Suzi Quatro in the 70’s – new book by Darren Johnson due July 2022

Darren Johnson… Absolutely thrilled to have this coming out in July and it is now available for pre-order. Thanks to people here who contributed their memories of the Hastings Pier gig. The book includes brand-new interviews with both Suzi Quatro and Len Tuckey as well as perspectives from fans and other musicians and from extensive press archives of the period.

Stephen Moran… Many congratulations Darren


Can you help with the forthcoming Suzi Quatro book by Darren Johnson?

Darren Johnson… Following my book on the Sweet published this summer I’ve been commissioned to do one on Suzi Quatro. Was anyone at the gig she played on Hastings Pier in June 73 just after Can the Can became a hit. By all accounts it was something of a riot. This is how the NME reported it. Let me know if you have any memories you wish to share! “In 1066 they had perhaps THE most historic of battles at Hastings. And at the Suzi Q Band gig there the other Friday, certain people had it in mind to stage a re-run at the Pier Ballroom. Rowdies in farmyard boots stomped the boards; there were Teds with lard in their hair; rebel rousers itched at the promise of an innocent stumbling into them. In short, it was decidedly unpleasant. The atmosphere hummed with intended violence. Apes in monkey suits prowled the area, and in the bar leather jackets bustled bronzed muscles in T-shirts. Beer slopped down chests, over heads, and into big gobs. One poor lad was made part of the wall decor, flattened by a wooden gate and two cruds. Another delightful gent peed all over the toilet floor. But the point’s this: Quatro gigs are the subject of untold controversy at present, and not only for the rowdies reason.”

Peter Fairless… Friday, 8th June 1973. Factory were support.

Jim Breeds… If Factory were the support they may be able to give you some memories Darren. Most of ’em are in this group.

Peter Fairless… This is the gig where they declined Mickie Most’s offer to become the next Smokie, Jim. BTW: that seems like a very typical NME review – nothing about the music!

Darren Johnson… I did pull that out of a much longer article but yes very NME!

Stephen Moran… Hi Darren, I am currently undertaking research into the popular music histories of Hastings from 1960-1985 for a PhD I am doing with the London College of Music. I was interested to read your post and the NME review. I did look through copies of the music press at The British Library for the early part of my study but they only seemed to cover gigs in London or festivals like the Isle of Wight. It’s good to know that NME covered the Suzi Quatro gig and perhaps other live music events in Hastings. There was a short review in the Hastings Observer which you might find interesting. Good luck with the book.

cuttings supplied by Stephen Moran

Darren Johnson… Although the official chart says it went from 34 to no 5! They were right about predicting no 1 though.

Tony Pettifer… Saw her at the top rank Brighton supporting Thin Lizzy and Slade great gig!

Tony Court-holmes… i was there seemed a good night

Iain Cobby… I was there, as my mother and father worked at Hastings Pier Bingo in the theater and got me tickets for gigs. I was 18 that year and remember it being a packed audience but wasn’t aware of any “trouble”, however I do remember Suzi in her sprayed on leather jumpsuit (as I dare say most teens would have …. ) being a bassist I was interested in her P Bass and was impressed by her playing and singing, a good rock and roll show. I also remember the lovely Jenni Inness too, who used to write for The Observer, as she knew Tony Bridger RIP, a well known great guitarist who I had the pleasure of playing with.

Andy Qunta… Our band, Factory, were the support band for this gig. Very responsive audience! Suzi was great! Good luck with your book, Darren! The Sweet book sounds interesting too!

Peter Thomson… This is one I missed having been to see Slade at Brighton Dome earlier in the week. I was still at school, in the midst of ‘O’ levels and had to be up for my Saturday job in Woolies next morning. So I would have been skint as well but I’m sure Saturday night I would have made up for it. Good luck with the book.

Paul Cullen… I was at that gig and don’t remember any troubles like reported. I do recall however Factory getting more encores than Suzi. It was a great evening though



Let there be drums! interview with Slade legend Don Powell by Darren Johnson

Darren Johnson…. I catch up with founding member of Slade and drumming legend, Don Powell. Don’s band have just released a brand new single, a cover of the instrumental classic ‘Let There Be Drums’ featuring eighteen of the UK’s leading drummers with all profits going to…  raising money for crew, engineers and technicians hit by the pandemic and the cancellation of live gigs. Via Zoom in Don’s home in Denmark we talk about the new single, about the old Slade days, about working with Suzi Quatro and Andy Scott, about recovering from a stroke and much, much more besides.

interview continues here…

Kevin Sherwood… Great interview.

Memories of my first ever live gig – Slade at Donington August 81 by Darren Johnson


supplied by Darren Johnson

When I went to Monsters of Rock at Donington, aged 15, in 1981 it was not only my first ever festival but also my first ever live rock gig of any type. It still remains my favourite gig of all time, in particular the set by Slade that afternoon.

