1968 Roll-call

1968

sees only sporadic gigs, following the closure of Arthur Chisnall’s Eelpiland the previous September: jazz is now history, but finally, after all these years, The Who appear. Other gigs include The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, The Nice, The Moody Blues, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, and of course, the obligatory John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers appearance, now with Mick Taylor on guitar……

July 1968

Wed. Jul 31st – Spice

As previously mentioned, The Stalkers of 1966 resurface as Spice, featuring David Byron and Mick Box, who, a year later, would become Uriah Heep

Wed. Jul 31st – Spooky Tooth

A number of this band had appeared on the Island in 1966 as The V.I.P.s (Mike Harrison on vocals, Greg Ridley on bass, with Mike Kellie on drums), and, together with latter member Luther Grosvenor on guitar, became Spooky Tooth in 1967, via an incarnation as Art. Ridley would go on to Humble Pie, Grosvenor to Mott The Hoople, and Kellie to post-punk outfit The Only Ones

August 1968

Wed. Aug 7th – Spice

Wed. Aug 7th – Blossom Toes

The year before this, Blossom Toes came out with “We Are Ever So Clean”, a quintessentially English psychedelic album on Giorgio Gomelsky’s ill-fated Marmalade label (Gomelsky being the man behind The Crawdaddy club in Richmond, of course). Guitarist Jim Cregan would become the man behind the wonderful acoustic solo on “(Make Me Smile) Come Up And See Me” in 1975, and thereafter plied his trade with Rod Stewart’s post Faces ensemble: recently he was further plying his trade with a bunch called Apart From Rod, who specialise in that material, albeit minus Mr Stewart. He’s still ploughing that furrow in 2017 appearing as Cregan and Co., performing “The Rod Stewart Songbook”

Wed. Aug 14th – Juniors Eyes

Wed. Aug 14th – Skip Bifferty

Geordies from the frozen north who became Heavy Jelly, initially a “Time Out” joke, but two of whom, Micky Gallagher and John Turnbull, became a pair of Ian Dury’s Blockheads

Wed. Aug 21st – Jade Hexagram

Blessed with a suitably ‘1968-styled’ moniker, this outfit had a strong following in Europe, leading to them playing at The Playboy Club in Berlin, and at the 1967 Gothenburg Teenage Fair, which was apparently quite a big deal, Swedish-wise, though they were deported the day after, following their hiring of a lady who went further than only going topless on stage, and who turned out to be the daughter of the Mayor of Copenhagen

Wed. Aug 21st – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

While Arthur played here a couple of times, there was at least one occasion when his headgear set the stage curtains alight. Carl Palmer is by now occupying the drummer’s stool

Sat. Aug 24th – David Booth

Billed as David Booth and His Canned Sound, so a DJ maybe, though “plus guest group”

Sun. Aug 25th – Gethsemane

Billed as a “Blues Night”, and having ditched the obviously unwieldy moniker “In The Garden Of Gethsemane”, this much catchier named crew featured future Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre

Wed. Aug 28th – East Of Eden

Wed. Aug 28th – The Nice

Local author Judy Astley remembers Keith Emerson doing the dagger trick, sticking them into his keyboards, thus jamming them into ‘play’ mode, then ending up off the stage, having to run round the side to get back on, and being prevented doing so by some sort of steward, who, on hearing the organ still playing, refused to believe Emerson was the organist in the band. Incidentally, those daggers may well have been the Hitler Youth ones gifted to Emerson by then roadie Lemmy

September 1968

Wed. Sep 4th – The Action

A seminal mod band dating back to 1965, their popularity on the circuit never translated into sales, and despite covering soul hits such as “Land Of A Thousand Dances”, “Harlem Shuffle” and “I’ll Keep Holding On” never reached the charts. After several changes of personnel and musical direction, they became Mighty Baby, appearing on the Island under that name just over a year later. Founder member Alan ‘Bam’ King later formed one-hit wonders Ace

Sun. Sep 8th – Dynaflow Blues

Mel Wright from Dynaflow Blues contacted us during the project with this info and the fact they were paid the grand sum of £10 for their efforts: his lot were responsible for starting The Blues Scene nearby at The Crown in St. Margarets on a Saturday night, where occasionally Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke sat in. Tonight, however, regular blues-harpist Chris Elvin had left, so Duster Bennett stepped in. Most of the Dynaflow Blues band came out of Shakey Vick’s Big City Blues Band, and while guitarist Rod Price’s next venture was with Black Cat Bones and three decades with Foghat. Mel’s next venture, The Nighthawks, appeared on the Island sometime in the following year

