1970 Roll-call


represents the last hurrah for the Eel Pie Island Hotel. While the commune establishes itself in the Hotel proper, the old ballroom still manages to see appearances from acts such as Mott The Hoople, Genesis, Taste, Free, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and a pre-Queen Brian May with his band Smile. Quintessence may have been the last performers before the venue closes for good, and goes out literally in a blaze of glory

January 1970

Fri. Jan 23rd – Eire Apparent

These were Belfast Boys who must have thought that they’d cracked it, having their only LP produced by Jimi Hendrix, and also including him playing on it: unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way

Sat. Jan 24thVan Der Graaf Generator

Van Der Graaf Generator were a darker progressive band than most, but typified a prevalence of musically intricate, but commercially unsuccessful outfits at this time. The number of different line-ups is impossible to detail here, but the constant Peter Hammill has consistently been quoted as an influence on all sorts of folk

February 1970

Fri. Feb 13thMighty Baby (from Melody Maker via Clive Whichelow)

Sat. Feb 14th Principal Edwards Magic Theatre (fromhttp://s335571041.websitehome.co.uk/Pe/site/gigs70.asp )

It was probably the most crowded the stage had been in years for this 14-strong performance art collective

March 1970

Tue. Mar 3rdLittle Free Rock (from http://www.illingworth70.freeserve.co.uk/lfr_giglist.htm )

April 1970

Fri. Apr 3rdEasy Leaf

Fri. Apr 3rdLittle Free Rock

Sat. Apr 4thWhite Lightning

Sat. Apr 4thMott The Hoople (£115 as per Caldwell Smythe)

This is Mott when they were a jobbing rock band, years before Bowie gifted them a lifeline. According to Caldwell Smythe, the place was totally packed out for this one

Fri. Apr 10thGenesis

Fri. Apr 10thJan Dukes De Grey

Differing fortunes for tonight’s double bill: while everyone knows about Jan Dukes De Grey and their 1971 opus “Mice and Rats in the Loft”, whatever happened to Genesis? Seriously though, Jan Dukes De Grey were bonkers enough to insist that they needed to be seated, cross-legged in a meditation tent in order to be recorded properly, a whim which producer David Hitchcock indulged them, though not to any discernible difference to his ears, whereas, of course, anyone who witnessed Peter Gabriel’s increasingly unhinged stage outfits in his latter Genesis days may have been inclined to think he was just as bonkers. Whatever, this looks to have been a very early Genesis gig, coming off the back of a residency at Ronnie Scott’s, after they’d honed their act in a three month tour of the nation’s colleges, including a couple of appearances at nearby Twickenham Tech in Egerton Road (the poster for tonight states they were appearing “By Demand”, indicating an earlier – date unspecified – gig on the Island back in December had gone down well). They got £5 for the Island gig (though Caldwell Smythe disputes this, stating that all support bands got no more than £3 an appearance, as he was being offered money by bands’ managers to put them on), and £50 for the college one. Either way, you can see where the money was in those days. Four months after tonight, local lad Phil Collins would join Genesis on drums

Sat. Apr 11thCracious [sic]

I assume this is meant to be Gracious!, whose exclamation mark was added into their name when their first album cover was being designed this year

Sat. Apr 11thEast Of Eden

Fri. Apr 17thWhite Lightning

Fri. Apr 17thTaste

Rory Gallagher brings his Irish blues-rock trio to town, and though they would split up shortly after the Isle of Wight Festival in August – where this scribe witnessed them come back for at least five encores – Rory forged a respected career for years after

Sat. Apr 18thStray

Stray had the dubious distinction of being managed by one Charlie Kray at some point, but guitarist Del Bromham holds the distinction of being one of very few musicians to have played on the Island, as well as the present-day Eel Pie Club, as he does regularly with his Blues Devils

Fri. Apr 24thSmile

An early outing for Brian May and his homemade guitar before global superstardom some years later

Fri. Apr 24thClimax Chicago Blues Band (£125 as per Caldwell Smythe)

Coming out of the blues-fuelled boom of the late 60s, Peter Haycock and Colin Cooper touted their Climax Chicago act around for years before finally landing a hit in 1977 with “Couldn’t Get It Right”. Following innumerable line-up changes and at least a score of albums recorded, there is still an outfit treading the boards under the name

Sat. Apr 25thShades

May 1970

Fri. May 1stPrincipal Edwards Magic Theatre (from http://s335571041.websitehome.co.uk/Pe/site/gigs70.asp )

