Into the night - March 10
Steve at Trident where Genesis recorded
Keeping the spirit alive where Charisma and the Marquee used to be
Although now I'm practically teetotal I wasn't always so abstemious. I was able to turn in a passable stage performance most nights in my young Genesis days, but once off stage I would head for a drink. It was like smoking at that time (we were all personal air polluters)... no-one considered the consequences as we all coughed and staggered in unison.
The music business was smaller during the very early '70s - smaller gigs, smaller sandwiches, smaller expectations and no Sunday trading. With her total monopoly on the airwaves, Auntie told you who you could and couldn't listen to. No wonder we put up with Radio Luxembourg fading in and out in mono in our clapped out old Transit. "You've never had it so good" once cried Macmillan. The trouble was most of us had never had it.
The late great Tony Stratton Smith, founder of Charisma Records, and I were firm drinking buddies at the time. Downstairs from the famous Charisma label's office in Soho was the equally famous Marquee run by Jack Barrie - guess where we started our nightly pub crawl? At Jack's Bar of course, where Tony held court surrounded by a sea of local journalists and musos, jobbing actors and the entire staff of Charisma. We all piled into several local inns and clubs in the days when a pint of warm flat Watneys Red Barrel was hailed as nectar! We drank and smoked like immortals, swimming up Wardour Street to the Ship, La Chasse and eventually into the all-important Speakeasy in Margaret Street. You could talk to anyone at the 'Speak'. Many a band interview would start there - the centre of a PR man's dream. If you wanted to get ahead, you bought a music journalist a drink. I took my responsibility very seriously...
Crimsonite buddies Ian MacDonald and John Wetton plus Robert Fripp were occasionally toasted there, their heads full of complicated riffs, plus bluesers like Peter Green seemed equally at home.
The formidable Luigi, a great character, ran the restaurant which only ever served Beef Stroganoff. Here was the man who pulled the plug on Hendrix when a jam was still in full flight at 6am, because he'd had enough - "Everyone wants to go home"! Nobody crossed Luigi, or you never ate Stroganoff in his town again... I bumped into him recently the night before the Shepherds Bush gig at Da Mario's in Gloucester Road, where a fantastic throng of about twenty Italians who had come over for the gig had joined me. The atmosphere of warmth, friendship and excitement surrounding us as Luigi and I embraced brought a tear to the eye and reawakened so many distant memories, like Purple Haze on a far away gravy train...
St. Moritz - scene of a recent Charisma reunion