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MBarrett

Otis At The Upper Cut Club

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I hadn't come across this picture before - thought one or two of you guys might appreciate seeing it.

Obviously it is Otis promoting one of the venues on the 1967 Stax/Volt tour - Billy Walker's Upper Cut club in East London.

The tour took in the U.K./France and Scandinavia and brought most of those artists over here for the first time.

Pretty much all the venues were on the theatre circuit - I guess this that this was the only performance in a club environment.

Anyone who was around at the time will remember Billy Walker as one of the iconic British boxers of the 1960's. A good looking guy - they called him the Blond Bomber. He was on the fringes of the Swinging 60's/Mod scene along with other sports stars like George Best and Bobby Moore.

And being into boxing and night clubs I think he rubbed shoulders more than once with those naughty Kray boys from just up the road.

The pinnacle of his boxing career was fighting Henry Cooper for the British heavyweight title - but he was beaten on a TKO.

Heady days!!

MB

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Interesting - I never heard that before!

Billy Walker was definitely a "face" of the 60s. So not surprised that he would have angled to get the Stax tour to his club.

His brother George became almost as notorious - after acting as Billy's manager got involved in some "interesting" business deals. I think his company Brent Walker collapsed in controversial circumstances.

Sorry - digressing.

MB

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Incredibly, I had lunch today with Martin Hubbard, an old friend who I had not seen in 39 years, and who was actually at the show at the Upper Cut. He says that Otis was brilliant, but that - from memory - Sam & Dave got the best response on the night. Par for the course for that tour, it would seem...

He confirmed something that I already knew i.e. that the venue was over the top of a Burton's tailors.

I was slightly too young to see any show at the Upper Cut, but not too young to have been taken, by a somewhat reluctant parent, to see the tour at Finsbury Park Astoria - a belated bithrtday present, and the first live music show I ever saw. As you might expect, it's been downhill all the way ever since... :thumbsup:

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Tony - thanks for that - what a coincidence! - I was hoping there might be someone out there with personal memories.

This ad shows a bit more soul stuff going on at the Upper Cut.

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Regretably I didn't see the Stax tour myself but did get to see all the bottom 3 acts here at different venues (inc. as described here: "The American Top SOUL Singer - Jimi Hendrix").

I wonder if anyone remembers Freddie Mack from those days. Brilliant band in their heyday. Big brass section, backing singers, the lot. Did mainly soul covers in the Geno Washington style and in my mind very nearly as good.

Here is a bit of biog stuff courtesy of Wikipedia (plus another bit of a coincidence given Mack's boxing background.)

Freddie Mack (sometimes also spelled Freddy Mack), born Bennettsville, South Carolina, 15 September 1933, was a light-heavyweight boxer who reached 3rd place in the world ranking. He is remembered for his knockouts against Sante Amonti, Jack Bodell, Chick Calderwood and Roman Morais. He retired to England, c. 1965, after living the Dolce Vita in Rome, and embarked on an initially successful career as a singer/entertainer backed by an ever-changing band of British jazz and R&B musicians. He was eventually arrested for being an illegal alien in 1969.

His first "group" was an R&B show with singers, dancers and two bands. This settled down into one backing band, called "The Mack Sound" put together by baritone sax player Roger Warwick. The band featured four to five horns, including, for a time, Otis Redding's trombone player Clarence Johnson, and full rythmn section with Alan Cartwright and B.J.Wilson. Roger Warwick left during the cold winter of 1966 to set up an R&B band in sunny Italy for the Lebanese singer Patrick Samson, but that's another story.

From 1967 onwards his line-ups for the "Freddie Mack Sound", the "Fantastic Freddie Mack Show" or the "Freddie Mack Extravaganza" included variously: Mel Day (vocals), Ray Lewis (bass), Dave Roffey (lead guitar), Ged Peck (lead guitar), Rod Jones (bass), Dick Morrissey (tenor sax), B.J. Wilson (drums), Alan Cartwright (bass), Johnny Orlando (vocals), Eddie 'Tan Tan' Thomas (trumpet), Brian Morris (keyboards), Tex Makin (bass), Viv Prince (Drums), Derry Wilkie (vocals), Tony Gomez (keyboards), Tony Morgan (vocals) and Kookie Etan (vocals), among many others.

At the end of 1974 Mack signed to K-Tel Records as Mr Superbad and recorded many records under this label. He also sang on the 1975 hit "Kung Fu Man" on UltraFunk for Contempo Records.

He went to live in Glasgow in 1979 and spent the time from then till his retirement working as a DJ and doing occasional gigs with his Disco Show.

In 2001 he founded The Scot's Boxing Hall of Fame of which he was named President.

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I remember hearing about the Upper Cut club, but never went there, might have felt a bit nervous there, lol.

I went with Lesley to see the Stax revue at the Finsbury Park Astoria, one of the best live shows I've seen. No boring British acts to start the show, soul stars from the onset. I think Otis got the biggest response, but may be wrong, a long time ago, but I can still see him striding up and down the stage.

As regards Jimi Hendrix being referred to as a soul singer, his first 3 singles, Hey Joe, Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary all got in the Record Mirror soul top 10. I think any artiste who was black was regarded as soul, unless obviously MOR.

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I remember hearing about the Upper Cut club, but never went there, might have felt a bit nervous there, lol.

I went with Lesley to see the Stax revue at the Finsbury Park Astoria, one of the best live shows I've seen. No boring British acts to start the show, soul stars from the onset. I think Otis got the biggest response, but may be wrong, a long time ago, but I can still see him striding up and down the stage.

As regards Jimi Hendrix being referred to as a soul singer, his first 3 singles, Hey Joe, Purple Haze and The Wind Cries Mary all got in the Record Mirror soul top 10. I think any artiste who was black was regarded as soul, unless obviously MOR.

I feel the same, Geoff - they say one never forgets one's first time and for me as a young teenager it was better than what, at that time (but not for much longer) I imagined sex would be like :lol:

Truthfully, I have long forgotten what everyone else on the show was like that night - I only really had eyes and ears for Otis, despite the fact that I had records by everyone on the bill. It will always be up there with the very best nights of my life, even if I live to see another million of them.

On the subject of Jimi Hendrix, he was and always will be a soul singer. I didn't remember that his early hits had made the soul charts, but full marks to whoever it was who decided they should go in there. I can remember his stunning appearnce on the last ever episode of "Ready Steady Go" like it was yesterday, and can also remember hardly being able to wait for the shops to open the next day so I could rush out with my paper round money and buy "Hey Joe"...

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The Uppercut Club was still going strong in the mid 80s as I have some reggae sound system tapes recorded there.

Interesting thread as boxing is my third main passion after reggae and soul.

Gordy

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Gordy

Got a little soul/boxing anecdote that might appeal.

July 1973 (I had to check the date!) Joe Frazier fought Joe Bugner at Earls Court.

A few days prior I was crossing London on foot via Leicester Square and I saw a sign that that same day they were doing a public training session in one of the LS theatres. There was some small admission fee that went to charity. Anyway anything on my agenda was instantly forgotten and I was through the doors like a shot.

Bugner did his thing and left to polite (somewhat grudging) applause. Then out came a guy with some great big "beat box" affair turned it on and out came this thumping soul music. Then appeared the brooding figure of Smoking Joe. Did his whole training session to a soul music soundtrack.

I was walking on air for the rest of that day. Still got the admission ticket somewhere up in the loft so shows what it meant to me.

I know the records he put out later with the Knockouts left something to be desired but no doubt a soulie through and through.

MB

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