Tag Archives: Glasgow

Live From The Apollo – It’s Star Time…

Paul Fitzpatrick: December 2022

By late 1974 my record collection was starting to take on a different complexion.

Whilst my album collection in the main, remained loyal to Zep, Bowie, Roxy, Stones, my singles collection was being supplemented weekly by tracks absorbed at the discos of the day – Clouds & Shuffles (I was only 16!).
The likes of George McCrae, Barry White, and Hamilton Bohannon.

Cut forward a couple of years and the sounds of – Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament, Isley Brothers, The Crusaders and Stevie Wonder had taken over my stereo.
Even the non R&B artists grabbing my attention had somewhat of an R&B flavour – Hall & Oates, Little Feat, Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan.

Around this time a crowd of us would go to certain bars and clubs in Glasgow like The Rooster on Glassford St, or Joannas on Bath St, primarily for the music, (but to be fair the talent wasn’t bad either!).

There was something missing though – live music.

Being a regular at the Greens Playhouse/Apollo since my first gig in 1972 to see Humble Pie (supported by Peter Frampton), my frustration in the mid 70s was that it was nigh on impossible to see any decent R&B bands, live in Glasgow.

Which is kind of ironic given the Apollo was named after the home of live R&B – the famous Apollo Theatre, in Harlem, New York,

The absence of live soul acts in the west of Scotland was no fault of the Glasgow Apollo though – a lot of visiting US bands didn’t travel any further north than London on their whirlwind European tours, and the Apollo with its 3,500 capacity probably scared off a lot of promoters.

Unfortunately, we weren’t blessed with a plethora of live venues in the mid 70s, and traditional Glasgow theatre’s like the Pavilion, with capacities of c.1,500, were already kept busy with a steady diet of….
Robert Halpern’s hypnotist show – Residencies by Sydney Devine and Christian, and of course, Pantomimes…. oh yes they were!

A few decent soul/funk bands did make it to the Apollo though and I went to see most of them….

First off, I saw the Average White Band in May 1976, supported by the excellent Kokomo on a balmy Saturday night.

The highlight of the show according to everyone who witnessed it was a 20 minute encore of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, with Kokomo joining AWB on stage.

No doubt it would have been my highlight too if I hadn’t have been kicked out the venue.

Let me explain – the crowd were still on their feet after a rip-roaring version of “Pick up the Pieces” and a few of us ambled towards the front of the stalls in readiness for the upcoming encore, only to be turfed out via the fire-exit, stage left, by some meathead stewards.

I went to see The Clash’s first Apollo gig the following year when spitting at punk gigs was de rigueur (despite the height of that stage!) so I had zero sympathy for the shell-shocked stewards, covered in collateral phlegm – karma’s a bitch.

I loved AWB but they were local lads, we also wanted to see the the bona fide American funk bands, and we’d need to wait 18 months before the Brothers Johnson, hit the Apollo in 1977.

The Brothers Johnson – I’ll Be Good To You

LA natives, The Bros Johnson were fronted by siblings, Louis “Thunder Thumbs” on bass and George “Lightnin’ Licks” on guitar.
Mentored by Quincy Jones the band enjoyed a meteoric rise in the States with their first four albums going platinum.

When the band came to town they were promoting their second album. As part of their first trip to Europe they only had two UK gigs planned – Wembley Arena and the Glasgow Apollo.

To be honest I don’t remember a whole lot about the gig apart from the bass playing of Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson.

I was used to bass players like Entwhistle or Wyman who stood impassively on the side of the stage, rooted to the spot, so to see a bass player move his feet was a revelation.

“Thunder Thumbs” solo

Also, this was the first time I had seen anyone play ‘slap-bass’ and not only was Louis centre stage, he was a one man funk machine.

Louis would go on to play bass on most Quincy Jones productions including Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The last 70’s R&B band I can remember seeing at the Apollo was the Commodores, a funky collective formed whilst studying at Tuskegee University, Alabama, before being spotted and signed by Motown.

They played the Apollo in April 1978 just before “Three Times A Lady” became a global hit and changed their course from funkateers to balladeers.
Fortunately the set they played that night was based on their recent Commodores Live album which is what we wanted to hear.

They were excellent live, put on a great show and went down a treat with the Glasgow audience.


After the gig a few of us gathered at the stage door because a couple of girls we knew said the roadies had mentioned something about an after-party.
We waited with them and sure enough the band came out to get into their limousines and Lionel Richie himself, invited all and sundry back to the Hotel where they were staying.

As we trudged through the Glasgow rain, we speculated about who would be there, what the spread would be like and whether there would be a piano in the suite so Lionel could play “Easy” (like a Sunday morning).
It was all very exciting until we got to the hotel to be met by a roadie resembling Mr T who duly informed us that the invite was for ladies only – how did we not see that coming!!??

So when old Lionel belts out “Three Times a Lady” lamenting about how he adores his missus, I hope she knows what was going on in the Albany Hotel that wet Wednesday evening in 78!

Apollo Stewards and Lionel Richie you just cannae trust them…..

The Smartest Band In The World?

Paul Fitzpatrick: November 2022

The 70s were awash with bands who had a couple of big hits then disappeared from the scene – Pilot, Sad Cafe and Sailor, to name a few, and if I’d been a betting man, I’d have wagered my favourite Arthur Black shirt on 10cc following a similar path.

Formed in 1972, 10cc hit the ground faster than the Roadrunner on testosterone – three top 10 singles in the space of twelve months,
including a UK number one with “Rubber Bullets”.

Despite their meteoric rise, the band struggled for credibility, probably due to their association with Jonathan King, the Svengali of bubble-gum pop, and the fact that their first three hits could understandably be described as novelty songs… although, listening to them now they stand up pretty well.

