Roy Hinton, The Caxton, Pimlico RIP

9 Aug

We all live with death these days, but there are some deaths which stun us such as that of JFK or John Lennon. It’s too soon, just not now, please. Such was the reaction when my good friend Ian told me of Roy’s passing. Ian had turned me on to the Caxton in 1965 as I approached the age of 14. I was already six foot one inch tall, had a part-time job and money in my pocket to buy those Ivy look mohair suits, American button-down shirts and American shoes.

Max Justice, hard Mod and supplier of mohair suit lengths!

My first night there was like a religious experience as we descended the stairs into the dance hall where at the end sat Roy at the first twin record deck in London, playing music I’d never heard before apart from the stock soul tracks you’d get on Radio Luxemburg when the medium wave allowed. But added to that was the Ska music of Jamaica, even more exotic than the soul coming out of Detroit, Chicago or Memphis.

Roy and I soon became good friends to the point that I’d play the records myself if he was needed elsewhere. From that, I started calling round for him to go to the club together. Those early evenings waiting in his flat turned me on further to even more far out stuff such as Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis or John Lee Hooker. While not played in the club, these guys were nevertheless part of the cool scene going on in the world of the Mod.

Soon after, I accompanied Roy every weekend to either Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat Records in Brixton for the Ska imports From Jamaica or to Soul City in Monmouth St, WC2 for the latest soul imports from the USA. Soon, the word of the Caxton spread south of the water to Clapham, Brixton and Lambeth and the crowd got very glsmorous style-wise albeit slightly tense in gang terms with serious dancers in search of these stomping sounds.  Roy never let the crowd down, often surprising them with a rare track which produced a stream of queries after their titles.

By 1969, I’d bailed out of the scene as reggae became more mainstream and was getting associated with the more violent Skinhead movement. I moved on to become a mix of a jazz and suedehead, digging CSNY, Santana or my father’s cool music. As my mates moved on to long hair and flares, I kept the faith with my sharp suits, shirts and ties to the point where, if out, girls thought I must have just come out of prison to be hanging around with those Yetis.

Like most people, I got on with life until one day Ian phoned me to say he’d been on a stroll down memory lane and stumbled through the door of The Caxton to not only be greeted by Roy and his assistant Jan, but to be shown our contemporary signing in books and photos that I remember being taken down there in 1967.

I shortly followed Ian down there to be met likewise by Roy and to see that the club was now an educational centre for the disabled youth of Westminster. Indeed, Roy and Jan had been awarded the MBE for their services but they typically played this down. The lnk below shoees the difference that can be made to people’s lives.

If you’re lucky, some people come into your life, even if only briefly, and change it utterly and forever. I can say that Roy is one such person for not only myself but also for many other Westminster kids who otherwise may have ended up in prison or dead, given the gang scene that was emerging. But that music lives on in all of us and I won’t be the only one forever transported back to that romantic and electrifying dancefloor when today we hear Pheonix City by Roland Alphonso or Things Get Better by Eddie Floyd, too many more tracks will do the same but are too numerous to mention here.

Ian recalled in tribute to Roy that “It’s true to say that my life would have taken a different course without his musical inspiration”. Certainly, without Roy, I wouldn’t have the record collection that I have. I owe my musical tastes today to him.

Roy, you’ll never know what you were and still are to us Pimlico kids, I can’t hear certain records without seeing your face there at the record counter. Your cancer took you away far too early, neither we ravers of the Sixties nor the lucky kids today who’ve had a leg up to achieve self-respect and worthiness despite their disability can thank you other than by following your example and not crossing over to the other side as is so easy.

Roy Hinton; friend, legend, inspiration.

To my soul brother here’s the tune–my own group’s last tune–that heralded the end of the night and the walk home through Pimlico’s then shabby post-war streets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P7hyrO3GiM

Peace.

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8 Responses to “Roy Hinton, The Caxton, Pimlico RIP”

  1. emma vye (nee hinton) 01 October 21, 2012 at UTC 11:01 pm #

    My uncle! What a lovely tribute to my favourite uncle. Many fond memories of Roy, I was his (only) doted upon neice. He spent his last Christmas, before diagnoses, at my house, RIP x

    • silverboy67 00 October 23, 2012 at UTC 11:00 am #

      Hello Emma
      You must have been so proud of Roy. I can’t say in words how lucky I was to know him myself,certainly musically he was the making of me and when I look back over my life, his is one of the faces that come immediately to the fore. Thank you for commenting
      Brian

  2. Rene o'sullivan 32 August 8, 2016 at UTC 10:32 am #

    R. I P my lovely friend Roy. First met you in the Caxton around 1965ish remember you giggling when I walked in you would play walk away rene by the four tops. When I married and moved from pimlico I was sad to have lost touch with so many friends, thankyou for making my teen years so wonderful xxx

    • silverboy67 15 August 8, 2016 at UTC 11:15 am #

      Hello Rene
      Weren’t we so lucky to build these memories for these days now?
      I only have to hear certain tracks now and I can see Roy bopping.
      Be safe.
      Brian.

  3. Rene o'sullivan 20 August 9, 2016 at UTC 5:20 am #

    Roy was an inspiration to all of us young teens in the 60s and what a lovely man. I found out recently of his death and Shirley’s. Roy used to play walk away rene by the four tops when I walked into the Caxton then give me that cheeky grin, lovely man R. I. P.. From rene O’sullivan

  4. Martin Burke 41 September 1, 2016 at UTC 9:41 am #

    While listening to 50’s and 60’s music on you tube I thought of the Caxton Club, where first heard many of them. I googled and was saddened to read of my old friend Roy.

    Roy and I pretty well grew up together. We attended the same primary school, Churchill Gardens, and secondary, St. Michael’s. we spent a lot of time in each others houses, Roy’s Mum was lovely. We truanted together, got detentions together and caned together, all far to often. We frequently helped out at the club. I dont know if he ever told of being out all night, with worried parents and police searching. I was with him on that occasion with another boy, Alan Shillingford, we were 13 at the time. we spent that night in a derelict, bombed out church. Now St. John’s, Smith Square.

    When we left school Roy became a carpet layer while I went to sea in both Royal and Merchant navies. my home visits grew less frequent, i popped into the Caxton less and we gradually drifted apart. the last time I saw him was in the late 60’s or early 70’s, I was walking home one night when he spotted me gave me a lift in the club land rover. he had a lovely girl with him whose name I cannot remember, possibly the above mentioned Shirley.

    I remember Roy as slightly crazy. I’ll amend that, he was as mad as a hatter, he almost got me killed more than once.

    My condolences to his family and friends, of which I’m sure he will have has many.

    As mad as a hatter and a GREAT GREAT MATE,
    RIP old mate RIP.

    • silverboy67 23 September 9, 2016 at UTC 12:23 pm #

      Martin
      That’s a lovely tribute to a great man, how lucky we were.
      I used to hang around with Pat Burke, are you related?
      Be safe
      Brian

    • Emma vye 11 September 9, 2016 at UTC 3:11 pm #

      How lovely!!
      Emma ( his niece)

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