Bloke came into the shop today. Iron Maiden t-shirt. Beard and a cap. Somewhere in his late 50s. I’d seen him a couple of days ago, wearing an Anthrax t-shirt. I told him, ‘I put some Anthrax out today’. ‘I’ll be back in’ he said.
We got talking. Turned out he’d left school at 15. He wanted a job, he wanted some money, he wanted a motorbike and he wanted to go out with his mates. Could have stayed on for exams, but didn’t. He told me how when he was 17, he and a bunch of his mates all got on the train one weekend and headed down to the Isle of Wight Festival. That would have been 1970. Or was it ’69?
Of course, he saw Hendrix’s last big gig. I told him my story about being a photography student at Staffs Poly in 1989, sitting outside the dark room waiting for my prints to drop through the hole in the wall and how while I was waiting, these little 7×5 black and white pictures emerged, that weren’t mine, but the other fella that was working in the dark room. And they were all pictures of Hendrix back stage at the Isle of Wight. And it turned out they were pictures taken by his dad. A whole roll of grainy, black and white Tri-X pictures, never before seen.
My new-found Iron Maiden friend then told me how he used to go on a Sunday night to the Crown and Anchor pub in Longton to see a band that had a residency there. At the time they were known as the Climax Chicago Blues Band, but they dropped the Chicago and became the Climax Blues Band. One Sunday night they failed to turn up, so another band got the gig. And it was the loudest, most raucous night he’d been involved in at the Crown. So much so, that the landlord came in and said to the band, ‘fellas, we’re getting complaints, can you turn it down a bit?’ Well, nobody tells Ozzy Osbourne to turn it down. And the band was an as-yet-unsigned Black Sabbath. Shortly after, the Crown packed in its Sunday night gigs.