Interview with Reg Beecham, 20 October 1998
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Essex Folk Movement Oral History Project
Level: Sub-Series
Scope and Content:
Reg Beecham [RB] interviewed by Sue Cubbin [SC] on 20 October 1998. RB talks about playing skiffle in the 1950s, joining Blackmore Folk Club in the mid-1960s and taking management in the 1970s, forming the Gas Light & Coke Music Hall Company and performing around Essex, falling out of love with music towards the end of his career, and finding a new career in acting.

Side A

[00:00:00] RB talks about going to Blackmore Folk Club in the mid-to-late 1960s; the club being started by Dave Gelliher and Chris Maple; taking over the club in the early 1970s with Simon Thorneycraft [ST].
[00:02:23] His birth and moving to Walthamstow; his early interest in folk music; learning guitar around 1952; working in the City of London; doing National Service in 1954 with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and playing music at the time; skiffle group with Johnny Savage; playing with a skiffle group, ‘The Salty Dogs’, in Cyprus
[00:05:53] Cyril Davies playing one of the first British 12 string acoustic guitars, made by Emile Grimshaw; the prices of guitars; joining a 'pickup group' called the Black Rebels; the inspiration and style of the Black Rebels.
[00:09:05] The skiffle movement, 8 to 10 group concerts in the mid-1950s; meeting his wife in 1952 while performing; the popularity of rock and roll; his desire to play country and western, American style music.
[00:11:19] Playing folk around Essex, at schools; starting a family and neglecting music; buying a house in Laindon; joining Blackmore Folk Club after seeing their sticker on a car; the music played at the folk club around 1967; singing sea shanties; listening to Jug of Punch, the Coppers, and the McPeakes; Blackmore as a 'singer's club'; the popularity of the club.
[00:16:20] Joining Blackmore Morris dancing; Blackmore Mummers with ST, Roger Johnstone, and Peter Billage [PB]; bus travel to Blackmore Folk Club; Jim Garrett and doing the illustrations for his book, 'Jim's Folk Songs'; singing at Blackmore, PB; the few female singers, including Maddy Morton and Annie Butcher; performers who left, like Nic Jones and Richard Digance; female musicians, including Bobbie Ritchie and the harpist Bonnie Shaljean.
[00:24:38] Blackmore Christmas Ceilidhs; the fire night; forming the Gas Light & Coke Music Hall Company (GLC); getting women involved; dress and playing a character; the songs and how they learned them; travelling with the GLC around Essex for five years; disbanding the GLC.

Side B

Recording note: [00:03:42] Telephone goes off.

[00:00:00] RB continues talking about the Gas Light & Coke Music Hall Company (GLC); still being played on hospital radio; old recordings; the lack of change at Blackmore Folk Club; losing interest and studying; moving to Steeple and trying to start a folk club.
[00:03:35] Getting bored with music after performing for 20 years; a short-lived trio with Annie Butcher and Arthur Dabbs; falling out with folk music; enjoying listening to performances from the Kipper Family, Mick and Sarah Graves, and Pete Bioth at Blackmore.
[00:08:12] Becoming a professional actor; Alexandra Palace burning down before a GLC performance; meeting Billy Wells and being asked to be the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, in an act; playing royalty for 14 to 15 years; costumes being tailored for performances; working in insurance and retiring; joining lookalike agencies and doing background work in movies; joining Central Casting and its collapse.
[00:13:39] Describes always wanting to perform, school plays; not being interested in amateur dramatics; playing bass; enoying jazz; his instrument collection.
[00:17:35] His enjoyment and involvement in folk music; listening to the Watersons; not listening to folk at time of interview; listening to New Country; his cowboy aesthetic; the cowboy theme introducing him to folk.
[00:20:14] Others involved in folk music; men getting involved in the folk movement to pick up women; computer people, 'odd' people; feeling the odd one out in the City of London.
[00:23:09] Reflects on folk, not feeling the need to perform anymore, and getting bored with folk; performing Burl Ives songs; being paid for his performances as Edward VII.
Dates of Creation:
20 October 1998
58 minutes 1 second
Creator Name:
Sue Cubbin
Admin History:
Reg Beecham (b.1932) was involved in the early British skiffle and folk Movement of the 1950s, eventually coming to manage the Blackmore Folk Club in Brentwood in the early 1970s. He was a founding member of the Gas Light & Coke Music Hall Company, which performed around Essex.
Archivist Note:
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
2 MP3 files [digital copies of original cassette]
Related Unit of Description:
For a handwritten transcript of this recording, see SA 30/7/1/1/3
Dates of Description:
5 May 2022,,,