Now lets sing the praises of local stars
Kingsley HarrisBlue plaques mark the places where The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix played in Norwich, but KINGSLEY HARRIS argues this does no justice to the true heroes of the local music scene.Kingsley Harris
Blue plaques mark the places where The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix played in Norwich, but KINGSLEY HARRIS argues this does no justice to the true heroes of the local music scene.
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I haven't jumped on my soapbox for a while so I thought I'd have a grumble just to keep my hand in. For those that don't know, we have a blue plaque on the side of Grosvenor House on Prince Of Wales Road to commemorate the visit of the Beatles in 1963 to the now demolished Grosvenor Rooms.
We also have one on the building that was once the home of the Jolly Butchers and the famous Black Anna and now we are about to have one on the site of the old Orford Cellar (opposite Debenhams, around about where Mr Shoes is) to commemorate the visit of Jimi Hendrix in 1967.
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So you're probably thinking what is there to complain about? Well nothing in the grand scheme of things, I love the blue plaque scheme. I also really support HEART and the work they do. I am a bit of a history buff myself and although the organisation does have its critics, with civic vandalism at the top of their list, I feel as long as the plaques remain tasteful, it is a great way of bringing a little bit of history into everyone's lives.
What I am concerned about is the way we seem to have to use popular culture to define their significance. It's funny that the people who do the plaques, when criticized, always have the same comeback and it goes something like: 'We have an expert team of historians and researchers working on each project. We couldn't put everyone on the plaque; the plaques are designed to draw attention to, blah, blah…'
I'm not sure if I want the musical culture of Norwich defined by some experts' limited knowledge of what this building means to the area, when people's memories are of much more than fleeting visits. Has this name been picked just because it's the only person the whole panel of experts recognised?
The Orford Cellar was so much more than a stop over for Jimi Hendrix, and you can add to that Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and David Bowie, the list really is endless.
It does not need to name drop to justify its importance in Norwich culture. It still is the most influential venue we have ever had, more so because entrepreneurs like Howard Platt and many others had vision.
This also does no justice to all those Norfolk musicians that entertained thousands while cutting their musical teeth, before signing to some of the world's most famous labels; The Continentals/The News (Decca) - Garry Freeman & The Contours/The Anglians (CBS) - The Barry Lee Show (Parlophone/Columbia).
Why can't we just be proud of something we've achieved rather than wait for some icon to visit us. Could I please here and now suggest a plaque on the house of Tony Sheridan, yes, a bit of a wild card but without him the Beatles phenomenon may never have happened; The Jacquard; The Industrial Club; Norwich born Beryl Bryden, still considered Queen Of The Blues… etc
Well that's enough grumbling from me. I'm now off, like a majority of music loving locals to the Latitude festival. I just hope Southwold are saving up for the thousands of blue plaques they are going to need in 30-years time.
t Kingsley Harris is a local music promoter and runs the East Anglian Music Archive.