Dr Feelgoods 5th Album: Be Seeing You is released in September 1977. Once again it is a Canvey location featured on the cover, the lads in the 'public bar' of their regular local The Admiral Jellicoe (love that 'Worthington E' pump light\sign, just on Lee's right shoulder!).
(Be Seeing You - In the Public bar of the Admiral Jellicoe - 1977)
(The Admiral Jellicoe 1930's/1940's)
Built in the 1930's, The Admiral Jellicoe was the only hotel on Canvey where you could still get a room during the second World War (this continued to be the case for some time after the war too). During the war, the owner of the Jellicoe used to let local troops come in and have a bath.
(The Admiral Jellicoe - June 2010)
(Dr Feelgood pose for a photo outside the Admiral Jellicoe - Circa 1977)
(The same spot - July 2010)
To promote 'Be Seeing You' the Feelgoods returned once more to Canvey's Labworth Cafe. They had already taken a series of iconic shots here a few years earlier with Wilko, so perhaps the return marked the final handing over of the baton.... For this shoot, the lads donned Prisoner style jackets (the title of the album had been lifted from a phrase used in the cult TV show).
(The Labworth - July 2010)
Dr Feelgoods 6th Album: Private Practice is released in September 1978. This is the album containing 'Milk and Alcohol', the first song I ever actually heard by the band. From here on, the local references become a little harder to spot... nothing Essex related here:And as the back cover picture has been taken in Harley Street, there doesn't seem to be any local connections there either.... but hold on, isn't that a 'Steves' cab that the boys have just stumbled out of??!
Yes, Steve's cabs were the big taxi company on the island in the 70's, and after my recent visits, I'm delighted to say it appears they still are (although I'm pleased to say that it looks like the fleet has been updated a bit!) .
And the '4433' phone number shown in the Feelgood picture is still part of their number today!
To launch this album, the record company were keen on a big bash in London, but the Feelgoods were having none of it! They insisted that the album launch party would be held at their local, the Admiral Jellicoe, and they got their way too! I wonder what all those record industry execs and music journos made of their evening in Canvey complete with strippers playing topless snooker!
Dr Feelgoods 7th Album: As It Happens is released in June 1979, and is the bands second live album. As with their first live album (Stupidity), each side is taken from a different gig. Side 1 comes from The Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead, where as Side 2 comes from Crocs, just up the road in Rayleigh. Nowhere on the sleeve (or inner sleeve) does it mention where the live photos used on the sleeve were taken, but I guess there is always a chance that one (or more) of them was taken at Crocs.
Crocs was 'the' alternative nightclub in these parts, but the name changed to The Pink Toothbrush in the early-to-mid 80's. Some legendary shows have taken place here, Depeche Mode were almost the resident band for a while, Soft Cell played one of their first shows here, and Culture Club played their first ever gig here. This will always remain the club I frequented the most in my life, and I was a regular here from the early 80's right up to the early/mid 90's. Some of my best friends today I met at this place (including Mondo!). It was a life-saver to those of us who had no interest in going to regular 'casual' nightclubs like 'TOTS' and similar. As well as almost every Saturday night, I would often be here during the week for the odd gig or two as well. It's still going today, but seems a shadow of its former self. The gigs fell by the wayside years ago, but I think it's still popular with the indie 'yoof' at the weekends.
Oh, and why was it called Crocs I hear you say? Because there was a small glass tank in the corner of the club containing TWO live crocodiles in it! Seriously! (I only ever remember there being one though) Can you imagine getting away with that today??!
Dr Feelgoods 8th Album: Let It Roll is released in September 1979, just 3 months after the live album. Once again it's the back cover that provides the local link, as this photo was taken in the bar of Feelgood House #2! The photo on the shelf between Lee and Gypie is actually the below picture of Chris, Sparko and Lee (the three on the right in the back row) when they were the Razzamatazz Washboard Band:
As for the Toby jugs, well Lee had become something of a collector over the years, and these 4 were specially commissioned to represent each member of the current line up of the band. They still exist, and even feature in the Oil City Confidential movie, along with a hastily made addition of a Wilko Toby! (I understand Chris keeps the originals in his office).
This album closes the 70's for Dr Feelgood. There are two more albums in the early 80's for this line up - (9th album A Case Of The Shakes and 10th album On The Job), before Gypie leaves, replaced by yet another John - Johnny Guitar! There is one more album (their 11th - Fast Women and Slow Horses), before the departure of both The Big Figure and Sparko, leaving Lee as the sole original member.
