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Ladbroke Grove

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  • Ladbroke Grove

    This is a sleeve note from my New World's Fair box set.
    In the early 1970’s, Ladbroke Grove was and still is crammed with rock and roll people and it was almost impossible not to know at least half-a-dozen musicians who were either already famous or would soon become famous in this atmosphere , with Islands amazing studios ten minutes from my house and almost everyone you knew working in some capacity for the music business, it felt a little weird if you didn’t have a recording contract.
    I was doing a lot of stuff with Hawkwind at the time, both writing and performing, and it revived my interest in music. I had begun in the mid 1950’s, doing rock and roll and bluegrass as well as R&B and what was known as “skiffle”- an American white and black folk music played up tempo for dancing and made commercially successful by the likes of Lonnie Donnegan, Chas MacDevitt and The Vipers. Those early years in the clubs of Soho, where British rock first began, were fairly similar to the 60’s in Ladbroke Grove- everybody knew everybody and it was quite often possible to be involved in a session with someone like Charlie Watts on drums, Long John Baldry doing vocals and Pete Green playing guitar.
    I cut my first demo with EMI in 1957 and it was, even by the standards of the day, considered too dreadful to release. So it was perfectly natural , living as I did in Ladbroke Grove, to slide back into doing music. Also I was helping Jon Trux and others put on concerts under the motorway in Portobello Road – my first performance with Hawkwind was at one of these gigs , and at that first performance I did “SONIC ATTACK”. I think it was Dave Brock who encouraged me to do a demo of two songs I’d written, “Dodgem Dude” and “Starcruiser”, and I somehow found myself having lunch with an A&R man from Liberty records who casually asked me when I intended to schedule my first LP. Almost without realizing it, I had a record contract and “NEW WORLD’S FAIR” was the result. I was already doing some stuff with Steve Gilmore, who was performing solo, and Graham Charnock, although gigging with an R&B band while helping edit “New Worlds” magazine, agreed to play bass. Knowing that both Steve and Graham drew more of their living from music, I insisted that they be represented on the album, which is why you’ll hear several of their songs here. Steve was at the time working with Sam Shepard (now more famous as a film star, but then a writer who had scripted “Zabriski Point” and whose first collection of poems was called “Hawkmoon”) and it’s Sam’s lyrics you’ll hear on “Song For Marlene”.
    It was a very small world , in many ways .The idea was mine and “Dodgem Dude”, in particular, set the theme for NWF. Ironically, Liberty never showed any great interest in taking it beyond the demo stage and the record wasn’t released until some seven years after the album.
    “The Deep Fix” was formed in 1972 . By the time we made the album it consisted of myself, Steve, Graham, Pete Pavli (late of the Third Ear Band and High Tide) Snowy White and Kumo. Terry Ollis was our first drummer (ex Hawkwind) but Simon King is on most of the tracks you’ll hear here.

    The original album was musically a bit more ambitious than it turned out, partly because some of the people weren’t happy with doing eccentric rhythms and bar lines, while some tracks were abandoned altogether. One of those, which you’ll hear for the first time on this album , was “Candy Floss Cowboy”, which I dropped off the album because I was disappointed in it, but which doesn’t sound too bad to me now! If you listen to “The Brothel In Rosenstrasse” or even “At The Time Center” you’ll have a better idea of the flavour I was aiming for. “Brothel In Rosenstrasse” is in many ways more typical of “The Deep fix”, who gave their final live performance (with Adrian Shaw on bass) at Nik Turner’s Bohemian Love Inn , the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, in 1978-in many ways the Grand Finale of the alternative music scene as we had experienced and enjoyed it. After that our music got less and less commercial and times had changed so radically that nobody except occasionally Flicknife , actually wanted to produce it. The work Pete Pavli and I did on “Gloriana” and “The Entropy Tango” , two ambitious projects scarcely got beyond demo stage before we grew tired of the record industry’s increasing orthodoxy . Like many of our contemporaries who were not quite young enough to feel immortal and not old enough to have grown cynical, we gradually dropped out of doing music. “The Deep Fix” did a few numbers on Flicknife and then we went our different ways. Since then of course, there has been a lot of interest in this album and some of the other stuff we did, which is why there are some extra tracks included here as a kind of epilogue!
    I hope you enjoy it. If I had my time over again, I think I’d have done it a bit differently , but there’s enough stuff on this album for everyone to find something they like. And maybe, who knows, we’ll find enough tracks knocking about to do a follow-up album sometime.
    I hope you enjoy this
    Keep on rocking!


