Monday, June 11, 2007

 

Peel Sessions 57

A little story. As I have previously mentioned I was born in Forest Gate in London's East End, and I lived there until I was 14 years old. My early child memories are very vague and tend to be limited to events that my parents or other adults talked to me about or events for which there exists visual proof. As I got older and changed schools I began to have more freedom and was allowed to wander off to school on my own, this would I am ashamed to report not always mean that I made my way to school for the allotted time as for a young lad even a suburban high street is a place of adventure. Forest Gate has two major roads, Woodgrange road and Romford road that meet to form a T junction. At this point was the main post office, telephone exchange and a large furniture store above which was situated the Uppercut club, a place that intrigued us as it smelt of forbidden fruit. We had heard, probably from our our parent, that this was not a nice place where nasty people went, it was in fact nothing else than a nightclub but back in 60's England to good hardworking folk going out and partying at night was a sin. At the time I was not aware of the significance of the club it was only many years later that I learnt that for a few years in the mid 60's it was an important venue on the club circuit hosting gigs by The Who and Otis Redding amongst others. The venue's real claim to fame dates back to December, 26 1966 when a certain Jimi Hendix was playing there. Legend has it that someone offered him some purple hearts, an amphetamine based pill much in vogue with mods at this period. It was while under the influence, backstage at the Uppercut club Hendix composed what was to become 'Purple Haze'. December 1966, I had recently celebrated my 6th birthday, so I guess mere yards away from this historic event I was well tucked up in bed and dreaming, excuse me while I kiss the sky indeed! I never got to set foot in the venue which If my memory serves me well became a well known reggae club before being destroyed in a fire.
During the early years of Radio One John Peel was the presenter of the Top gear programme, Hendix laid down tracks for two sessions for the show, October and December 1967. As a musician it goes without saying that Hendrix was extremely inventive and took enormous pleasure in his often improvised reinterpretations of other peoples songs. From the first session we find this good humoured romp through the 'Radio One Theme' along with a wink to his contemporaries the Beatles as he beefs up 'Daytriper' in this rough and ready version. Two months later they were back and seemingly enjoying themselves as they ripped through the 50's standard 'Hound Dog' given an almost surreal feel with halfhearted yelps.

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