Moseley Memories

Met writer Nick Toczek yesterday at the funeral of an old friend. More on the life of Chris Edwards when we remember him musically in a couple of months time but thought a few old Moseley types might enjoy Nick’s recollections of upstairs at The Fighting Cocks in the early 70’s…

Hi John,

great to meet you again – albeit in such very sad circumstances – found your site and been reading about you…  my part in the history of the upstairs room in Ivor’s Fighting Cocks is that – before he had a proper stage built – I made the temporary one from bricks and planks stolen from a building site plus dozens  of beer crates ‘donated’ by Davenports Brewery (slogan: beer at home) after giving a fiver to the night watchman in exchange for a van-load of crates. That was for the first Moseley Festival back in 1973, which I jointly founded with Tom Sorohan and John Dalton.

Reciprocally, in running Big Ears, you gave a regular early platform for dozens of performers…. among them not just the utterly brilliant John Dowie whom you mention, but also  – if memory serves me right – Victoria Wood, Kay Russell (who had a big chart hit with The Susan Fassbender Band – ‘Twilight Café’ –  which she wrote and played/sung on), Jim Cleary (who should’ve been bigger than anyone out of Brum),me (check out my incomplete wikipedia site), God knows how many musicians – including Ruby Turner (managed by Gather Owen) all of Robert Plant’s post-Zep Honeydrippers – plus ex-Move luminaries, some ace folkies, etc,… not forgetting others like the now-legendary cartoonist, then scriptwriter, Hunt Emerson, plus the playwright (but since established as a major children’s poet) Gareth Owen, plus John Row (of Stereo Graffiti) who’s now a leading player on the storytelling circuit…. and many more if I stopped to think about it.

What I’m saying is that your blurb about Big Ears is too modest… by far. It was an astonishing phenomenon.

Nick Toczek


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