    Yours,
    Michael Moorcock
    Lost Pines, Texas
    August 1994.
    I've always been fascinated with tales of Ladbroke Grove and characters the likes of Michael Moorcock, Bob Calvert, Barney Bubbles, Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Lemmy, Vivian Stanshall, Stacia and the whole Hawkwind troupe. The sad thing is that I can only know what I read about it and have little geographical or historical knowledge of the area.
    The tales of Ladbroke Grove in the late 60's and early 70's are completely enthralling. I would love to hear any reminiscences of those magical times from other members of this forum and especially (if possible) from Mike himself.

  • #2
    I dont know if this subject has already been posted in the past, but I couldnt find anything on my ramblings.
    From Answers .com
    Ladbroke Grove is a road in West London, and is also the name given to the immediate area surrounding the road. Running from Notting Hill in the south to Kensal Green in the north, it is located in North Kensington and straddles the W10 and W11 postal districts. Ladbroke Grove tube station is located on the road, at the point where it is crossed by the Westway. It is also the nearest tube station to Portobello Road Market. Ladbroke Grove is the main road on the route of the annual Notting Hill Carnival in August. The psychedelic rock band Hawkwind formed here in 1969, and the punk group The Clash formed locally in 1976. It is mentioned in the 1970s pop hit "One Man Band" by Leo Sayer, and was home to the UK Underground movement. In the Pulp song "I Spy" from the album Different Class they sing the line "your Ladbroke Grove looks turn me on." In 1999, 31 people died in the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. The road is also mentioned in the song "Slim Slow Slider" by Van Morrison, from the Astral Weeks album. Celebrities currently living on this road include the socialite James Hudson and David Beckham's former mistress Rebecca Loos.
    There is very little historical explanation as to what the draw to Ladbroke Grove was during the anti-war, anti-establishment, psychedelic, cultural rebellion of the hippies in the 60’s and 70’s. Was it due to some special geographical proximity to an establishment that was relative to the movement?
    Over the years I have read recollections of visitors the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett and Eric Burdon (to name a few) being present at LG. These people changed a generation of young people, fashionably, musically and politically on a level of global proportions.
    I don’t understand why the Ladbroke Grove area was so site specific to this phenomenon. Was it a fluke or something that just sort of happened through its own natural course of action?? Or was it merely a co-incidence that the immediate area was inhabited by so many talented musicians, artists and actors?? I have never been to England and therefore have no familiarity with the LG area whatsoever. But from what I read and see about Ladbroke Grove…it is fascinating to say the least. Any information past, present or future regarding LG will be appreciated.
    Thanks...VG
    Last edited by voilodian ghagnasdiak; 10-01-2006, 04:03 AM.

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    • #3
      I would imagine it is also part of the inspiration for Sporting Club Square. Although the Ladbroke Grove and Sporting Club Square are pretty different from each other in the main, there seem to be some similarities. If you look at Ladbroke Grove with Google Earth, for example, you get a nice overhead view of the tennis courts, which are mentioned so often in connection with Sporting Club Sqaure.
      The name that can be named is not the true name.

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      • #4
        I think Mike has mentioned previously that the Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill areas have been completely transformed (by property developers?) since the years when he lived there; so much so they no longer resemble the places he knew.
        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kamelion
          I would imagine it is also part of the inspiration for Sporting Club Square. Although the Ladbroke Grove and Sporting Club Square are pretty different from each other in the main, there seem to be some similarities. If you look at Ladbroke Grove with Google Earth, for example, you get a nice overhead view of the tennis courts, which are mentioned so often in connection with Sporting Club Sqaure.
          A reasonable guess, but Sporting Club Square is actually an alternate (or some alternate) Queen's Club Gardens in Fulham. (How do I know? Ah, that would be telling.)

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          • #6
            Is/was Ladbroke Grove accessible by underground and/or aboveground rail from any city in England? How far is LG from London (how long by train) ??
            I still dont understand what the draw was to that area in the 60's and 70's?

            Comment


            • #7


              This map shows the position of Notting Hill Gate (top-left) in relation to Central London(right-hand side). High St. Kensington would be the location for they Roof Garden presumably.



