Just over eight years ago on Monday 22nd May 2006, I sat down in front of a camera on the floor of the Goldhawk Social Club, to an inch of the very spot I had sweated through my Mod clothes high on energy tablets and danced ‘The Dog’ to the Who’s rendition of ‘Heatwave’.
Behind the camera and asking the questions was my inquisitor James D. Cooper, director of the recently released and widely acclaimed film documentary ‘Lambert & Stamp’. The questions were easy because in truth I had lived every second of the subject matter….Mod, the Who, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp.
There that Monday afternoon making notes and keeping track of production were James D. Cooper’s partner Loretta Harms and the love of Chris Stamp’s life and partner Calixte. Chris Stamp himself was his usual perky Cockney, a man who spoke with his hands and a man who meant a great deal to me back in ’64 with his Hollywood looks and lank hair parted in the middle to a studied casualness.
Unlike Kit lambert, Chris was not intense. Easy to understand, he spent a lot of his time chasing skirt. Kit Lambert was the problem, I found. He sized me up pretty quick and realised I was a ‘substitute for another guy’ – another Jack trying to escape from his Irishness. Ironically it was he who christened me “Irish Jack”. Damn, I’ll take “Irish Jack” to the grave.
It was a dream to sit and talk about the old days with Chris whilst we filmed that day at the Goldhawk Social Club – now of course known as the Shepherd’s Bush Club. Short of a private dressing room, I was treated extremely well by James D. Cooper, Loretta Harms and Calixte…such lovely warm, imaginative people.
Now ensconced amid the debris of my attic archives I can look back on that day with a measure of pride and privilege that I was lucky enough to know the explosive chemical mix of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp…and of course the Who.
Part One – “Let’s Have Dinner”
I can remember him like he was yesterday. I was standing in the middle of a ring of Mods who were dancing ‘The Dog’ on the floor of the Hammersmith Palais. My friend, Martin Gaish, came up and introduced me to Kit Lambert. He didn’t look like a real Mod, too old for one thing.
In a strange kind of way he was more hip than Mod. I kept looking over my shoulder because I was dodging Peter Meaden at the time. I kept forgetting to return nine unsold copies of ‘I’m the Face’. Meaden reckoned I’d sold them and kept the money, and that’s why he was pissed off. As I stood there, I started looking this guy Lambert up and down. I couldn’t believe Martin when he said Lambert was going to be the new manager of the High Numbers.
There was something about Lambert that I couldn’t put my finger on at the time. He looked timid and had a small physique like it had never fully grown to its full proportions. He had a scarf furled over his shoulder, and wore a fancy double-breasted jacket.
I shook his hand and when he spoke he sounded like he was from the BBC. He already looked like an Oxford don, and the accent, ridiculous as it was, suited him down to his expensive looking shoes. I found myself liking him instantly.
What struck me was his complete control of the English language, something I had long admired in anybody. He made a thing become real by using the right words. I remember being very impressed when he told me his partner, a chap called Stamp, was currently out of the country working as an assistant director.
I looked at Kit Lambert while he was in deep conversation with Marin Gaish, and I wondered if the High Numbers were doing the right thing. This was the third manager in so many months: first, Helmut Gorden, then Peter Meaden, and now this guy, Kit Lambert.
I stepped closer to hear what he was telling Martin and felt a rush of excitement coming on as I listened to his rich Oxford tones while he preached the gospel about the High Numbers and how they needed a new direction.
It figured that Lambert’s friend, Stamp, would be an assistant film director. I felt him studying me as he dragged the tar from a French cigarette – in the background, a thousand Mods stomped in red nylon socks and desert boots to the Nashville Teens’ ‘Tobacco Road’
“Which do you think is best?” Lambert shouted to me and Gaish over the din, “the High Numbers or the Who?”
Sometime later, I contacted Martin Gaish and he told me that Lambert and Stamp were moving out of the apartment they shared at Ivor Court and moving into a bigger place at Eaton Place. I wondered how they could afford to live in such a flash area.
Gaish mentioned to me that Stamp had returned to London having completed the film, he reckoned it might be a good idea to call up and see the new apartment. I met Gaish as arranged and we got the Tube to Sloane Square. It was a very classy area and one house around the corner had a plaque on the wall saying that Chopin the composer had given one of his last concerts there. I don’t think Lambert and Stamp planned on putting up any plaques about the High Numbers.
There were three steps leading to the front door accompanied by pillars. Tradesman entrance signs instructed people to use the sides of some of the bigger houses, and I’d swear the dustmen doffed their caps before tipping the rubbish! What struck me as highly unusual and very much out of place in such a posh area was the sight of a scooter parked right outside number 84.
