Bass and Beryl Bryden on washboard .
Dont You Rock Me Daddyo was never released as a single ,in fact .


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 09:37 AM

By 'eck you're right, Leadfingers. It was the Vipers who had the single (Parlophone R4261, 1956, b/w 10,000 Years Ago).


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 10:59 AM

Although "Rock Island Line" was Lonnie's first hit,in Jan '56, it peaked at number 6 in the chart. I DID however miss "Stewball/Lost John" which went to number 2 in April that year.
"Don't you rock me..." peaked at number 4 in Jan '57 (Pye Nixa N15080).The (also wonderful)Vipers had a number 10 hit simultaneously with the same song.(A not uncommon occurence in those days)
Source for all the above is "The Guinness Book of Hit Singles"
(I.E The same people who still deny that "Please Please Me" was a number 1 single)


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:07 AM

By 'eck Alec, you were right. Both Lonnie and the Vipers had singles of the song. Both good, too.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:33 AM

Juat to clarify: Lonnie's Rock Island Line Line was recorded in 1954, but was a hit single in 1956. And it did have a cheap old washboard on it. But by the time he was releasing Dont You Rock me Daddy-O(which was a single too) he a perfectly conventional electric guitars, drumkit etc.
    He was also, which nobody has mentioned so far, a GOD! I started a skiffle group at school in order to worship Him.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:36 AM

The Website I looked at didnt list 'Rock me Daddyo ' as a Donegan single ! NEVER trust the Internet !!


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:40 AM

By' eck, GUEST,greg stephens, you're right. The single of Rock Island Line was recorded at the Festival Hall in one of the skiffle breaks during a 1954 Chris Barber concert, and not released as a single until 1956.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:41 AM

If Lonnie Donegan Was a God do we infer Nancy Whisky was a goddess?


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 11:59 AM

I seem to remember another skiffle record being released at about the same time as Rock Island Line - Ken Colyer's 'Take this hammer.' Was it a single, or just an LP track?


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:07 PM

"Guinness" don't list it,though that doesn't mean it wasn't a single, just that it wasn't a hit.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:11 PM

Thursday night sessions at the 'Eel's Foot', Eastbridge, Suffolk, frequently include a few skiffle songs, and the spin-off group, variously the 'Eel's Foot Stompers' or 'Al deBurgh and the Scallops' under our esteemed mentor Doc Cox, has never quite moved on from the 78rpm era.

Incidentally, the Vipers' washboard player, John Pilgrim, also lives in Suffolk, though in failing health, and has been an interesting broadcaster on the early days of skiffle and British blues.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:12 PM

There was an excellent book about Skiffle issued about 10? years ago by Chas McDevitt (who of course was a leading skiffler himself). I can't remember the title for the mo', but I have it somewhere.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 12:19 PM

Skiffle:The roots of U.K.rock.I think that was the title of McDevitt's book but I don't know who publihed it or if it is still in print.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: bubblyrat
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 01:02 PM

Martin Guitars don"t do Commemorative models for just any old Tom,Dick or Harry,you know !! I think Lonnie was pretty chuffed when they did did his !! The fingerboard inlay is pretty impressive--a crown for King ,I think,and then the letters of "Skiffle " in various positions as fret-markers. I tried one in that brilliant guitar-shop in Brighton, but I couldn"t afford it !!


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 02:22 PM

The legacy of Skiffle is basically the 60's English folk revival. Take out the fundamentalist clubs( a small number) and look back to the hundreds of folk clubs and most of the people who sang in them, and they would mostly acknowledge that their interest was first aroused by skiffle which popularised the guitar, american folk songs, verse/chorus, storytelling lyrics etc that all went in to the great melting pot of folk club 60's England.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 02:52 PM

There's a lot of truth in that GUEST 02:22,a lot.
bubblyrat,the fact that Martin did a commemorative model for Lonnie had totally gone beneath my RADAR.
My own Guitar is a Chantry 2460 which I suspect some Mudcat plankspankers wouldn't even allow in their homes.
However, though no skiffler myself, I like to think that its more consistent with the DIY ethos of that marvellous musical form than a top of the range Big Boy's Guitar.
(N.B. before I get burnt in effigy this is an observation not a criticism. I am NOT Anti-Martin nor am I in league with Satan.) >;->


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: fat B****rd
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 03:31 PM

If you look on Amazon under Books/ Skiffle you will find not only the Chas McDevitt* item buy sveral others.
I used to have this and would recommend it.
I recall keeping my holiday money to buy Lost John/Stewball from Harry Horner's in St. Peter's Avenue, Cleethorpes. I also remember how absolutely exciting that was n'all.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: BanjoRay
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 03:44 PM

