Words: Colin Franklin

Illustration: Justin Cook

 

Yes, it really happened! In fact, more than once & sometimes in the same venue! The man now widely regarded as the greatest guitarist to ever live played our county several times in his all too brief career.

 

Most young guitarists starting out will begin by trying to emulate whichever axe hero is the current hot-shot at the time.

I myself was no exception. Having started to play in my teens in the early 80’s, I was initially concerned with trying to play like Angus Young & Eddie Van Halen. However, it would not be long before I became obsessed with Jimi Hendrix.

Growing up in Essex I had heard stories of his legendary performances and the fact that he had once performed at the very same  venues I was starting to play such as Grays Civic Hall, was fascinating to me.

I discovered this in a book which listed every performance from the time Hendrix stepped foot in the UK to his untimely death just a few short years later. At the time, I was working for the local paper and had access to all the old leather bound archives. Sure enough , in the Thurrock & Rainham Gazette from February 1967 there was an advert for Jimi Hendrix at The Civic Hall, Grays.

I did not have to go far to hear about another of Hendrix’s other Essex performances.

 

I had joined the newspaper ‘house’ band and the drummer had actually witnessed Hendrix at The Cliffs Pavilion in Southend! His enduring memory of the event was of the roadies trying to stop Jimi’s Marshall stacks sliding down the sloped Cliffs Pavilion stage! This would be one of the few venues in his early days in the UK where audiences would leave with their hearing relatively intact. In those days amplifier distortion was not something that the manufacturers considered a desirable feature, so the only way to get it was to turn them up to ten! (Eleven was not yet an option or you can bet he would have used it!) Jimi was known to warn unsuspecting audiences in smaller clubs of the impending onslaught to their senses with a well meant but ultimately futile “Plug your ears, watch out for your ears!” Hendrix would often use at least three 100 watt Marshall stacks ‘daisy chained’ together to create an immense wall of sound that must have been terrifying for anyone in the front rows! Something that modern health & safety laws would never allow!

Words: Colin Franklin Illustration: Justin Cook I must confess when a friend of mine suggested venturing out on a freezing cold February night to The Esplanade in Southend, to see a band from Seatle I’d barely heard of I was less than enthusiastic. The history books say that their first album ‘Ten’ had been released late the previous year but I had not heard it, and neither had anyone else I knew. The single ‘Alive’ was the only thing I was familiar with and to be honest, I thought it sounded a bit ‘Doorsey’. However my friend convinced me they were going to be huge, and to be fair he had a pretty good nose for these things having gone on about Nirvana since seeing them support TAD and Mudhoney at The Astoria a few years previously. The Esplanade was the place to play if you were in a band, as there was a chance you might get to support someone relatively famous either on their way up or sliding back down the greasy pole of success. I was to find out later that a friend’s band had actually turned down this particular support slot, presumably on the assumption that no-one would want to come out on a freezing cold February night to see a barely known band from Seattle. An easy assumption to make I suppose! They could not have been more wrong as the Esplanade was absolutely rammed! I think they started turning people away not long after we got there as the venue held only a few hundred at most. Apart from ‘Alive’ the only song I recognized was ‘State Of Love And Trust’ as it was on the Temple Of The Dog album, a sort of grunge super group put together by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden as a tribute to his late flat mate Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. At one point I noticed Eddie Vedder trying to find a foothold to hang upside down, as I had seen him do in the video for Alive on ITV’s late night bastion of all things rock ‘Noisy Mothers’. Giving up on this as a bad idea, he then went for what was probably one of the first attempts at crowd surfing yet witnessed in Essex. To be honest I’m not sure Southend was quite ready for this as from my viewpoint it appeared as if he landed on the crowd, who instead of holding him aloft let him fall to the ground. Undeterred, he promptly hoisted himself back up and managed to successfully crowd surf the entire length of the venue, brushing past my hand as he did so. This felt decidedly soggy as I remember. The whole gig seemed to fly by and while I was unfamiliar with most of the songs, they seem to be playing them all at break neck speed. This fact was borne out when the BBC broadcasted a concert from Newcastle from a few days later and I was able to subsequently compare it to the album versions. Something we thought odd was when Vedder announced that they were to appear live on British TV the following evening, and was there anyone he should tell to fu*k off! Bearing in mind this was a Monday and British terrestrial TV was not exactly awash with quality music programming so we could have been forgiven for expressing a collective WTF? It was not till many months later when BBC2’s Late Show broadcast a compilation of ‘grunge’ bands entitled ‘No Nirvana’, sure enough there was Pearl Jam playing Alive. From the stage, Vedder announced that he planned to go skinny dipping after the show and while he may not have gone quite that far, he must have at least gone for a bit of a wander down the seafront as the next day he was spotted in London with a Keep Southend Tidy sticker stuck to the back of his jacket! Vedder also informed us that this was the first time the band had played outside the USA! After playing the single ‘Alive’ he inquired how many of us had been to America and asked us to imagine what it’s like to always want to come to a country and then find when you do, people know the words to your song. After operating as a successful music venue for many years, the owners decided to turn it in to a family pub. After which the team behind it moved a few hundred yards down the Seafront to Chinnerys. It was there that I recently sought out promoter Glyn Morgan as the only other eye witness that I know was there for sure, as he was on the sound desk that night. Incredibly enough there is a bootleg available online, just do a quick search for Pearl Jam, Southend. I’m afraid to say this was the first and last time I saw the band. Having been almost dragged there in the first place it turned out to be one of the most thrilling gigs I have ever witnessed, and to be honest the prospect of watching them in some massive arena or in the middle of a field would not have compared. Having bought the first three albums my interest in them diminished over years, but I can honestly say that the most recent album ‘Backspacer’ is as good as anything they have ever done. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to see them again, but it will never be in such an intimate setting as that February evening in Southend.

