photo by Phil Bird from www.eelpie.org/music01.htm

Sundays were different then…

Few cars. Shops closed. Empty streets. No movement. Silence broken only by church bells. To make matters worse – on Sunday 14th April 1963 it was raining too!

At ABC Studios in Teddington the Beatles are recording an insert for “Thank your Lucky Stars”. They are miming to their third release “From Me to You”. Their last record “Please Please Me” had gone to No. 2 in the charts. Although it will be seven months before we hear the term “Beatlemania” the word is out. The Beatles are ‘hot’!

As the Beatles rehearse in Teddington a young rhythm and blues band, formed only 10 months earlier, are setting up for an afternoon session at Ken Colyer’s Jazz Club in Soho. It is the start of a busy day for them. Later that evening they will travel out to Richmond to play at a club called the Crawdaddy recently opened at the Railway Hotel. It is run by a young Russian emigre and film maker, Giorgio Gomelsky. Mick, Charlie, Keith, Bill, Brian and Ian are looking forward to that. When they first played at the Crawdaddy two months ago there were only 50 kids in the audience. Last Sunday there were 320! Suddenly rhythm and blues is no longer the music of traddies, jazzers and weirdy beardies. Over the last few months it has caught the fancy of young, trendy, discriminating teenagers.

Giorgio Gromelsky is a chancer. Knowing that the Beatles are at the studios in Teddington he drives down in the hope they will allow him to make a documentary about them. Their manager, Brian Epstein, already dreaming about the Beatles and Hollywood, gently turns him down. Undismayed Giorgio invites the band to stop in at the Crawdaddy on their way back to London. There is a “full-bodied R&B band” that he wants them to see. He tells the boys that the Crawdaddy, like the Cavern in Liverpool, has become a linchpin in the rapidly changing music, fashion and style scene. Only the day before, Saturday 13th April 1963, journalist Barry May had written in the ‘Richmond and Twickenham Times’…

A musical magnet is drawing the jazz Beatniks …to a new mecca in Richmond. The attraction is the Crawdaddy Rhythm and Blues Club at the Station Hotel… Save for the swaying forms of the group on the spotlit stage, the room is in darkness. A patch of light from the entrance doors catches the swaying dancers and those who have slumped to the floor. The combo they writhe and twist to is called “the Rolling Stones” – maybe you’ve never heard of them…

Not yet, Barry.

At 7.00pm that evening the doors of the Station Hotel open. After a long wet Sunday of nothing to do there is a lengthening queue outside. Among the crowd of ravers who flood in are four young men in identical black leather coats. The Beatles have come to see the band we’ve never heard of, the Rolling Stones. Giorgio takes them to a prime spot near the stage

“It was a real rave”, said George Harrison afterwards. “The audience shouted and screamed and danced on tables. The beat the Stones laid down was so solid: it shook off the walls and seemed to move right inside your head. A great sound.”

In the interval they all meet up in the bar and after the gig John, Paul, George and Ringo, soon to become the greatest pop group in the history of the world, go back to the Stones’ seedy flat at 102 Edith Grove, SW10. They sit around talking and listening to music surrounded by unwashed cups, spilling ashtrays and dirty laundry. Brian Jones, guitarist with the Stones, asks for an autographed picture that he sticks on the wall. “I don’t know what you’ve got that up there for” says Ian, the pianist, deeply unimpressed.

At 4.00am in the morning John, Paul, George and Ringo go home to bed. All the Stones have to look forward to is work.

Let’s jump forward to Friday September 10th 1963: John Lennon and Paul McCartney are in the Charing Cross Road on their way back from a Variety Club lunch when they bump into the Rolling Stones’ new manager, Andrew Oldham. Later he said that their conversation went like this..

JOHN AND PAUL

‘Ello Andy. You’re looking unhappy. What’s the matter?

ANDREW OLDHAM

Oh, I’m fed up. The Stones can’t find a song to record.

JOHN AND PAUL

Oh. We’ve got a song we’ve almost written. You can record that if you like!

Andrew Oldham takes the two Beatles to the studio where the Rolling Stones are rehearsing. Borrowing the Stones’ own guitars John and Paul play them their new song.

“I wanna be your lover, baby. I wanna be your man!”

The Stones are immediately taken by its bluesy feel and decide that they could soon “diddley it up”.

Now it’s Monday 7th October 1963. Having added bottleneck guitar the Rolling Stones record “I Wanna Be Your Man” written by Lennon and McCartney. It is released on 1st November and by the 14th November it reaches 12 in the Hit Parade. The Rolling Stones become stars.

Another Sunday – 24th Nov 1963. With their first chart hit under their belt the Stones are at the start of a nationwide tour. Tonight it is the Majestic Ballroom in Luton. Last night they recorded an insert for the ultra mod TV show “Ready Steady Go!”, miming to “I Wanna Be Your Man”. The following day the Kilburn Times reviews a recent Stones concert..

The Stones drew even a bigger crowd than the Beatles here. Is this an omen that they are soon to be crushed by the Stones?

In Richmond that Sunday 24th November 1963 the shops are still closed and there is still nothing to do. If you are prepared to wait until 4.30pm you could go and see “In the Cool of the Day” starring Peter Finch and Jane Fonda at the Gaumont.

In March 1965 the Crawdaddy Club, the home of rhythm and blues in Great Britain, closed its doors at the Railway Hotel forever. Since then the pub has been called “The Bull and Bush” and ‘Edwards’. Now it is painted a modish dark purple and called “The Bull”.

If you’re waiting for those shops to open on Sunday you’ve got a long wait ahead of you. That isn’t going to happen until 1994. As I said, Sundays were different then!

— from Martyn Day