The Marquee Club - A tribute site dedicated to the history of the legendary Marquee club at London's 90 Wardour street.

Interview - Jeff Slatter of Schy

Jeff Slater

Jeff Slater was vocalist of several British rock bands from the late 60's and early 70's. One of them, The Freehold, is especially known for having had Phil Collins on drums before he joined the bands Hickory, Flaming Youth and later Genesis.

Jeff started his musical career in 1968 as a member of the pop band The Dimension. Soon later, bassist Les Mannering and guitarist John 'Fluff' Hunt offered him to join their band Schy. The band was completed with Phil Collins on drums, who had answered to an ad in the Melody Maker magazine. Managed by DJ Rocky Rivers, the band did a move to pop and soul stuff and started working under the name of The Freehold. On the 2nd of October 1971, the band supported Rocky Rivers at The Marquee Club, and soon later they recorded the single 'Lying, Crying, Dying' at Soho's Regent Sound studios. The band's line-up was later expanded with keyboard player John Redfern from Sleepy and sax player 'Feakin' John Deakin and they moved to Frankfurt to play the German circuit. After Phil Collins' departure, the band recovered the original name of Schy and played at The Marquee club for a couple of gigs. In fact, Schy played their farewell concert at The Marquee Club in November 1972.

After the split of Schy, Jeff Slater worked as a roadie for and Rocky River's music agency Star Artistes and for the soul band The Crawdads. Around this time, he also worked in the formation of the backing soul band The Gladiators. In 1973, Slater quit the music business and moved to Pamplona in Spain. Today he lives in Croydon and is about to publish an article on his memories about his early bands and Phil Collins entitled 'Phil Who Collins'.

Themarqueeclub.net talked to Jeff about his memories on the Marquee club.


What is the first image that springs to your mind when you hear the words 'Marquee Club'?

Old warm feelings, good days, good music, mixing with musicians I so admired.

Do you remember the very first time you ever visited the club?

Not the first but I used to go there with my non musical friends and they would feel lost, but I felt at home.

I believe that your band Schy played at The Marquee Club for the first time on the 2nd of October 1971, supporting DJ Rocky Rivers. Can you remember that particular gig?

Yes, Rocky was in the sound room next to the stage, we (the group) were not advertised... just a poppy fill in.

And Schy played the farewell concert at The Marquee, supported Keef Hartley, is that right?

Yes, my P.A. broke down. I was devastated... but Keef's roadie plugged my mike into their base stack, it sounded awful but we got thru the gig.

So I presume that Schy never played at The Marquee during the period Phil Collins was sitting on the drums, in 1968.

No.

But Phil and you used to go to The Marquee together very often. In fact, he was working at The Club during that period.

Every nite we had off we would be in The Marquee club. We got in free.

Phil Collins told me he saw Led Zeppelin's debut at The Marquee and there were just about 40 people in the audience. Were you with him that evening?

Yes, Keith Moon was on stage, very drunk.

Is there any band that you remember enjoying especially at The Marquee?

Gary Farr was brilliant, John Mayall, Chicken Shack, Family, Black Cat Bones... So many good bands.

Schy recorded the first single ?Lying, Crying, Dying? at legendary Regent Sound studios in Soho. How do you remember your first studio experience?

For me very unnerving... Phil (Collins) was already the big star and I felt intimidated... I mean, the drummer sang the big song!

I guess he was already confident at the time about his singing.

Oh yes... not bigheaded, just so confident.

You used to hang around Jack Barrie's drinking club, La Chasse. How important was the club in London's music scene on those days?

I think the word important is wrong. It was where any musician, no matter what his calibre, could just chill and have a drink, no pushing or shoving , just chilling.

It was also at La Chasse where you and Phil Collins got a job as roadies for a Yes gig?

Yes. Jon anderson phoned Jack Barrie one nite when I was in for a couple of roadies. I knew Phil loved Yes so I got us the gig.

Phil Collins told me that he used to see Yes every Wednesday at The Marquee.

We saw them so many times... we knew their show, could have stood in for them.

Do you have any particular memory about John Gee, the former manager of The Marquee Club?

He didn't mix much in the club, but loved to introduce the bands, I.E. he introduced the New Yardbirds but Keith Moon jumped on stage and shouted to one and all that he had renamed them 'Led Zeppelin'.

That was on their debut gig?

Very First.

Another important character from the music scene on those days was Tony Stratton-Smith. Which is your memory about him?

Strat was a lovely warm man.

Do you remember drinking with other musicians at The Ship pub in Wardour street?

Many times, but too many non musicians started using the place... you would get 'look theres Eric Clapton' or whoever... it got a little uncomfortable.

Another meeting point close to The Marquee during the late 60's was a cafe in Denmark Street called La Gioconda. Do you remember about it?

Oh, yes... The Gio... I was in there talking to Eddie Grant, with (Eric) Clapton and (George) Harrison on the next table but the same scenario as The Ship... Rocky (River)'s office 'Star Artistes' was in the basement.

After the split of Schy, you started working building light-shows and also as a roadie for other bands. Did you do any roadie work at The Marquee?

No... Rocky (Rivers) was in the booth, just needed his box of records.

Phil Collins joined Genesis in August 1970. Do you remember checking them out at The Marquee Club?

Not once... a pride thing I guess.

Is there any particular anecdote from The Marquee that always makes you laugh?

Keith Moon was a bloody good laugh... Jack (Barrie), Rocky (Rivers) and Strat (Tony Stratton-Smith) getting thoroughly pissed, was always a laugh.

Did you ever visit the Marquee club or keep in touch with the people from the club after the last time you played there in 1972?

Less and less, my eardrums were shattered from decibals of rock, I stopped singing for many years, became depressed, etc...

Sorry to hear that, did the depression have any relationship with the music life style?

No... Got married, had 2 lovely sons, lived in Spain for a few years, I'm now happily married and singing the blues with an ex-Pretty Things lead...

What did you think when you knew about the demolishing of the original building at 90 Wardour street in the 90's?

That to me was sacrilige... wiped out a part of my 'OUR' lives.

If you had to define the effect that the Marquee club had in your life or in your musical career, how would you put it into words?

It made me want more, it was inspiring, we called it 'The Temple'.

Interview by K. Barroso, February 2007.
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