September 1967, London
I’ve agreed to return to the newly-relocated Soul City now in the heart of Central London at 17 Monmouth Street and the three years that follow will be full of activity as the shop is established as one of the prime ‘go to’ locations for the growing legion of dedicated soul music lovers in the UK. Leaving John Menzies on Cheapside where I’ve been successfully running the small record department is not an easy choice. The head office of John Menzies has noticed the spike in sales at our branch and I’ve been creating a weekly chart of best sellers for our customers. Mr. Pritchard, the local area manager is impressed and asks me to create one for the other branches of the bookstore chain that sell records.
Nonetheless, I’m still a partner in Soul City with Dave Godin and Robert Blackmore and I figure with the new location, it could become more of a worthwhile opportunity. Within weeks of my return, Dave, Robert and I and a friend of mine, Helen Ball who we hire to help out are thrilled to greet a blues great and one of Dave’s favourites, Big Maybelle on her 1st visit to London!
She’s here to promote her new Rojac Records’ LP, released in Britain by CBS as ‘The Pure Soul Of Big Maybelle,’ which includes her very distinctive cover versions of pop hits like Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” and The Troggs’ “I Can’t Control Myself.” Having Maybelle come to the shop is like a soulful state visit by one of the Queens Of The Blues! We go see her perform at a club in Dalston virtually opposite where my mother grew up in the 1920s. Boyfriend William comes with me to see Maybelle and he’s excited to meet his 1st American recording artist!