From here on in there was a somewhat flexible line up for the next decade or so, and with a number of the new members not being from the surrounding area, it inevitably removed the local connection from the Feelgoods somewhat. Even Lee eventually left good old Canvey Island in the early 80's for a move 'up the hill' to Leigh-on-Sea (my home town). He moved into a modest property just off of the High Road, which he cheekily referred to as 'The Proceeds'! This house was walking distance to a number of local watering holes, and Lee became a regular in the The Grand in Leigh High Road, as well as The Crooked Billet in Old Leigh.
Not quite my 'local', but The Grand was certainly my regular pub for a number of years too. Many a brain cell was lost in here on a Friday night with E.F Rice, The Brownster, Marmite Boy and others. This was a huge pub, with three separate rooms\bar inside. Each bar was for different clientele. The left hand side was the biggest bar, and ran the whole length of the pub. This was the trendy\youngster bar. The 'front bar' on the right hand side was a middle aged bar. The 'back bar' (also known as the Piano bar) was for the old boys with their half of stout! We migrated fairly early from the youngsters bar straight to the back bar, because we soon worked out that you got served about 20 minutes quicker in there! (plus we were never very trendy anyway!). Alas, this pub was mothballed a couple of years back, and is likely to become a block of flats in the near future (sigh).
Almost all of the clips of Lee Brilleaux talking in Oil City Confidential were taken from an interview filmed in the 'back bar' of The Grand in the early 1990s (you can just see the 'front bar' behind him). The whole 50 minute interview is also on the DVD as an extra.
In 1988, Lee and Chris started their own record label, the name 'Grand Records' was chosen in honour of this very place. Over the years Grand Records have obtained the rights for all of the Dr Feelgood albums released for various labels, and is now a 'one-stop-shop' to pick up all the back catalogue.(The Crooked Billet, Old Leigh - July 2010)
When Chris Fenwick finally left Feelgood House #2, he moved Dr Feelgood HQ to the office above this bookies in Canvey High Street:
I think I'd be right in saying that the Feelgood Corp. still owns this whole parade of shops.
In the early 1990's Lee became unwell, and was eventually diagnosed with cancer. Dr Feelgood were put on hold whilst he went through an agonising course of chemotherapy. During this time Chris Fenwick's brother (who was a builder like their father) had acquired the Oysterfleet pub (a venue that those jug bands used to play at back in the 1960s!).
The Oysterfleet pub was originally a private house located on Oysterfleet farm. It's unclear when it was converted into a public house, but likely to have been in the early 1900's.
By the 1990's this building was on its last legs, but was still licenced, so Chris was asked to temporarily take it over whilst his brother decided what to do with it. With help of ex-Feelgood Sparko, they turned it into the Dr Feelgood Music Bar, which opened in late 1993 - with live music most nights.
A little over two months later Lee died, passing away at home on 7th April, aged just 41. His funeral was held on the 15th April at St Clements church in Leigh-on-Sea.
To celebrate what would have been Lee's 42nd birthday, a live album taken from the January shows was released:
Dr Feelgoods 19th Album: Down At The Doctors was released in May 1994.
It's the perfect position, and incredibly, of all the benches placed in this area, Lee's is the only one that provides a full, un-interupted view of dear old Canvey Island.
(Piley takes a rest after being on the Feelgood trail for two months!)
Lee's final wish was that Dr Feelgood continued, and in 1995, Chris Fenwick started the unenviable task of trying to fulfil that request. Incredibly he did it, and in 1996, what was Lee's last line-up of the Feelgoods went public with a new lead singer, Pete Gage. In 1999 Gage left, and was replaced by Robert Kane, who remains on lead vocals to this day. As Dr Feelgood move into their 5th decade, the band are as busy as ever, and amazingly still push around the 250 gigs a year mark, the benchmark set by Lee and Co back in the 1970s.
Here's a few videos from the period covered above to finish off with....
A truly scorching live appearance from 1977 on the BBC's 'Sight and Sound', where they perform 'Looking Back', 'Stupidity' and 'You'll Be Mine'.
Lights Out (1977)
She's A Wind Up (1977)
Milk and Alcohol (1979 - alas the soundtrack has come away from the video slightly, I don't think Lee was THIS bad at miming!)