WELCOME TO MY GIORGIO GOMELSKY PAGE
AURORA METRO BOOKS, the independent publisher of books located in London, has agreed to publish my book on Giorgio Gomelsky with the following title and subtitle :
GIORGIO GOMELSKY – FOR YOUR LOVE
"The incredible life of a music impresario for the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Magma and others”
They have acquired the exclusive rights for the worldwide distribution of printed and digital versions of the book, for all types of audio-video adaptations, and for translations in all languages except for the French language in French-speaking countries.
As a result, I have had to close the free download link that had been available on this page, but you can still watch my extensive conversation with Rick Rees in which we talk freely about Giorgio’s amazing life, and about my personal friendship with him that lasted 35 years in New York City, at :
AURORA METRO BOOKS is currently projecting to launch its distribution of the printed and digital versions of the book on March 5, 2023 on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the release of “For Your Love” in the United Kingdom, the first of many international hit singles of the Yardbirds that were produced by Giorgio Gomelsky.
I include here below one of the many chapters of the book for your consideration, and I thank you for your interest in the fascinating life of Giorgio Gomelsky, and for supporting this project that aims to keep his flame alive.
Hail Hail Rock and Roll …
Chapter 3: Swinging London and the Crawdaddy
When he turned 21 in 1955, he found financing from an Italian television station to shoot a documentary on the new form of English jazz. He went to London and shot the documentary for that Italian television station, which opened the door to his next cinematic adventure—a real film that he produced in 1959 at the Royal Festival Hall with four tunes played by Chris Barber, a traditionalist jazz musician. For the event, Giorgio rented three cameras and shot in black-and-white CinemaScope.
This first film was well received and brought Giorgio praise from the critics, which in turn helped him receive permission from Harold Pendleton of the National Jazz Foundation to film the second National Jazz Festival in 1962, which he did in black and white again with four cameras and the most sophisticated equipment he could find at the time. He also shot other scenes in a studio, which he edited with live concert footage for the final product.
In order to pay for all this, he convinced the producer Frank Green to finance the project, but unfortunately, Frank failed to find a profitable means of distribution.
For this second film, Giorgio also edited two demos with Alexis Korner and his Blues Incorporated band, which featured Charlie Watts on drums. But once again, unfortunately, he failed to find a buyer and could not produce other material from his original footage.
After having produced his first films on this London jazz, he wrote articles in jazz magazines. But all in all, Giorgio found that life in London was dreary during these postwar years.
Having imported a professional Faema expresso machine from Italy, he opened the Olympic Coffee Bar with a friend (three tables and a few chairs) on King’s Road near Sloane Square in the Chelsea neighborhood—Chelsea also being the name of the New York neighborhood where he spent the last 38 years of his life. This café attracted young people who came in when local pubs closed at 9 p.m. One of these young people was the unknown Mary Quant, who became famous with her invention of the miniskirt.
It was quite possibly as a reaction to the dull atmosphere of life in postwar London that a movement started taking shape in the neighborhood. New pubs and restaurants opened their doors for a new wave of young people who were starting what became known as “Swinging London.”
Giorgio continued to write his jazz articles, notably for the Jazz News magazine, and he coined the acronym BR&B or BRB which stood for British Rhythm and Blues.
Young musicians and fans preferred the blues to trad jazz, and after having dragged his feet for a while, Harold Pendleton gave Giorgio a weekly Blues Night on Thursdays at the Marquee Club. The guitarist Alexis Korner and the harmonica player Cyril Davies had put together the Blues Incorporated band in which the musicians were mostly Charlie Watts on drums, Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophone, Jack Bruce on bass, and Long John Baldry on vocals.
Other young musicians could join them for a song or two, and many of them became famous, including Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Keith Richards, who met there before starting the Rolling Stones with Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, and Ian Stewart. Meanwhile, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker became friends with Graham Bond and started the Graham Bond Organization with Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Giorgio had a chance encounter with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies at the Blue Beat Club on Portobello Road. These two models were linked to a huge political scandal with John Profumo, an English noble who was part of the conservative government’s Privy Council, and Giorgio invited the two ladies to pass by the Marquee Club the following Thursday night. When they did, they were followed by the pack of reporters who hounded them day and night.
The following day, thanks to the two ladies’ visit, all the papers mentioned the Thursday nights at the Marquee—the best free advertising anyone could dream of and hope for.
Giorgio met Brian Jones at the Marquee in 1962. Brian and his friends played in the Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley style, which Cyril Davies was not fond of, and Giorgio saw an opportunity to start something new and modern in another place.
He rented the Piccadilly Club next to Piccadilly Circus on Friday nights, and invited Alexis Korner and his Blues Incorporated, the Blues by Six of Nicky Hopkins, and the Rollin’ Stones (as they spelled it then), which led to a deep rift between Giorgio and Harold Pendleton, who accused Giorgio of stealing his idea and his bands.