Sat. May 2ndEast Of Eden (from http://www.digitdesign.macmate.me/eastofedentheband/GIGS.html )

Fri. May 8thLittle Free Rock  (from http://www.illingworth70.freeserve.co.uk/lfr_giglist.htm )

Fri. May 15thTiny Clanger (from advert)

Fri. May 15thBlack Sabbath  (£250 as per Caldwell Smythe)

(from http://www.setlist.fm/venue/eel-pie-island-hotel-london-england-63d6d667.html)

A matter of weeks after tonight, Black Sabbath went into the studio and dashed off “Paranoid” in about 20 minutes flat, as an afterthought for their new album, and look what happened after that. According to Caldwell Smythe, there was a good crowd present for this

Sat. May 16thNemesis (from advert)

Sat. May 16thShy Limbs (from advert)

Shy Limbs had featured Greg Lake in their line-up, but he’d departed a year or so earlier for King Crimson

Fri. May 22ndWriting On The Wall (from http://www.writingonthewallband.co.uk/gigs.html )

Willy Finlayson came south from Scotland with Writing On The Wall, and has been hereabouts ever since

June 1970

Fri. Jun 5thMetropolitan Grease Force

Fri. Jun 5thAlma Mater

Fri. Jun 5thWild Angels

These were a retro rock’n’roll outfit, harking back to the 50s, perhaps obviously. The year before, they’d backed Gene Vincent on his comeback tour

Sat. Jun 6thGinger Johnson’s African Drummers

If you’ve ever seen “The Stones In The Park” film, the drummers that came on stage during “Sympathy For The Devil” were this lot. A noted Nigerian percussionist, Ginger Johnson also played with all manner of Eel Pie alumni, including Georgie Fame, Brian Auger, Long John Baldry, Graham Bond, Hawkwind, and even Genesis apparently. His own band was actually called His African Messengers

Sat. Jun 6thLittle Free Rock

Sat. Jun 6thEdgar Broughton (£150 as per Caldwell Smythe)

This bunch of hairy underground merchants had unbelievably charted with their rallying cry, albeit at #31, “Out Demons Out”. According to Caldwell Smythe, again a good crowd was in evidence for this

Fri. Jun 12thBlack Velvet

Black Velvet evolved out of The Coloured Raisins, who had appeared on the Island back in 1966. However, as Black Velvet, they had a great single out round about now, “African Velvet”, which I heard a lot at the time, but have only ever since heard it once, on Greater London Radio when that was around. Only recently has the song surfaced on YouTube

Fri. Jun 12thThunderzone

Apparently these are White Lightning who appeared here back in April, following a name-change. Not only that, but it is also Caldwell Smythe’s band, and apparently Chris Blackwell of Island records fame came to see them, and promptly offered a three LP deal, as well as a spot down the bill for a US tour, all of which was scuppered by the band’s (unnamed) “ego-tripping lead guitarist, and his idiotic Harley Street doctor / employer / advisor”: obviously went down well with Caldwell

Fri. Jun 12thDeep Purple (£325 as per Caldwell Smythe)

Ritchie Blackmore and chums are only two months away from their huge “Black Night” hit, and tonight represents a return to Eel Pie Island for keyboard wiz, Jon Lord, last seen here with The Artwoods. Unless there was an earlier date by Deep Purple, it would be this one that Caldwell Smythe reckons he lost heavily, given the payout: poorly attended?

Sat. Jun 13thJunction

Sat. Jun 13thSemper Vivum

Sat. Jun 13thGypsy

At the end of the following year, this scribe witnessed Gypsy at a John Peel In Concert recording: out of Leicester, I concluded that they were decent enough guitar-led outfit, with some good, tight vocal harmonies, not a million miles away from CSN

Fri. Jun 19thRapture

Fri. Jun 19thFree

I can only imagine the place is rammed for this one: “All Right Now” was at this point heading up the charts for the first time. Well, it would have been, had they appeared, but for precisely that reason, Free pulled out of tonight’s gig, presumably having larger fish to fry. While that is from Alan Winter’s personal testimony, and he did share a place with Simon Kirke, then again, John Marks recalls seeing Free twice at the island, the first time for 2/6 (or 12 and ½ pence in new money) but that the entry was ramped up by Caldwell Smythe for this one because of their chart success, causing consternation to Paul Kossoff, as Free were not getting paid any more. Caldwell Smythe further muddies the waters by confirming that Free did not show for this one tonight, though he did pay them £250 on another occasion when it was packed out

