Not remembering Lou Reed very well
Lou Reed’s death, like many a musician’s before him, has brought memories flooding back to me about when I saw him play. It is one of the great joys of a lifetime of listening to music that one gets such an archive in your brain. I just wish, in this case, I could remember a bit more.
It was in 1974 at Charlton Athletic football grounds, south of the river Thames in east London. Reed was third from the top on the day-long concert’s bill, topped by The Who and Humble Pie. Lower down were Bad Company, folk-rockers Lindisfarne, Maggie Bell (Scotland’s answer to Janis Joplin) and Montrose.
To this day, I have never been in a more crowded place. I was sitting cross-legged all day on the grass, unable to stretch, move or get up. The picture I have found (above) gives you some idea, but doesn’t really capture it.
As I say, details are rather foggy. But I can recall Reed playing “Walk On The Wild Side” which is one of my favourite songs all these years later. I can also remember Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott singing what I think was “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and Lindisfarne having a wet on the wall with “We Can Swing Together”. The rest is just lost in the haze of time.
But the concert still stands out for me for two reasons. London Transport in a fine example of 1970s incompetency failed to put on enough tube trains to get us all out of there before they shut down for the night. The result was what must have been thousands of us walking through the night for miles. It wasn’t exactly wild side, but it was wild.
I eventually got to Waterloo, some 6 miles away just in time to take the milk train home at silly o’ clock in the morning. (Not sure it was actually carrying milk, but that is what they called it).
The second reason is stands out is that decades later I was at a cocktail party at the British embassy in Athens. I was in a group of very upwardly mobile UK diplomats and we started talking about music. I mentioned this concert and no less than three others about of our small group – or four out of five – had also been there.
So farewell, Lou Reed, now walking on the ultimate wild side. Thank’s for the memory.
Here’s some Maggie for those who don’t know her: