BY Joseph Harlow

    My recollections of the Grenfell Room at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston begins in what they called the swinging sixties and it was also during the 1960's when I developed an interest in music and I began learning to play the drums taking lessons from local drummer Arthur Brighton a friend of my dad. I then later went on to take drum lessons from well known drummer/bandleader Colin Copeman of The Trevor Copeman Band which was resident at the Tower Ballroom in Great Yarmouth and the Samson and Hercules ballroom in Norwich throughout the 1960's and 1970's. Sadly Colin passed away on March 17th 2019 at the age of 86. The Grenfell Room had two entrances one from inside the cliff Hotel adjacent to the dining room and the other a separate entrance outside the hotel at the other end of the building. The Grenfell Room was free entrance and open to the general public as well as the hotel residents back in those days and I also remember seeing a billboard in the hotel car park advertising the entertainers who were appearing there. Back in the sixties resident entertainment in the Grenfell Room was mainly organ/drum duo's.

Enter pianist Artie Lind real name Arthur Linford originally from Dagenham in Essex with his party with Artie act and his slightly off-key playing and singing telling jokes and cracking gags. Instantly recognisable was Artie with a pencil moustache (Cookie Duster) three-piece suit bow tie and trilby hat. Artie was an old-style entertainer a real character he only played in the key of C but a wonderful entertainer just the same. Unfortunately I never got to play with Artie but I did get to play with Artie's son guitarist Alan Linford. I recall Alan and I playing a residency together during the 1970's in Great Yarmouth at The MOONRAKER Nightclub on Apsley Road. I remember also returning to that same venue a couple of years later after the nightclub changed hands and was renamed WHEELS NIGHTSPOT playing with The Roy Reymo Band a well known Norwich based band that I played with for many years. Artie enjoyed a seven year residency at the Cliff Hotel in the sixties when organist Tony Graham came in followed Artie and played the Grenfell Room well into the next decade.

Enter Tony Graham originally from Grimsby in Lincolnshire who was a wonderful player and a fine singer playing standards and current sounds of the day. I remember watching my drum teacher at the time local drummer Arthur Brighton a friend of my dad playing with Tony at the Cliff Hotel in the late 1960's. I myself finally got to play with Tony in the Grenfell Room of the Cliff Hotel in the Autumn of 1974, having just finished playing a short residency in Great Yarmouth at the Carlton Hotel with The Johnny O'Bryan Orchestra.

About a couple of years later in 1976 I came into contact with pianist/organist Bruce Clarke who offered me a weekend summer season residency playing with him at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston. Talk about fate, by this time I heard that organist Tony Graham had moved on for pastures new and returned to his home town of Grimsby. Bruce was a fine player who back in the old days had a musical partnership with well known Orish singer Val Doonican back in Ireland long before Val became famous. Bruce also features in Val's autobiography (Val Doonican My Story My Life).

For the Grenfell Room gig at the Cliff Hotel apart from myself on drums Nikki a Female drummer/vocalist was also playing with Bruce during the week who I found to be a very good player and so once again I found myself playing in familiar surroundings. Bruce suggested a drum solo would sound good for the weekends something a little different for the local natives to gravitate towards hopefully bringing them a little ray of sunshine. We played two tunes that included the drum solo the first was CARAVAN an old Duke Ellington standard and the second tune was WIPEOUT recorded in the sixties by American surf band The Surfaris featuring Ron Wilson on drums. For me it was always about the music never about showboating but that was what folks back then wanted to see. The season went very well Bruce was a wonderful musician who was always a pleasure to play with. I came into contact with Bruce again some years later I'm glad to say and played together one more time.

Back then during the 1960's-1970's the Grenfell Room at the Cliff Hotel also hosted country and western nights with compere Jim Woodcock. Trad Jazz nights were also popular featuring star attractions Chris Barber and the man they called the guvnor Ken Colyer And His Jazzmen who I was fortunate to see playing in the Grenfell Room at the Cliff Hotel in 1970 with his then drummer at the time Malc Murphy playing in the traditional New Orleans trad jazz style.

Well folks these were my recollections of music in the Grenfell Room at Gorleston Cliff Hotel a trip down memory lane.

Have a nice life and above all keep swinging.


This page was added by Joseph Harlow on 18/07/2022.

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