IT WAS 50 years since The Beatles first played the Ed Sullivan Show, and 50 years since the Marquee Club shaped and changed the course of my life.
It was there I made life-long friends, saved sweethearts and survived fights. It was there I went from complete obscurity to learning the tools of my trade from the musical masters of our time.
The Marquee was the jewel of the London clubs. All the musicians wanted to play there. It was a jazz club until the brilliant, groundbreaking management of John Gee, who guided its metamorphosis into the seminal rock and roll/rhythm and blues club whose influence is still relevant today.
I have a first, stomach-turning memory of playing the Marquee with my band The Cheynes. We had no following and it was a miracle to have been asked to back the legendary blues star Sonny Boy Williamson. This giant of a man played a tiny harmonica and dressed in the coolest suits, all mismatched fabrics in wild designs. We had studied his albums and learned his every note by heart to prepare for this honour. Continue reading