Thursday, 14 July 2011

Jerry Lee, my sister, and me

A family get-together yesterday had my sister and I reminiscing about the time we went to see Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent play at the Golders Green Hippodrome. It was a riot, literally.
The Hippodrome, in north-west London, started life just before the First World War as a music hall and after many incarnations today it is a church.
For me in the 1960s it was the place to see plays by the likes of Harold Pinter and Arnold Wesker before their West End-runs – as well as two rock & roll legends.
A Google search has only taken me so far. I think I’ve established the concert took place on December 1st 1964. That would have made me 19 with my sister five years younger. I wasn’t that good a brother so I must have been stood up by a girlfriend to have taken my sister.
Here’s the problem. We both have vivid recollections of Gene Vincent’s set and of Jerry Lee closing the show or rather the management. The curtains opened, he was three chords in to Great Balls of Fire when the first five rows of leather-clad rockers invaded the stage, the curtains closed, and that was that. We beat a hasty retreat.
If there were other artists on the bill neither of us can remember who they were. A week later, according to a programme website, the two played Birmingham where the Spencer Davis Group were on the same bill with bands called The Plebs, The Londoners, and the Ugly’s. But I don’t know if this was the same tour as the Golders Green outing.
It’s a pity we never got to hear The Killer. According to this review the anger he felt in 1964 from the backlash that followed marrying his barely teenage cousin resulted in some of his best music making. By the time I saw him years later he was still great but pantomime threatened to submerge the rock and roll.


  1. Gene Vincent amd Jerry Lee Lewis were part of a number of great American rock and rollers, both black and white, who fronted up their own bands, with pulsating music; each and everyone of them displaying superb raw talent and unique personalities. A treat for all who saw them, their like will not be seen again.

  2. I too was at the Golders Green Hippodrome and I too would have been 19. Gene Vincent topped the first half and Jerry Lee Lewis topped the second half and I believe the bands that backed them were The Plebs and the Wild Ones ( or that might be The Untamed )
    they did drop the safety curtain on Jerry but he just carried on playing behind the curtain then it went up again and he just carried on.
    One of the best shows i've ever seen

  3. I too was at the show. The early acts got a poor reception then on came Vincent to lose the first half. He was backed by the Londoners and he went down a bomb. The audience were warned not to dance in the aisles but the show carried on. The Shouts (Vincent's ex backing group) cam on as did The Plebs and Dave Dee and the Vostocks (later Dave Dee, Dozy etc). The Jerry Lee to top the bill. People jumped on the stage and danced in the aisles. The curtain came down as a warning then came down again - and stayed down. JLL's act was cut half way through. The audience was not happy.

    1. Tewin,
      This blog is now mainly inactive. But I had to respond to your comment about that golden night spent in the company of Jerry Lee - brief as it was - all those years ago. Thanks, GC


What do you think? GC