Gaish told me it was Stamp’s friend Mike Shaw who owned it. He was using it to go from club to club looking for bookings for the band. I looked at the audaciousness of parking a scooter in that part of Belgravia and reckoned it was cool.
We climbed the stairs to the top floor, and there was a lingering smell of expensive polish about the place. The walls and doors were painted snow white, and the numbers on the apartment doors were brass fitted. I said to Gaish: “There’s enough brass here to keep us in pills for a month.” Martin looked back at me. “Don’t nick nothing, for Chrissake!”
Lambert opened the door and led us through. The “office” turned out to be the drawing room of this big apartment. It was the biggest room I’d ever been in. Expensive furniture and oil paintings adorned the room. Resting on one of the settees was a long row of record albums – hundreds of pounds worth of R&B stuff I’d have given my right arm to own.
“Pete moved in yet?” Martin suddenly inquired, as he sat down next to the record collection.
“Yes, well, almost moved in, you could say. Almost.”
Lambert had a very clipped way of speaking. This was the first time I had really taken notice of it or the scar on the side of his neck. He looked about six or seven years older than me, which would’ve put him at 27, maybe 28.
I was about to ask if Chris Stamp had moved in as well when one of the apartment doors opened. This tall, good-looking guy closed the door behind him and joined us. He took a light from Lambert’s lighter, sat down, and began to study Gaish and myself. He looked a real cool geezer, the kind of guy you could never impress with flash carry-on.
He was about the same age as Lambert, but he looked younger and thin-boned, with a parting in the middle of his hair. I have to say that I had been very impressed when Lambert told me he was an assistant film director, but when he opened his mouth I couldn’t believe my ears: he looked aristocratic but spoke with a Cockney accent.
Stamp was the complete opposite to Lambert, and I found out later that he was from Plaistow (East-End of London). He had a slight husk in his voice when he spoke.
“We’ve managed to get the boys a residency at a club called the Marquee every Tuesday.” Gaish and I looked across the room in surprise.
“You know where the Marquee is, don’t you?” Lambert interrupted. Me and Gaish knew where the Marquee was all right, but we wondered if Lambert and Stamp realised it was usually packed with beatnik and Trad-Jazz types. Not exactly the place where a Mod might score a carton of leapers!
“By the way, Chris, this is Martin’s friend, Jack, from Hammersmith.”
Chris Stamp smiled a quick hello and continued: “Well, what we’d like you and Jack to do, Martin, is try and spread the word around as much as possible. Try and get as many of your friends from the Goldhawk Club to be at the Marquee next Tuesday night.”
Gaish saw an opening and was quick off the mark. “Are we getting paid for this?”
“Whaaat!” Chris Stamp looked across at Kit Lambert through a haze of cigarette smoke over an expanse of fifteen feet that separated the settees.
Kit turned to Martin: “We’ve got a lot of expenses right now, but you and Jack will be able to get into all our shows for free once we get going.” That seemed fair enough to me. Anyway, by that stage, I would have been willing to do anything for the band; I believed in them so much.
Stamp aired his thoughts as he rose out of the settee and moved to the window: “What we need Kit, is some kind of club.” Lambert was clearly thinking the same thing. “Yes, some kind of Mod grapevine.”
They were like two college professors discussing philosophy, and chain smoking at the same time. I mean these guys were fucking light years ahead of the likes of Gaish and myself, even though we both considered ourselves well-sussed Mods.
Stamp continued to look out the window at the traffic below, and spoke over his shoulder: “Some kind of Mods’ society that could put the word around…”
Lambert had an idea: “We could start up an exclusive club. How many Mods do you know at the Goldhawk, Martin?”
“Fucking hundreds!” Gaish replied enthusiastically, as if he were being asked to form a full-scale posse.
Nobody spoke for a few minutes. I was too embarrassed to even suggest an idea. Stamp half-turned at the window, and crushed out his cigarette. Then he said: “How about something like: ‘The One Hundred Mods’? ‘The Faces’?”
He turned, and looked across at Kit as if it was going to be his final attempt. “How about: ‘The One Hundred Faces’…? No ‘The Hundred Faces’”.
I looked over at Martin Gaish. He looked back at me, and broke into a smile. We didn’t dare interrupt, and then Kit Lambert spit-fired five words with a degree of Oxford eloquence: “It’s perfect, let’s have dinner!”
Part Two – ‘Friends and Associates’ will follow very soon.
(The above pics are used with permission and all feature Irish Jack. The middle one also includes Chris Stamp – Steve)