Their first release, “Donna“, was a 50’s doo-wop parody.

The follow up, “Rubber Bullets“, borrowed it’s theme from Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock”, but in typical 10cc fashion – from the warden’s perspective… “I love to hear those convicts squeal, it’s a shame those slugs ain’t real

Their third release, “The Dean and I“, is best described as a Beach Boys pastiche concerning a coming-together at the high-school hop.

Unbeknown to most, buried amongst the bubble-gum, were some slick lyrics and savvy storytelling.

Who else would reference Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ in a song about the high-school hop or inject the lyrics “we’ve all got balls and brains, but some’s got balls and chains.” into a song about prison riots?

Rubber Bullets
The Dean and I

I’d love to say I got the hip references and sharp lyrics from the start, but truth be told they went straight over my 14 year old head.

My 10cc enlightenment came a year later in 1974 when a girl at school, who’d previously introduced me to Dark Side of The Moon, and Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs, informed me of her latest purchase – Sheet Music, 10cc’s new album.

Sensing my confusion, she told me that she’d bought the album on the back of hearing a track called “The Worst Band in The World” before reading a stellar review of the album in Melody Maker…

They’re the Beach Boys of Good Vibrations, The Beatles of Penny Lane, they’re The Marx Brothers… they’re sheer brilliance”.
(Melody Maker, May 1974)

She duly lent me the album and whilst I didn’t buy into the hyperbole, the record was rather good, also, thanks to the accompanying sleeve notes I got an insight into their wry wordplay….

We never seen the van – leave it to the roadies
Never met the roadies – leave them in the van
All because of circumstances way beyond control
We became the darlings of this thing called rock and roll,

(“The Worst Band in The World” )

Dow Jones ain’t got time for the bums
They wind up on skid row with holes in their pockets
They plead with you, buddy can you spare a dime
But you ain’t got the time

(“Wall Street Shuffle”)

It was clear that the bands’ sound had matured from those early singles, so much so, that critics were now categorising 10cc as ‘art-rock’.

As I would discover, they were a pretty good live outfit as well….

Silly Love – Live

I can’t think of many groups where every band-member can write, produce, be a multi-instrumentalist, and handle lead vocals, so it was no surprise to learn that the quartet, all in their mid-twenties, were established musicians who had decent CV’s before forming 10cc.

Kevin Godley & Lol Crème were school mates from Manchester and teamed up with another local lad, Eric Stewart, to form Hotlegs, a band would go on to have a global hit with “Neanderthal Man” in 1970.
Prior to joining, Stewart had been the lead singer in The Mindbenders, singing lead vocal on their big 60s hit “Groovy Kind of Love”.

Hotlegs – Neanderthal Man
Groovy Kind Of Love

The fourth member, Graham Gouldman, was another local lad who joined Hotlegs just before they disbanded. A sought after songwriter, Gouldman had written “Bus Stop” for The Hollies, “No Milk Today” for Hermans Hermits and “For Your Love” for The Yardbirds.

1974’s Sheet Music was a turning point for the band, gaining them credibility as album artists as well as yielding two top 20 singles, “Wall Street Shuffle” and “Silly Love”

The bands next record, The Original Soundtrack, released in 1975 saw them break away from Jonathan King’s UK label and become more experimental with sound and recording techniques.

Locked away in their state-of-the-art studio in Stockport, the band had the freedom to innovate, patenting the ‘Gizmotron’, a guitar effects device, adopted by Jimmy Page.
They also turned their hand to re-engineering conventional recording practices, most notably the use of tape-loops to create the 10cc wall-of-sound.

Best utilised on “I’m Not in Love”.

The song, written by Stewart & Gouldman, was initially a perky bossa nova that left Godley & Creme underwhelmed, however, after discarding the song the band could still hear people singing it around the studio and decided to revisit it.

Godley came up with the idea to replace the majority of instruments with a choral tsunami of voices, whilst Lol Creme figured out the tape-loop process which created the 256-voice, virtual choir effect.

I can remember reading a 1975 interview with Bryan Ferry where he claimed the first time he heard “I’m Not in Love” he pranged his car, distracted, he couldn’t work out how the hell they had created the sound.


I was fortunate enough to see 10cc live in April 1976 at the Glasgow Apollo, just after the release of the album How Dare You, the gig had been rescheduled from earlier in the year as one of the band had been ill.

I was intrigued to see if 10cc could reproduce songs like “I’m Not in Love” and “I’m Mandy Fly Me”, live on stage, but they pulled it off – they sounded just like the record.

I didn’t realise when I came away from the gig that they would split-up a matter of months later.

Creative tensions had been growing between Godley & Creme on one side and Stewart & Gouldman on the other, which came to a head during the recording of the How Dare You album.
The former wanted the music to be more experimental and push boundaries, whilst the latter were perfectly happy with the path the band were on and didn’t see the commercial sense in rocking the boat..

Kevin Godley would later concede that they all needed a break and should have taken a year or two to explore other projects with the aim of getting back together.
Unfortunately, too many were bridges burned, and the four original members never collaborated fully again.

Their swansong as the original line-up was at Knebworth in August 1976, supporting the Stones in front of 200,000 people, so it wasn’t a bad way for Godley & Creme to exit.

Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart carried on as 10cc for a while enjoying success for a few years with global hits like “The Things We Do For Love” and their last number one, 1978’s “Dreadlock Holiday”.

Meanwhile, Godley and Creme pursued their ambition to create more experimental music and had a few hits before their talents as video directors came to the fore, leading them to direct music videos for major acts like U2, Sting and Paul McCartney.

