Simon Napier Bell: the Dodgy Business of Popular Music: The Dawn of Disco
Simon Napier-Bell (who previously managed Wham, Marc Bolan, Japan and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page (during his Yardbirds phase) is back in Skrufff, delivering a short series of excerpts from his must-read new history of the music business book ‘TA-RA-RA-BOOM-DE-AY- the Dodgy Business of Popular Music’. (Click here to download/ buy )
“The Peppermint Lounge was a dump. Adjoined to the Knickerbocker Hotel, off Times Square, it was a grubby gay hustler joint with a long mahogany bar and a tiny dance floor at the back where a band played at weekends.
Full house was just 179 customers – rent boys, sailors, transvestites, lowlifes and street toughs. It was classic sleaze, one of the gungiest dives in town, worth adding to a conducted tour of the city for that reason alone.
Which is why Hollywood actress Merle Oberon – now fifty-ish and a bit of a fag hag – popped in one Saturday night in the early sixties with her new toy boy Prince Serge Oblinski. They stayed ten minutes and danced the twist, the smart new dance imported from Harlem, played at the Peppermint Lounge by the weekend group, Joey Dee and the Starliters, unknowns from New Jersey.
Next day, gossip columnist Earl Wilson wrote that Merle Oberon and Prince Serge Oblinksi had danced the night away. That evening so many people went to the club that police had to put up barricades.
Within weeks, the people who had been seen dancing the twist at the Peppermint Lounge sounded like a red carpet awards ceremony in Hollyood – Judy Garland, John Wayne, Jackie Kennedy, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Shirley MacLaine, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Marilyn Monroe, Shelley Winters, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Norman Mailer and Liberace.
There wasn’t a single celebrity in America who didn’t want to go along to the Peppermint Lounge and be seen dancing the twist.”
TA-RA-RA-BOOM-DE-AY- the Dodgy Business of Popular Music: click here to download/ buy: