The Cream of the pop crop

Cream in Paris, September 1966

NOT that it was any mystery to her, but Echo reader Vivian Pittard (nee Green) from Chalbury Hall, near Wimborne has solved the Cream mystery we reported recently in Snapshots.

A local legend seemed to have been built up around the idea that Eric Clapton’s 1960s blues-rock supergroup Cream played a gig at the Pavilion Ballrooms in Bournemouth. Some readers called to suggest it may have been Le Disque A Go Go or The Cave club under the Roundhouse Hotel, both at the Lansdowne, but Vivian knows it was the Pavilion – and so she should as she booked them!

“I had worked for the Arthur Howes booking agency in London and did some work for Mostyn Enterprises booking bands all over the country,” she says. “The Cream gig must have been early on as they got a lot more expensive once they were established, so I imagine it was 1966.

“Basically, the more dates you booked with them the cheaper the bands got so they’d often say they’d do the Pavilion if we had them on a few other, better paid gigs. I remember paying bands at the Pavilion, it was only 20 or 30 quid. There I was, 19 years old handing over cash to Dave Davies of The Kinks or Steve Marriott of The Small Faces. He signed a handbill we had, though how he managed I’ll never know, he was so drunk. Fantastic gig, though, the crash barriers at the front of the stage buckled!”

Vivian’s 16-year-old brother, Peter Green – who ran Mostyn Enterprises – used to DJ when bands played the Ballroom’s Big Beat nights and she remembers him parading around in her flowery trouser suit with a large paper daffodil on his head.

Pavilion Ballroom DJ, Peter Green, 1966

“He called himself The Daffodil Man – well, it was the Sixties!”

And other readers have been keen to share their memories: Martin Bartlett, from Bournemouth:“I remember that gig so well – I can see Ginger Baker with his mass of red hair playing the drum solo to the track Toad off the first album, Fresh Cream, which I’d only just got. Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce just wandered off stage and left him there for about 15 minutes playing – he was playing four different rhythms, amazing!”

Graham Dexter, from Bournemouth: “I did some work helping Peter Green out and that was one of a series of shows we did with people like The Kinks, The Small Faces, Manfred Mann and The Peddlers. It stuck in the mind because I was sitting with Ginger Baker before he went on and watched him down a whole bottle of Captain Morgan rum followed by a couple of pills, what we called bombers in those days. Phenomenal!”

(Graham also remembers seeing Eric Clapton guest with Fleetwood Mac at The Ritz club in Bournemouth a couple of years later.)

Tony Simon, from Westbourne: “It was very much part of the Bournemouth Mod scene at that time – we all went to the Disque, or sometimes the Royal Ballrooms in Boscombe, but always the Pavilion Big Beat nights. They had bands like The Who or Amen Corner or The Action on, but the Cream gig I think was something to do with a student rag ball as I remember getting tickets for it in advance. It was a total sell out.”

Dick Irish sent us an email: “A highlight for me was Jack Bruce sitting on the edge of the stage playing a long harmonica solo on Train Time.”

Martin Swaine, by email: “I was there to witness what must have been the biggest live band in the world at that time. I had the recollection that the gig was something to do with Bournemouth College as it was then, maybe their rag week.”

Ray Tilsed, from Bournemouth: “It was the most fantastic night I ever saw down there. It was jam-packed, people were standing on tables trying to see and I remember it went on very late – way past the usual time – so it couldn’t have been a Sunday. All three of them were well gone, but brilliant, and best of all was the finale when they played Spoonful and each took a six or seven minute solo while the other two looked on.”

• First published by Bournemouth Echo.

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