Giorgio moved his concept to the southwest part of Greater London, in Richmond, where he rented the back room of the Station Hotel, in which there was a small stage and where an audience of a hundred people could stand.
He produced his first concert there on January 20, 1963, and the first group he invited was the Dave Hunt Rhythm & Blues Band, with a young Ray Davies, who later became famous with the Kinks. But Giorgio fired them when they stood him up one night. They were not serious enough, and he decided to replace them with the Rollin’ Stones, since Brian Jones was constantly asking him to pay attention to his band. Giorgio called Ian Stewart, who was the only band member with a phone number, since “Stu” worked in an office of Imperial Chemical Industries company, one of the largest English companies.
Their first concert at the Station Hotel on February 24, 1963, drew only three people. The fault could possibly be attributed to Giorgio and the misspelling of the term “Rhythm and Blues,” which he spelled as “Rhythm and Bulse” on the posters. The band was ready to cancel, but Giorgio encouraged them to play as if they had a full house.
Giorgio never forgot the only three witnesses to this concert, which he says was absolutely phenomenal: Paul Williams later had his own career as a blues singer, Little D. became a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and the third, whose name he could no longer place, became an agent for artists.
Giorgio had agreed to pay a pound to each of the musicians, plus a commission per person coming in, but since there was no door to share, he gave them their promised pound and invited them to come back the following Sunday night.
From Sunday to Sunday and from mouth to ear, more and more people came, and the band was playing to full capacity. Giorgio asked his assistant, Hamish Grimes, to encourage the audience to dance on the tables and gyrate their arms like windmills while the Stones played long extended versions of their Bo Diddley songs like “Pretty Thing” and “Doing the Crawdaddy”—the name which Giorgio ended up using for his club.
Each concert only lasted 45 minutes at the most, but Giorgio wanted each of these concerts to become a collective catharsis propelled by the Bo Diddley rhythm, something he told the journalists he called to promote his events, like Peter Jones of the Record Mirror and Patrick Doncaster of the Daily Mirror—one of the largest dailies in England—who came in person to the Crawdaddy and wrote a great piece on the Rollin’ Stones concert he saw there.
The Stones concerts at the Station Hotel were becoming the talk of the town, but the owner of the hotel was not happy with the commotion, and on April 22, 1963, he asked Giorgio to find another venue.
In an exemplary positive and constructive reaction against adversity that remained his trademark for the rest of his life, Giorgio refused to give up. While Giorgio was in Switzerland for his father’s funeral, Hamish Grimes asked Harold Pendleton to recommend him to Commander Wheeler who ran the Richmond Athletic Association, where the National Jazz and Blues Festival was held and which was located near the Station Hotel.
Giorgio moved the Crawdaddy there, and he could now welcome up to a thousand people for more important concerts. The Rolling Stones played there, as well as the Paramounts (future Procol Harum), the Moody Blues, the Muleskinners (future Small Faces), the Animals, and Steampacket with Rod Stewart.
On August 10 and 11 of 1963, Giorgio organized the third annual National Jazz and Blues Festival on the Richmond Athletic Grounds, where he managed to book the Rolling Stones and Long John Baldry.
One year later, thanks to the opening that Giorgio had managed to make in the 1963 program, the 4th Annual Jazz and Blues Festival included the Rolling Stones and the T-Bones on Friday, August 7; the Long John Baldry Hoochie Coochie Men and Manfred Mann on August 8; and the Graham Bond Organization, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, and the Yardbirds on the evening of August 9.
Famous bluesmen were also on the bill, such as Mose Allison, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Memphis Slim, as well as Chris Barber and several other jazz bands from the London area.
During these years of 1963 and 1964, Giorgio’s influence in the region was undeniable, and he managed to break the strict molds of the jazz and traditional blues purists who had not appreciated the arrival of these young blues and rock bands, and who had not let them play on their stage at the Marquee on Thursday nights during the previous year.
In spite of all of this, the Rolling Stones never played at the Crawdaddy after their concert of September 22, 1963.
Giorgio organized a concert by the Yardbirds at the Club A’Gogo in Newcastle on December 13, 1963. The Animals were there, and he invited them to play at his Crawdaddy Club in order to get the attention of the London crowd.
To celebrate his 30th birthday on February 28, 1964, Giorgio organized an important concert. This was indeed the first chapter of the Rhythm & Blues Festival in Birmingham, with the Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group (featuring a 15 year old Stevie Winwood, who sang and played the organ), the Roadrunners (a band from Liverpool), Sonny Boy Williamson, Rod Stewart, and the Long John Baldry Hoochie Coochie Men.
Giorgio did not work alone. He built a team of people who would work with him for years. The two main actors were Enid Tidey, who had already proved herself with Denis Preston, the first independent music producer to have his own recording studio and his own record label in England, and the photographer Hamish Grimes, whose introduction of the band can be heard at the start of the album Five Live Yardbirds, which was recorded in front of an audience at the Marquee on March 20, 1964.