With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Mayhem’s Unsung Heroes – Betty the Tea Lady at Wessex Studios March 12, 2019


 

Betty the lady that made Big Tea with the Boyz That Made Big Noize

This is the first in what I hope will be a reasonably regular feature to give some airtime to those unsung folks that played an important part in music history. Back in July 2017 I posted an article about the recording of the Queen classic “We Will Rock You” after reading a piece in Classic Rock magazine. Click here to read that post. The band and Producer Roy Thomas Baker wanted to get a full and powerful stomp to back it up. Everyone in the studio was rounded up to provide that now familiar stomping and clapping refrain, essentially everyone stamped their feet twice and clapped their hands on the offbeat. Incidentally no drums were used on the track. Now not only was everyone in the studio involved but so was Betty the Tea Lady. No one remembers much about her other than her name was Betty, she made the tea at Wessex Sound Studios in North London and that she lived next door to the studio. Well after adding a plea for information about Betty I have heard from two of her five children. Sadly, Betty passed away eleven years ago. However, I had a long and delightful telephone conversation with Betty’s daughter Rosemary. It was Rosemary that drew the short straw and was nominated to do the interview on behalf of herself and her four siblings (a.k.a. “The Other Four”). She walked me through a wonderful potted history of her mother.

Mike Batt at Wessex Studios with the Kursaal Flyers

The studio itself used to be a Sunday School and one of the main recording areas used to be a classroom. It first became a studio in the 1960s and at various times it was owned by Bill Price, songwriter Les Reed, Chrysalis Records and George Martin was a director for a time. Betty worked at Wessex Studios for 27 years after replying to an advert that was posted on a tree. Many famous and successful bands and singers recorded at Wessex including the Sex Pistols, King Crimson, the Clash, Theatre of Hate, XTC, Slade, Queen, Talk Talk, the Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend and The Damned. Betty, who in addition to carrying out the tea lady duties, also covered the reception desk and met many of them. She got on particularly well with King Crimson. There was always a picture of Queen on the serving hatch. According to her daughter Betty was one of those sadly too rare people who have an innate ability to get on with anyone. Betty and her family, she had five kids including one set of triplets, lived in a flat very close to the studio.

Never Mind The Sex Pistols Here’s the Lapsang Souchong

Rosemary said that she sometimes went to the studio to help her Mum and on one occasion Betty asked her to take a tray of tea to the Sex Pistols. Apparently, Rosemary really wasn’t impressed by the band and told her Mum. Betty’s response was that in her experience the Sex Pistols were always very polite and always behaved respectfully towards her. Betty was invited to many award ceremonies as a part of the studio team and to all the studio parties. For one fancy dress party Betty dressed as a punk in bin liners and safety pins. British comedy legend Roy Kinnear filmed some film scenes in Betty’s flat. On another occasion Mike Batt could be found watching The Wombles on the TV in Betty’s flat. Mike, a big cricket fan, bought one of Betty’s sons a cricket bat. People who worked or recorded at the studio really loved Betty. The Singing Nun of “Dominique” fame sang at Rosemary’s wedding. Many of the acts who recorded at Wessex gave Betty a thank you credit on their albums. Slade even named their 1987 album ‘You Boyz Make Big Noize’ after Betty had heard them and uttered that very phrase, albeit probably not spelled the Slade way. Betty loved music and particularly loved to dance. In her younger days she would often visit the Palais. I am sure that Wessex Studios would not have been the same without Betty, she truly is an unsung music history hero!

Public Service Announcement: If Any of the pictures are yours and you would like a credit or would like them removed please let me know

 

With Just A Hint Of Mayhem is ten years old! Part 8 February 7, 2019

Filed under: Film,Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 10:43 pm
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Well nearly all the candles are blown out on the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem 10th birthday cake. Today is day 8 and I am giving you a list of my ten favourite music related films.

Regular readers will know that so far I have shared with you top ten most viewed posts on the blog since it began back in February 2009, the top ten countries that have given With Just A Hint Of Mayhem the most views, rock/ music related books, biographies and autobiographies, my top 10 Bowie songs, my 10 favourite bands of all time, my top ten favourite male artists and yesterday the ten greatest gigs that I have been to. (Click here, here, here, here, here, here and here to view those again). Stay tuned, there are only two top tens to come after this! What will they be? Well sign up, follow or just check out this site regularly to find out! I can tell you that the remaining top tens will be my favourite female artists, my favourite albums and my favourite singles. Yes I know that makes eleven in total, but you’ll get a double whammy on the actually birthday itself 🙂

Don’t forget that you can also find us on Twitter  and FaceBook .

The list of films is not in any order of preference, simply chronological. What is your favourite music related film?

Let It Be (1970) worth it just for the footage of the last live show on the roof of the Apple building
American Graffiti (1973) maybe not really a music film as such, but it evokes a feeling of the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with a soundtrack to die for
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) Directed by Brian De Palma and scored by Paul Williams. Very underrated in my opinion, it is a rock take on the Phantom Of The Opera
Tommy (1975) Ken Russell goes full wacko in this fabulous cinematic adaptation of the Who’s great opus
The Last Waltz (1978) An epic documentary showcasing the Band’s last concert
Quadrophenia (1979) One of my favourite Who albums turned into a full on story of mods, rockers, clothes, drugs and life
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) The definitive rock mockumentary and still funny even 35 years down the line……. smell the glove!
Almost Famous (2000) If I lived my life again I would do anything that I could to write for Rolling Stone or even the NME
The Filth And The Fury (2000) Julien Temple’s stunning documentary of the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) I really did not want to like this, but I bloody love it!

