Sunday, June 26, 2011

Don't try to lay no "boogie woogie" on the king of rock and roll

You know, I remember a few years ago, some funny things used to happen to me. About 1956-57, at that time there was no blues scene, or not really any kind of scene, in London. I used to go out and play my guitar in the streets and sing things with passing my hat down.

I remember one particular night I was playing the guitar in a little alleyway just off of Wardour Street in Soho and I got busted by the police. This policeman come up and dragged me and my guitar and my hat full of pennies off to the police station.

Anyway, the next day I had to appear in Marlboro Street Police Court and it was quite a day.

Police officer giving his evidence, “I was proceeding in a Southernly direction, milord, when I heard strange sounds coming from Wardour Place, milord, a sort of 'boogie woogie' music was being played. On further investigation, I saw the defendent standing there with a guitar and an old hat on the floor collecting pennies.”

“Well, I decided that he was contravening a breach of the peace there, as there was a traffic jam about five miles long down Wardour Street, wondering what all the fuss was about. So then I arrested the defendant.”

The judge stopped him. “Ah, just one moment, officer. Well, what is this "boogie woogie music" are we're talking about?”

“Oh, well, milord,” said the officer, getting out his notebook, obviously been doing up his homework. “It's a kind of jazz-rhythm music peculiar to the American Negro …”

“Oh, and what was the defendant doing playing this kind of music there in Wardour Street?”

“I can’t say precisely, milord. If I might presume to speculate, his apparent motivation would be the obtaining of pennies from passersby in the hat as he had supplied.”

Anyway, I got off with a caution and a years' conditional discharge. But I'll always remember that policeman and his “boogie woogie” music.

So don't try to lay no"boogie woogie" on the king of rock and roll.

--Long John Baldry, from "Everything Stops for Tea"

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