Eel Pie Island Music Story. In the early 1960s across the river, Eel Pie Island ruled and rocked the sounds and rhythm of blues, the south of England’s answer to Merseybeat. Hear the Eel Pie Island Hotel played host to artists like the Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and many other fledgeling performers who would go on to become internationally renowned superstars of the music world.
The Eel Pie Island Hotel had long been used as a dancehall described by Charles Dickens as a place to dance to the music of the locomotive band. In the 1920s it was a local tea dance venue. In 1956 it was adopted as a Jazz venue featuring the popular trad jazz acts of the time such as Ken Colyer, Aker Bill, Kenny Ball, George Melly and many more.
In the early 1960s which is the emergence of the British rhythm and blues movement, club owner Arthur Chisnall, a man who believed strongly in giving young people a voice, began to feature this new music in his club on Eel Pie Island. Arthurs’ bold initiative gave Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner, John Baldry and other pioneers of blues in Britain, a platform on which they could highlight the sounds of Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and other American blues stars whose music was hitherto unknown to the world at large. That’s not all of the Eel Pie Island Music Story.
On April 24th, 1963 the Rolling Stones played on Eel Pie Island for the first time. Already hugely popular down the road in Richmond Crawdaddy Club. The Stones began a residency at Arthur Chisnall Ealpiland which would help to launch their rise to fame as frontrunners of the R&B sound which would rival The Beatles and take the music business by storm.
Following the success of the Stones, the Eel Pie Island Hotel featured dozens of new acts, some of whom would become world famous and others who could look back and revel in having been part of the phenomenon which proved to have such a lasting influence on music and fashion growth of Britain and Internationally.
The Eel Pie Island hotel rapidly became the place to hear rhythm and blues bands on the west side of London. (For more interesting stories from Twickenham visit the blog of Plumber Twickenham website.)
One particularity of the club which is fondly remembered by regulars was the sprung dance floor which acted like a trampoline causing the audience to bounce up and down in front of the somewhat dilapidated stage all adding to the excitement.
Although Arthur Chisnalls Eelpiland closed in 1967 the venue was to enjoy a brief reincarnation in 1969 when it reopened as Cornell Barefoots rock garden. This featured among others Black Sabbath, Edgar Broughton Band and Hawkwind. Sadly the hotel was gradually falling into despair and the Eel Pie Island Music Story’s end came in March 1971 when a fire accelerated the demolition process giving away to the housing development ‘Aquarius’ which exists today.
The musical legacy of Arthur Chisnalls Eelpiland has come full circle with the formation in 2008 of Pie Club based in Twickenham town centre and the Cabbage Patch Pub. The clubs’ aim is to preserve the great heritage of British rhythm and blues in the area where it all began so many years ago.
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