We were in search of an identity. The generation before us was into a music scene that included skiffle whereby improvised tea chests with a single chord would be used as a base instrument, an old washing board similar to a cheese grater would be used to add rhythm, and cheery youths would gaily sing along. The River Thames of London provided a pleasant environment to attract the young and restless towards impromptu social gatherings. Whilst having a Sunday walking outing with my family along the banks of the Thames, I remember seeing & hearing skiffle bands playing under bridge arches scanning the river. The ‘beat scene’ was another offering of our older brothers & sisters. Poems and clever intellectual talk seemed to be the order of the day.
My curiosity of the driving force behind my older sister’s generation got the better of me. I visited one of the new folk clubs that were springing up all over England. It was a large basement room in the north of London, not far from Swiss Cottage Station. I listened appreciatively to the many talented artists, and felt the best protection against being the youngest in the audience was to remain quiet. The folk scene had one important thing going for it, which is still evident today…it is about the folk…people. There were no dividing lines between the artist and the audience. We were all drawn in to sing lively choruses, and the feeling of closeness was comforting. Maybe there was something of over familiarity in these folk events that also drove individuals searching for less uniformity to explore other haunts?
In Studio 51 near Leicester Square underground station, the Rolling Stones were beginning to make their mark on a receptive younger generation. Their music was built around ‘blues’ that spoke of how bad things can get, totally opposite to the good social vibes of folk. Additionally, as the musicians explored cool guitar rifts and jazz oriented free form rhythms, the audience could only follow through a more intellectual process, although the emotional impact of the blues created its own solidarity.
This experience led to looking up to musicians as pilots taking over ones’ journey. It was a short step away from idol worship, of a pop status. Studio 51 was described as being the London equivalent of Liverpool’s Cavern Club, which was home to the Beatles. I guess that both these clubs served as a cooking pot to raise our temperature to boiling point. Our generation wanted to be manipulated, mistreated and dragged out of the conformity of ‘sing something simple’.
Yet at that time, man-child that I was, my escapades didn’t go much further than the safe family type environment of the folk scene. That would surely change.

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