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November 13, 2006


bob wagner

I worked while at art college (twickenham) at Eel pie island in the evenings during the period which included The Stones, Cyril Davis, Rod Stewart (as a guest singer) etc and saw blues men like Howling Wolf Sonny Boy Williamson AND MANY MORE. If you are writing a book I and friends who were at college during that period have (I think) pictures posters etc .... contact me (we hired the Rolling Stones for a college dance for £250! heady days!)


here is the link to the Radio 4
it's streamable too

Graeme Outerbridge

Although I have had pie all my life....never made it to this little island even though I was living in London in 71.Good Luck with the book if you need a North American puiblisher...try Abrams in NYC use my name as I have published with them....It sounds like their kind of Book...contact Eric Himmel and say that I recommended you.....Bye the way I caught me self a nice Northern bird, from up the beautiful North...She is a real exotic beauty hence why I dont need to visit your bird Sanctuary. Think the closest I got to your Jazzy Isle is that famous hill above the Thames...and a walk along it with a swan or two....I think I'll pay a visit on my next trip to London...maybe this summer. The Hill I'm talking about is Richmond Hill.....and I really love that pub at the bottom of said Hill. Cheers from Bermuda Me Mr^..^

Ed O' Toole

The Downliners Sect at Eel Pie Island

On Wednesday January 15th 1964

There was no doubt in that packed hall that this was a very popular r ‘n’ b group who played the music in the way it should sound and made it sound great. This was a very good group indeed. However, they were not the Stones.
The joint was jumping, as usual, and everyone there knew, without doubt, that this was the place to be. The Island was the home of rhythm ‘n’ blues in the U.K. and of that there was no doubt.
When the cheering had quietened down a bit after a robust rendering of another old favourite, the group’s leader, Don Craine, announced a guest performer. Would we please give a warm welcome to Mr Long John Baldry? Yes, o.k. then. This was about four years before he had his massive number one hit record, Let The Heartaches Begin, and he was an unknown to most of the audience. We were astounded by this 6 foot 7 inch beanpole’s astounding talent.
His guitar playing style and powerful singing knocked us all sideways. He sang a couple of rare Blues songs and then introduced his protégé, an effeminate and skinny, bouffant haired, young man called Rod Stewart. Rod sang a couple of unmemorable songs and played the harmonica badly and that was that. Did someone clap sympathetically? I can’t remember.
Then the Downliners, who had performed as a backing group for their guests, continued their set and the joint resumed its jumping.
Even then, I had a feeling that the Downliners were doing the wrong thing. Those guest performers, albeit unintentionally, had the effect of distraction and somehow relegated the group to a temporary background status, which was totally undeserved. In my opinion, it was an unwise move. Generosity was a virtue too far. That’s just another reason why they were different from the Stones. Where was the flamboyant ego of a prancing prima donna? Something more than musical expertise was needed back there and then but not everyone knew what it was or how to exploit it.
Yes, upon reflection, all they lacked to reach the real big, big time was a Mick Jagger and an Andrew Oldham. A Brian Jones might also have made a visually enigmatic contribution. But, oh well, maybe there was not quite enough of those people to go around.
The Downliners Sect gave it their best shot with what they had and, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, that’s about all any of us can ever hope to do. The biggest overall recollection of those days is of how great it was just being there.

Ed O’Toole

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