Unable to be in two places at once and Star Trek style beaming not yet a practical option, on Sunday morning I missed the unveiling of a blue plaque outside the Goldhawk Social Club in Shepherds Bush to mark the place where The Who played so many gigs before their career hit serious lift off. I was in Manchester, of course, but from 1980 to 1993 I lived just around the corner from the Goldhawk, in nearby Nasmyth Street, and well remember Irish Jack taking me there one night. We sat sipping our pints in the back room where The Detours/Who/High Numbers would have played, and I was spellbound as he told me stories of those days. Later I commissioned Jack to write a piece about The Who’s last night at the Goldhawk for inclusion in the 30 Years Of Maximum R&B box set booklet, but it was deemed unsuitable; a bit too violent as by all accounts the night ended in a ruck and Roger was escorted from the premises by a local criminal with a sawn-off shotgun. (You can read the piece on Jack’s own website I think.)
From 1994 to 2006 the growing Charlesworth family lived at two other local addresses just north of Goldhawk Road, in Olgar Close and later Wormholt Road, and each morning Lisa or I would drive our kids Olivia and Sam to school at Flora Gardens Primary near the southern tip of Ravenscourt Park. Our journey took us down Percy Road, past where Roger lived as a boy, and, after the roundabout by Seven Stars corner at the bottom of Askew Road, past the Sulgrave Road Boys Club which still appeared to be a going concern. Sulgrave Road is actually in another part of the Bush, which always puzzled me, but it was here that Roger first assembled a gang of lads that, with astute personnel changes along the way, eventually became The Who. I would explain this to Olivia and Sam as we drove by but they weren't remotely interested, of course, though I suspect they might be now.
It always seemed to me that there was an element of symbiosis in the fact that I washed up there in the eighties through to 2006, right slap bang in the middle of a Who triangle, after all those years of writing about them so much on MM and seeing so many fabulous concerts. It wasn’t intentional. The simple fact is that when I got back from the US towards the end of 1978 I crashed out on the floor of a friend of mine who happened to live in Dalling Road for a few weeks until I could find a place of my own, and being as how I was getting to know and like the neighbourhood, I opted for the basement/garden flat around the corner in Nasmyth Street, somehow cobbling together a deposit on its £18,000 price tag; last time it was on sale the price was £350k!
Well, I regret not there being on Sunday to be a part of this ceremony at the Goldhawk. It was all arranged by Gary and Melissa Hurley, a couple of Who fans of long-standing distinction who also arranged for the blue plaque in Wardour Street to mark the fact that Keith Moon – 'Drummer with The Who' – played there, an event I did attend and about which I've written elsewhere on Just Backdated. I checked out the pictures on Melissa’s FB page and was pleased to note that long-serving Who manager Bill Curbishley was there, giving a warm speech to mark the occasion, as well as my old mates Dougal Butler, Richard ‘Barney’ Barnes and Andy Neill. At the time I was strolling around Manchester, taking a break from Louder Than Words, and I even took a ride in the big wheel in Piccadilly Square, probably at the exact same moment the plaque was being unveiled. Sorry I could make it G&M, but I was there in spirit.
Long live The Who!