Rockabilly Hall of Fame® Archives
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2 February 98
by Rod Pyke

A bitterly cold night did not deter over 1700 people from attending the 15th annual Rockers Reunion at the Battersea Town Hall. The event had moved back to its original venue by public demand after last years switch to the Brixton academy. By opening time the queues were already four deep around the Town Hall. Coaches were arriving from all parts of Europe for this multi national occasion. Rock and Rollers were even attending from as far away as America and Japan. The Rockers Reunion is the ideal name for the event, as old friends from all corners of the world renew acquaintances and make new friends. Once inside the buildings foyer people gathered while they got their bearings.

There was a big Dance Hall with a good sized stage which was raised well above ground level which enabled good viewing. Upstairs at the back of the hall was a balcony with theatre style seating. In a room at the back of the Hall was a large bar area. Also at the back of the hall was a temporary bar selling canned beers and an area where a tattooist was doing his artwork. Two long corridors either side of the Hall provided a rest area. At the end of one corridor and downstairs was the main stall area. All types of merchandise were on sale, records, clothes, biker gear, buckles etc. There was also a DJ, a collection of vintage motorbikes and a video show area. At 8pm at the back of the foyer another section of the Town Hall was opened up. A long corridor led to another stall area and a room which had been transformed into a replica of the ACE CAFE, which incidentally has now been re-opened on the North Circular Road in London NW10. The Foyer also had a few stalls, one selling Rocker's Reunion merchandise and a spot for the Joe Brown Fan Club.

This years line up was all that was best in British in Rock 'n' Roll. The first band on stage were BLAST OFF who have gained a lot of friends in a short time and are hotly tipped as one of the success stories of 1998. They provided an excellent opening act and warmed the audience for what was to come. As usual BOOGIE DEL RICHARDSON of CMR Radio was the master of ceremonies and favourite DJs PETE BRUCE and WILD CAT PETE provided the records between acts.

The FLAMES were next up and were joined by another name from the Golden Days. Decca recording artist DANNY RIVERS. In 1961 he charted with "Can't You Hear My Heart". He worked with legendary producer, Joe Meek and was one of the stars of Jack Good's TV show "Wham". Danny gave a very good account of himself and his voice was as good as ever. Straight up after Danny was a treat for all the men in the audience when husky voiced JEAN VINCENT came on to give a really bubbly performance full of life and energy. With her long Blonde hair, short black mini skirt and good looks, she soon had the front of the stage congested with onlookers. She was really out to enjoy herself and later was out on the floor herself partying along with everybody.

The bands now took a break and PETE BRUCE played some real rockers to keep the party moving while waiting for the legendary TERRY DENE. The wait seemed eternal but finally Terry was introduced gave one of the performances of the night. Terry was originally referred to as the Bad Boy of Rock 'n' Roll in the 50's and got many references in the tabloids of the day. Terry did all the fans favourites "Start Movin'", "A White Sports Coat" and "Stairway to Love" The band backing him was the excellent DENE ACES re-formed especially for the night. On bass was Brian Gregg, co-writer of the Johnny Kidd classic "Shakin' All Over". Everybody’s favourite guitarist Big Jim Sullivan was on lead guitar. Jim a stalwart of British Rock 'n' Roll worked with everybody from Tom Jones to Marty Wilde. Then on drums was Frank Farley a former member of Johnny Kidd's Pirates. They gave a performance that had you believing they had never been away from the scene. Terry certainly won the audience over and applause was ringing around the hall long after he left the stage. It was wonderful seeing so many people of mixed races and ages enjoying themselves together.

LUCAS AND THE DYNAMOS made a quick return to the reunion after their big success here in 1995 and with a sax in their line up gave a very powerful performance. Their hard working act made you see why they were invited back by public demand. Nobody keeps still when they are on stage.

Things were running a bit late by now so there was not too long to wait until the star act of the night came on backed by his BRUVVERS, JOE BROWN. JOE always a favourite with the British audience still looked as young as ever with his beaming smile and spiky haircut. Joe was very popular in the fifties and appeared on numerous TV shows in the UK, like Boy Meets Girl and Oh Boy. His brilliant guitar work was recognised by many artists and he backed Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on several occasions. He toured with them also with his Bruvvers. He has had his fair share of hit records and played most of them, including, Picture of You, That's what Love Will Do, It Only Took A Minute, I’m Henry V111 I am and What A Crazy World. His act also had him playing Violin, Mandolin and Accordion. Everybody knows the words of Joe’s songs and were singing along with every one of them, the atmosphere was amazing. The crowd loved him so much he was even allowed to play an Irish Jig which probably no one but Joe could have got away with at a Rocker ’s event. Joe's rapport with an audience has to be seen, and his cockney charm and accent give a warm feeling to everybody. He is still as active and energetic as ever and will always be endeared to all Rockers. He would have played all night if he was allowed too but after several encores he had to depart. One hour of pure entertainment.

The night was rounded off by CRAZY CAVERN AND THE RHYTHM ROCKERS who need no introduction to British R & R fans, they are always a star attraction and once again never let anybody down. They performed once again in a very professional inimitable style bringing the nights proceedings to a close. Once again thanks must go to the organisers, Ian Wallis and Willie Jeffery, for another wonderful nights entertainment. Let us not forget all the other helpers who played a part in making the 15th Rocker's Reunion another success.