Godley & Creme – Cry
10cc – The Things We Do For Love

A version of 10cc still tours today, involving Graham Gouldman, which hasn’t gone down so well with some of the remaining members, and despite an excellent BBC documentary on the band which they all cordially contributed to, the prospects of them ever recording or touring again is bleak.

Were they the smartest band in the world?

Who knows, at their peak maybe they were, although I’m sure Beatles and Steely Dan fans would have something to say, but for a period in the mid 70s there weren’t many bands who were as innovative, talented and accomplished as 10cc.

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like

Paul Fitzpatrick: June 2022, London

After a bit of prompting from one of my kids I visited an Everyman Cinema recently, and it was quite the experience.

On entering the cinema I was greeted warmly by staff who explained the set up and asked if I wanted anything from the bar (beer, cocktails, wine, soft drinks), or from the kitchen (tapas, burgers, pizza, snacks) which they could serve to my seat in the cinema, (there are trays attached to the armrests).

The cinema itself is a lesson in tasteful opulence where luxurious armchairs, and sofas that are dangerously comfortable, replace the standard cinema layout, the screen is the perfect size and the sound system is impressive.

Everyman Cinema

Before the film starts, a member of staff introduces the movie and reminds the audience that the team are available to serve any further refreshments to your seat during the film.

As it turned out, the movie I went to see (Everything, Everywhere All At Once) was a bit weird, as most movies about the multiverse tend to be, however the overall experience was such that I can’t wait to go back.

The level of service, the comfort factor and the food and drink were all ten out of ten, and it was probably the best cinema experience since my first trip to the ABC minors as a 10 year old.

I did ponder afterwards though…. ‘was this a glimpse of the future, or a nod to the past?

Have we been so conditioned to accept mediocre service now, that it’s a shock to the system when we actually receive some decent service?

Do we realise just how much we’ve been trained into doing things ourselves these days, even basic tasks that used to be part of the service?

I guess a classic example of this is self-service Petrol Stations.
It used to be the norm to get your petrol served, your oil checked, your windscreen wiped and your tyres looked over without leaving your car.
Nowadays you’re expected to do it all yourself then stand in line to pay whilst being subjected to the temptation of a ‘Ginster Pasty‘ or ‘three Mars bars for the price of two‘.

I often wonder if there’s still a place today for those old style petrol stations.
I completely get that it would be a niche operation, in the same way that Everyman Cinemas aren’t going to take over from multiplexes, but I’m sure some people would happily pay for that extra level of service (my missus for one!).

This self-service mentality also extends to shopping now, especially supermarkets where we’re herded to unmanned, self-checkouts, even though in most cases we know we’re probably going to require the support of shop staff who are now thin on the ground as they’ve been replaced by machines…..
It happens all the time – something won’t scan, or the till doesn’t recognise something in your basket, or you’ve bought something which requires proof of age, or you’ve used your own plastic bag, or you’ve purchased something with an electronic tag that requires removing.

Any number of reasons can trigger that wee red light that pings above your self-checkout station to alert staff that you need assistance, except when you look around there’s no staff to be found, or if you’re lucky, there’s one poor person dashing from checkout to checkout like a blue-arsed fly.

It’s a perfect example of a purported time-saving initiative actually adding time (and stress) to what should be a pretty mundane task.

Perhaps Don Henley had Sainsbury’s in mind when he sang…
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”

Similarly, in department stores, you can now find yourself wandering about like a zombie looking for assistance, unlike the old days when you were swatting them away like flies.

The irony of this, is that compared to the 70s a lot of electrical items and household goods are now so complex that you require a degree in quantum mechanics to switch them on.
So, in an era where we really, really need access to knowledgeable staff who know their stuff, they’re scarce.

The whole self-service philosophy is based on spartan virtue: You make do with less, pay less and settle for adequacy rather than true satisfaction, but the frustration for most of us is, that the reduction in retail overheads and the stated improvement in efficiencies haven’t reduced retail prices.

Air travel is another example… we’re now conditioned to make our own bookings, action our own check-ins and print or download our own tickets, all for the privilege of getting to the airport 2 hours before take-off, so we can pay £5 to get dropped off, £6 for a pint and join numerous queues before boarding.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for technology and for anything that saves time, but in lots of cases there’s no benefit, instead, it just feels like manipulation, and a sneaky transfer in responsibilities has resulted in the customer taking on all the heavy lifting.

I’m also reminded of the services that used to come to our doorsteps in the 60s and 70s, the Ascot or Bilsland Bakery vans that would navigate their way around the various West of Scotland housing schemes, offering cakes, bread, biscuits, milk and soft drinks.
Similarly, local farms would load up weekly and take their vans round the estates offering fresh produce, and of course there were the popular Garvies or Alpine vans that offered multiple flavours of fizzy pop direct to your door.

Retailing used to be based on convenience and service, but I guess it all got a bit Americanised, which meant we traded in ‘small and local‘ for ‘big and out of the way’, ‘two-for-one‘ offers, ‘meal deals’ and a free packet of Percy Pigs every once in a while.

So perhaps this Everyman Cinema model isn’t new or revolutionary after all, it’s simply a return to the halcyon days of being customer focused.

It certainly seems to be working for those guys.
Despite the multiplexes, despite the fact that it’s not the cheap option, Everyman now have 35 cinemas and are growing rapidly.




Karate In Scotland In The Seventies

Russ Stewart: London, June 2002

New hip or new car?  Unfortunately the former. 
Root cause analysis: a phenomenon in Scotland in the 70s. 

Bruce Lee films and the Scottish climate conspired to spawn an explosion in participation of the indoor pastime (not sport) of Karate.  

