Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas dinner with Noddy Holder and veterans of the Battle of Watford Gap

Went to an interesting Christmas lunch the other day. The venue was a pub overlooking the Thames at Barnes. Two long tables were set in an upstairs room, seating around fifty people, most of them men. Men in their sixties and seventies. All of them were either musicians or people who'd worked in music; journalists, managers, agents, PRs and the like.

The odd one had a stick or a hearing aid. There was a lot of talk about heath, which you rarely hear from the healthy.

"What's that thing that Pete Townshend's got?"



They took their places, some of them holding warm beverages in cups, indicating that their drinking years might be long behind them. There were two Slade, one Status Quo, one Searcher, two Family, one Manfred, an Argent, a Tornado and a Shadow. This last was Bruce Welch, current holder of Best Hair In Rock (own hair section).

There were also a load of journalists, enough to put out an entire issue of the Melody Maker from 1971. Old hacks like me and Philip Norman and Robin Denselow pointed excitedly at the elderly cove who turned out to be Norman Jopling, who used to interview the Beatles in Record Mirror, back in the days when it was the first colour music paper on the stands.

A toast was made to "those we have lost in the last year". When the waiters couldn't make themselves heard above the hubbub, Noddy Holder shouted the orders. "Beetroot salad!" he roared.

Beetroot salad was not much called for at the Blue Boar at Watford Gap back in the days these men made their bones. They were out there on the circuit before there was a circuit. It could be this that makes them stick together in their third age. Difficult to imagine subsequent generations of musicians doing the same thing.


  1. The circuit to which you refer is legendary; and I think I'm using legendary in its correct form. Hemel Hempstead Pavilion, Chequers Dunstable, Retford Porterhouse Liverpool Eric's, Middlesborough Rock Garden, Derby Kings Hall etc. And, and, of course, The Marquee in London when groups had made residency status. Now, I guess, bands pitch up at identikit hangars, sorry, Arenas, that have about as much soul as an airport departure lounge.

  2. I'm guessing the Lone Searcher was Frank Allen.