About 6 years after I first heard "Rock Island Line" and fell in love with skiffle I first started hearing old time string band music and realised where Lonnie got it all from. I wondered if he'd been to the states and picked up a lot of the old songs, and I got to meet him at Sidmouth in the Bedford about 3 years ago and asked him. He said he'd got the old records from around London, and not the USA. What you can start just by collecting old records....
Ray


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadbelly
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 03:50 PM

First resp. almost first unissued recordings of Lonnie have been Hard Time Blues, Nobody's Child, You Don't Know My Mind and Midnight Special (vocal: Ken Colyer)which are a mixture of blues and skiffle recorded on april, 1953 in Copenhagen, Denmark (Hotel Gentofte).
On "More than "pye in the sky"" (Bear Family) you can listen to these tracks.
Manfred from Germany


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 03:52 PM

Thanks for the info Leadbelly,much appreciated.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 04:09 PM

For what it's worth........as I suspect everyone knows, Lonnie was banjo player in the original Ken Colyer band (along with Chris Barber and Monty Sunshine et al) and, apparently, Lonnie, Ken and Chris would use the intervals between the band's sessions at Ken's club in London to play and sing a few songs with Ken and Lonnie on guitars, and Chris on bass. I saw Ken do this 'interval act' at his club (c.1956?) after the whole band had left him (been sacked?) to become the Chris Barber band (with Pat Halcox on trumpet). Although Rock Island Line was indeed recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in 1954, Ken Colyer seems to me have been at least an equal partner with Lonnie in creating British skiffle. Skiffle's legacy? Not only the 60s folk boom, but much of the British rock 'n' roll scene.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 04:19 PM

Certainly the case Terry : John Lennon,Paul McCartney,George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Graham Nash,Dave Clarke,Pete Townshend & Jimmy Page all started with skiffle.
They don't make 'em like that anymore.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadbelly
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 04:41 PM

It should be mentioned, Alec, that many tracks Lonnie made are originals, written and performed by Huddie Ledbetter like e.g. Rock island line, John Henry, On a christmas day, Midnight special, Stewball,
Ol' Riley, Bring a little water, Sylvie, I'm Alabammy bound, On a monday, Go down old Hannah, Ella speed,Black girl, Ham'n eggs, Ain't no more cane on the brazos, Whoa Buck, Shorty George, Take this hammer,
John Hardy, Have a drink on me, Pick a bale of cotton and Leavin' blues.

At least in the beginning of his career, Lonnie would not have had adequate material without Leadbelly. Everbody should be aware of this fact.

Manfred from Germany


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 04:51 PM

The main legacy of skiffle is that some of us expect folkmusic to be accessible.

Donegan dipped into so many traditions - blues, Irish ballads, jazz, country music, music hall, r and b, rock, Denmark Street commerciality, songs from west end musicals.

He was the start. The first modern folksinger to realise that music in the age of the radio - let alone the i-pod, is global in nature. To construct a folkmusic that touches a modern audience - exposed to all this music - not just a few blokes round a haystack - you had to be eclectic.

I was privileged to see his last performance at Nottingham Royal Centre. He had been ill all day, but when he got in front of that audience, he could do no other than give of himself - such was the vitality inherent in his approach. There was no sense of mooching through old dead things and trying to sound half dead.

He was a truly great man.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 05:00 PM

Leadbelly what you say is true though some of us think "Stewball" is a song your namesake rewrote rather than wrote.
(both versions are in the DT if you wish to make your own mind up)
You might also be interested in an excellent German language site
(http://www.skiffle.net) I'm afraid I can't do Blue-clickies.
This is the site of the Hamburg skiffle festival.
WLD a simply superb post thanks.Lonnie had intended his last performance to be the Concert For George which would have brought the wheel full circle. Sadly it was not to be.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Fidjit
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 05:57 PM

"Skiffle The Definative Inside Story, by Chas McDevitt.
Forward by Mark Knopfler and George Harrison. Robson books 1997. ISBN 1 86105 140 9
Printed in Bury St. Edmonds.

Full of luvly stuff.

Chas

Yes me too.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 06:10 PM

GUEST Terry MacDonald - Chris Barber 'took Over' the Colyer band and imported Pat Halcox to take the Trumpet chair when Ken hopped a boat to New Orleans to get some REAL Jazz !
When Ken came back (Having got serious grief for overstaying his visa)
The C B Band was established , so Ken simply started with another line up !


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadbelly
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 06:10 PM

Alec, I know about the "skiffle.net", because I was born in Hamburg, which you could not have known. Nevertheless, thanks for this hint.
Concerning Leadbelly: it's true, that not everything he claimed was composed by him. Some songs are traditional and if somebody created new lyrics/words, he claimed to be the originator of this particular song in those days.
Further to my contribution I only would like to emphasize the general contribution of Leadbelly concerning Lonnie's career. And WLD is absolutely right: Lonnie was the first m o d e r n folksinger. Let me say he was the white son of black Huddie because without Leadbelly's songs skiffle would not have take a start. What do you mean, folks?

