‘Suburban Steps to Rockland’

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‘Suburban Steps to Rockland’

Postby (hamilton_square) » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:31 am

New documentary about the 'cradle' of British R&B

BBC website companion article at …


Once a rural village in the county of Middlesex and 8 miles to the west of London’s Charing Cross, it wasn’t until the coming of the railway that Ealing began to flourish as growing suburb of London. For film fans the name and reputation of Ealing Studios is still well-known to this day. The studio’s location on Ealing Green having been in the continuous business of producing films of one form or another since 1902 - even a pair of World Wars couldn’t stop filming.

Ealing also has another claim-to-fame as the cradle of the British R&B movement of the early 1960s. Which was in large due to the establishment following World War II of Ealing Technical College & School of Art on St Mary’s Road of the borough. The story goes that the British Blues pairing of singer-guitarist Alexis Corner and virtuoso harmonica player Cyril Davies, who were the nucleus of the band Blues Incorporated, were ejected from their previous residency at the Roundhouse Pub on Wardour Street in London’s Soho for ditching acoustic to go electric.

As some of the audience who attended Blues Incorporated gigs at the Roundhouse Pub were students at Ealing Technical College. The band were eventually persuaded to move residency to the Ealing Jazz Club, as it was then known, located in a tiny basement down a narrow alley connecting the main thoroughfare of Ealing Broadway and Haven Place. The club having opened in January 1959 in order to cash in on the revivalist trad-jazz and skiffle boom that was sweeping Britain during the late 1950s. While the club could only take a maximum of 200 at a squeeze and was somewhat out-in-the-sticks of Central London, the apparent clincher for the band to make the move was the close proximity of the Ealing Broadway Underground station and the less than a mile walking distance from a major chunk of their target audience at the college.

Opening on 7th April 1962 word soon went round and people started showing up like Mike Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Charlie Watt, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Eric Clapton, Graham Bond, Long John Baldry, Road Stewart, Paul Jones, Manfred Man, Mile Hugg soon followed by Ray Davies, Pete Townsend, Roger Daltry and Eric Burdon. Indeed, Eric Burdon was known to hitchhike the 300 miles from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to hang-out at the club on the chance of being asked up to sing a couple of numbers.

So much was the growing popularity of Blues Incorporated, and their style of electric blues, the band was booked in July 1962 to do a spot on BBC Radio’s Jazz Club. A recording of that gig survives and is posted on You Tube …

The line-up that night (which was always fluid) was …
Alexis Korner - Guitar, Vocals
Cyril Davies - Harmonica, Vocals
Dick Heckstall-Smith - Saxophone
Dave Stevens- Piano
Jack Bruce - Bass
Charlie Watts – Drums

Introductions by Humphrey Lyttelton
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