Further: my general uselessness at any sport involving a ball drew me to the Bearsden Primary located Shotokan Karate club in 1973, thence to the Allander club, Strathclyde University club and a number of dojos in Hong Kong and London. 

Scotland was recognised as the most successful small nation in international  competition karate during the 70s.
The Glasgow Shukokai based Kobe Osaka club produced good competition fighters.
At its peak Glaswegian Tommy Morris’ Kobe Osaka had hundreds of students across the world. 

Tommy Morris, Kobe Osaka Club

Another Scot, Gene Dunnett, a member of the GB team that defeated the Japanese National team in the 70s, took a guest training session at the Allander club fairly soon after his achievement.
A hard session I recall; training was harder in the 70s.  Alumni arthritis a consequence.
Press ups on knuckles, punching wooden boards, over extended stretches to enable high kicks……..

Gene Dunnett was amongst 3 Scots in the 10 man fighting team

However, competition karate is not really karate.

I parlayed modest skill and a limited number of combinations into a couple of silver medals at the Scottish University Championships in 1978.  Later, in 1980, as a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police Tai Kwan Do squad I was beaten by a 16 year old Chinese member of the Police Youth Club team. 

High participation numbers in Scotland drew top Japanese masters, such as Enoeda and Tomita, to give training sessions and grade students in local sport centres. 
Enoeda graded me green belt at an East Kilbride sports centre in 1975.
His eagle eye missed my shoddy round house kick. Perhaps the other 120 students distracted him. 

Glaswegian Dan Docherty died last December aged 67. 
I met him in 1980 in Hong Kong, when he was a Shotokan practitioner.
He switched to Tai Chi and won the 1980 SE Asia full contact knockdown championship, beating the much larger ( 21 stone) Roy Pink by a knockout. 


The Chinese master of the Wudang Tai Chi style made Dan, a fluent Chinese speaker, his successor. Dan had hundreds of  students worldwide and was an influential, controversial figure.
RIP Dan! 

saturday night special

“‘Cause Saturday night’s the night I like

Saturday night’s alright, alright, alright, ooh”

Saturday nights, are the best of the week; always have been – always will be. But although still special, as grumpy, cynical old grown-ups, we know what to expect. What we do in 2030 will be much the same as we did in 2020 albeit probably a lot slower and involving more aches, pains, groans and complaining.

Growing up in the ‘70s, though, it was all that bit more exciting:

1970 (aged 12):
Saturday nights would be special for parents too. My sister and I would often be dropped off at grandparents for the night while mum and dad went to some fancy-dan Dinner Dance at the Albany Hotel. Suited us: a Beano comic; a Lucky Bag; Dr Who and Dixon of Dock Green on TV; home-made (powdered) ice cream and a glass of Lucozade – even if we weren’t feeling poorly.

Beano – 7th February 1970

1971 (aged 13):
Dad would treat us all to his tea-time speciality – spam and beetroot fritters! Mmmmnn! Yummy!

The ice-cream van would pass down our street and we’d get a copy of the Pink Times which carried all that day’s football results. I’d then spend ages meticulously updating my Shoot! League Ladders, copying the positions from the evening paper. It was a pretty pointless exercise, I’ll grant you, but that’s just what we did for entertainment back then. With hindsight though, it’s perhaps easy to see why I struggled to find a girlfriend!

SHOOT! League Ladders 1971 / 1972

1972 (aged 14):
At 5pm, my dad and I would gather round the radio, waiting for the tune that still excites me to this day.

James Alexander Gordon would read the Classified Football Results and we’d always try to guess the away team’s score from the intonation in his voice.

(I’d then get my bloody Shoot! League ladders ready, in anticipation of the ice-cream van’s chimes.)

Really though, not a lot changed from 1971. Still too young for even under-aged drinking in the tunnel under the railway at the back of our house, I’d settle for dad’s new Saturday tea-time treat – mashed corned beef and beetroot toasties. Mmmmnn! Yummy!

(Beetroot to our family were as turnips would be to Baldrick in Blackadder, some eleven years later.)

1973 (aged 15):
I enjoyed going to watch football with my pals – not so much for the sport, as my team had been a bit sporadic in their success those past eight years, but because I had an excuse to pass on the ‘something and beetroot,’ Saturday Special! My pals and I would stop off at the chippy outside the Underground station and I’d have just the best black pudding supper and a couple of pickled onions the size of golf balls.

“Oh Dad – I’d love to try one, but really, honestly … I’m stuffed.”

And that’s about as exciting as it got. Saturday nights for fifteen year olds in Boresville, Suburbia could be a bit on the mundane side.

Black pudding supper.

1974 (aged 16):
Now Saturdays became a bit more exciting. We’d somehow blag copious amounts of beer and fortified wine from unscrupulous Off Sales proprietors and stash it in the local woods. Later that evening, we’d retrieve it, neck it, and quickly head off to the local disco.

It now all became a bit of a race against time. We’d have to time our arrival (often at the town’s Ski Club) before the alcohol got the better of us and we’d be refused entry – which did happen from time to time, I’m afraid to say.

Add another of these and a couple bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale.

1975 (aged 17):
1975 called for a bit of consolidation before we turned 18. We were however, sufficiently confident to blag a beer or two at the local hostelry – The Burnbrae.

We had become bored with the stale local disco scene though, and would instead venture into Glasgow’s fashionable West End to crash the disco nights held by some of the city’s private schools.

The all-girl schools were pretty discerning about who they let in, so we generally stuck to the all-boys schools. These events were hosted by the schools’ rugby clubs and so there were plenty of burly bouncers to evade / deceive before entry.

