I had been going to see R&B stuff in the pub for over a year before The Sound gig, as documented in my piece about going to The George Canning in April 1979 – click here.
But this was surely my first “proper rock” gig; The Sound at The 101 Club. And my mate Anil Biltoo’s sister Benita was in the band – how cool was that?
My diary entry for the day is light on detail:
Friday 16 May 1980: Helped at charity shop => Anils (Fox) => home for dinner => 101 Club (Benita’s concert).
Fortunately, my memory is quite good on detail for this one and The Sound gained enough cult status to be pretty well documented too.
“Fox” can only mean The Fox On the Hill pub on Denmark Hill. What a couple of 17-year-olds might have been doing in there on a half-term Friday afternoon is anybody’s guess.
The 101 Club was a fairly iconic venue back in the late 1970s and early 1908s. It was a couple of blocks up St John’s Hill from my dad’s shop (No 43).
I knew that Anil’s big sister was in a band – all three of the Biltoo kids were very musical – and Benita used to talk to us about music if we were hanging out at Anil’s house and if she was in the mood for chatting; which was quite often; she was very friendly and inclusive with us youngsters. A top girl.
So when this gig came up, Anil and I were very keen to go and were included in the entourage.
The 101 Club was a proper dive. Smoke filled and grimy.
At one point during the gig, I remember someone telling me that the bloke next to me with whom I was rubbing shoulders was Julian Cope from The Teardrop Explodes.
Imagine that. I’d even heard of The Teardrop Explodes!
The fact that my knowledge of The Teardrop Explodes almost certainly extended no further than Benita having played Treason to us some weeks earlier was beside the point. Indeed the circularity of that argument has only just occurred to me as I write, more than 37 years later.
I made sure to acknowledge Julian Cope. I realise it’s just a story…but a true story.
As it happens, just a few months later, a gig by The Teardrop Explodes, supported by The Thompson Twins, was one of my earliest and most memorable gigs at Keele – reported here.
The next thing I remember…
…apart from The Sound being incredibly good, I mean, like, far and away the best rock gig I had ever heard in my entire life…
…was the MC calling a halt to proceedings on The Sound, before they had finished their set.
We members of The Sound’s entourage tried to reverse this decision by shouting for more…
…the next thing I remember was being ejected, in a collar-lifting stylee, from the 101 Club, along with The Sound and the rest of The Sound’s entourage.
Anil, Benita, her (then) boyfriend Muffin and I ended up back at my parent’s house, nursing our dignity.
I remember my mum supplying tea and biscuits. It can’t have been all that late; mum never could stay up all that late. I remember mum asking Benita and Muffin all sorts of questions. I remember learning that they were now sort-of living together in South Kensington.
After Muffin and the Biltoos (by gosh that would be a good name for a 1980s band) left, I recall my mum saying that she thought Muffin had smelly feet. Why that particular fact from that evening has stuck in my brain all these years is a mystery to me. But there in my brain it is; no false memory in that factoid; just extremely weird recall.
This story really isn’t as rock’n’roll as it should be, is it?
Anyway, there is a splendid two-part interview on-line with Benita (who was known as Benita Marshall or Bi Marshall as an artiste), which tells her story from The Sound days:
Benita stuck with The Sound for some further months after the 101 Club gig and she was an integral part of their first album, Jeopardy, before a parting of the ways with Adrian Borland and the boys.
I remember being so thrilled when that album, Jeopardy, came out and got a double-page spread in Melody Maker during my first term at Keele – around the time I saw The Teardrop Explodes perform.
Of course I bought a copy of Jeopardy. Of course I still have it.
Of course you don’t need to track it down; it’s up on YouTube in its entirety and well worth a listen – you can click through below: