Thursday, 18 March 2010

Charlie Gillett

News in that Charlie Gillett, deejay, record label owner, and of course writer, has died. While still a schoolboy I borrowed the first edition of Charlie's history of rock and roll "The Sound of the City" from the local public library. The book was probably the first to properly examine the deep roots of rock and roll and give due place to the pioneers of rhythm and blues. It was thanks to Charlie that I first came across names like Wynonie Harris, Roy Milton and Joe Liggins. Without "The Sound of the City" I may never have been moved to start digging around for recordings of these R&B performers.

Charlie's record company Oval issued one of the great compilation LPs - "Another Saturday Night" - back in 1974. It was a collection of cajun, swamp pop and zydeco sides from Jin and Swallow, and decades after buying it, I still find myself humming some of its brilliant tracks like Belton Richard's "Un Autre Soir d'Ennui" and "Cajun Fugitive", Vin Bruce's "Jole Blon" and of course Johnnie Allen's classic version of "The Promised Land."

I'm gonna put the disc on the turntable, play the first track, (Tommy McLain's version of "Before I Grow Too Old") and raise a glass to the memory of Charlie.

4 comments:

peterrocker said...

Sound Of The City was the best book I had read on a subject that had been sadly neglected. It was such an important book and I read it quite a number of times. Even bought & still have the updated version.
Raise a glass indeed!!!

Anonymous said...

There was nothing quite like listening to
Charlie on a Sunday norning on Radio
London's "Honkytonk" , the aural version of the book referred to above. The great thing about him was that unlike some "experts" of the time I can name, he was no poseur.

John L

boogiewoody said...

I've always regretted never having heard "Honky Tonk" as we couldn't get Radio London up here in Glasgow. Ace have recently issued a CD dedicated to the programme. Perhaps there are some recordings of the old show available somewhere on the web?

wastedpapiers said...

I too was saddened by the death of Charlie. A great loss to music and to radio. I was lucky enough to meet him back in the 80's when I was a guest on his Capital Radio show and played some old scratchy LP's I'd found at Brick Lane market and charity shops etc.
My blog Boot Sale Sounds still carries on where my mix tapes ( that got me onto Charlie's show in the first place ) left off.

As a tribute to him I'm uploading a few old Honky Tonk shows starting with a Themed one about "Letters" and an interview with Ian Dury.