Monday, 26 July 2010

Dr Feelgood's Canvey (and surrounding areas!) Pt 2 of 3

Oil City Confidential is released on DVD today! Here's part two of my Dr Feelgood project. (Part 1 here)

Another regular Feelgood venue in those early days was the Monaco pub on Canvey seafront.
(The Monico being built in the late 1930's)
The Monico was built as a 25 room hotel in 1938 by Mr A H Beaumont, and took just ten months to build. It stood next to the huge Casino which was also owned by A H Beaumont. The building was made in a semicircular and built on a 'Raft'. On the first floor a sun balcony was constructed, and on the roof was a 'roof garden' containing amongst other things a badminton court. The Monico was the first building on Canvey to have central heating installed.

(The Monico shortly after it opened, 1938)

Beaumont eventually sold the hotel in 1946 to the Charrington brewery, after which it was converted to a pub.

(The Monico in the 1990's)

(The Monico - June 2010)

The Monico certainly seemed to have had an odd paint job when I visited. It looked as though it had been decorated to resemble a huge St George's cross (remember I was taking these photos during the world cup).

Dr Feelgoods 2nd Album: Malpractice is released in October 1975. The cover photo is taken outside Phil Moss barbers shop in Maurice Road, Canvey. Great cover, particularly love the furtive look from Wilko, caught in some dodgy deal with The Big Figure!

Here's another shot from outside that barbers:
The barber shop is alas long gone, replaced by houses.... (bah!)

(The Phil Moss Barber Shop was somewhere along here - July 2010)

Here's a few more photos taken from the Malpractice photoshoot. These were literally just over the road from the barbers at Discount Furnishings, 191 High Street (I took the above picture of Maurice Road standing outside 191!).

(Discount Furnishings, 191 High Street, Canvey - 1975)

(Discount Furnishings, 191 High Street, Canvey - 1975)

Discount Furnishings may be no more, but 191 High Street remains:

(191 High Street, Canvey - July 2010)

Here are some more great Canvey promo shots of the Wilko line up of the band:

(Oil City by night 1975)

(Oil City by day! July 2010)

(Canvey Amusements, underneath Cloud 9, 1975)

(Canvey Amusements, underneath what was Cloud 9, July 2010)

Here's another classic location from the seafront area... The Labworth Cafe, Canvey.

This fabulous Wilko era Labworth shot was used for the Oil City Confidential film promo poster, and is also used as the cover of the DVD:

The Feelgoods will return here a few years later to promote their album 'Be Seeing You'.
(The Labworth July 2010 - Tide out)

The Labworth is a stunning art-deco building, sitting directly on the sea wall, looking out to the Thames estuary. It was designed and built in 1933 by Ove Arup, the same man who designed and built the Penguin Pool at London Zoo and Sydney Opera House. Arup designed the Labworth to look like the bridge of the RMS Queen Mary ocean liner.

(The Labworth June 2010 - Tide in!)

Between the 70's and the 90's, the Labworth managed to dodge the demolition ball on more than one occasion, as it slowly went to wrack and ruin. It's fortunes finally turned around in the late 90's when it was taken over and restored by a local lottery winner (it's now a listed building). By day it's a seaside cafe, but by night this is one of the most exclusive restaurants around, and there is always a six month waiting list for a sea-view table! (honest!).

The now almost legendary 'Canvey Is Englands Lourdes' graffiti on the sea wall (the Labworth is just visible in the far background) which is featured in the Oil City Confidential film:

In 1976, Feelgood manager Chris Fenwick vacates Feelgood House for a much grander property in Canvey, complete with full bar in the living room (called The Cluedo Club)! The boys are in heaven, and the place is immediately dubbed Feelgood House 2! This now becomes the hub of the Dr Feelgood machine.

(Feelgood House 2 July 2010)

By this time there has been some considerable tension growing between (tea-total) Wilko and the rest of the (hard drinking) band. With little new material to work with, the band decide that the next album should be a live recording. Some recordings are already in the can so......

Dr Feelgoods 3rd Album: Stupidity is released in October 1976, and goes to number one in the album charts. Side one captures the band live at the Kursaal in Southend (November 75), with side 2 coming from Sheffield City Hall (May 75). The cover shot, arguably the most iconic Feelgood photo ever, is also taken from the gig at Southend.