Sat. Jun 20thBone

Sat. Jun 20th – Steve Miller Delivery [sic]

Steve Miller’s Delivery, as they should have been billed, contained a number of musicians associated with the ‘Canterbury Scene’, also including saxophonist Lol Coxhill, and Miller himself appeared in a later line-up of Caravan, having, interestingly, guested on yesterday’s (scheduled) headliners Free’s debut, “Tons Of Sobs” in 1969

Fri. Jun 26thTiny Clanger

Fri. Jun 26thThe Amazing “Shades” (£30 as per Caldwell Smythe)

Amazingly, Shades have become just that, and acquired additional quotes around their name since April. Then again, as they were good buddies with Caldwell Smythe, who gave them regular gigs on the Island, I guess that would help to elevate their status

Sat. Jun 27thBlood Son

Sat. Jun 27thEast Of Eden

This was a busy night according to Caldwell Smythe, though as they had three dates here in just over two months, it’s not certain whether his comments apply to tonight: maybe all of them?

August 1970

Fri. Aug 7thNational Head Band

National Head Band include Lee Kerslake on drums, who had played in The Gods with Mick Taylor, but who would later pitch up in Uriah Heep

Fri. Aug 7thNoir

Sat. Aug 8thGinhouse

This lot won the 1970 Melody Maker Talent Contest: much good it seems to have done them

Sat. Aug 8thStackridge

Stackridge originally had a bassist known as Jim ‘Crun’ Walter, which was particularly apposite as the the original little old ladies collecting the bridge toll were inevitably referred to as ‘Min’ and ‘Henry’, as in “Crun”, as in the Goons’ characters. I recall Stackridge betraying a degree of levity not particularly prevalent in those prog-oriented years, and while ‘Crun’ went off bricklaying for a while, he’s since returned, and there was a Stackridge reunion in 2017. A month after tonight, Stackridge opened (and also closed, but not at the same time) the very first Glastonbury Festival

Sat. Aug 15thFusion Orchestra (from www.fusionorchestra.com/history.html )

Fri. Aug 21stMaya

Fri. Aug 21stTiny Clanger

Sat. Aug 22ndThe Few

Entries for both Aug 21st and Aug 22nd supplied by Clive Whichelow from his huge collection of back copies of Melody Maker. Oh, and he was a member of The Few

Sat. Aug 22ndAfrican Drummers

This is all that’s shown on the Melody Maker ad, but assume these to be Ginger Johnson’s outfit as described in the entry for June 6th

Sat. Aug 22ndLittle Free Rock

Led by Peter Illingworth from Preston, this ‘psychedelic hard rock’ trio were originally called Purple Haze, changing their name for obvious reasons. They played regularly at both The Roundhouse and The Marquee Club, and for a while featured Peter Green within their ranks

October 1970

Fri. Oct 30thLittle Free Rock (from http://www.illingworth70.freeserve.co.uk/lfr_giglist.htm )

November 1970

Sat. Nov 14thFusion Orchestra (from www.fusionorchestra.com/history.html )

Following auditions for a front man on vocals, the impressive Jill Saward was recruited, and tonight was only her second gig with Fusion Orchestra. She would later achieve chart success with Shakatak

Sat. Nov 21stQuintessence (from http://www.mooncowhq.ch/Quintessence/chronology.html )

Indian trance and Eastern mantras land on the Island, direct from Notting Hill Gate

=========This is the last documented gig performed on Eel Pie Island=============

As I point out, perhaps obviously, there are a number of gaps in this roll-call, and certainly the presence of a contract for an artist for a given date is no guarantee the date was fulfilled, though it seems that Arthur Chisnall was fairly rigorous in updating contracts to reflect such changes, and of course, the same principle applies to poster-driven information. Naturally, if anyone out there can help fill in some of the blanks, please do not hesitate to get in touch, through the Contact page on this site.