              Here you can see where Ladbroke Grove is from NHG.

              My guess for why LG/NH were popular in the #50s/'60s/'70s is cheap house prices. The areas perhaps weren't then 'desirable' locations for house-buyers; that would come later with the redevelopment by property developers and later on films like Notting Hill. But what you're really asking is why were artists drawn to that specific area, and I don't really know the answer.

              See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladbroke_Grove & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Underground_movement

              (The latter link has a nice little comment from Mike about living there.)
              Last edited by David Mosley; 10-01-2006, 08:21 AM.
              _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
              _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
              _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
              _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

              Comment


              • #8
                It almost has an Haight-Ashbury overtone to it. Im sure that Peace, Love, Sex and Drugs were a contributing factor to the popularity of Ladbroke Grove. There must be someone old enough to recall some of the happenings that transpired there.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here's Mike in an interview with Paul Walker from 1972 published in Luna Monthly in 1975. Part of the interview was also published in the Sojan collection (and I think Elric At The End Of Time?) as New Worlds - Jerry Cornelius, but this part and some others were omitted:

                  'We live in the run-down part of Ladbroke Grove and have lived in this particular flat since '66. We moved here, in fact, when it was mainly a working-class neighbourhood, but since then, thanks partly to the dreadful England Swings craze and the Time article on the subject, the Portobello Road (which parallels Ladbroke Grove) has become something of a tourist attraction. Also, of course, the Grove is now the centre of British alternative society which makes it easier to live in in many ways. Most of one's friends live nearby.'
                  'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                  Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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                  • #10
                    p.s. Mike says he lived at 87 Ladbroke Grove in this old thread:

                    http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showt...Ladbroke+Grove
                    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      And in Blenheim Crescent, too, if I'm not totally mistaken.
                      Come in, you're most welcome, but leave Envy at my castle's gates ... for it is a poison we are unable to cure, and you'd be its first sad victim yourself.

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                      • #12
                        Michael Moorcock 'ORBIT' 6 Interview 14/9/83 Excerpts
                        MM: That was 'New Worlds' and the underground scene at the time. It was almost totally based around Notting Hill so I just started getting to know musicians again cos there were so many people living round there, so that if you socialised at all it was almost impossible not to know a few people who were doing music. In fact it was Bob Calvert and John Trux, who was an underground journalist, who came round and we were talking about Hawkwind. I don't think they had a record out at that point, and it was John rather than Bob, although it was Bob who had actually brought John Trux around, but I got on very well with John Trux, he said "why don't you come along and see Hawkwind because Dave and Nik like your stuff."
                        The story of the origin of Hawkwind's name has changed so many times, but at the time the story was that it was taken from 'Hawkmoon' in the 'Runestaff' books and the Wind bit was because Nik Turner farted a lot ..(laughs).. I went along to a gig in Shepherd's Bush and I really liked the whole atmosphere of the band. It fitted very closely with what I imagined a rock'n'roll band should be and it wasn't like the image which by that time ('70-71) had got a bit slick, where you could buy - well, you couldn't actually - buy books which said, you know, 82 different guitar poses for appearing on stage with, and it had got a bit like that, sort of a lot of wanking about ..(laughs).. Which I didn't like. What I liked about Hawkwind was that it was like a mad spaceship with everybody jaming things in to see what would happen. Half of it was DikMik just finding out what would happen with the synthesizer, and Nik used to have his captain's cap at the time, he doesn't wear it much now but he used to have this captain's or seaman's white cap and he looked very good 'doing that' ..(chuckles).. So I sort of went up to a few gigs.
                        Dave almost immediately asked me if I'd do some work, but at that time Bob was working with them and it didn't feel right somehow to move in as Bob was starting up his career, so I felt a bit awkward about it, I wouldn't do anything. Finally Bob went into the loony bin, obviously by this time I was involved in it, and Dave said "could you do something?" and Sonic Attack was the first thing I did and I was the first person to perform it.
                        I was helping organise some free gigs in the Portobello Road under the motorway and it just naturally happened because I was helping organise the gigs and so I was involved in it anyway and Dave said "why the hell don't you do it." I hadn't been on stage for some time, and I did it. So I said to Bob, until he wanted to come back I would fill in for him, which is basically what I did, and that was more or less how it ran thereafter. I did all the first 'Sonic Attack' on that first stretch and then Lemmy started doing it and I think it was Lemmy that finally did the first recorded version. The weird thing is there's no recorded version of me doing 'Sonic Attack' - there was going to be but I don't think Dave liked it so it never came off.