 

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ January 21, 2019


have never been a fan of biographical faction style films of musicians and bands, some have had their good points, while many have been dire in my opinion. So I really wasn’t keen to see the Queen/ Freddie Mercury biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but I was torn as everyone I knew that has seen it said it was stunning. They all told me I might need tissues to dry my eyes at times too, more of that later, but I thought they were bluffing. Anyway these last ten days or so I have been on an extended business trip to the USA. On Sunday I found myself downtown when it started to rain, so I thought why not pop into the conveniently close cinema. As luck would have it the next film on was ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ so I thought what the hell, I’ll give it a go!

The film certainly feels like it captures what life was like for Queen in the early days and how their life changed as they became successful. The story is told largely as Farouk Bulsara a.k.a. Freddie Mercury’s life but the interaction with all the other main players; Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, John Reid, Mary Austin, Paul Prenter and Jim Beach to name just a few is well portrayed and is full of pathos, humour and love. There are far too many highlights to mention all of them, you should see the film yourself if you haven’t already. But for me the gestation and recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is thrillingly done. The ongoing joke about Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car” is hilarious. The Live Aid element, not just the concert but the lead up to it is heartwarming and highly interesting to us music anoraks. Finally the way Freddie tells his band mates that he has AIDS is so emotionally moving that yes I did need the tissues.

I never spotted it at first but EMI Executive Ray Foster was played by Mile Myers and perhaps more amusingly for Queen historians the guy in the truck stop scene who seems to be giving Freddie the come on is none other than Adam Lambert! The script, the acting, the production, the casting and the soundtrack are all brilliant. However the best thing about it for me is Rami Malek who so many times during the film made me believe I was watching a documentary. He had the emotional highs and lows spot on, especially in the highs and lows of his relationship with his family and his band family. Also the confusion of his long time relationship with Mary Austin. I am so very glad that I got to see this film and just sorry that it took me so long.

 

“To avoid complications she never kept the same address” January 19, 2019

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 12:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As far as iconic band names go Queen must be right up near the top right? Well I think so, however they did consider other names, Brian May was apparently particularly keen on Grand Dance while Roger Taylor submitted Rich Kids. I wonder if Glen Matlock, Midge Ure and their gang knew about Taylor’s choice? Maybe the Rich Kids 1978 hit was all about Roger Taylor’s idea for a name. Who knows?

 

“Somebody better put you back into your place” July 30, 2017

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 2:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

When Queen recorded “We Will Rock You” back in 1977 at Wessex Sound Studios in Highbury North London they and Producer Roy Thomas- Baker wanted to get a full and powerful stomp to back it up. Everyone in the studio was rounded up to provide that now familiar stomping and clapping refrain, essentially everyone stamped their feet twice and clapped their hands on the offbeat. Now not only was everyone in the studio involved but so was Betty the Tea Lady. No one remembers much about her other than her name was Betty, she made the tea at Wessex Sound Studios and that she lived next door to the studio.

So in my opinion Betty is one of the many unsung and uncredited people in rock’s grand history. Now I know it’s a long shot but if Betty or one of her friends or relatives is reading this I would love to talk to you to get a bigger profile on line for Betty! Yes I know it’s 40 years ago, but I really would love to pull this off!

 

“You can make all the moves, you can aim all the spotlights” – my 999th post! January 19, 2017


bundesstrase_999_number-svg

So after nearly eight years of blogging I am approaching my 1,000th post on here. This one you are reading is post 999. But for post 1,000 I made a little offer to my Facebook friends, I asked them to name one song (or one artist) that they wanted me to include in post 1,000. So before I get there I would like to extend that offer to any of you in the blogosphere that would like their song added and receive a name check. I promise to try to say something nice about your song choice! Just message me or add a comment.

999-roadshow-web-fi-290x155

Anyway now for post 999, I went through a whole range of ideas for this one; songs about or related to the emergency services was a favourite until I thought of doing a sum. So what follows is a list of twenty songs with numbers in their title. If you add all those numbers together they total 999. Trust me they do, I used a spreadsheet 🙂 I hope you enjoy them and that you exercise your brain with a bit of mental arithmetic while you do!

 

 

Reading Festival 2015 – Day 3 – Sunday 30th August August 31, 2015


image

Where Fires Are – good band, great vocalist and the few songs we heard were pretty good.

Shura – great chilled out dance music. Dance to this lot for too long and you’ll sure need plenty of Sure deodorant though.

Ghostpoet – probably not a real ghost but a bloody good poet. I need to listen to more of his stuff.

Special Guest – at the BBC Introducing stage. I didn’t have a clue who he is. Apparently it’s Jack Garrett. Nope, I’m still none the wiser. But he does have a great voice, which I think would work better with a band. But then again he is also a very talented musician.

Skinner – sexy, sassy, ballsy just like the blurb. But on top of that Skinner has an amazing vocal talent and writes great tunes. The band are damned tight too.

Joel Dommet followed by Russell Kane – awesome comedy, I nearly pissed myself ……… literally! Where’s Megan?

Maccabees – sadly I only caught two songs. But this is a fine British band.

Jamie T – what a great troubadour. I think Zombie is the song of this years festival.

Manchester Orchestra – grungey and when you think of loud, then trust me this band is louder.

Little Comets – they’ve come a long way since I first saw them around five years ago. It’s like Vampire Weekend had a shot of Geordie. Excellent!

Frank Turner – oh man! What a perfect end to the festival, Frank Turner playing most of his best songs on an acoustic guitar for 90 minutes. Including an excellent cover of Queen’s “Somebody To Love” Who needs the Libertines when a legend like Frank is in the house.

Roll on next year. Will the Zimmer Twins be back? Let’s wait and see ………..

To be honest I don't believe that I would crowd surf there!

To be honest I don’t believe that I would crowd surf there!

 

 
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