The following report was published on the front cover of the Shepherd’s Bush Gazette on the 7th May 1964, and describes a concert given at the Goldhawk Social Club by young Ska singer, Millie (Small), who had a number one hit at the time with ‘My Boy Lollipop’.
The language is somewhat archaic but is, of course, very much of its time, 50 years ago. In the attitudes of this period, young Millie is perceived as an almost exotic creature from another world. But this report does, nevertheless, have a certain charm, and also nicely captures the atmosphere of the Goldhawk Club in those heady times.
Millie: Magnificent! – ‘Lollipop’ Girl had Date in the Bush – Shepherd’s Bush Gazette, 7th May 1964.
“The Goldhawk Social Club?” said one of the policemen, who get depressingly younger as your hair gets thinner, “yes, it’s straight down on the left. There’s usually a lot doing on a Saturday night.”
And this was Saturday night. This was THE Saturday night. The night of the gamble that paid off when a young unknown coloured singer was booked well in advance. She turned out to be that ‘Lollipop’ girl Millie.
A record in the hit parade means a lot. At the Goldhawk Social Club on Saturday night it meant paying six shillings for an instant Turkish bath. Windows steamed up, foreheads dripping with sweat, soaked shirts. Electrified guitars and amplified singers. No room to move, no room to dance and lukewarm beer.
“The kids like it”, said Ron Edwards, the massively-built entertainments manager in a black bow-tie. “The kids” stood side by side, face to face on each other’s feet, and wriggled occasionally in a giant communal sweat session. And on came Millie. Half an hour later the end. Applause.
“I’m exhausted”, said the 16 year old Jamaican girl as she sank down in a chair in the bar afterwards. “I think it went great tonight but I feel very tired. She paused to autograph a cigarette packet.
“I love every minute of it. But it’s non-stop work. I get a day off next week to answer my fan mail and then we start again. I don’t think I’ve got any doubts about what comes next. I’m determined about one thing, if I make one flop record I’m never going to make another flop. You can’t.”
Then away she was whisked by a manager and a big car and she left a record-buying public that never gets tired nor forgets too quickly,
I was 7 years old when Millie’s record was at number one and well remember how joyous, infectious and exciting Bluebeat and Ska seemed, even at that tender age. My house was alive with that (and other) music of the era, courtesy of my older brother and sister, who were very much devotees of the Mod scene – the music, the clothes, the clubs; if not the scooters, and Bank Holiday punch-ups with the Rockers!
As far as I can recall, I don’t think that Millie ever did manage to follow up that massive hit of hers. (There was a fantastic duet with Jackie Edwards entitled ‘This Is My Story’ in 1965 on the old white and red Island record label, but I don’t think it ever troubled the national charts).
I am sure that she went on to make a tolerable living over here and remained a massive star in her native Jamaica. The report conjured up fond memories of those far off days.