                        HF: How did you put the lyrics together? Had you framed them on a book or some ideas .. ?

                        MM: No, I just did it. It seemed to me to be an ideal Hawkwind thing, that was all. Nearly all the Hawkwind stuff I've done is absolutely specifically for Hawkwind and usually at Dave's request. My only disappointment is by not being around enough I haven't recorded as much of my own stuff as I would've liked to because I do enjoy that, but I'm usually so rusty anyway that it's not a good idea, I'll only waste peoples time. There are a few things I've done that still aren't out, partly because they're not that good ..(chuckles)..

                        HF: When did you write the song 'The Black Corridor (Space Ritual)'? Were you involved with the tour and album?

                        MM: The Black Corridor I didn't write, that was Bob Calvert ripping off 'The Black Corridor' which was a novel of mine. He just used the opening of the novel.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks for digging up that old thread Marca. I will definitely delve into it deeper. I've always got a kick out of this recollection of Bob Calvert by Arthur Brown:
                          He was, as are many artists, a mixture of dare-devil irresponsibility in his life, and responsibility to his art.
                          This bright-eyed exuberant child energied cynical fellow was full of enthusiasm. He was a true artist to my mind, beleagured by life's onslaught, and confused by its vagaries.
                          This lead to a hilarious but alarming incident.
                          He had himself committed to one of our then fashionable mental-homes. When he came out he came to visit me.
                          His red hair had been cut to 1/4 inch. He sportred black leathers and wore black flying boots. He had been subjected to chemicals and shock treatment.
                          He was still speeding out of his skull.
                          It put me in mind of Vivian Stanshall, leader of the Bonzo Dog Band. A year previously he, being subjected to depressions and mystical symbols, committed himself also to the same mental home. When he came out, his red hair was also 1/4 inch long. He too sported black leathers and flying boots. I wondered if it were some effect of the shock treatment that made them seem like unlikely artistic twins - especially as they both carried rather snazzy black briefcases.

                          Arthur Brown recalling the incident when he introduced Calvert to Stanshall at the latter one's home:

                          I determined to introduce them. One early afternoon found me taking Robert to visit Vivian's suburban domicile "Chez Gevêra" (as Vivian's signpost announced). We entered and were met by Viv's wife who entertained us with information about Vivian's turtles.
                          I must preface the incident by saying that Vivian was one of the most fearlessly rude persons I have ever met. He could insult anyone deliciously, and seemed to take delight in it. Robert was no slouch in this area either. So I thought, being both artists of a like temperament, they might understand each other.
                          I stayed downstairs, listening to turtle-news, while Robert went up. He had been up there less than a minute when we heard a dreadful commotion.
                          There was the sound of breaking glass. Through the downstairs window I could see something flying across the lawn - obviously thrown through the upstairs window. Suddenly, Robert appeared, running speedily down the stairs with Vivian in close pursuit. Vivian shouted: "And don't you ever come back again!", as Robert scampered hastily down the path.
                          So much for artistic camaraderie!

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                          • #14
                            Viv and Robert were about as barmy as one another and did have very similar attitudes, including a lot of nostalgia for imperial England. Ladbroke Grove was pretty much an exact equivalent of Haight/Ashbury and for fairly similar reasons. I of course lived there before the phenomenon and saw it all grow up around us. Anyone reading about NH in the very early 60s or before will find a very different world, mostly of gang battles and so on. And yes we moved there as everyone did originally because it was cheap and considered dangerous (while being only a twenty minute walk from the West End). Ladbroke Grove was our nearest tube but NH was actually handier, as were various buses like the 15 and the 52. I also lived on the corner of Blenheim Crescent and Ladbroke Grove, originally opposite the Convent of the Poor Clares. Only ever appeared on stage with Arthur Brown once in a performance fictionalised in Condition of Muzak...

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                            • #15
                              Oh!, what fun Ladbroke Grove must have been!

                              Alot of us sure missed out at not being an adult during that time period!


                              Now, where did I put that lever to work my time machine....

                              "With a deep, not-unhappy sigh, Elric prepared to do battle with an army." (Red Pearls)
                              - Michael Moorcock

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