Wed. Sep 11th – The Moody Blues

This is no longer The Moody Blues of “Go Now” fame, but in the process of becoming those of “Nights In White Satin” fame

Sat. Sep 14th – Gracious

Wed. Sep 18th – The Downliners Sect

Wed. Sep 18th – Family

Wed. Sep 25th – Village

A short-lived venture led by Peter Bardens, who had played with Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green in The Peter B’s, Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express, and would later do more successful things with prog outfit Camel

Wed. Sep 25th – Eclection

Sat. Sep 28th – Gracious

October 1968

Wed. Oct 2nd – Terry Reid

More famous, possibly, for being the vocalist who didn’t sing in Led Zeppelin (he was offered the job by Jimmy Page, but chose to honour his contract with Mickie Most as a solo performer: at least he recommended Jimmy ask Robert Plant), Reid nevertheless has been an undervalued artist for most of his career

Wed. Oct 2nd – Joe Cocker & The Grease Band

This gas fitter from Sheffield is about to become enormous, albeit with a little help from his friends 

Sat. Oct 5th – Gracious

Sun. Oct 6th – John Thomas Blues Band

Wed. Oct 9thFreedom

Guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison had played on Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade Of Pale” but were given the boot by Gary Brooker, thence forming Freedom, clearly celebrating their new found status. They released a couple of German 45s and provided the film score for a Tinto Brass movie (!) before wholesale changes to their line-up in 1968 brought them here to the Island, as well as support gigs on Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull tours. After four albums or so, they split in 1972, with Harrison teaming up with Micky Moody (of this parish) to form Snafu

Wed. Oct 9th – Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera

Elmer Gantry had previous at Eel Pie Island as vocalist with The Five Proud Walkers, and surfaced some six years after tonight in an ersatz Fleetwood Mac, formed to fulfil a contractual tour that the originals were unable to do because of their internal shenanigans, which ended in legal chaos when audiences failed to recognise any bona-fide Mac members on stage. This outfit then evolved into Stretch, one-hit wonders, whose “Why Did You Do It?” was precisely about that experience. Eddie Parpworth, whose band The Stumble supported Velvet Opera, probably tonight, recalls how Elmer Gantry’s ‘fancy’ band-van’s driver mistook the high tide that evening as merely covering an equivalent bit of road, rather than the slipway that was actually concealed: cue ‘fancy’ van nosediving into the additional depth, and several velvet-clad musos escaping from the rear door, now at 90 degrees to its normal position! I imagine those velvet togs were rather ruined by Old Father Thames…

Wed. Oct 16th – July

July produced one of the most sought-after British psychedelic 60s albums, having started as a skiffle band in Ealing in the early part of the decade, and after embracing R&B as The Tomcats. During a relocation to Spain (scoring an unlikely series of four charting EPs, performed in Spanish no less), they were known as Los Tomcats, strangely. Even stranger, that Spanish material was released in 2016 as “Running At Shadows: The Spanish Recordings 1965-66”. Founder and singer Tom Newman has a local connection, in that he grew up on a barge moored at Richmond, but achieved a degree of fame in 1973 when he produced Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells at The Manor Studio, which he’d helped co-found with Richard Branson

Wed. Oct 16th – Colosseum

His days of The Graham Bond Organization long behind him, sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith returns with Jon Hiseman’s progressive jazz-rock pioneers

Wed. Oct 23rd – David Booth

Wed. Oct 23rd – Proteus

Wed. Oct 23rd – Gethsemane

Wed. Oct 23rd – The Alan Bown! 

Wed. Oct 30th – Proteus

Wed. Oct 30th – East Of Eden 

While gaining an atypical hit record with “Jig-a-Jig” a full three years after tonight, violinist Dave Arbus is arguably more famous for his contribution to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” just after that. Perhaps tonight was the start of that fruitful relationship

Wed. Oct 30th – The Who

Today’s entries are from a particular poster advertising this gig specifically. Despite Pete Townshend having lots of local history and co-opting the Eel Pie name for both his studio and book publishing company, Arthur Chisnall never booked The Who, fearing an invasion of scooter-borne Mods, but they did appear at Eel Pie Island during the ‘post-Chisnall’ era, when Townshend used the gig to try out some material he’d written for an ‘opera’ to be called “Tommy”. Witnesses suggested he stick to the three-minute single formula

November 1968

Wed. Nov 6th – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Wed. Nov 13th – John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

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