Friday, November 8, 2013

Colin Richardson Interview Part 3 (The Marquee Club 1964-65)

06/16/2009 Colin Richardson's Typepad

Colin Richardson Interview Pt 3 The Marquee Club 1964-65

Colin Richardson worked as a Night manager at The Marquee Club between Autumn 1964 until
early 1965, under the supervision of Harold Pendleton and John Gee. How did that come about? And what was your role?

My route into the Marquee was through the National Jazz Federation, which was set up by Harold and Barbara Pendleton, who were both jazz enthusiasts, mainly to act as an agency for Chris Barber and other 'trad' bands and to run the Marquee Club (at that time in Oxford Street). Later they founded the Reading Jazz and Blues Festival, which in those days, was exactly that...jazz and blues. They had a tiny office just off (I think) Dean Street, where Chris's sister Audrey also worked. I met them through my involvement with the "Jazzhouse" and the New Jazz Orchestra, which was runner-up at the 1964 festival's newcomers competition. Some time later, they asked if I would like to be a 'night manager' at the Marquee. Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

Harold and Barbara worked mostly at the NJF offices, a short walk away in Dean Street, which were quite modest, just 2 or 3 rooms over (I think) a restaurant.That's where they ran the admin, booked the bands etc. I didn't see them at the club much, though they would sometimes show up on Humph's night. (Humphrey Lyttelton Band). I ran the Monday night session with Long John Baldry and the Steampacket, as well as Wednesdays, which featured the Humphrey Lyttelton Band.

The atmosphere in the club was always pretty good, whatever the size of audience, though it could get very hot and sweaty when it was full. As 'night manager', I had to oversee the whole evening, ensure the box office was set up, cash float, etc... check that the band was ready to go on at the right time, cash up at the close, pay the bands, etc... Lock up and go home. Everything except the catering.

The bands were nearly always booked by John Gee, the club manager or through the office, in the case of American visiting musicians. Some of the artists could be quite difficult. I frequently had problems on the Monday night, when Long John Baldry and the Steampacket played. Baldry and Rod Stewart always seemed to end up arguing over the money and sometimes the keyboard player Reg Dwight, later to re-invent himself as Elton John, would also get involved. I often had to practically throw them out, so I could catch my last train. Never had problems with Humph's band, who all behaved like the professionals they were.

The Marquee was an extremely important step on the way to my music biz career. I made some very
influential contacts, which I sustained over the next years or so. It provided me with excellent experience in dealing with bands etc.... plus it meant I could pretty much always get my bands on there when I wanted. As they say... it's who you know, as much as what you know! Remember, Harold, Barbara and John also ran the Reading Festival at that time, so my relationship with them paid big dividends later on. Though I only worked there a few months... it certainly played a big part in my getting into the music biz.

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