New interview with Irish Jack

IrishJack-GoldhawkClub On the 16th of November this year, a blue plaque for The Who will be placed at the Goldhawk Club in Shepherd's Bush, London.

To kick off the celebrations for that event, Irish Jack took time out on his 71st birthday today to answer a few of our questions about the early days of the Goldhawk Club.

Thanks so much for doing this Jack, and happy birthday!

What was so special about the Goldhawk Social Club that attracted so many great bands, many of which went on to become legendary in rock history?

First of all if anyone has seen the premises they'll recognise it as being a Georgian building. The Goldhawk Social Club was not the official name of the premises. It was called the Shepherd's Bush Club at 205 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd's Bush, London W.12. It was a workingman's club with private members. It became known as the "Goldhawk Club" on Fridays and Saturday nights  - every other night of the week it reverted back to being a workingman's club. A guy called Bob Druce ran the Goldhawk Club - along with many other dance hall and club venues particularly in the west London area. He had a booking agency called Commercial Entertainments 244 Edgware Road in Paddington. He had a stable of bands like the Bel-Airs, the Federals, the Wainwright Gentleman, the Clique, the Macabre and the Detours. All of these bands performed at the Goldhawk. I was a member there from 1963 to 1966, membership number 332. The dance floor area was not big. Looking back (and I have been back to enter its hallowed portals many times since) I would say that at 400 people the place would've been stuffed.

How did one go about becoming a member at the Goldhawk Social Club back in the early 60’s? Did you have to be a member to attend shows?

You became a member by paying a five shilling membership fee. You got a little membership card signed by the club secretary Ted Woolgar. On Friday and Saturday nights (Goldhawk nights) you had to produce your membership card to get in and then you had to sign the book. Sometimes price of admission varied according to the act. Usually it cost two shillings and sixpence to see the Detours. The admission door was run by a guy called Kenny Sprattling, sadly now deceased. His then girl-friend was a real rocker dressed in leather with a ponytail and she ran the cloakroom.


Were Pete and the rest of The Detours official members of the Goldhawk Club, and did they hang out and watch other bands that performed there?
It was rare for any performing musician to actually be a member of the Goldhawk Club. I don't think that any of the Detours/Who were members. I certainly don't recall seeing any of them in the club unless they were playing. We had the Animals, Millie Small (My Boy Lollipop), the Four Pennies, the Small Faces (more than once), Wee Willie Harris (often), the Undertakers, blues player Jimmy Reid, the Downliner Sect (often), Ronnie Wood's the Birds (often), the Footprints, John Brown's Bodies, the Beachcombers (Keith Moon's band with John Scholler), Peter Vernon-Kell's Macabre who usually opened for the Who during their Goldhawk residency), the Clique, the Kinks (performing as the Ravens with capes attached to the backs of their jackets), Screaming Lord Sutch & His Savages (he was the first artist I saw at the Goldhawk in 1963!).
When did you first meet Pete Townshend, and how did you become such close friends with him and his family?

Pete and I first met at my first ever dance with a live band at a youth club / dance hall called Boseleys in Faroe Road Shepherd's Bush. It was on a Saturday night in June 1962. I was 19, he was just gone 17. Either the 2nd, the 9th, the 16th, 23rd or it might have been the 30th. Within a very short time I was round at his parent's house in Ealing Common  -Betty and Cliff-  with a packet of guitar strings I bought for him from Western Music in King Street, Hammersmith. Whilst I was having a cup of tea with his mum Pete popped his head round the door to thank me for the strings..."By the way Jack,"  he said, "I play electric guitar.."  

Do you remember the first time The Detours played at the Goldhawk Club? Any special memories of that evening?
Off hand I don't know the actual date but I do remember that Pete was using a black guitar strap with livery decoration pinned on up and down the strap.
Goldhawk-Social-Club-16th-April-1965Of all the great bands that played there, what made you and so many other fans choose The Detours, and later The Who as their favorite band in the early days?

Well, as the Detours, I kinda adopted them cos they were the first live band experience that I could relate to. A live performing entity was a big opening for me as my father was a classically trained violinist and played dance band saxophone. Prior to the Detours my father's band was the only live performing entity I could relate to. When the Detours played those Shadow covers and did the Shadow's dance steps in their wedding suits I soared to a heavenly vista cos they were really a wedding band and they were my first raw experience of guitar amplification. With the Who as a Mod band and Townshend's songs it seemed like they were capable of articulating what we as Mods couldn't express...

'I Can't Explain.'  That's exactly what I was trying to say.

