Godiva Rocks – A celebration of a cities Musical Heritage – Coventry
Sometime around 1963, I was taken by my late mother to watch a concert by `American recording artist Roy Orbison` and English comical pop band, Freddie and the Dreamers in Coventry. I was just nine years old so unfortunately, I remember very little about the music, but I do recall the steps in the upper tier of the theatre being extremely steep!
Many years later I went back to Coventry to watch The Eurythmics and The Cure, this time much older and more receptive to the music and excitement of the gig. So, Coventry and I have a little history, when it comes to popular music!
What I didn’t know was Coventry too, has a wealth of history in the world of popular music. I knew of the burgeoning Ska movement with The Specials, Jerry Dammers, Selector, Terry Hall and Fun Boy Three, but I hadn’t appreciated the rich heritage and diverse musical talent, that Coventry has produced over the decades.
I went along to the Belgrade Theatre to attend the world premiere of the must-see Coventry musical Godiva Rocks. It is the first musical ever written about a UK city’s musical heritage, bringing together a range of genres and spanning many generations of musical history.
Godiva Rocks features twenty definitive songs from Coventry artists such as Frank Ifield (born in Coundon to Australian parents), Vince Hill (born in Holbrooks), Hazel O’Connor, The Specials, Terry Hall, King, The Primitives and The Enemy. With a large cast of twelve actors, including Niki Evans who wowed the judges on the 2007 series of ITV’s X Factor, plus unusually, a live band on stage, Godiva Rocks is a vibrant, entertaining musical journey across the cities sparkling musical history, from the 1960s to the present day.
Playwright Alan Pollockwanted wanted to capture the cities sense of pride and said:
“On one level, this is a warm, funny, human story that keeps you guessing right to the end. But on another, it’s a story about an enormous pride: we, Coventry, have produced this music. It came from somewhere inside us – from the people, the atmosphere and the soil of the place – and we sent it out into the world. Now it’s coming home and I hope people can celebrate that.”
The Sorrows were the first Coventry band to enter the English Pop Charts, reaching number 21 with `Take a Heart`. They were formed by Don Fardon and Phil Packham in 1963 and were part of the British mod and beat scene, sometimes referred to as `freakbeat`.
Towards the end of the 70’s, the Ska movement with The Specials and The Selecter began to forge the name of Coventry in the mindset of music listeners across the country. The Two Tone ska revival was led by Jerry Dammers and The Specials. It fused together traditional ska music with punk rock attitude, energy and musical elements.
New Wave artists such as singer-songwriter and actress Hazel O’Connor, had significant success in the early 80`s with hit singles “Eighth Day”, “D-Days” and “Will You”, as well as starring in the film Breaking Glass. King formed in 1984 also achieved substantial chart success and were best known for their hit single “Love & Pride”, which reached number 2 in the UK charts. King also had two Top 20 albums (both certified Gold) and five Top 30 singles in the space of a year. Both artists music was incorporated into the stage musical.
Godiva Rocks is a celebration of Coventry music. Twenty songs written and performed by Coventarians, which links the 60`s with the 80`s, through a great love story, which has an unexpected twist at the conclusion! Godiva Rocks celebrates the spirit and soul of Coventry, in a musical which is entertaining and at times funny and amusing. It celebrates the rich musical history of Coventry and wants everyone to share in that celebration.
Coventry should be proud of this heritage and the people of Coventry, will I am sure, feel a sense of pride when they watch and listen to this production. I had a great time, tapping my feet along to the now familiar classic tunes. The capacity audience were of their feet at the end of the show, whistling and calling for more! I loved it!
Rock On, Coventry!
The greatest sounds ever from England’s Motor City!
By Alan Pollock, directed by Hamish Glen.
Saturday 7 to Saturday 21 October 2017
On 1 October 2010, the 2-Tone Central museum, cafe and venue opened in the Coventry University Students’ Union building, and by August 2011, it was moved to the 2-Tone Village in Stoke, Coventry. It includes exhibition space, the Coventry Music Wall of Fame, a cafe, a gift shop, a Caribbean restaurant and a music venue. Many of the items on display are on loan from members of The Selecter, The Beat and The Specials.
AT THE COVENTRY MUSIC MUSEUM, WE TELL THE REAL STORY OF OUR MUSICAL HERITAGE, GOING RIGHT BACK TO THE ROMAN OCCUPATION.WE STOP ALONG THE WAY AT MUSIC HALL, 50’S ROCK’ N’ ROLL, THE 60’S BEAT SCENE & WE EVEN HAVE THE LENNON BENCH, COMMEMORATING THE FAMOUS ‘ACORNS FOR PEACE’ EVENT.
There’s the 70’s, when Coventry ruled the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with its trademark fusion of ska and punk: 2-tone.
Our 80’s area celebrates Hazel O’Connor, The Primitives and of course, King.
In the 90’s we go all Bhangra, then we celebrate Dave Willetts in Phantom of the Opera (we even have his original Phantom mask).