STRAIGHT OUT OF 'The 'Q' Club'
'I Came, I Saw, I Photographed'
Is that Angela Davis? I asked the late photographer R A Albert one day, back in 2009. We were sat drinking coffee at his kitchen table, in Blythe Road, West Kensington, looking through a big stash of sixties and seventies black and white photographs. Albert had roped me in to do a spot of curating and I was happy to oblige. His pictures, a treasure trove of black and white photography, I was discovering, was a treasure trove.. He was a bit of a treasure himself in the black community, a much admired photographer; hailing from the West Indian island of Grenada.
Photographer R A Albert (1935-2009)
Responsible for photographing a beauty queen or two. Indeed, Albert had been at the forefront of the Beauty Pagaent circuit from the late 60s to the mid ninieties, as a Promoter too, of amongst the many titles; Miss Black And Beautiful, the Miss West Indies In Great Britain, Miss Teenager of the West Indies In Great Britain, to name but a few and, was busy organising an upcoming photo exhibition. The first official Exhibition of his lifetimes work, entitled - "I Came, I Saw, I Photographed" - at the Hammersmith Information Centre. As proud as a peacock then, to confirm that it was indeed the Miss Angela Davis.
Sorting through his photos of beautiful women, them and the stash of reggae celebrities, I hadn't expected to find the Angela Davis in his collection! Details please!
Turns out that the shot was taken whilst he was 'resident photographer' at a nightclub in Paddington.
The 'Fabulous' Q Club
Not any old Club mind. The 'Q' Club; which, back in the day, if you were into reggae, was one of London's hottest venues. And rarest. At least it was amongst the reggae fraternity.
Based in Paddington, West London, the club back then, garnered legendary statues. A club frequented by the good and the great (and the rest) including the likes of Desmond Decker, the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Misty In Roots to name but a few. Some of whom R A Albert got to photograph!
Owned by the legendary Wilbert Augustus Campbell (1931–2014), better known as Count Suckle, a charismatic Jamaican-born sound system operator and club owner who was 'so influential in the development of Ska and reggae music, and African- Caribbean culture, in the UK', that according to one biogger, 'he's barely mentioned'!
'Suckle', as his friends called him, had already found reknown as resident DJ with his sound system at an iconic London Music venue, the Roaring Twenties. later called Columbo's situated in Carnaby Street, Soho, the Roaring Twenties hosting the creme de la creme of musicians - from the Rolling Stones to Bob Marley.
An 'important music venue' then. Nevertheless, Suckle who boasted amongst his friends 'the' Mohammed Ali (rip) jumped ship and opened up his own club.
Reported as 'consciously upmarket', with a 700-capacity, it was aimed at London's black aspiring community - by then dubbed 'buppies'.
A Clientele to reminisce over
Interspersing the hottest new sounds, direct from Jamaica and the US, the club thrived. And with the cream of black acts – the Drifters, Edwin Starr, Ben E King, even Jimi Hendrix – onstage, the 'Q' club was a colossal success, with a frequently stellar audience: from the late greats Marvin Gaye to Little Richard to 'Black Panther' Stokely Carmichael, a clientele of reknown too.
Suckle decided he need a 'resident photographer', which is how RA reknowned for his work on the Beauty Pagaent scene and a regular at the club, got to photograph the 'great and the good' who, when in town, headed straight for the Q Club. Fast becoming a 'one-stop' for the great and good to party the night away, the 'fabulous Q Club', delivered. Great music, great company and great fun. Add to that a stellar rosta of live bands (like Misty in roots below) performing and, the punters flocked in.
- Raphael Albert Miss Black & Beautiful Exhibition
For more than three decades from the late 1960s to 1990s, Albert documented black beauty pageants & other cultural events in London
The Beauful People
For the resident photographer, with a flair for photographing 'the beautiful people', from Miss west Indies to Miss Black and Beautiful, you couldn't have gotten a better gig!
In Great Company
Great company aside, apart from Ms Davis who were these in the picture with Ms Davis, I asked Raphael?
Turns out they are our very own ALEX PASCAL OBE, (above) Journalist and Broadcaster pictured above and pictured below also our very own ARIF ALI, (below) Newspaper Editor/Caribbean Times and Publisher/Hansib Publications and by the looks of it, they are all letting their hair down. And all up in a reggae club!?!
Indeed, with Angela Davis all about US rap (one would imagine with friends like Ice Cube) a reggae club? What would NWA say Angela?
Lest you missed it, Angela 'interviewed' NWA in 1991 - http://ambrosiaforheads.com/2017/04/angela-davis-ice-cube-interview-video/.
Famed for being the 'legendary rap group' who rose to fame having 'sruggled to navigate life in Compton amid routine police brutality' in the US, themes close to Ms D's heart - https://talkingpointsmemo.com/theslice/how-political-was-nwa-really. A serious Rap outfit then.
Finding Time To Rock
Certainly many of us would have caught (or not) the Angela Davis's Civil Rights struggle through the black press.
A Ms. Davis described at best as - an 'early radical' even a ' Poster Girl for African Americans', that and 'an American Intellectual'. 'a Black Activist, feminist - prison campaigner - a revolutionary', a 'Black Panther'.
