Former Advertiser reporter remembers the legendary Disci shop - and the time Rod the Mod came to Rugby
Former Rugby Advertiser reporter John Phillpott remembers Disci…
Years ago, Rugby had quite a few outlets where you could buy vinyl records.
But the top place for the discerning connoisseur of all things musical back in the 1960s was, without any shadow of doubt, Disci in High Street.
To be sure, Benn Radio situated opposite the Clocktower, sold records.
But for the younger buyer, there always seemed to be something lacking.
The trouble was that the person behind the counter usually looked like your mum or dad, back then a species not particularly well disposed to the creations, let alone the antics, of the longer-haired pop fraternity.
“Val Doonican or James Last, sir? Why yes, of course. Out of Our Heads by the Rolling Stones? Sorry sir, I’m not aware of that disc. What was it called again… ? ”
Not the case with Disci. During the mid-1960s, before he went off to art college, the chances are that the chap you’d encounter behind the counter was Brian Meredith, not only the drummer with Rugby’s very own Big Idea, but also a bit of an expert on the latest sounds.
In my book Go and Make the Tea, Boy! I recount at length how I would chinwag with Brian for hours, talking about what was new on the pop, rock, soul and blues scene.
In those days, the Rugby Advertiser published the local Top Ten, and that meant I had to visit all the town’s stores every week to discover how the latest releases were selling.
There were about five or six places on the list. Once the results were jotted down in my notebook, I would work out a mean sales average, and from that could compile my own Top Ten.
Yes, I know. A tough job, but someone had to do it. The other attraction about Disci was that visiting pop groups would often drop in to do autograph signings, this being the hippest place in town.
One Saturday afternoon, no less than national chart-toppers Dave Dee, Beaky, Dozy, Mick and Tich called.
I also remember a visit by top Birmingham band The Eggy. Destined to enjoy much greater fame in years to come was the band’s guitarist, the now-legendary Steve Gibbons.
Both these groups played the Benn Memorial Hall later that day. Gigs like this were always extremely well-attended, because in those days, Rugby really rocked.
Occupying a crucial position at the hub of an expanding motorway network meant that Rugby was slap bang in the centre of the country’s rock map. And that’s probably a major reason why Rod Stewart’s band played the Benn one memorable Saturday night in 1967.
Being in possession of a magical object called a ‘press card’ more or less guaranteed my admission to virtually any event that tickled my fancy.
And the Rod Stewart Band certainly did some major tickling as far as I was concerned. And ticking boxes too, for as a devotee of the emerging blues-soaked soul sound, these guys fitted my bill perfectly.
For a start, just savour this line-up. There was Stewart on vocals, Jeff Beck on guitar, Ronnie Wood on bass, and sat in the drum chair was the now late and lamented Micky Waller, for many years John Mayall’s sticks man.
It was a tremendous night. Stewart’s stage presence was electrifying and basically a rehearsal of what was to come. He minced and pouted his way backwards and forwards across the stage, swinging the mike stand, and throwing back a head of hair in an act that was already displaying signs of the strutting cockerel that would later become his trademark.
As Ronnie Wood’s thumping bass reverberated around the hall, Jeff Beck laid down licks the like of which few had ever heard before. Much has been written about Eric Clapton down the decades, but for my money, Jeff Beck was always the uncrowned king of Britain’s Beat Boom rock guitarists.
He made that thing talk, no doubt about it.
I can recall just two of the numbers played that night. One was a searing version of Elmore James’ Dust My Broom, and the other was Some Kind of Wonderful by the Soul Brothers Six.
I couldn’t get the latter out of my head. So much so that the following Wednesday, when I called at Disci for the top ten results, I asked Brian Meredith if he had heard of the record.
Of course he had. But he’d have to order it. Was that all right? Yes it was, and a few days later the disc arrived, its round, bright orange Atlantic label shining like the sun peeping through a white paper backdrop.
Well over half a century later, I still have Some Kind of Wonderful by The Soul Brothers Six in my singles collection. It sits with all the others on the shelf, lying dormant in a kind of old folk’s home for old records.
But every now and again, I take it down for a look. And once again, the memories of when Rugby was a rock and roll town come flooding back… those golden days of the Benn Hall and Disci.