Marmalade Skies…

The Tithe Farm about to disappear

‘There’s only one good thing about a small town,’ says Andy Warhol in Lou Reed’s Songs for Drella, ‘you hate it and you want to get out.’ I grew up in North West London. I don’t know whether I hated it but, like my brothers, I got out. Was it, though, the cultural desert of my (selective?) memories; all pub crawls, endless rounds of pints of bitter and late night Indian meals (inter alia because the Indian restaurants had licences to serve beer after the pubs’ closing hours)? In part through keeping this blog, I have latterly realised that the cinema was a much more frequent cultural port of call than I remembered. Now, I also realise, there was a lot of music going on and I heard much of it. In a separate post I intend to recall how I was there when The Who were discovered at the Railway Hotel, just around the corner from where I lived (oh, yes!). But today, through surfing, I came across this website (Marmalade Skies) and re-discovered all those gigs of my late teens. The sheer quantity was because just short bus rides away from my house there were two highly active centres of folk/progressive/pub rock music: Harrow Technical College and School of Art (universally known as ‘Harrow Tech’) and the Tithe Farm House in North Harrow. To these could be added occasional gigs at the Kings Head Pub at Harrow-on-the-Hill and a memorable one-off concert by String Driven Thing at the very Blackwell School where I had sung in a school choirs competition just yesterday, it seemed to me at the time. (I’ll never forget the thrill of hearing a distorted electric violin for the first time.) And there, dear reader, were all those groups – and I saw all of them (some of them several times): Hatfield and the North; Good Habit; Capability Brown; Ace; Heavy Metal Kids; Jack the Lad; Starry Eyed and Laughing; the later Troggs; Kilburn and the High Roads; Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers; Keith Christmas; Byzantium; Kevin Coyne (a brilliant troubador); Fusion Orchestra; Greenslade; Sassafras; Jonathan Kelly’s Outside; Ric Lee’s Nexus; Gentle Giant. All of this was a short bus ride away. Of course, just a short train ride away I could, and did, see the likes of David Bowie, the remnants of Cream (Ginger Baker’s Gurvitz Army, for example), Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, the Stones and… but all of that must be for another post. I wanted to end on a happy note but, then, when I went looking for an illustration I found the following, much sadder, site. For the simple brutal truth is that every single one of the buildings I have mentioned in this post has gone.

2 Comments

  1. DAVE WILLIAMS

    21/02/2013 at 18:45

    I LIVED IN STANMORE DURING THE SEVENTIES, WENT TO THE DREADFUL CHANDOS BOYS SCHOOL, AND TRAVELLED ACROSS TO THE TITHE FARM MOST SUNDAY EVENNGS. I SAW ALMOST ALL OF THE BANDS YOU MENTIONED EITHER AT TITHE FARM, HARROW TECH, ROUNDHOUSE, MUSIC MACHINE, HORN OF PLENTY IN ST ALBANS AND, OF COURSE, THE MARQUEE. THERE WERE OTHER MORE OBSCURE BANDS, AS I RECALL; CROW, HUSTLER, GLOBAL VILLAGE TRUCKING COMPANY COME TO MIND….HAPPY DAYS…..

    DAVE

  2. Martin

    22/02/2013 at 18:58

    Happy days indeed, Dave. The Tithe Farm has been completely pulled down now. What a shame. I think I saw David Bowie at the Roundhouse (the memory can play tricks) before he got famous. I never got to the Horn of Plenty. Looking back, there was a lot of talent around. All the best, Martin

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