Guest Blog from Francis McKee of the CCA on the former Maryland Club
In 1974 the Scottish writer and playwright, Tom McGrath, founded The Third Eye Centre in Glasgow. Described by the Guardian as ‘a shrine to the avant garde’, the centre hosted visiting artists and performers such as Allen Ginsberg, Whoopi Goldberg, John Byrne, Edwin Morgan and Kathy Acker, as well as quickly becoming the focus for Glasgow’s counter culture.
With the demise of The Third Eye Centre at the turn of the 1990s, the Centre for Contemporary Arts was established in its place, opening in 1992.
We’ve been chatting to Francis McKee, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, about the venue’s music history over the years and are delighted that he has written a guest blog, which will run in three parts. In Part One he looks at the Maryland club which was destroyed by fire in 1971. Photos of the Maryland are very hard to come by, if you happen to have any please let us know! Over to Francis…
Music at the Maryland, Third Eye Centre and the CCA
The 1960s – The Maryland
The early nineteenth century villa that sits within the CCA was once a private dwelling, one of several in the same style that still exist today behind the façade of Sauchiehall Street. By the mid-twentieth century it had become a school of dancing and by the 1960s, a club called the Maryland. It was owned by Bob Gardiner and managed by Willie Cuthbertson. The club hosted many blues singers as they toured the UK during the folk revival: Mississippi Fred McDowell, Champion Jack Dupree, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and Muddy Waters played there (Waters apparently on crutches at the time). As the ‘60s wore on the venue became home to more jazz, soul and psychedelic bands: Graham Bond Association, Tony William’s Lifetime, Kevin Ayers and The Whole World, Edgar Broughton Band and Tyrannosaurus Rex all appeared, with Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band as regular visitors. At some point the venue changed its name to The Morpheus (though it seldom seems to have been called that) and it would be fitting if that coincided with the arrival of Pink Floyd on 27 February 1969.
Pink Floyd first appeared at the Maryland in 1967 but by 1969 the band was in transition. In the previous year, they had lost their main writer, Syd Barrett, and the remaining members were searching for an identity. By early 1969 they were playing extended versions of their most spaced out songs – ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’, ‘Astronomy Domine’, ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’ and ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’. The Maryland was certainly the right venue for these songs. It was a small countercultural oasis in a grey, industrial city. There were some squats in Hill Street, the School of Art was nearby and the Maryland Ballroom on Scott Street was a reliable source of LSD. Pink Floyd, supported by the Jimmy Mullen Jazz Group, was part of a benefit for a proposed Arts Lab. This may have been an early attempt to set up what later became The Third Eye Centre as Tom McGrath and others had already organised a meeting in Kibble Palace to discuss a potential arts lab space. It would be 1973, however, before a viable space emerged to match McGrath’s vision and ironically it would be in the empty building that wrapped around the Maryland and faced onto Sauchiehall Street.
Bands known to have played at the Maryland are:
The Dream Police
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
Champion Jack Dupree
Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
Tony Williams’ Lifetime
Jon Hiseman’s Coliseum
Kevin Ayers and The Whole World
Edgar Broughton Band
Long John Baldry
Third Ear Band
Graham Bond Association
Gino Washington and the Ram Jam Band
Jimmy James and the Vagabonds
We look forward to hearing more from Francis in Part Two of his Guest Blog when he writes on the Third Eye Centre. Visit the dedicated archive here: http://www.glasgowmiraclearchives.org/