By the way: I have had the chance to listen to Lonnie in Hamburg's Ernst-Merk-Halle in 1958 (?). The second part was performed by H. Littleton. This was not a successful mixture although personally I do like Littleton. Half skiffle, half mainstream jazz. Controversial.
Manfred from Germany


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 06:29 PM

Yeh I saw some of the jazz gigs, and they could be terrible. Part of the trouble was that the trumpet players used to plonk their trumpets right up to the microphone - even when Lonnie was trying to sing - and they would overwhelm his voice.

I suppose things got better when the technology improved. But these were old guys and resistant to change and technology. I saw them try and play a school sports hall with just an old carlsboro Marlin PA amp - no monitors! You know the old Jerry Garcia maxim about PA - either you eat the room or the room eats you.

I think it must have sounded as bad onstage as it did out front which was saying something.

lonnie was still lovely though stopping at the end to talk with fans and sign albums.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Leadbelly
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 06:46 PM

Misanderstanding, WLD: they did not play together, but one after the other. Lyttleton took the second part and pure skiffle fans became a little bit angry.
On the other side I am aware of lonnie's jazz adventures (e.g.Chesapeake bay).
Have a good night and till tomorrow!

Manfred


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 07:11 PM

Leadfingers - Colyer went to New Orleans, came home (wasn't he thrown out?) and then formed or joined the band with Barber etc. He left because it wasn't 'New Orleans' enough for him and formed a new band which included a certain Bernard Bilk on clarinet (got the LP somewhere), later replaced by Ian Wheeler, and with Mac Duncan on trombone. Anyway, no need to quibble, my point is that Colyer was one of the founders of skiffle - I always liked his half talked, half sung 'Casey Jones' a similar approach to that of Lonnie's 'Rock Island Line.'


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: GUEST,Big Bill.
Date: 29 Jan 07 - 08:08 PM

Interesting stuff, all I can add (if anyone's interested) is that Lonnie's hit record "Rock Island Line" wasn't from a live concert, as mentioned a couple of times, it was a studio recording- Decca's North London studios.


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Alec
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 03:31 AM

Lest it be forgotten Martin Carthy also started out as a skiffle man.
Carthy's influence on Dylan was considerable.
Skiffle has directly or indirectly served as a catalyst for so much fine music & has never really gone away.
I'm pleased to say.
Where else could you simultaneously gain an access point to the music of Leadbelly AND George Formby?
And people thought the sixties were surreal?!?


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 09:34 AM

Ken Colyer set the ball rolling but Lonnie was the great populariser and inspired so many who went from amateur musicians to professionals: he should have had royalties on the numbers of guitars bought in the 1950s! (Not to mention the washboards!).

RtS


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 09 Feb 12 - 02:03 PM

A friend posted a link to this YouTube video of a (very!) young Jimmy Page and friends on the Huw Wheldon Show, BBC TV 1957. Wheldon's disconnect is pretty funny.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: The Legacy of Skiffle
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Feb 12 - 04:52 PM

Many of dates & incidents above are timed a bit too late. Mid-late50s, rather than 60s, were years skiffle started, with Henry [Hyam] Morris's group playing at Princess Louise, High Holborn, in club run from 1954 or 55 by Russ Quaye & Hylda Syms, who went on to start the Skiffle Cellar in Greek Street [later the Establishment Club etc], where Steve Benbow's band played; with the Louise being taken over by the Nancy Whiskey club; Nancy having already, at about same time as early Donegan hits, hit the charts with the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group in 'Freight Train' ~~ all this in 1956 IIRC. I played at the Whiskey Club myself once or twice, as washboard/rhythm-guitar/vocals in a group called Easy Riders - one of our members was John Brunner who went on to be a Hugo-award winning sf writer ~ now dead, alas. Our lead guitarist was one Sandy Sandfield. Whatever happened to him, I wonder?

The Whiskey club, like Nancy herself, crossed over from skiffle to traditional British folk: I first heard Ewan MacColl, Bert Lloyd, Stan Kelly there. The following year, Ewan & Peggy Seeger started the Ballads & Blues club in that same venue, the Princess Louise, where Isla Cameron, Dominic Behan, Ralph Rinzler, Dean Gitter, et al, would appear regularly. It is of a session there that a pic appears in Ewan's autobiography Journeyman, in which a young MtheGM may be clearly descried listening intently to Ewan & Bert ~ as I might just have mentioned once or twice before!

~Michael~


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