The Forest Hill Billies were familiar faces at Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues, London’s longest running one-nighter club.
The club was founded on the 3rd of July 1980 by Gaz Mayall, the eldest son of Blues legend John Mayall and, until a recent change of venue, it took place at Gossip’s on Dean Street in Soho in London’s West End. Gaz occasionally plays live at the club with his ska band The Trojans.
The Forest Hill Billies were regulars there on Thursday nights throughout the second half of the eighties. We’d play to a packed crowd there and with Gaz playing fantastic Ska and RnB from the DJ booth the atmosphere was always electric. The flyers for the club were always amazing, announcing the forthcoming gigs in a distinctive vintage comic-book style.
Gaz gave the Billies a great deal of encouragement and was influential in helping to shape the band’s sound. We would spend time with him and his brother Jason at his house listening to Ska and RnB from his massive record collection and he would gave us suggestions, tips and ideas for songs.
Always a late night, Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues would start to fill up after the pubs closed, in those days at 11.30pm.
We’d go up from South London in the VW van and in the ’80s you could park round the corner. We’d soundcheck and make some final adjustments to the set list and go on around midnight.