The accelerating destruction of one of my favourite parts of London is well documented elsewhere. I won’t even attempt the whole story, but here’s my synopsis: Denmark Street, a.k.a London’s Tin Pan Alley, and other parts of Soho, London are being “regenerated” (read: legally vandalised, offered to the highest bidder and/or destroyed ) and regurgitated as some brave new vision of fuck-knows-what. With profits going fuck-knows-where.
Me and Denmark Street, we go back a long way
I’m not about to go all sentimental here. Most of the guitars were overpriced and I never did meet any rock legends there. But Denmark Street was simply a small yet important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I liked the vibes. It was always My World and nothing to do with boring day jobs, or family problems, or anything in my life that was giving me grief. I could just mooch around at my own speed, checking out the goodies and occasionally buying more than strings and picks. Back in the seventies – then based in Liverpool – I’d gone down for a weekend and returned with a shiny black Ibanez acoustic with a Fender-style headstock from Andy’s. Purchased from Andy himself. Super cool when everyone else in the Pool had hideous generic jumbos that looked like they’d been made from a front room sideboard.
In 2000, I bought my lovely SG -I Gibson in a shop that to date is Macari’s, but was then seemingly owned by Rokas, later known as Rockers. Let’s hope it won’t shortly be owned by 02.
An uncharacteristically good deal for a West End guitar!
A wake-up call I ignored
I haven’t lived in London for over 14 years and for most of them Denmark street and the surrounding area was my default place to revisit. In my head – and only in my head – it was still the same street I’d hung out in for three decades on and off, before moving to Berlin. The demolition of the nearby Astoria, where I’d seen a pre-mega Nirvana and danced to the Reverend Horton Heat was a wake-up call that I ignored. I didn’t like the ever-increasing number of hoardings around the Crossrail project at Tottenham Court Road every time I visited, but tried not to think about it.
Then petitions were appearing on Facebook and I realised just how bad things really were in my old stomping ground.When public opinion and petitions were totally and cynically ignored, and the eviction order served on the legendary 12 Bar Club, with neighbouring shops and businesses under a similar threat, I was moved to write this song:
(words and lyrics copyright Kathy Freeman 2015 )
to finish off….. a photo from a show I did at the 12 Bar. By the way I’m playing my Other Lovely SG. It lives in London to save the hassle of transporting guitars on planes. But that’s another story….
I never played at the 12 Bar when I lived in the UK, but had a great time playing there in 2013
Kathy Freeman Songs: BANDCAMP
More about Kathy Freeman at KATHY-FREEMAN.DE