We arrived at Donington a little late and by the time we had parked and got into the arena the band More were most of the way through their set. The next band on were Blackfoot who I have no real recollection of at all. What I do remember is the anticipation of waiting for Slade to come on. After several years in the doldrums Slade had burst back into the charts a few months earlier with ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’. Their storming performance at Reading Festival the previous year (when the band replaced Ozzy Osbourne at the last minute) had already become legendary and this all meant that in the space of a few months Slade went from being a band that sang about Christmas that I vaguely recalled from my childhood to being my number one favourite band in the whole world. And that was even before I witnessed what would become (and still remains) the most remarkable live performance I’ve ever seen. Loud guitar-driven rock, commanding showmanship, unforgettable songs and sheer over- the-top-eccentricity, it was an absolute master-class in compelling live performance.

story continues here…

Sunny Afternoon The Kinks musical – review by Darren Johnson


I’m not normally a huge fan of musicals. However, I am a huge fan of The Kinks so when the opportunity to see Sunny Afternoon came up I was never going to say no. With most musicals I generally find the mix of dialogue and song unconvincing…. continue reading here…

Alan Esdaile… I’ve seen a few clips and looks great. I always thought that The Kinks would be the ideal act to appear on the new pier. Especially now the brothers are talking again. Rumours that they may appear at Glastonbury next year.

Darren Johnson…. Apparently the rumours of a Kinks reformation have been dismissed but they have acknowledged they are discussing working together!

Andre Martin… Well they visited us back in 1964 when on the way up, so an appearance again would be very much in keeping with the track record of the Pier – will have to watch the space that sticks out into the sea !

Darren Johnson… It would be wonderfully apt to see them do a Hastings Pier gig together. I was lucky enough to see Ray join his brother on stage in Islington last year for a blast of “You Really Got Me”

Dave Weeks… Going Wednesday


Jimi Hendrix flat at 23 Brook Street London – review by Darren Johnson

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supplied by Darren Johnson

One of the things that has long frustrated me about London is how little effort it puts into celebrating it’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage (certainly compared to Liverpool). This is in spite of London being (after Memphis the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll) probably the most important city on the entire planet in terms of rock history when one considers the number of globally influential bands who either formed in this city, built their reputation in this city or recorded in this city.

Hopefully, things are starting to change and that’s why, I was delighted to see Jimi Hendrix’s flat at 23 Brook Street, where he lived between July 1968 and March 1969, being restored and opened to the public this year…..

read more here….


Iain Matthews (ex Fairport/Matthews Southern Comfort/Plainsong) review of private house gig in Etchingham last night by Darren Johnson

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photos: Darren Johnson

more info…

Iain Matthews in Etchingham 18/11/16

“Of course I’m interested! Let m know.”

“Yes, there’s a place for you. The guy who’s organising it says he knows you from years back.”

So went a series of texts between myself and a friend. And why I found myself in the house of an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen for around twenty years to witness a performance by former Airport Convention/Matthews Southern Comfort/Plainsong singer, Ian Matthews.

It’s a really intimate affair: just twenty-odd people crowded into a room, Matthews and his guitar. But his material and manner is just perfect for a gathering like this. A few songs in he confesses he very rarely performs solo, normally performing either in a band or as a duo. This really surprises me because not only is he a superb singer-songwriter-performer he’s also got that knack of instant engagement and rapport with an audience, however small. He’s got some fascinating stories to share, reflecting on both his long career and the songs he performs.

Material-wise, we get some great material from throughout his career, both covers and originals. Highlights include Matthews’ own ‘Ballad of Gruene Hall’; a beautifully laid-back cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’; a song from Gene Clark’s magnificent solo album ‘No Other’; and some lovely Richard Farina covers from the newly-revived Plainsong’s 2015 album ‘Re-inventing Richard’.

That golden voice that sang along with Sandy Denny on the original version of ‘Meet on the Ledge’ will probably always be the thing I associate most with Matthews, however. And at the end of the set it can be heard singing out that song, once more, as a final encore for this small but enthusiastic gathering. A perfect end to the evening.

At one point in his set Matthews talks about his giving up completely as performer, assuming his career had run it’s course by the early 80s. But then he recalls a few years later an emotional Robert Plant grabbing him backstage at Fairport’s Cropredy festival and lecturing him about the importance of getting back out there on the road. “You owe it to your fans,” urges Plant. “What fans?” asks Matthews. “Get out there and you’ll find they are out there,” Plant responds. Indeed they are. Keep on playing Iain…

by Darren Johnson

SMART coffee meet 29 – 1st July 2016


Darren Johnson… I missed the last meet-up in Hastings. But this why…


Elaine Roberts… Sorry we won’t be at today’s coffee meet – The Black Sheep have a short-notice gig at The Jenny Lind tonight. If any Smart members fancy coming along we’d be delighted to see you 🙂

Mick O’Dowd… Come on you SMARTIES!