January – March
John Major is Prime Minister and Britain is in deep recession.
In January 1991, Danny and I had to move from our basement flat in the Angel, Islington to sharing a council flat in Stoke Newington, North London, with Shelley and her boyfriend Andy. I knew Shelley from the Rock Garden in London’s Covent Garden, she was one of the venue managers, and I was the band booker.
Duncan Terrace, Islington.
The venue’s owner, Arthur, had decided to grow the company and had bought the premisses next door – an old students’ club in a dark basement, and plans to renovated it were taking shape. We had lots meetings down there looking at various designs with architects. It opened as The Gardening Club in late 1990 and Shelley was invited to manage it. Now though, the Rock Garden was financially overstretched as an attempt to float the company hadn’t worked. I was made redundant on my first day back in the office, New Year 1991. Danny and I needed to move somewhere cheaper to live and Shelley very kindly offered their place for us to share.
Heatherley Court, Stoke Newington.
To attempt to get an income, I started to book lots of little gigs around London. I asked one of my friends at the Rock Garden to photocopy me all of the year before’s booking diary so I had loads of bands’ phone numbers. I made contact with the various pubs and venues on the circuit – The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, Haven’s Stables in Ealing, pubs in Islington and Lewisham. I was collecting fliers I had made for some of the gigs from Prontaprint on Islington Green, when I bumped into Andy Winters. I knew Andy as he had been a regular at the gigs my band Go! Service had played at The Room at the Top in Chalk Farm a few years earlier, at Dan Treacy’s (The Television Personalities) club night. Andy told me about a label he has just started and asked if I would be interested in helping out with press and radio. He invited me to come for a chat with himself and his business partner, Maurice Bacon. Together they had recently started Ultimate Records.
Danny and I had already been going to the Yellow Book Club, run by Frank Perkins on the Friday nights at the Rock Garden. DJS such as Andrew Weatherall and Terry Farley were regulars. Myself and my now ex boss Sean McDonnell had offered Frank the Saturday night at the Gardening Club in 1990 while the building work was still taking place. His night Opheliastarted when the brand new club opened in December 1990, we were regulars from the off. Shelley would put us on the guest list and the bouncers soon knew our names and greeted us warmly.
Paul Oakenfold, Justin Robertson and Jeremy Healey all d.j.ed there. These nights were wonderful and a moment in London clubbing history.