How city played its part in pop history

JPNS-13-12-11 AGENDA REP: CO  CAPTION: Long John Baldry at the Railway Hotel, Fratton.
JPNS-13-12-11 AGENDA REP: CO CAPTION: Long John Baldry at the Railway Hotel, Fratton.
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Now here’s a name from the past – Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men. Remember them?

They were a rhythm and blues band in the mid-1960s and, thanks to a gig in Portsmouth, accidentally launched one of the biggest names in pop history.

At Christmas 1964 the band was booked for the Rendezvous Club, then gathering in the Oddfellows Hall in Kingston Road. It had been a jazz club, but as interest in that genre waned, it began to specialise in R&B.

But Baldry failed to show and his second vocalist was thrust into the limelight for what is believed to be his first solo spot. His name? Rod Stewart.

It’s one of the fascinating stories contained in a new book by Dave Allen and Mick Cooper called Pompey Pop Pix – an illustrated history of pop music in Portsmouth in the 1950s and 60s.

It records that Stewart obviously fell under Portsmouth’s spell for he spent some of his beatnik years here, as pictures from the book show.

It also charts the rise of the only group comprising members entirely from the Portsmouth area to have a top 10 hit – Simon Dupree and the Big Sound (Kites reached number nine in 1967).

And there are a couple of wonderful colour snaps of the band on tour in Scotland in 1967 minus their regular keyboard player Eric Hine. He was ill and they were joined by a chap called Reg Dwight who later achieved some success as...Elton John.

Dave Allen said: ‘Portsmouth has no central place in the history of popular music but almost all the big names of the 1950s and 1960s visited.

‘There were many opportunities for local musicians from the 1950s dance bands and variety shows through skiffle, the rock & roll revolution, beat groups, the folk boom, jazz, rhythm & blues and rock bands.’

And what about this for a gig at the Guildhall. Among the book’s 300-plus pictures is this poster: November 22, 1967 at 6.30pm and 8.50pm – The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Move, The Pink Floyd, Amen Corner, The Nice plus two support bands. All that for a top ticket price of 15 bob (75p).

Pompey Pop Pix, published by Moyhill at £14.95, is available from the News Centre at Hilsea, plus branch offices at:

88 West Street Fareham

4 Lake Road, Portsmouth

42 High Street, Gosport

7 West Street, Havant.

You can also order online at newsportsmouth.co.uk. Just follow the instructions (postage and packing rates apply), or by calling (023) 9262 2207.