Fery Asgari/Ealing Club CIC
It has been decades that the Ealing Club will be closed. With a capacity of 200, there were huge amounts of money never had. But the new documentary film suburban steps to Rockland, is reminiscent of the club-a remarkable role in the UK, the R&B booming scene of the 1960s.
The Rolling Stones, the Who and The animals are all played early gigs there. But without a young Iranian who stumbled by chance in west London, the whole thing might never have happened.
Even at the age of 77, Fery Asgari still speaks, how a born entrepreneur. He admits, “more or less ” semi-retired”, though his business card still says a senior property consultant.
In 1962 he took over, invented the new, and a small music club that have a greater impact, as more celebrated venues. Now, Suburban steps to Rockland the story of Fery, and the Ealing Club told.
He came to London as a teenager from Tehran. One day he and a friend left the Iranian Embassy in Kensington, and got chatting to a couple of English girls.
“We asked where a good place would be to study English, and they said, Ealing Technical College. I had no idea where Ealing was, but we got on the bus and it went – and that was the next 10 years of my life.”
The nature of the school, the school could boast of several bands, many in love with the blues.
“I found myself to help to promote the music nights, but it was hard to find a crime scene, because the music was so loud.
“Then I was walking in the vicinity of Ealing Broadway station and I listened to jazz, and I followed him down the stairs… and I found this small cellar music club.
“Within a couple of weeks, as I ran the place. We had jazz on Thursdays and Fridays and R&B on Saturday.”
Fifty-five years, the taste changed. Author Paul Trynka has studied a rich era for British music. “It was a really wide range of the tribes at this time. They were all intertwined with each other, but they had different trailers.
“So, you have the purists, such as Brian Jones of the Stones, who had a passion for a British form of the Chicago blues people, then R&B is, but it is a long way from what we mean by the R&B of today.
“It was something of a betting Los upgrade, where the musicians wanted to be the first one to a certain type of guitar or a specific sound. Things moved very fast. People who like to be cooler than all the other more like R&B. There was a rawness.”
Asgari remembers R&B first as a purely student scene.
“In the beginning, there were two big names that really pulled off the college audience. Cyril Davies was a fantastic blues harmonica player, died early – I don’t think that people are thinking of him a lot now.
“But Cyril, played with Alexis Korner, was a genius with the guitar, and later he used to do a lot of broadcasting at the BBC.
“The students in those days were such nice people – very well-behaved and not the way the people later. You don’t have a lot of money and you just drank Apple cider. Saturday night was to get five shillings – that’s 25p.
“It was no problem with drugs, until maybe 1964, if a few people started the pills, I think you would have got from the nurses. But I told them to leave you. Finally, we got a fierce lot, but that was much later. In the good years, we had celebrities like Sonny and Cher.
“Cyril and Alexis attracted to younger musicians just listen. The excitement in the faces of the people – I’ve never seen anything like this. If I had, for the first time, the Rolling Stones, you come to the club to enjoy a drink, listen to make Alexis play, and contacts. It was only later they began to lead.”
Fery Asgari/Ealing Club CIC
Suburban steps to Rockland is a reminder of the big names, the development in the Ealing Club, according to the Davies-Korner-era.
Sitting in his office (still in Ealing), Asgari gives a wry smile.
“But that was the problem: when groups got large, you are going to play a small place like ours.
“When the stones first played for us, Brian Jones would come in my office and then we would sort the 50-50-split of the door money – it was Brian who was responsible for all of your bookings. The first Saturday they played we took £7. By the time they played their last Ealing gig it was £33.
“If groups were the first steps you would be begging to play. The club saw a lot of groups that became famous, such as the Who and The Dave Clark Five. Not everyone was a star, but quite a few people have.
“I could see how the Rolling Stones losing weight from week to week. And they were a pretty good group: we certainly had a lot worse. According to them, the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers came – the was Manfred Mann.
“The lead singer Paul Jones, and I think, Paul and Manfred were two really talented people I knew in those days. But the same thing happened: we could not pay the money, the performers wanted to. They would go somewhere such as the eel pie Hotel on the river Thames, which could hold far more people.”
Asgari finally, the club Chateau in 1971, and the site has a varied history since. It is now the Red room and has an uncertain future. For the last 14 years, she was from Dublin Cathal Curtis.
“In the last five years, we have tried, on more live performances: in General, we are live three nights in the week. But, in truth, the is live music not a lot of money – we are no longer in the heyday of the 1960s, as a small Restaurant might be, night for night.
“It is obvious that there is fight in London small and medium-sized music events. Every year it becomes more difficult, people by the door.
“The interesting thing is that the number of amateur or semi-pro acts that would want to play, compare, almost all the bands in the 1960s. And I see groups of musicians here in their 20s that could definitely make it to the next level.
“This is began, as acts such as The Who and The animals. But in London there are now probably half a dozen small Restaurants, such as the ” Red Room left. We are proud of our history going all the way back to what Fery Asgari has and previously. But if we go, where the children perform 19 or 20, and learn your trade have gone the way of Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, 50 years ago?”
Suburban steps to Rockland is for cinema release in the UK in the year 2018.
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