A very warm welcome to our guest blogger this week: the legendary Mr. Stewart Cruickshank, with memories of one of the gigs that led him into a life in music – seeing Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd (and more!) in Glasgow’s Green’s Playhouse in 1967.
For those who might not recognise his name, Stewart has made an incredible contribution to the music scene in the UK and beyond. His career began at BBC Radio Scotland in Glasgow in 1980 for a trial week as “gramophone librarian”— that week turned into 35 years during which Stewart became a senior radio producer.
In the mid-80s he produced Beatstalking, a history of Scottish rock music presented by Muriel Gray. Stewart went on to found and co-produce the long running and much-missed indie music show Beat Patrol, which helped give many bands their first break.
He produced series for BBC Radio 2 on musicians including Ray Davies, the Sex Pistols, The Who and spent time in the USA interviewing Jackson Browne and Lou Reed for shows which were networked globally.
Stewart was a contributing editor for John Purser’s series Scotland’s Music in 1990. Along with Rab Noakes and Donald MacInnes he created Radio Scotland’s Be-Bop to Hip-Hop jazz programme, Original Masters with John Cavanagh and piloted the series Celtic Connections from which Glasgow’s festival took its name.
Stewart left the BBC Scotland nine years ago but he continued to produce The Iain Anderson Show until he finally decided to “retire” last October. His generosity of spirit, enthusiasm for and love of music knows no bounds and until we can persuade him to write that book we hand over now to Stewart for his memories of That Gig…
5th December 1967… Two 16 year-olds from Edinburgh (aargh!), get on the train and head towards a holy grail: Green’s Playhouse, slap bang in the centre of sooty ol’ Glasgow, wraithed in mist and mirk, trolley buses, ancient old pubs and something called a “rush hour”.
Green’s, at one time the largest cinema in Europe, was – in keeping with auditoriums the length and breadth of Britain – having to diversify into the mysterious world of rock music. They didn’t quite know what they were in for.
So why the pilgrimage? We were mini-men with a mission. A mission to see the following package tour (all the rage in the 1960s) :
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Pink Floyd (yes, with Syd Barrett, erratic genius still, just about, Setting the Controls)
The Nice (Keith Emerson chucking razor-sharp knives at his Hammond organ)
The Move (Birmingham’s finest, fresh from their spat with UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson)
The Amen Corner (Big band line-up of blue-eyed soul boys)
The Outer Limits (Rising psychedelic stars of Deram records)
Eire Apparent (Loud, snotty Irish dandies – album produced by Hendrix)
All compered by the newly-founded Radio 1’s Pete Drummond.
We were shivering in the smog of excitement and anticipation. And what followed did not disappoint.
All seven bands at the peak of their form. All of them hip, dressed to the “nines” (‘tho today that would be “elevens”) and all part of the underground scene which was rapidly taking the established mainstream into an expanding universe.
It all ended with Pink Floyd being bottled off the stage (they didn’t play their “hits”, choosing instead to head off into Interstellar Overdrive). The heavy mob of bikers, druggies, smokers, trippers and freaks in their Afghan coats did not want to see / hear this! They were there to see the mercurial left-handed upside-down Stratocaster wielding stoned-out visionary of the new generation – a certain Mr Hendrix from Seattle. He, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell proceeded to tear Green’s Playhouse down in a caterwauling wall of feedback, passion, angst and distortion. “What the **** was that?!!”
No drugs, booze or artificial stimulants necessary. The music, attitude and Experience simply blew us young men away.
Once the smoke cleared, our two teenage heroes – me and my friend Tom – walked around in a Purple Haze for months, years and decades.
That’s the wonder of Glasgow’s music heritage. It will, yet, run a long, long time.