(The Kursaal, Southend - 1910)

(The Kursaal 100 years later! - June 2010)

In 1894 a brand new area opened along Southend seafront, combining amusements, a marine park and gardens. A grand entrance to the area, complete with a huge silver dome overhead, was built by the Margate and Southend Kursaals Company, and opened in 1901. The Kursaal (Kursaal is German for "cure hall" or "spa" by the way) soon became one of the biggest attractions in the country, with its circus, zoo, scenic railway ballroom and regularly changing amusements.... The list of features held in the 'amusements' area over the years is truly mind boggling! the world's first female lion tamer, the world's first female 'wall of death' rider, the first venue in England to display Al Capone's car, even Eric the sixty ton stuffed whale was on display at one point! The ballroom was supposedly the finest in the country, and many star performed here over the years - Vera Lynn started her career at the Kursaal.

The Kursaal remained popular after the war, but went into decline during the 70's (although don't forget that the Pistols 'Anarchy in the UK' tour almost played here in December 1976!) and eventually closed in 1986. 12 years later in 1998 it was re-opened after a multi-million pound face lift with the tower finally being restored to its former glory (it's now a listed building too). However it's little more than a glorified chav-fest these days, and it's main attraction is fast food and a 30 lane bowling ally... nice!

During the making of the fourth album, Wilko and the rest of the band have a major falling out about tracks to be included. The album is recorded, but it's the end of the line for Wilko. A search is soon underway to find a replacement, and a name is soon recommended to the band.... Another Essex lad, John Mayo (incredibly, keeping up the 3 John's and a Lee line up!) from Harlow. Mayo soon has the obligatory Feelgood nickname, and is re-christened 'Gypie'. It's back to a venue already mentioned for Gypie's inaugural performance - a warm up at Cloud 9 on Canvey seafront, which by now was called Bardot's.

Within a few months of Gypies arrival, Dr Feelgood are releasing their next album.

Dr Feelgoods 4th Album: Sneakin' Suspicion is released in May 1977, but of course it features Wilko on guitar rather than new recruit Gypie. Originally, the cover of this album was going to be a shot of the band outside the Labworth (almost certainly the same picture seen earlier in this post), but now Wilko was gone, a new cover had to be designed. This shot was taken outside The Canvey Club, which for some reason (even the band can't remember why!) they re-named the Alibi Club for the purpose of the photo.

(The Alibi Club - 1977)

(The Alibi\Canvey Club - July 2010)

Amazingly, the delightfully ramshackle Canvey Club is still there today, looking just as it did back in the 1970s.

(The Canvey Club 1970's)

(The Canvey Club July 2010)

(The Canvey Club July 2010)

Piley bumps into Wilko Johnson whilst on the Feelgood trail... where? Oil City of course!

(Piley and Wilko - July 2010)

That's it for part two. Part 3 is here


Here's the explosive trailor for Oil City Confidential:

Going Back Home Live at The Kursaal in Southend (recorded for the Stupidity album):

All Through The City Live at The Kursaal in Southend (recorded for the Stupidity album):



Heff said...

I think Wilko forgot to take his medication !

Get ready to ROCK at HBAG in 1 hour !

Anonymous said...

That Going Back Home video is fantastic! They look completely wired and wonderful.
I'm heading straight over to one of them there online markets for some Feelgood!!

Kolley Kibber said...

This is heaven! Thanks so much for taking the time and care to put it all together. And I love the pic of you and Wilco...not the slightest flicker of fear in your eyes...

Piley said...

Heff - hmm, I think maybe he's been taking his medication!!

JJ - Glad you liked! Agree that 'going back home' vid is on fire! The CD and DVD set that came out a while back taken from that Kursaal show is a peach. Warning, the DVD is only about 30 minutes long, as it's all that remains of the recording. But the CD features the whole show plus a few more live bits... Both are incredible! Never seen so much energy in a live DVD before. Amazon sell the set at a bargain price of £6.99.

ISBW - thanks very much, really pleased you are enjoying it. The funny thibg about that photo is that he was laughing and smiling right up to it being taken. Then he pulled his hand over his face (much like a mime artist) and THAT face appeared! As soon as it was taken he had a big 'ol grin again! Ever the professional, he can't help but do the Wilko pose for any photoshoot. God love him.


Cocktails said...

How did you just happen to run into Wilco?! There has to be more to it than just a piccy! Did you chat? Was he worried about you stalking him.... (only joking!)Come on, is this in part 3?!

Anonymous said...

Excellent bit of local history P. So what was Wilko like ?, i've heard he can be very tetchy ?. I was working at the Rochford festival one year before it opened and he was walked round by some one and posed for some photo's , i wanted to shake his hand but was frankly too shit scared to LOL.

Good stuff.


marmiteboy said...

Great stuff again Mr P. I spent a happy Saturday evening watching the extras from my pre release and signed copy Oil City Confidential.

Great picture of you and Wilko.

Piley said...

Coctails - Ok, Ok, I wasn't going to put it in part 3 but I will now!! But the simple answer is I went to the DVD launch last Wednesday on Canvey!