And the students of these schools didn’t take too kindly to us usurpers from Comprehensive schools chatting up their girlfriends. Frequently the evening would end in fights – and a girl’s false phone number scribbled onto your arm.

(Oh – just me, then?)

1976 (aged 18):
By August ’76, I may still have been a daft wee boy, but I’d left school, turned eighteen and started my first job. I dared bar staff in town to question my age. Which they did, of course – for the next five years or so. See, that’s the trouble with being a daft wee boy!

Naturally, Saturday nights became pub centric. Generally they’d be spent with old school pals at Macintosh’s Bar in Glasgow, followed by a few hours at The White Elephant discotheque.

Macintosh’s Bar.
Flyer for The White Elephant

1977 (aged 19):
I was now dating a girl I’d met at The White Elephant, so most Saturdays were still being spent in there – maybe with a pre-disco Stakis Steakhouse meal thrown in. Boy, I knew how to show the ladies a real good time!

Some Saturdays though, my mate, Derek, would sign me in to the Strathclyde University Students’ Union Bar. The beer was so much cheaper in there than the standard 38p pub pint, and bands were booked every week. One of the best, and one I had to pester him to get me in to, was The Ramones. Yeah, The Ramones! 21st May 1977 it was, and they co-headlined with another little known band of the time, Talking Heads.

Not a bad night for, I reckon, about a fiver all in!

The Ramones – 1977

1978 (aged 20):
I had met another girl in the autumn of the previous year – we’d be together two years – and her best pal was going out with my best mate. (They had introduced us on a blind date.) We would still head uptown from time to time, but the girls weren’t that keen. Looking back, we had almost instantly morphed into two boring ‘married’ couples, sitting around one of our homes listening to records and watching crap television with a Chinese takeaway meal on our laps.

Yawn.

Chinese Takeaway Meal.

1979 (aged 21):
This was much the same as the previous year until after our second holiday away together, my girlfriend and I decided enough was enough. Come September, Saturday nights were then mainly spent in the company of my athletics club pals, either in the bars or Indian / Greek restaurants of Glasgow’s Kelvinbridge area, or at The Peel pub in Drumchapel, playing darts, Space Invaders, Galaxian and Asteroids.

We would also enjoy playing ‘the puggy’ – until it was stolen! Yes, really!

Galaxian arcade game.

Six months into the next decade and I’d go on holiday to the South of France with some of those athletics pals. There, I’d meet our Diane, a Geordie lass. Saturday evenings for the next couple of years would be spent at her local Social Club, playing bingo, watching some really ropey ‘turn’ and drinking warm, flat lager (Hansa?)

Social Club

Either that, or with pals and their partners, we’d revisit some of those old, Glasgow haunts from the late ‘70s.

And so the excitement of Saturday nights continue into my sixty-fifth year – at the beginning of June, Diane and I have organised a big party to celebrate our 40th Anniversary! (But not before I’ve updated my end-of-season Shoot! League Ladders.)

“Gonna keep on dancing
To the rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night.”

(Post by Coin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – May 2022)

UK One-Hit-Wonders: One Day at a Time (Lena Martell)

Alan Fairley: Edinburgh, April 2022

Living on a Prayer

It’s probably fair to suggest that a significant number of people who subscribe to this blog are familiar in some way with Maryhill, often referred to as the sparkling jewel in Glasgow’s crown, a tight knit working class community to the north west of the city.

You may have lived there, worked there (like me), visited your Granny there, fought there or, again like me, had the misfortune to support the under achieving football team which plays there.

Whatever your connection, you’re almost certain to be aware that the area is renowned for its contribution to Scottish culture, particularly within the realms of sport, music and acting via the not insignificant number of its alumni who have achieved recognition in these spheres.

Maryhill has, for example, produced high profile international footballers like Bertie Auld, Charlie Nicholas and current Scotland captain Andy Robertson. 

Famous actors from the area include Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty), David McCallum (The Man from UNCLE, Colditz) and Sean Biggerstaff (whatever Harry Potter movie he was in).

Turning to music, Maryhill has spawned the world renowned Donovan who had a number of chart successes in the 60s and 70s with hits like Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman and the acclaimed blues singer Maggie Bell (claim to fame – many years ago I worked in the bank in Maryhill while the young Maggie worked in the wool shop across the road and she would often waltz into the bank with her war cry of ‘gies some change for the till, pal’.)

Maggie Bell

The musical dynamic took a significant twist in 1979 however when a 37 year old local singer, Lena Martell, released a single, One Day at a Time, which rose rapidly to Number 1 in the UK charts.

Martell had been singing professionally since the early 1960s and had shared stages with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis jr but of the 26 singles (not to mention nine albums) she had previously released, not one had  come close to entering the British top 40.

Her achievement with One Day… was all the more significant as she became part of an elite group of one hit wonders whose solitary hit had also topped the charts.

Why then, after all these years, all these singles/albums, all these tours, did this lassie from Maryhill finally enjoy some recording success?

The answer probably lies in the nature of the song.

Written by Kris Kristofferson, the song took the form of a prayer, asking for help and spiritual guidance from ‘sweet Jesus’ in the daily life of the singer and it no doubt resonated with the Christian record buying community.

Gospel music had been largely absent from the higher echelons of the hit parade in modern times although Judy Collins did reach the top ten in 1970 with her passionate rendering of Amazing Grace while the band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards mirrored her achievement two years later with an instrumental version of the hymn.

In summary, it’s realistic to assume that Martell’s hit was largely down to members of the Christian community rushing en masse to their local record shops to purchase the record and to give their faith the unique level of profile and exposure which only a chart topping single can generate.