Words: Colin Franklin

Illustration: Justin Cook

 

The Iron Maiden 2010-2011 Final Frontier Tour consisted of 101 shows in 36 countries, across 5 continents to an estimated audience of over 2 million people and the journey all started in Southend-on-Sea!

 

So how do you get over 60 band and crew members and 12 tons of equipment from one side of earth to the other as quickly as possible? You fly of course, but unfortunately scheduled, airlines and Rock’n’Roll tour itineraries are not exactly compatible.

 

Solution? You use your own plane, a Boing 757 which with the help of the fans was named ‘Ed Force one’. The call sign? It’s number is 666.

 

The band have been using this method of transportation since singer Bruce Dickinson, himself a professional pilot first came up with the idea for their ‘Somewhere Back In Time Tour’ in 2008.

In between legs of the tour, the plane would occasionally go back in to commercial service with the Iron Maiden livery left on. Usually this would prove very popular with passengers and ground crew alike, apart from one trip to an unnamed African country. Captain Dickinson was quoted as saying: “Not only would local passengers refuse to board the plane because of the artwork, but other passengers were refusing to board planes of other airlines parked nearby in case they were tainted by the evil spirits!”

 

One example of passengers who would have been very pleased to see it would have been on the two rescue flights piloted by Dickinson sent to bring stranded XL customers home to the UK.

For the Final Frontier Tour the band used an upgraded Boing 757-200 (G-STRX) which had to be converted from standard commercial configuration to the bands requirements which meant converting most of the back end of the plane in to a cargo hold.

 

All of this work was carried out by ATC Lasham at Southend Airport, oddly enough the same airport where Dickinson gained his first job as a commercial pilot.

 

As well as the cargo conversion, the plane was thoroughly stripped down and serviced before being decorated with graphics supplied by  Air Livery Ltd to tie in with The Final Frontier album artwork, where Eddie is depicted as an inter galactic bounty hunter.

 

At time of going to print we had not heard of any plans for Ed Force one to make an appearance at this years Southend Air Festival but who knows, stranger things have happened!

 

Words: Colin Franklin

Illustration: Justin Cook

 

Anyone who has witnessed Canvey guitar legend Wilko Johnson live will be familiar with the menace in which he wields his Fender Telecaster. His manic stare suggesting that at any moment he could take your head off with it in a heart beat.

 

Well it seems someone in TV land must have thought the same thing as amazingly enough Wilko has recently appeared in HBO’s Game of Thrones, as an Executioner!