Nice one Carl, thanks. I have heard similar, but he was on top top form when I met him. Although as this was a staged event I guess he was on his best behaviour.

Ta Marmite - It's a cracking little DVD package isn't it?


Canvey Kev said...

I live very near the Canvey Club, in fact I worked there a couple of times about 15 years ago. At the time they only sold 2 beers (John Smiths and Fosters) and after 11pm they had to pass a hat round to see if they could afford to pay me until 12!! (they did, I got about £40 which was pretty good back then!)

I worked at the Railway pub in Pitsea about 11 years ago too. Although it was better known as the flying bottle back then!

I also use to work at the downstairs function room at the Monico 1997-98. I used to love that place but it all went wrong in the summer of 1998 when it become a night club. Did you know it’s the only place on Canvey with a cellar? They plan to build a block of flats next to the Monico soon.

Thought you might have done a bit on the Admiral Jellicoe as Feelgood spent a lot of time down there.

Astaires also use to be called Bennetts.

When the old Oyster Fleet pub became Dr Feelgood’s Music Bar that was my local! I was in there on the Friday night when it was Lee’s wake. I was also there on the very last weekend when they had fairground rides in the old front car park. The drummer and guitarist from the Glitterband played there just before it closed, they turned up in an old post office van!

I saw Wilko at the Cliffs Pavillion in 1985, he came on and did a few numbers at the end of a Boomtown Rats concert. Did you know Wilko use to be an English teacher at King John School? Was that photo of you and him taken in the Canvey Club? I would love to meet him.

Heinz use to be a friend of my mum and dad, when he lived in a bungalow on Kiln Road, at the bottom of Shipwrights Drive. He’s dead now, but I remember he ended up working at Fords towards the end. I remember seeing him when I was 8 in Bournemouth! He recommended a B&B to my parents where he used stay. He use to drive a Mk 2 Ford Cortina back then, and had an old ambulance as his ‘band van’ all painted up rock n roll style!

Can't wait for part 3!

Martin said...

I'm going to have to dig out the old 12" singles and convert them to mp3 now.

Piley said...

Kev - thanks for sharing your memories, some great stuff there. I used to live in Shipwrights Drive!! I had no idea that Heinz was a few doors away from me (probably around the same time too!).

I went to King John School too! Although long after the days of Wilko.

The Jellicoe turns up in part 3!

Martin - Or just buy them all again on CD! Stupidity is still one of the best live albums ever. You can now get the whole of the Southend show used on Stupididy as part of a CD\DVD pack (see my earlier comment above).


Anne said...

A real labour of love, thanks for all the work you put into this, looking forward to the next installment:)

Unknown said...

Ian your love for the band shows through in the writing the then & now photos are superb. Great work mate.
Any chance you could do one on Joe McElderry ?

Piley said...

Anne - Welcome, and thanks for your kind words. Hope you enjoyed part 3. Don't be a stranger!

Richard - Bless you kind Sir. The Joe piece should be on the blog in the new year, right after the Shane Ward 10 parter....


Mondo said...

Is there an official biog for the Feelgood's? I fnot you could be the kiddie P.

The Malpractice photo must be an inspiration for the Blockheads New Boots cover - surely?

Piley said...

Yeah, there is a biog, much more detail than I could muster, but my 'history' was always going to be a skewed one!!

You could be right there, New Boots came out 2 years later, so may well have been 'lifted' slightly. They were both on that pub rock circuit too (Dury was in Kilburn and the High Roads at that point of course)

Anonymous said...

Well done, Piley! A really interesting read. A bit of googling about the band brought me to your blog. Canvey seems a really fascinating place with real character and charm. I've been using google maps to do a virtual tour of the island. The stuff about Heinz was very interesting. I had no idea that he had once lived in that part of the world. I knew that later in life he moved back to Eastleigh, near Southampton where he was brought up and worked for a time in the Fords transit plant. He died a few years ago, broke, living in a council flat in Southampton after suffering from a long illness.

Piley said...

Thanks Anon - I really appreciate you bothering to make a comment.

Yes, incredibly, Heinz used to live at the bottom of my road (at the same time I was there) but I was blissfully unaware at the time (and a schoolboy, so perhaps wouldn't have been that fussed anyway!).


Anonymous said...

Re: Phil Moss Barbers if you goto Google street maps and goto "Arcadia Road / B1014, Canvey Island, England, United Kingdom" the whole side of the Cream house that is right on the pavement was "Filthy Phils" and if you look up away from small gains corner you can see the Discount Furnishings shop on the Left opposite Maurice Road , Bro and I always got our flat tops done at Phils :) great Blog