October 1967, London

Soul City seems to be thriving after the move to Central London. We’re getting regular shipments of US imports and I’m particularly excited when we get a 45 by Aretha’s older sister, Erma Franklin. She’s begun recording for producer/songwriter Bert Berns’ Shout label and her 3rd single is a mindblower. I can’t stop playing ‘Piece Of My Heart’ for the customers and it doesn’t hurt that it also reflects my increasingly turbulent relationship with boyfriend William following our ‘incident’ at Big Maybelle’s hotel!

Among our regular customers are Michael Critchley and Raymond Cutkelvin who have been running the UK fan club for Martha Reeves & The Vandellas. They buy a lot of imports and become among our best customers at Soul City! We get chatting and a friendship develops… Michael & Raymond live in a flat in Bayswater and I visit along with William and they invite me to my first ‘gay-friendly’ club.

Located in the Soho basement at 25 D’Arblay St, Le Duce will soon become my regular Saturday night haunt! It’s been open since 1964, there’s no DJ, rather a jukebox filled with Motown, ska and R&B favourites of the day. It’s at Le Duce that I meet Patrick (who becomes my friend and hairdresser!), his then-partner Terry who is a great slow dancer – under Patrick’s watchful eye – and through Michael, I’m introduced to Aly who will be my running buddy for many years to come – and I make eyes at the cute coat check guy who will be in my life for decades. I love going to Le Duce and it’s where I discover that when the cat’s away (in particular a cat who likes to ‘cheat’ – think boyfriend William!), this mouse will play!

And a PS… many decades after I’ve been playing “Piece Of My Heart” to all the customers at Soul City, I get to call Erma Franklin and let her know that she has a UK Top 10 hit with “Piece Of My Heart” when it is used in a British television commercial in 1992!