Kristofferson may have penned the song but, in reaching the number one position, this Maryhill songstress achieved something that the country music legend had failed to achieve during his own stellar recording career.

What We Used To Wear – Patchwork Jeans

(A look back at some of the things we used to wear in the 70’s)

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2022

I can recall badgering my parents to buy me a pair of Wrangler jeans in 1971, a plea which fell on deaf ears, my Mum came home with a pair of brown cords from C&A, because she thought…. “they were a bit smarter!”

Maybe it was this early trauma that spurred me on to work in the jeans/denim industry for most of my adult life.

I did eventually get the Wrangler jeans I wanted in 1972, in what became an early example of… ‘If you want a job doing, do it yourself’.
Off I went to Arnott Simpsons department store in Glasgow to purchase them, weighed down with pocketfuls of change saved from my paper round earnings.

I can still remember the shiny Western labelling, the leather branding on the back pocket and the smell of unwashed denim.

I couldn’t wait to get home to try them on.

I have to admit that my enthusiasm diminished a tad when I realised that my new jeans were stiff as a board which meant you had to break them in… a bit like the wild stallion on the jeans label, which in retrospect was a fantastic piece of subliminal branding.

The first couple of times I wore them was agony, it felt like someone was rubbing sandpaper behind my knees… I missed my comfortable, soft brown cords!

I found out later that this was a rookie-mistake and that I should have washed the jeans first to remove all the excess starch but I’d probably have ignored this advice anyway, I’d waited long enough.

By 1974, trends had moved on a bit and like my old monkey boots, abandoned in a cupboard somewhere, dark, rigid, unwashed denim was now a thing of the past.

In its place were faded, lived-in jeans that looked like they’d been worn on a sun-kissed road trip from Laurel Canyon to Woodstock, whilst the wearer was listening to the Doobie Brothers.

Truth be told, the look we were going for was Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin (but maybe without the extra padding!) whilst the girls had their own fashion inspirations from that era.

The big problem with attaining that worn-in jeans look, circa 1974, was that you had to do the hard yards yourself…. stone-washing hadn’t been commercialised yet, so if you wanted to get your jeans to look like you’d lived in them for 10 years, you either had to live in them for 10 years or launder them several times a week, and who did that?

This led some to experiment with bleach, usually with disastrous results.

Back then most of us obtained our jeans from the usual outlets… department stores, mail order catalogues or boutiques but then an amazing thing happened, a specialised jeans shop opened in 1974 – Slak Shack on Hope St, near Glasgow’s Central Station.

It was a denim Mecca offering a variety of jeans, jackets, shirts and dungarees with one item standing out from the rest …. patchwork jeans.

Yep, new jeans made up of ‘old jeans‘ that had been cut and sewn together again.

Yep, ‘Old jeans‘ like the ones we’d been frantically trying to recreate by washing them every 5 minutes, plus the Slak-Shack strides were baggy which was the current trend and it didn’t even matter that there was only one leg length – LONG – because we were all teetering about on platform shoes now!

As soon as word got out about this fashion essential we all headed to the Shack, who struggled to cope, with demand rapidly outstripping supply.

The really cool thing about those original patchwork jeans in my book was that due to the customised way they’d been produced no two pairs were the same, so you could spend ages sifting through the stock to select your preferred pair.

Also, because the jeans were produced by using pre-used denim they were wonderfully soft and comfortable…. as if you’d been wearing them for 10 years.

Like most fashion crazes, other retailers and manufacturers soon cottoned on to what was in-demand and within a few months there were cheaper, nastier versions hitting the streets.
However, for a wee while in the autumn of 74, these personalised strides were like currency in Glasgow and Slak-Shack was the bank.

The Slak Shack Team

memories of the apollo, glasgow – david bowie.

Apollo, Glasgow.

I’d love to say my first Apollo, Glasgow memory is of Rory Gallagher standing front and centre of that high stage on the evening of 2nd March 1973, tuning his guitar before launching into ‘Laundromat.’

Rory Gallagher

Unfortunately, I can’t. Instead my first recollection is of ex Colosseum member Dave Greenslade in the guise of his new band, erm … Greenslade, boring me rigid as the strangely inappropriate support band.

Greenslade

Still, Rory and the lads more than made up for the purgatory I’d endured the previous forty minutes or whatever.

Throughout the remaining years of The Seventies, I’d get to as many Apollo shows as my meagre finances and other interests would allow. Suffice to say, I now have a great many exciting and happy memories from gigs in the hallowed hall – though some of these may be a tad addled by Carlsberg Special and Newcastle Brown Ale.

 Rory (five times over); The Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Lynyrd Skynyrd (twice); Man (two or three times); Jethro Tull (twice); The Runaways; Black Oak Arkansas; Ozark Mountain Daredevils; Baker Gurvitz Army; Ted Nugent; Queen; Devo and Gary Numan all spring to mind. I’d have to check my ticket stubs for others.

Rather surprisingly though, one of my most enduring memories surrounds a show I was not even at.

It was in the summer of ’78 and for some reason, I’d been up town for a drink with a couple of pals on a midweek evening. Even more surprising, we were still (relatively) sober as we made our way down West Nile Street to catch our bus home. As we passed Renfrew Lane at the back of The Apollo, we noticed a bit of a commotion.

We waited and we watched. Suddenly a blacked-out police van turned out the lane, followed by a horde of screaming and shouting fans. We watched as the van ignored the red traffic lights and eventually sped away from even the fittest of pursuing diehards.

Then, just as were getting back on our way, a chauffeur driven, black, limousine smoothly purred out Renfrew Lane. Only a few savvy fans who hadn’t been suckered by the decoy police van were in pursuit.