There's more. our Ms Davis was named 'a terrorist’ and placed on the top 10 most wanted List in the USA by 'two American Presidents' With all that, I wondered how Ms Davis found time to rock!
The Importance of Reggae
It Is worth remembering that during the late '60s and early '70s, 'a revolutionary or two' emerged; on the world stage; from Fidel Castro to Che Guevara. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jan/30/reggae-revolutionary-bob-marley-britain
Indeed, reggae was also spoken of in the same breath- as the likes of the late greats: from the Hon. Bob Marley to Peter Tosh, them and Burning Spear and bands like Culture, & Roots Radics and Misty In Roots from the UK, and many other 'musical revolutionaries' having emerged, stateside, the Americans couldn''t have failed to notice. - https://www.nwfolklife.org/reggae-rising-hip-hops-roots-in-reggae-music/
Even today, reggae is feted, all aroundthe globe, for its 'upward grooves' (anon).
From Sting and Shaggy - http://www.lessentiel.lu/de/entertainment/musik/story/Sting-und-Shaggy-bringen-Jamaika-Feeling-nach-Belval-16728825 to Corben and UB40 - https://www.irishnews.com/magazine/entertainment/2018/06/29/news/jeremy-corbyn-hails-ub40-as-authentic-socialist-voice--1369867/
Certainly, there was no missing reggae's impact around the globe.
A Living Witness
Reggae still a popular feature in the UK today. But, reggae times aside, Ms Davis always gets a big welcome in Blighty.. And, in these times....still expressing herself.
Welcome To London
Back in 2017, at the Southbank Centre, speaking to Artistic Director Jude Kelly CBE about women, race and class ...
Indeed, amongst the great and the good, Angela has been dubbed something of ' a living witness' to the historical struggles of the contemporary era, not least for her classic 'outspoken' style.
The style that told the world (Having met up with the late Stuart Hall, the renowned Jamaican-born cultural theorist and sociologist, dubbed ‘the Godfather’ of Multi-culturism http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/10/godfather-multiculturalism-stuart-hall . ) that: - “It’s about recognising the connection to racist violence to the profit machine” - .http://www.theguardian.com/global/2014/dec/14/
Portrait Of A Revolutionary
Certainly its a style that's said 'still resonates today' -
Her 'filmography speaks for itself; from the 2016's 'Angela Davis: Portrait of a Revolutionary' a feature length documentary made by an american student (U.C.L.A) Yolande DuLuart , documenting her and the role of Women in the Black Panther Party, a film that marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party (1966 – 2016) to 'Manifestation Pur La Liberation D'Angela Davis' (1971), to 'Mountains That Take Wings, Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama' also a full length documentary and the Black Power Mixtape1967-1975' (2011) documentary film, directed by Göran Olsson, examines the evolution of the Black Power movement in American society from 1967 to 1975 as viewed through Swedish journalists, filmmakers are having a feast of the Icon that is Ms Davis.
Not forgetting the Lenin 'Peace Prize' Ms Davis accepted in 1979, and an epic biog is in the pipeline, showing just how much Ms Davis has become truly a phenomenon in our lifetimes.
Can't think of anything else but to wish Angela Davis all the best!
Fast forward to today? A new commitment?
Sounds like the same old Angela, consolidating her vocation. Reminding us though that we must learn from history. Bless, she’s still working, still energized, optimistic. Speaking up on issues that are as current today, as they are historic, on us, and ‘a new society’ of ‘freedom, justice, with dignity for all. Still much needed in the today, as in the 60s. Those who think their hard enough, where are they.
Keeping high vibes thank goodness is our Angela. Even though she knows of old of ‘the dangers’, nor do the opposers take rest.
Change sometimes takes far longer than we can imagine, someone reminded me lately. Still holding on to the possibilities of change we are and, tuning in much more than usual on our key players for good measure, I was thrilled, if I may say so, to see some recent interviews with Miss D, here in Blighty’s media for instance; Khristian Garu Murthyon Channel four Interviewing the legendary Ms. A this year.
- Acclaimed activist Angela Davis attracts 1,600 | Local Features | elpasoinc.com
To say activist and scholar Angela Davis received a warm welcome during her visit to the University of Texas at El Paso is an understatement. More than 1,600 people attended
Change Is Gonna Come
Change sometimes takes far longer than we can imagine, Miss A said lately. We still holding on to the possibilities of change we are and, tuning in much more than usual on our key players for good measure. I was thrilled, if I may say so, to see some recent interviews with Miss D, with Khristian Garu Murthyon on Channel four.
Any younger reader who has not yet discovered 'The' Angela Davis, has some catching up to do. Indeed, a generation or two later, with all its complexities, still, brutality, still, and pointlesseness, still, her ilk, bringing it will be a treat.
Meanwhile, whether you want to get your head around 'war', gun violence, or lose your heart in a romance, Music still puts things at our perspective and how.
There's massive changes on most of our Playlists. Key persons of Influence, will have their work cut out appealing to the new wave order in the music business for instrance.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Julie Henry
Joe on June 30, 2017:
Dave, NW London on June 15, 2016:
Still lookin good girl!