Pete Townshend often talks about the time you and a few of your mod friends came back stage to tell him how much you loved I Can’t Explain. Who was with you, and what do you remember about this momentous occasion?
I have a distinct memory of this incident. As Pete say's in the Quadrophenia-Can You See The Real Me? documentary the Who had just that evening performed on the tv pop show Ready Steady Go and later that night during their performance in the Goldhawk Club the crowd of Mods kept demanding to hear 'I Can't Explain' again and again. They played it about three times. The song (their first successful single) left a marked impression on me and I used to kinda drool over the 'x' in the title. "Explain" is a very strong word in print on the human eye and it struck a visible chord with me. But this was not my first time in the Goldhawk dressing room. I usually sat in there before or after a show. And in fact the first time I'd been in the dressing room was to audition a song which I'd written for Pete a good while before that. The 'delegation' that I dragged into the dressing room with me to tell him about 'I Can't Explain' would have consisted of our Mod set that hung out together...the Gaish brothers Martin and Lee, Peter Campbell, little Joey Bitton from the White City estate and Jeanette. Five boys and a girl ! She was the only girl in our group and every one of us was 'going out' with her at different times...if you get my meaning. Basically I elected myself as the spokes-person as the others stood back. Pete gives a very amusing account of it in his New York Public Library interview with Paul Holdengraben but I didn't really have the Irish accent he mimicked. I had an acted out Cockney accent which I refined almost to perfection as the years went by. It was important that Pete Townshend understood how much 'I Can't Explain' meant to me and everybody else as Mods who found it difficult to articulate the sentiment of how we couldn't explain ourselves. The song was so special to me that I got my Mod friends to mime it with me at the Hammersmith Palais which is all recounted in my memoir called 'Do The Mime'. I remember telling Pete about the 'x' in 'Explain' and being a graphic student he was looking at me with a keen eye, almost as if he was measuring me up for a future project (?).

What do you remember about Pete Meaden? Did he hang out at the Goldhawk Club before he started working with The Who? How did he get hooked up with the band?
Anyone who wants to know what I thought of Peter Meaden will have to read my memoir called 'History' in the blue-ray Criterion Quadrophenia booklet produced two years ago. The same story also appears elsewhere under the heading 'Thanks For The Piano'. 'History' also appears in Paulo Hewitt's book on Mods called The Sharper Word. Peter Meaden besides being a publicist for the Rolling Stones was king-Mod so it was inevitable that his and Townshend's paths would eventually cross. No, he didn't hang out at the Goldhawk Club but he appeared to live night and day in the Scene Club in Ham Yard.

When did The Detours transform into a Mod band. Was it when they changed their name to The Who, or before?

The Detours didn't exactly transform into a Mod band. They stopped being the Detours in February 1964 after John saw another band from Brighton called Johnny Devlin & The Detours on a tv pop programme Thank Your Lucky Stars. A couple of weeks later thanks to Barney they became the Who !! After that they became what you might call a fully-fledged Mod band from say the week before Friday 3rd July 1964 as the High Numbers with Peter Meaden managing. They remained the High Numbers until the week before Tuesday 24th November 1964 when they started their Marquee Club residency and Meaden was usurped by Lambert and Stamp.

What did they do different to connect to the Mod audience?  Was it just a change of fashion, or more of a change of lifestyle and frame of mind? Did their music change at all?
Yes, as a Mod band and with the Marquee residency gathering momentum every Tuesday they did what Pete often referred to in interviews as 'New Wave R&B'. Martha & The Vandellas' 'Dancing In The Street' and 'Heatwave' - they usually opened with 'Heatwave'  - and every time I hear it these days I think I'm back in the Marquee. They also considered songs like Jessie Hill's 'Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo' and Eddie Holland's 'Leavin Here' as New Wave R&B. It was fantastic stuff. Gut wrenching block chords from Townshend, his arm swinging and the head of the Rickenbacker speared through the cloth-face of the Marshall speaker. And choir boy high notes from him and Entwistle. Chamber music in the middle of a commando raid. 

Irish-Jack Chris-Stamp-GHC
Irish Jack and Chris Stamp - Goldhawk Club May 2006

Did Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp come to the Goldhawk Club? Any stories of them at the Club that you can tell us about?

The only time I ever saw Chris Stamp at the club was when the Who were playing. Kit would often pop in to cruise young good looking Mods.

How did the 100 Faces get started? Was it a real club, or more of a term for The Who’s fan base at the time? Was there really 100 hard core fans at the time?
There never actually was a 100 Faces but thousands of Mods from all over London laid claim to be a member. It was an idea that Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert scotched up in their Eaton Place drawing room when Martin Gaish and I visited just before we began the Marquee residency (November 1964). Completists should check out my Facebook memoir 'Let's Have Dinner' to get a stirring account. It was a great idea but it never took fruit.
Do you have any favorite story to tell us about when The Who played at the Goldhawk Club?

The answer to this one is in my memoir The Who's Last Night At The Goldhawk.

Production crew photographed after filming Lambert & Stamp documentary (screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival to wide acclaim) at the original Goldhawk Social Club, Shepherd's Bush, on Tuesday 25 May 2006. Centre at back Chris Stamp; to his left James D. Cooper (director); Loretta Harms (associate director); Front row Mary O' Doherty (Shepherd's Bush Club caretaker); Irish Jack with camera; Calixte Stamp (production).

 Last year Irish Jack was kind enough to give us a tour of the Goldhawk Club before The Who Convention in September 2013. Here is video of that meeting.

Interview and video by Carrie Pratt