As the car slowed to a brief standstill right by us before turning left up the hill, the passenger, wearing a black fedora hat, leaned forward in his seat, smiled and waved.

David Bowie! David Bowie waved. To us! There was nobody else around.

Sure, I liked David Bowie – didn’t everybody? But I certainly wouldn’t have classed myself a ‘fan.’ And yet – Holy crap! There I was, a twenty year old bloke, feeling like a fourteen year old female Bay City Rollers fan. I suppressed the urge to scream and politely waved back.

Isn’t it funny how fate and circumstances shape the future? As a result of that spontaneous and momentary personal interaction, I became fan. Consequently David Bowie managed to sell several more albums than he would have done, had I not been passing the Apollo that night in 1978.

I bet he was so glad he took time to exchange pleasantries!

David Bowie album selection (CD)

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In Praise Of Lunch

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, January 2022

It came to my mind recently that lunch tends to get overlooked these days.
Brunches & Suppers are regularly championed by Nigella and Jamie, we’re constantly bombarded with dinner ideas on MasterChef and up until intermittent fasting came along we were hoodwinked into thinking that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.

By the way, do you know who’s credited with that oft-repeated and very famous quote?
None other than John Harvey Kellogg…. yeah THAT Kellogg!

Subsequently, lunch has dropped down the ‘square meal’ league table into the relegation zone which is a bit of a comedown.
Once upon a time it used to run away with the title but that was before Gordon Gekko’s “lunch is for wimps” claim in the movie Wall Street.

In its glory years lunch was called dinner, it was the main meal of the day and was eaten any time between late morning and mid afternoon. Then the industrial revolution came along at which point sustenance was required between morning and afternoon shifts to enable workers to sustain maximum effort throughout the day, hence the regimented one hour lunch break, we know now.

Cut forward to today and lunch for many consists of a quick sandwich in front of a computer screen, checking out social media and looking at Nigella’s recipes for supper, or if you’re male, and of a certain age, just checking out Nigella!

Back in the 70s however, when we were at school or newbies in the workplace, lunch WAS the most important meal of the day… by a long chalk.

Maybe it was by default… after all breakfast was relatively basic, a plate of cereal or a slice of toast before you ran out the door to catch the school bus.
Dinner, on the other hand, was a bit more formal in most households, the table would be set but you had to wait till your faither got home.

To be honest dinner was a bit hit or miss in our house.

You see, my dad was an offal man for his offal – kidney, Tongue, liver, tripe, all the stuff that was popular in its day and made fancy window dressing at the butchers…. but offers good reason to turn vegetarian now.

It got worse though, if the raw materials my mum had to work with weren’t great, then her cooking skills only compounded things.

I love my Mum to bits, but she was no Fanny Craddock and trying to mask the stench of charred liver from my favourite Fred Perry polo shirt, (by splashing on copious amounts of Brut) before heading out to impress, was not a pleasant experience.

So, whilst breakfast was on the hoof and dinner could easily have consisted of hoof…. lunch was always to be savoured for a few reasons…..

Firstly, although we may not have been enduring the same hardships as our distant relatives from the 1800’s, lunch still broke up the day perfectly – and if like me you were stuck in a dull lesson pre-lunch, then you could start counting down to the lunchtime bell before meeting up with your pals to eat, blether, and release some of that pent up energy.

Secondly, free-will, which was in scant supply back then, came to the fore as we were able to take ownership of our daily lunching choices.


You could go to the canteen for school dinners if you were seduced by the day’s menu offering, (beef olives was always a favourite), or if you fancied a wee donner (the walk not the kebab) then you could take your lunch money and saunter down to Bearsden Cross to the bakers for a sausage roll or a sandwich…. always accompanied by a carton of ski yoghurt for pudding.
It was probably the best hour of most school days!

Bearsden Cross pre lunchtime

School holidays meant lunch at home, and after a bit of trial and error, home lunches became a slick operation, i.e. straight out of a can – Campbell’s chicken soup and cold Ambrosia Devon Custard…. tasty, low-maintenance stuff that even I could prepare without the need to splash any Brut on afterwards.

It’s strange but I can’t remember much about school lunches at primary school, I lived about 15-20 min’s walk from school so I doubt that I lunched at home every day. I do remember a few kids having packed lunches though and thinking that themed lunchboxes were cool, but I don’t think soup and custard would have travelled that well.

Another weekly treat during school holidays was going to Drumchapel swimming baths, not so much for the eye-stinging chlorine or the daredevil belly flops off the dale, but rather for the delicious pie & beans in the adjoining canteen afterwards.

As we moved into the workplace, lunchtimes were a saviour, it broke the day up and gave you time to regroup and recharge your batteries.

I worked in a small office in central Glasgow when I left school. There was just 5 of us and I was the youngest by some 20 years, so come lunchtime I was a lone-wolf – until my good mate Billy Smith started working in Frasers in Buchanan St a few months later.
This was a tremendous turn of events as I used to go with Smiddy to their excellent staff canteen where we’d fill our faces and gawk at all the elegant cosmetic girls, before meandering about town to wile-away the rest of the golden-hour.

The iconic gallery at Frasers Glasgow

It was a splendid arrangement and when Smiddy told me he was thinking of quitting his job for a more lucrative one, I did what every good mate would do in the same situation….. and tried my darnedest to convince him to stay.

what about the great staff discounts”
“what about all the pretty girls in the cosmetics dept”
“what about the opportunities for promotion”

“what about the fact you’re working in an iconic building”
“what about – the subsidised staff canteen for Christ’s sake!!

