How Did I first come
In the early 70s
about 71 I think, I left teachers training college to enter the world of
showbiz as an agent booking out bands for the Terry King Organisation
for the extortionate amount of £18 a week.
I got this break as
I had been a Social Secretary at Ewell Tech in Surrey so had come into
contact with the great and good of the then blossoming live music arena.
Its hard to imagine nowadays how small this so called industry was at
this time most centered around walking distance to the Marquee Club and Soho.
When I started my
first days task, I was given the booking sheets for a number of acts and
given a National Union of Students Book and told to fill them up. I had
an interesting collection of bands The Fortunes, the Foundations,
Caravan of whom I loved and some new acts from the Charisma label
which had just been set up by Tony Stratton Smith.
Tony was a brilliant
man who, from being a writer and journalist and manager, started Charisma
Records. A label with incredible collection of artistes from Gary
Shearston, Lindisfarne, Van der Graaf Generator, Sir John Betjeman, Monty
Python, Atacama, JoBurg Hawk, Capability Brown and of course Genesis.
It was Genesis who
got me interested in Friars first of all. They were going out for about
£30 a night in some cases around the country and were being funded by the
label but they had two really strong areas of interest Guildford/Godalming
(The Angel) and Aylesbury/Dunstable. All us bookers used to fight to
speak to the promoters and Social Secs who might want to use our artistes
or services. As the young agent I was last in line for incoming calls and
enquiries. I dont know though how David Stopps and I first came into
contact was it on the phone at a gig or in the Marquee (he will remember
I am sure!!) but we started talking and I made my first few visits to
Friars and got to know the various luminaries who made the Old Hall click.
Over time and visits, David had Genesis many times Friars becoming
their spiritual home and from where they went on to conquer the world.
We didnt really know what marketing was in those days but what we did
know is if a band went down well at Friars you knew they were on the
ladder to success.
It was a most fought
over venue to play (and not because of the money!) - the bands loved it
and it was always a great place to get a review in one of the Music
Over the years I
had many artistes play the club both the Old Hall and then the newer
hall Genesis, Lindisfarne, Van der Graaf, Capability Brown, Atacarma,
Caravan, The Kursaal Flyers (who I later managed), Chilli Willi, Kilburn
and the High Roads, String Driven Thing, Kokomo, Joburg Hawk, Phil Collins
solo (need to check some of these am sure they did but cant remember
David and I became
good friends and some years later when he decided to go into the world of
management - it was my pleasure to sign Howard Jones who almost joined
Stiff believe it or not but as I was at the time going to Warners, came
with me to WEA and the rest is history.
Long live Friars
it was one if not the most important venue to start building an audience
for a band and many a combo built its initial fan base from its
appearances at the club. The great spot was the support slot because the
crowd were always attentive, knowledgeable and always up for a new act.