 

Against all the odds, Wilko seems to be dodging his own personal appointment with the executioner. Since being diagnosed in January 2013 with metastatic pancreatic cancer, and deciding not to receive any chemotherapy he defied the doctors prediction that he would not live to see the year out.

 

He received a very special honour recently when he was immortalised on a pub sign - one of his favourite local haunts, The Railway Hotel in Southend, where he can often be found jamming the night away with landlord Dave Dulake.

 

A full year after his diagnosis, Wilko recorded an album in collaboration with Roger Daltry due for release March 10th. The pair performed a very special one off show at The Shepherds Bush Empire on 25 February 2014.

 

 

GIG

guide

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who

to see in

essex

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beyond!

Words: Colin Franklin Illustration: Justin Cook I must confess when a friend of mine suggested venturing out on a freezing cold February night to The Esplanade in Southend, to see a band from Seatle I’d barely heard of I was less than enthusiastic. The history books say that their first album ‘Ten’ had been released late the previous year but I had not heard it, and neither had anyone else I knew. The single ‘Alive’ was the only thing I was familiar with and to be honest, I thought it sounded a bit ‘Doorsey’. However my friend convinced me they were going to be huge, and to be fair he had a pretty good nose for these things having gone on about Nirvana since seeing them support TAD and Mudhoney at The Astoria a few years previously. The Esplanade was the place to play if you were in a band, as there was a chance you might get to support someone relatively famous either on their way up or sliding back down the greasy pole of success. I was to find out later that a friend’s band had actually turned down this particular support slot, presumably on the assumption that no-one would want to come out on a freezing cold February night to see a barely known band from Seattle. An easy assumption to make I suppose! They could not have been more wrong as the Esplanade was absolutely rammed! I think they started turning people away not long after we got there as the venue held only a few hundred at most. Apart from ‘Alive’ the only song I recognized was ‘State Of Love And Trust’ as it was on the Temple Of The Dog album, a sort of grunge super group put together by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden as a tribute to his late flat mate Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. At one point I noticed Eddie Vedder trying to find a foothold to hang upside down, as I had seen him do in the video for Alive on ITV’s late night bastion of all things rock ‘Noisy Mothers’. Giving up on this as a bad idea, he then went for what was probably one of the first attempts at crowd surfing yet witnessed in Essex. To be honest I’m not sure Southend was quite ready for this as from my viewpoint it appeared as if he landed on the crowd, who instead of holding him aloft let him fall to the ground. Undeterred, he promptly hoisted himself back up and managed to successfully crowd surf the entire length of the venue, brushing past my hand as he did so. This felt decidedly soggy as I remember. The whole gig seemed to fly by and while I was unfamiliar with most of the songs, they seem to be playing them all at break neck speed. This fact was borne out when the BBC broadcasted a concert from Newcastle from a few days later and I was able to subsequently compare it to the album versions. Something we thought odd was when Vedder announced that they were to appear live on British TV the following evening, and was there anyone he should tell to fu*k off! Bearing in mind this was a Monday and British terrestrial TV was not exactly awash with quality music programming so we could have been forgiven for expressing a collective WTF? It was not till many months later when BBC2’s Late Show broadcast a compilation of ‘grunge’ bands entitled ‘No Nirvana’, sure enough there was Pearl Jam playing Alive. From the stage, Vedder announced that he planned to go skinny dipping after the show and while he may not have gone quite that far, he must have at least gone for a bit of a wander down the seafront as the next day he was spotted in London with a Keep Southend Tidy sticker stuck to the back of his jacket! Vedder also informed us that this was the first time the band had played outside the USA! After playing the single ‘Alive’ he inquired how many of us had been to America and asked us to imagine what it’s like to always want to come to a country and then find when you do, people know the words to your song. After operating as a successful music venue for many years, the owners decided to turn it in to a family pub. After which the team behind it moved a few hundred yards down the Seafront to Chinnerys. It was there that I recently sought out promoter Glyn Morgan as the only other eye witness that I know was there for sure, as he was on the sound desk that night. Incredibly enough there is a bootleg available online, just do a quick search for Pearl Jam, Southend. I’m afraid to say this was the first and last time I saw the band. Having been almost dragged there in the first place it turned out to be one of the most thrilling gigs I have ever witnessed, and to be honest the prospect of watching them in some massive arena or in the middle of a field would not have compared. Having bought the first three albums my interest in them diminished over years, but I can honestly say that the most recent album ‘Backspacer’ is as good as anything they have ever done. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to see them again, but it will never be in such an intimate setting as that February evening in Southend.
