Sunday, 16 April 2017

Rockin' At The 2 i's

It is, quite possibly, one of the most iconic spots in Soho, if not in the whole of London. At least it is if you are a Teddy Boy. 

This is the very place where a young Tommy Hicks (better known to the world as Tommy Steele) took to the stage in 1956 and introduced England to a genre of music he had picked up whilst working as a cabin boy on an ocean liner plying its trade between London and the USA. It was called Rock n Roll. The rest is history.

Old Compton Street has changed a lot since those halcyon days, but I was delighted to note that the site of the 2 i's coffee bar again displays the old neon sign (a replica, of course, but a very good one).

Inside, the music is retro, but of course not as it was in those early days. Rock n Roll is probably not so commercial, and this is a high rent district now, and today's teenage audience has a collective memory that goes back no further than breakfast time.

It is now, as before, a theatre district, full of music and quality entertainment. It was lovely to see this little Rock n Roll footprint in such a great place.

This great track is by Wee Willie Harris, one of the first English Rock n Roll stars, and like Tommy Steele a Bermondsey boy. Willie still lives in the area, and can sometimes be tempted out of retirement. I remember him performing in Southwark Park a few years ago, and an audience of thousands would not let him off the stage. Great man, Wee Willie....

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