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Dire Straits begin The East End

November 20, 2011





When Marshal had arrived in London in 1970 building Sub Contractors held the monopoly of the building sites. For five pounds a day the Poet labored beside Irish Navvies behind Whitechapel tube station. The Sub Contractor a young Irishman called Peter warned him off about his singing of Sixteen Tons, as it was making the ganger feel like a slave master. It was on that site Marshal met a D.J. named Bob Cotton who was laboring for a gang of Bricklayers, invited back to the born and bred Cockneys house. Marshal was astounded at the music collection Cotton had put together, from Motown to heavy rock you named the record and he played it. This was the education the Poet needed, and with Cotton’s friends in the same mind for music the house in a back street in Stepney Green rocked.

But it was in Forest Gate where Marshal shared a flat with two musicians, where he had the use of a guitar that he started to pen his lyrics, and share them by pinning them on the wall of his bedroom. When friends of his flatmates  started to comment  positively about his words, it didn’t  take much coaxing for the Poet to try his his material out on the public.

His first gig was in Manor Park in a pub called, The Three Rabbits, where Brian Poole formerly of the Brian Poole and Tremoloes fame, who had hits with Twist and Shout, and Do You Love me, had a residency and had just finished his solo set. Marshal with a lot of encouragement from his mates, and a “You can do it,” smile from Brian Poole gave the punters a taste of what he was capable of with his new lyrics and a old guitar. It was through this that he was asked to perform at the Princess Alice in Forest Gate, and at other venues throughout the East End Of London.

Sometimes cash would change hands but his usual payments for his half hour, was in Light and Bitters and a invite back to the best parties in the East London. He was even asked to give a performance to the remnants of the Ronnie and Reggie Kray gang, he declined the offer when a week before the gig, a well known Scotsman and hard man called Mangan was shot five times in the head in  a lane behind the pub, luckily the guy survived. When Marshal got the chance to perform in the Londoner in Limehouse, that mainly catered for the jazz fans and was a large venue, it seemed that the Poet would have to give up his day job, but the break he was looking for needed musicians and a four piece Rock Band would suit the bill.

With Cotton having friends in the music industry, the two of them began to go to every gig in the city, where Marshal would get the experience of watching the bands practice, and at the same time try and get himself noticed and his lyrics read. One of the first of the artists he approached was Chris Farlowe,  a Londoner and one of the greatest blues and soul singers in the world, whose song Out of Time had reached number one in the charts. He was fronting a band called Atomic Rooster at a gig in the city when Marshal made his move,”You will find that we all do our own material man,” Farlowe told him in a positive way, as did the guys from Ten Years After who offered the same advice. A Bristol group called East Of Eden who were more into Jazz, told him that he should get a group together and do it that way. And when David Bowie brought out the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, and Marshal  listened to Starman in a friends brand new Volkswagen in Whitechapel High Street, the Poet believed that this was the end of Rock and Roll.

Another thing that had come to a end was the Sub Contractor, through the Government demanding 35per cent of every pound the casual worker made. This found Marshal without the means of survival and the few pounds he made on a Friday and Saturday was just beer money, it seemed that the only lyricist who had managed to break  into the industry with just the written word was Bernie Taupin. And there was not to many people of Elton John’s musical capabilities looking for a wordsmith to put their songs to. Down but not defeated Marshal headed North again towards Scotland, in the way he had arrived thumbing a lift on the A1..

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