Tuesday, October 03, 2006


20 Years Old Today

Everyone has their favorite concert hall or club, mine is situated in the South of France in the Town of Montpellier. My preference for this hall has two main reasons the first is that it is truly a great venue with lots of character and a long and varied history. The second is that by virtue of the fact that I worked there in different roles, it is between these walls that I have participated in more gigs than at any other venue, at a certain period I was averaging 6 gigs a week! And the name Le Rockstore, maybe you have heard of it maybe you have been there and it's not impossible that some of you have played there. It is situated next to the town's railway station and just a stones throw away from the main square, place de la Comedie at 20 rue de Verdun, you cannot miss it with the rear of a red Cadillac protruding from it's facade onto the bustling street.
The reason for today's post and those that will follow until 13 October is that Le Rockstore celebrates it's 20th birthday this year. There is a little argument over the exact date some say it was 2 October and others say it was the 4th, but what is important is that at the beginning of that month 1986 Level 42 were the first band to play this new venue. When I say new I mean new in name and more importantly under new direction of a team of people that love and understand music, Philippe Winling otherwise known as Fifi is the sole survivor from this period.
The origins of the building are a lot older, the oldest part dates from 12th century when it housed a monastery, through time the use changed slightly and by the 18th century, from which the facade dates, the building was a church. Interesting fact Napoleons father was buried here, though of course his remains have long since been relocated. The beginning of the 20th century saw the building housing a garage before being turned into a cinema. In 1978 under new direction it became the Grand Odeon, and was a discotheque that also doubled as a concert hall, this period saw acts such as The Tubes, Simple Minds, INXS and The B52s play there. Since it's transformation in 1986 Le Rockstore has become a pivotal part of Montpellier nightlife with it's night club open until the very early hours 7 days a week. These last 20 years have seen more than 3000 different concerts and probably more that the double that number in terms of bands that have trod it's hallowed stage. I am not going to run through a list of artists that have played there what I will say is that for this 1000 capacity hall some of the worlds best known and loved bands have played there as well as the numerous local bands that have been given a helping hand with a gig there. To celebrate the venue are organising two special week-ends the first of which is Friday 6 October when top local band Rinocerose supported by a reformed Otis Wood play there. The Following week end sees local legends OTH reforming for one night only, tickets for these events have been distributed free, for OTH you are already too late, they all went within an hour.
A little bit of music might just be in order, in 1992 John Campbell was a rising star who was tipped to take over from where Stevie Ray Vaughan had left off breaching the gap between blues and rock and so taking his music to a larger audience. We had the chance to witness his skills at Le Rockstore that year as he won over many friends with his powerful voice, fiery guitar playing and solid songs. Unfortunately he was not to fulfill this promise as by June the following year he was victim of a heart attack while sleeping. 'Wild Streak' and 'Devil In The Closet' are both taken from his second Elektra album 'Howling' Mercy'.
For the next 10 days we will be taking a trip down memories lane with stories from Le Rockstores colorful past. You have been warned!

Rockstore... effectivemnt, ce nom me dit quelque chose.

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