In the mid-sixties The Beatles had a vice-like grip on the number one spot in the singles charts.
Then along came British R&B singer and keyboard player Georgie Fame with a catchy little number, called Yeh-Yeh. He was the first to knock the Fab Four off the number one spot.
For many decades Fame has been a popular headliner at Eastleigh’s Concorde Club where in the Sixties he laid the tracks for his star-studded career.
Now he is returning to the Stoneham Lane club on May 8 to mark the 50th anniversary of his chart-topping single Yeh-Yeh which made him a household name.
Concorde archives show that he first appeared at the club, which was then tucked in the backroom of Southampton’s former Bassett Hotel, on January 13, 1964.
It was a year before Yeh-Yeh stormed the charts and the Eastleigh club, which was founded by Cole Mathieson, has always been close to the 71-year-old star’s heart.
In a book marking the Concorde’s 50th anniversary Fame wrote: “I played the first Concorde Club in 1964 after Cole had seen me playing at The Flamingo and I have been coming ever since.
“Along with Ronnie Scott’s, the Concorde is the club I like playing best in the UK.
“I always really feel at home there and respond to the great reaction we get from a discerning audience.”
And he always gets a big welcome from the Concorde faithful. The club, which over the years has raised several thousands of pounds for charity, named a guide dog, Fame, after Georgie.
Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, who were at the coal face of 60s Brit soul, toppled The Beatles’ I Feel Fine from the number spot as 1965 was getting into full swing.
In his recently published autobiography Fame outlines the history of Yeh-Yeh. It was originally an instrumental by two musicians from Mongo Santamaria’s orchestra, a very fine Afro-Cuban band in New York City.
George’s mentor and master jazz lyricist Jon Hendricks, put the lyrics to the tune and it was recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1963.
Fame fell in love with the track which was on Hendricks’ Live at Newport ’63 album and he played it in clubs across the country before recording it as his next single and turning it into chart buster.
Born Clive Powell in the Lancashire industrial town of Leigh, Fame followed the family tradition and took a job as an apprentice cotton weaver.
But he was determined to weave another path as a musician. In July 1959 at a summer holiday camp he was spotted by a rock ’n’ roll band. He quit his job at the weaving mill and headed for London. The rest as they say is pop history.
Pop impresario Larry Parnes gave him the name Georgie Fame and it was his ticket to fame. He toured Britain playing alongside Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Joe Brown and many more.
Fury selected four musicians, including Fame, for his backing group and it gave birth to the Blue Fames. At the end of 1961 the band parted company with the rock star.
Fame and The Blue Flames took up a three-year residency as the house band at the famous Flamingo night club in London’s Soho District.
The Flamingo ran between 1952 and 1967 and played a pioneering role in the development of British rhythm and blues and jazz.
Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames had a string of hit records including Yeh-Yeh, Getaway and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.
Fame is the only British star to have notched up three number one hits with his only top ten chart entries.
Georgie’s sons, drummer James Powell and guitarist Tristan Powell have followed in his musical footsteps. They have worked with the Georgie Fame trio since the Nineties, appearing on several superb album collections, including Three Line Whip and Walking Wounded.
And 50 years on, The Concorde audience will helping Georgie Fame to celebrate the golden anniversary of Yeh-Yeh.
Georgie Fame and His Musicians on May 8 appear at The Concorde, Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh. Contact: 023 8061 3989 or www.theconcordeclub.com