Of course, Billy very selfishly took up the life changing opportunity, leaving me to lope around as a lone-wolf once more, although I used to regularly meet my mate Joe Hunter on a Friday and we’d head to Paddy’s Market to get our outfits for the weekend.
If ever clothes required a splash of aftershave, it was those ones!

As enjoyable as all those lunch times were back then, you knew the pleasure was temporary, you always had an enemy – the clock!

As you get older and escape the constraints of the clock, lunch offers a great social opportunity to catch up with friends and family and the lunches I look forward to the most now are the leisurely ones you have on holiday. Looking out at a sun-splattered, turquoise ocean, with a cold beer or a chilled glass of wine accompanied with never-ending portions of seafood or salty tapas… living in the moment with nothing to rush back for.

All hail lunch….


Girl Of The Rio

By Cat Cook: January 2022, Greece (the place, not the movie!).

I’ve seen quite a few references on this blog and on the Bearsden Academy FB page to the Rio cinema and I guess if you grew up in Bearsden (or nearby) in the 70s, then you’ll probably have a few memories of the old place.

Me?

I virtually lived there.

Not because I loved that old cinema – which I did

Not because I was such a huge movie fan – which I was

I had no choice really, my dad was the manager of the Rio for 15 years, my mum ran the kiosk, my big brother helped out after school and our house overlooked the damn place, it was a real family affair and there was no escape really!

When my dad took over the management of the Rio in 1971 it was already 37 years old, having been built in 1934 during the art-deco period with an original capacity of 1,120 seats, sadly there don’t seem to be any images available of when it was in its prime.

The old girl, pre-demolition

I was only 7 when the Rio came into my life, but I have so many strong memories of the place.

One of the first films I can remember sneaking into see as a 7 year old, was ‘A Clockwork Orange’, I’m not going to pretend that I knew what the hell was going on with the gangs in their white outfits, bowler hats and eye makeup, drinking milk – but it always stayed with me.


I also remember seeing the Exorcist age 9 and realising it wasn’t a Disney movie – “Your mother sucks cocks in hell” was something I learned not to repeat at the dinner table!
Similarly, seeing Carrie as a 9 year old was a bit heavy and brought about a few sleepless nights!
I should also add at this point that I loved Bambi and Mary Poppins too, I was quite normal really!
I just had access to all the cinematic experiences on offer and my Mum & Dad were sooo busy running the cinema 24-7 to worry about me skunking about the place.

Of course, being a ‘cinema brat’ had its benefits, apart from having the privilege of ‘access all areas’ I was spoiled rotten by the staff and my Birthday parties were always extremely popular.

One memory still treasured was the Rio Saturday Club, especially at Christmas when we’d collect donations for Strathblane Children’s Home.
In fact, if I had to choose my favourite Rio perk, it was going to the wholesalers to select the gifts for the kids at the Home before going up there with dad to hand them out.

As you can imagine, I saw so many great movies at the Rio, often multiple times!
I reckon I must have seen Grease about 30 times and Saturday Night Fever wasn’t far behind.

My big brother Graham and his mates (Russ Stewart & Des Marlborough – both of this parish) were regular cinema-goers as well, but I remember they were more interested in the “adult themed’ genres of the day!


Whenever I see a great 70s movie now, like The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars or Airplane it transports me back to the first time I saw them at the Rio and reminds me of the long queues of expectant movie-goers forming outside the cinema an hour or so before the doors open

Like any business that deals with the public, running a cinema wasn’t always plain sailing, particularly at weekends, and particularly as the Rio was equidistant between Maryhill and Drumchapel.
There were quite a few incidents with rival gangs, mainly in the car park thankfully, and with gangs threatening people in the queue before relieving them of their money.
The local police were usually quick to react to the situation, often handing out their own justice, at the rear of the cinema.

It was funny to see people trying the same old tricks, time and time again, always thinking they were the first to think of them!

Like – the folk who would pay for one person and then try to open the fire-doors for their mates, always believing they were the first to try it and couldn’t understand why they got caught.

Like – the folk who would try and hide in the toilets to see a movie twice. Always believing they were the first to try it and couldn’t understand why they got caught.

Going through the lost property box was always good fun as well and it was amazing to see what people left behind…. everything from umbrellas to frilly knickers.

Everyone mucked in and there was a real kinship behind the scenes, a lot of the staff became like family to us, especially after my brother Graham died.

Me and my big brother

Many folk reading this may even remember some of the Rio team: Mary and Linda the young good-looking girls, Wullie the friendly doorman and Jimmy the projectionist, who would nip out onto the roof for a fly smoke and sometimes miss the changing of the reel, leaving a blank screen and a lot of disgruntled customers….
They were all great people, who always turned up whatever the weather with many of them travelling by foot from Maryhill or Drumchapel daily. 

Of course, there was a lot of ‘back-row’ action back then as the cinema was one of the few places you could go with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you were too young to go to the pub.
In retrospect I should have started a gossip column as I knew everyone who was dating at the cinema on a Friday & Saturday night.

Funnily enough, when I went on a teenage cinema date myself, I still went to the Rio, the perks were too good to ignore.

A friend of the family managed the Odeon in Glasgow so I could always go there if I fancied a change. Basically, I never had to pay to see a movie back then.

My dad managed the Rio from 1971 until it closed in 1985 and was turned into flats.

How it looks today…

By 1985 I guess I had temporarily fallen out of love with the cinema as Nursing, Boys & Holidays came into my life.
I did rekindle my love as the facilities and options improved through the modern multiplexes but for me there will only be one cinema that is truly in my heart.
In the words of Simon Le Bon – Her Name is RIO……