Words: Colin Franklin Illustration: Justin Cook I must confess when a friend of mine suggested venturing out on a freezing cold February night to The Esplanade in Southend, to see a band from Seatle I’d barely heard of I was less than enthusiastic. The history books say that their first album ‘Ten’ had been released late the previous year but I had not heard it, and neither had anyone else I knew. The single ‘Alive’ was the only thing I was familiar with and to be honest, I thought it sounded a bit ‘Doorsey’. However my friend convinced me they were going to be huge, and to be fair he had a pretty good nose for these things having gone on about Nirvana since seeing them support TAD and Mudhoney at The Astoria a few years previously. The Esplanade was the place to play if you were in a band, as there was a chance you might get to support someone relatively famous either on their way up or sliding back down the greasy pole of success. I was to find out later that a friend’s band had actually turned down this particular support slot, presumably on the assumption that no-one would want to come out on a freezing cold February night to see a barely known band from Seattle. An easy assumption to make I suppose! They could not have been more wrong as the Esplanade was absolutely rammed! I think they started turning people away not long after we got there as the venue held only a few hundred at most. Apart from ‘Alive’ the only song I recognized was ‘State Of Love And Trust’ as it was on the Temple Of The Dog album, a sort of grunge super group put together by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden as a tribute to his late flat mate Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone. At one point I noticed Eddie Vedder trying to find a foothold to hang upside down, as I had seen him do in the video for Alive on ITV’s late night bastion of all things rock ‘Noisy Mothers’. Giving up on this as a bad idea, he then went for what was probably one of the first attempts at crowd surfing yet witnessed in Essex. To be honest I’m not sure Southend was quite ready for this as from my viewpoint it appeared as if he landed on the crowd, who instead of holding him aloft let him fall to the ground. Undeterred, he promptly hoisted himself back up and managed to successfully crowd surf the entire length of the venue, brushing past my hand as he did so. This felt decidedly soggy as I remember. The whole gig seemed to fly by and while I was unfamiliar with most of the songs, they seem to be playing them all at break neck speed. This fact was borne out when the BBC broadcasted a concert from Newcastle from a few days later and I was able to subsequently compare it to the album versions. Something we thought odd was when Vedder announced that they were to appear live on British TV the following evening, and was there anyone he should tell to fu*k off! Bearing in mind this was a Monday and British terrestrial TV was not exactly awash with quality music programming so we could have been forgiven for expressing a collective WTF? It was not till many months later when BBC2’s Late Show broadcast a compilation of ‘grunge’ bands entitled ‘No Nirvana’, sure enough there was Pearl Jam playing Alive. From the stage, Vedder announced that he planned to go skinny dipping after the show and while he may not have gone quite that far, he must have at least gone for a bit of a wander down the seafront as the next day he was spotted in London with a Keep Southend Tidy sticker stuck to the back of his jacket! Vedder also informed us that this was the first time the band had played outside the USA! After playing the single ‘Alive’ he inquired how many of us had been to America and asked us to imagine what it’s like to always want to come to a country and then find when you do, people know the words to your song. After operating as a successful music venue for many years, the owners decided to turn it in to a family pub. After which the team behind it moved a few hundred yards down the Seafront to Chinnerys. It was there that I recently sought out promoter Glyn Morgan as the only other eye witness that I know was there for sure, as he was on the sound desk that night. Incredibly enough there is a bootleg available online, just do a quick search for Pearl Jam, Southend. I’m afraid to say this was the first and last time I saw the band. Having been almost dragged there in the first place it turned out to be one of the most thrilling gigs I have ever witnessed, and to be honest the prospect of watching them in some massive arena or in the middle of a field would not have compared. Having bought the first three albums my interest in them diminished over years, but I can honestly say that the most recent album ‘Backspacer’ is as good as anything they have ever done. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to see them again, but it will never be in such an intimate setting as that February evening in Southend.