Memories

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Rupi's concert

When I was around 18 on 3rd October 2010, I’d booked tickets for my Dad and I to see Satinder Sartaaj at the Tower Ballroom in Brum. I wore a lime green suit and sat in awe of him for the entire night. He’s one of my favourite singer-song writers, for the pure fact that he combines Sufi with Punjabi. This wasn’t my first desi gig, but it was the first time I felt truly at home. Growing up in a predominately white area in Birmingham and as a teen, I often hid how much I loved Indian classical and folk music. I guess I was ashamed. At the Tower, I was surrounded by people like me, who understood the lyrics of such great music and appreciated the classical instruments. I’ll never forget the day I found the courage to share his music on my Facebook page, filled with white friends.

Kevin and Enid

In 1966, I started dancing at The Tower Ballroom. I met Enid my future wife there in 1967. It took about three attempts to woo her, and it was on the third time we danced and she asked me to take her home in my car. Well she lived in Tividale, Dudley about 6 miles away. I wasn’t well off then so I got brave and said yes, if she would contribute towards the fuel. She never did but I took her home anyway. We went out as a couple after that. We would go to The Tower together every Saturday, and we always enjoyed the beef burgers they sold. One evening there was a quiz for prizes and the question was can anyone name the Castle on the back of Players Cigarettes. I knew the answer first and I got a small kitchen appliance as a prize. I married Enid in August 1968 and after I rejoined the Irish Guards in June 1968. Everytime we came home on leave we would go to The Tower on a Saturday. We loved it. On leaving the Irish guards in 1977, I started a small haulage business and on a number of occasions we would transport the seating for the boxing matches held inside The Tower. Frank Sullivan, a local boxing coach (still around today I believe) would run these amateur shows. I have lots of happy memories of The Tower, the beef burgers and meeting Enid. Enid passed away in September 2018 but I have The Tower to thank for bringing her into my life and giving me our two children, Ross and Hayley.


Tracey, Margret and Charles

Many happy memories skating at The Tower

Graeme

Pic: David Cottrill (aka. Mr.Soul) - words, Russ Miles - gtr, Adrian ‘Komi’ Ravenscroft - voc, John Bryant - drms, Hilary Blakeway - sax, Mike Scrimshaw - bass, Rick ‘Fish’ Blakeway voc/perc, Graeme Rose - gtr (missing Matt Smith – gtr, Pete Glover – voc.)
I was part of a band called ‘Braindrain’, a collection of sixth-form pals, and in the summer of 1986, several of us returned from our respective Colleges, for a chance to regroup for a gig at the legendary Tower Ballroom. There was a rehearsal at Rich Bitch in Selly Oak (see pic) two days before, and then the gig itself was on Friday 12th Sept at the Ballroom.
The Tower and it felt cavernous, especially with the modest fan-base of the three booked bands. Décor was Club Tropicana-style; plastic palm trees & iridescent pineapples ...or were they coconuts? Anyway, I’d heard of places like this but didn’t believe they really existed. It was comically incongruous for our raucous set-list. The first band on were called ‘Beyond Elysium’ I have a vague memory of the fanciful, Goth-inspired flyers they were handing out and they were influenced by the Sisters of Mercy. The second band were a Proggy-Rock outfit from B'ham Uni called 'Izzy the Push', whose set went miles over time, thanks to their penchant for 19-min guitar solos. I’m not sure whether we were officially headlining, or whether we’d drawn the short-straw, because the evening felt interminable. By the time we made it onstage, sometime around 1am, there was scarcely half an hour before kicking-out time, the audience had missed their buses and were already starting to drift…
We set up our kit backstage on the Tower’s revolving stage, but because we were running out of time we had to start playing immediately the stage started to revolve. When the stage finally juddered to a halt, both us and the gear nearly toppled over, and we found ourselves stood with our backs to the audience.
We were supposed to be a 9 piece band that night, but one of the vocalists, Pete, had been dumped by his girlfriend earlier in the evening, and we think he was too wrecked to make it on stage?
The band’s wordsmith, Mr. Soul, recorded the event for posterity on his portable cassette player - hence the limited quality of the recording. He did his best to turn it into ‘mock-stereo’ in post-production, but for maximum listening pleasure, he recommends “Just pretend you are listening to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. “ https://soundcloud.com/dave-dinsdale/sets
There would have been another Braindrain gig a fortnight later at The Mermaid, but we turned up to find out it double booked, so all went home again.
With thanks to the erstwhile members Braindrain for their memories of that night. In memoriam drummer John Bryant, who sadly left us in 2017.

Taxi Drivers

In the 1970s taxi drivers in Birmingham used to organise a Christmas party for children in care.

Image: Alan Jones