Pete Watt

Music Historian

Eel Pie Island Museum


Postscript: Various folk have got in touch since this Roll-Call was first compiled, giving us personal reminiscences, but invariably, they hadn’t been as much of an anorak as I have been, in meticulously recording when they occurred. Nevertheless, Simon Fallon remembers The Bee Gees, and them performing “New York Mining Disaster 1941”, and David Mansell remembers playing on the island with The Shades Of Blue, as support to John Mayall, and that it was the night the film crew from Berlin were in evidence, and as Mayall was so late, the crew filmed The Shades instead: I’d love to get a fix on that date! George Hill got in touch to tell us of his band, The Charge, who played as support for, amongst others, Pink Floyd, The Artwoods and The Herd: The Charge also featured a young Phil Collins on drums for a while. Other names which have been mentioned include Stubby Kaye, Buck Clayton, George Chisholm, The Dutch Swing College (!), Muddy Waters, Zoot Money and his Big Roll Band, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, The Grebbels, The Overlanders, Sour Milk Sea and Third Ear Band. Additionally, since we opened a pop-up Eel Pie Island Museum at Twickenham Library in June 2015, visitors have included someone whose name I didn’t catch who played in The Sugarshacks, supporting The Downliners Sect; Jon Papworth, whose The Stumble racked up 28 weeks as a support band in 1968, backing the likes of the Nice, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera; Adrian Hawkins, whose band Horse played in 1970, previewing their album “For Twisted Minds Only” (which coincidentally was re-released in 2016). Trevor visited the Museum, telling tales of managing an outfit called Them: unfortunately an Irishman over in Belfast had the same idea, and fared rather better, so this Them became Themselves. As usual, none of the aforementioned can supply dates, so they get an honourable mention here instead! John Marks remembers Peter Green doing a farewell gig for the commune (1970?), outside the hotel, with Hell’s Angels in attendance as the obligatory security, with them peppering skinheads’ scooters across the reach on the Ham side with powerful catapults.

In December 2016, Caldwell Smythe got in touch, and while he was unable to provide dates, he did submit a list of bands he remembered, together with amounts paid (in some cases). A number of these are already detailed in the Roll-Call, but additionally Caldwell cites Atomic Rooster (£150), Caravan, Keef Hartley Band, Junior’s Eyes, The Idle Race, Juicy Lucy, Love Sculpture, Rare Bird, The Strawbs, Uriah Heep (very busy), Tuesday’s Children, Yes (£125, and packed out), Spooky Tooth (£175 and a good crowd), and Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation (£175 and busy). 60s survivors from the early days, The Nashville Teens are also mentioned in dispatches. Further appearances by bands who played during the Chisnall era, such as Family, Fairport Convention (£200 and very busy), and Savoy Brown Blues Band (£125) are mentioned as well as a busy night when John Peel brought his record collection along.

Subsequently, in 2017, Neil O’Reilly got in touch, recalling playing on the Island early in 1965, drumming for an outfit called the Westsiders, and Music Heritage UK put out an interview with Dave Brock, wherein he recalls playing with his band the Dharma Blues Band during jazz bands’ intervals on a Saturday, long before his Hawkwind outfit appeared. Mark Pickthall remembers The Pink Fairies “playing on the lawn” in 1970, which sounds like it could be linked to the Peter Green outdoor gig, not unsurprisingly, given The Fairies’ tendencies towards free / underground gigs.

The Eel Pie Island Museum finally opened in more permanent premises in February 2018, so I can add The Target, who were Wilson Pickett’s backing band when he toured over here. Tim Boulting remembers seeing Genesis supporting Free, with stages set up at either end of the ballroom, easing the changeover, I guess. No date for that one, but it does tie in with Caldwell Smythe’s info that suggests that bill did take place: perhaps the December 1969 gig noted in the April 10th 1970 Genesis gig.

Christopher Hjort requested info on The Muskrats, a short-lived blues outfit consisting of Peter Green (on bass!), Dave Bidwell (later Savoy Brown and Chicken Shack) on drums, and Roger Pearce (later John Dummer Blues Band) on guitar. They only lasted between February and September 1965 but both Roger and Peter are adamant they played a support gig on the Island. Catherine Lang has answered a shout-out on the fact, and has confirmed they did play.

Gillian contacted us, recalling seeing Son House at Eel Pie. She remembers it was a “lovely hot evening”, and she was standing behind Eric Clapton. This would have been June or July 1970, which is when he toured Europe (he had toured in October 1967, but that would have been after Chisnall had closed the original Eelpiland club).

A lady visiting the Museum in June 2019 remembers seeing Little Stevie Wonder as a support act! This would have been in ‘63/64, but unfortunately, she couldn’t recall who it was he supported.

Naturally, if anyone out there can help fill in some of the blanks, please do not hesitate to get in touch, through either our Facebook page (Eel Pie Island Museum) or through this site.

Keep them coming, folks!

Pete Watt

Music Historian

Eel Pie Island Museum


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