Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Speakeasy Party

The audio pulse on the wall by the record bar blazed red and green as the vibrations from the thumping bluesy discs set its lights flickering into action. Pale faces glided by, eyes penetrating the velvet darkness with difficulty. Musky pink lamps glowed in the gloom at intervals along the walls.

This was the Speakeasy, London's current "in" clubs and favourite haunt of the night people, pop stars and musicians looking for a place to relax after their work is done.

The door of the glass-fronted restaurant at the far end of the club displayed a "closed" sign. It had been booked for a very special party that was to have some very special guests.

At 10.30 p.m. the Speakeasy's customers were few--it was early for the night people. The restaurant was almost deserted but a couple of hours later it was to be overflowing with famous names from the pop world and the Kings of British pop music would be meeting face to face with the King's of America's West Coast musical scene--a meeting between The Beatles and The Monkees.

Around 11.30 p.m. the Speakeasy began to fill up. The Who had arrived and so had dee-jays Kenny Everett, and Rick Dane (who compered one of The Monkees' concerts at Wembley) and singer/writer Jonathan King.

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton of Cream arrived dressed entirely in red with a beautiful black, gold-embroidered bolero and close behind came the entire Manfred Mann group. Mann Tom McGuiness greeted Cream Eric and they disappeared into a corner to chat.

Micky Dolenz arrived with his pretty friend and companion Samantha Juste and asked for "Two large iced cokes please". They found two seats opposite Eric Clapton and started to talk about music and anti-gravity!

Mike Nesmith wearing huge pink-lense glasses escorted his pretty blonde wife Phyllis who had only flown in from America a few hours earlier. They, too, both asked for cokes and went to sit by the door.

By now the records had been replaced by a live group on stage and the party people were beginning to sway with the music. Paul McCartney came in with Jane Asher and the hum and noise grew louder. Paul stripped off his green and orange jacket to display a green and red floral shirt. Jane looked cool and beautiful in an apple green skirt and a blouse on which Paul had painted a series of designs.

Beatle John, now minus his moustache, slipped in almost unnoticed and took a seat next to Paul. Picking up a packet of cigarettes from the table he demanded "Whose ciggies are these? Can I pinch one?"

Everyone Was There

Standing room had become very limited. Record producer Mickey Most squeezed through the doorway, greeted Vicki Wickham (of "Ready Steady Go" fame) and made his way to the bar. Frankie Allan of The Searchers, Patsy Ann Noble, Dusty Springfield and Lulu were all chatting happily when Procul Harum in its entirety (and resplendent in their eastern costumes) pushed through the doorway and had difficulty finding space in which to stand.

Kenny Everett and Jonathan King moved over to the Beatles table and sat down, joined by Keith Moon of The Who. The music got louder and fingers began drumming on the table. A blue-shirted Peter Tork slid along the bench to join in the fun.

George Harrison arrived with Patti and two way-out friends, the boy playing a flute and the girl wearing a flower in her hair. The party was really beginning to swing. George removed his sheepskin jacket and made his way across the room greeting people as he went. Patti talked with Jane, and George spoke to Mann Klaus Voormann.

Iced cokes were being passed over bobbing heads, ciggies were passed from hand to hand and Paul took a couple of hot sausages from a passing waitress. Cheese and pickles on sticks were popped into hungry mouths and George was hunting for a vacant chair.

The group had finished playing on stage and music from the record bar bounced out of the speakers. John Lennon and Keith Moon were leading a boisterous chorus on one side of the room and George had found a seat on the other side with Eric Clapton and Procul Harum.

By 3.00 a.m. George was serenading everyone with the help of his ukelele, Peter Tork was playing banjo like he had just invented it, Keith Moon was drumming on the table. Micky Dolenz was chatting quietly to Paul. Mike Nesmith and his wife had slipped quietly away and the crowd had thinned slightly. But the party still had another three hours to run!

But there were two people who missed the fun--Beatle Ringo and Monkee Davy Jones. Both were visiting relatives 'up North'.

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