The Lost Stackridge Photos
The Lost Stackridge Photos
It always amazed me that at the pinnacle Stackridge's success - the sessions with George Martin for the recording of The Man in the Bowler Hat - that there were not lots of photos with George and the band. If this were today there would be hundreds of pics on each phone, as we meticulously documented every note! But this was not 2023, this was the summer of 1973 and as we spelled out in Kartoon World, the times were much simpler.
I asked James Warren if he remembered there being any pictures taken not expecting anything more than vague recollections, but to my surprise he had a different tale to tell.
No-one is sure how it came about - maybe he felt connected because of his name - but the youngest son of a West England pig-farmer named Stanley Cobbler had volunteered to be the official photographer.
James remembers that throughout the sessions Stanley was very active and although George was not present for all the sessions there were definitely photographs taken whenever he was. James particularly remembers Andy showing George the fingering for the tricky 2nd solo in The Last Plimsole.
Just before the sessions came to an end Stanley was urgently recalled to the family farm as the prize pig had just given birth to 14 piglets! He promised to send on the photos but no-one remembers them every materialising.
To this end I set out to find Stanley in the hope that 50 years later he would still be alive and able to lay his hands on the precious photos.
The trip to Cornwall was uneventful but long(!) and when I finally arrived in the bizarrely named Camel Valley on Bodmin Moor, it was too late to ask about the whereabouts of the Cobbler's. The next morning I was up early and I figured my best shot would be the local postie. This turned out to be fortuitous as he not only knew The Cobbler's but informed me that there was a small shop down a windy lane called Stanley's Rock Shop! He did say that no post is ever delivered there so my heart sank.
I arrived at the shop as the morning mist was clearing. To my surprise a large hand-painted sign outside said
'COME IN AND SPEAK
(proprietor is blind).
That explained the lack of mail!
I entered and there was Stanley! He was wearing a bowler hat covered in badges and surrounded by open drawers that must have contained thousands of photographs.
I explained why I had come and asked if he could help me find the pictures, should they have survived the half century that had elapsed. In a slow Cornish drawl he said 'Oim blind so you'll just arf to look on your ooan'.
Alphabetical order was obviously not a system that Stanley believed in, so I set about the arduous task of searching each drawer.
The first pic I came across was a great shot of Andy, George and Billy in the control room. On the back was scrawled 'Recording Humiliation - Control Room'.
You can imagine my excitement! Just that one pic meant my journey was not a wasted one. Then I spent two hours with nothing further, and I thought my one treasure might be all I returned with. Then finally, I pulled up this beauty. A full colour image of George and the boys posing at the desk! Check out James' hair - 'bad hair day' doesn't begin to come close!
Then two beauties came in quick succession. First the photo that James had recalled with George miming air guitar - he was always ahead of his time!
As I searched through the last two drawers I found this pick of George. On my long journey home, I had more than occasionally looked over the lost photos, but kept getting drawn to this final pic.
Now we finally know who 'The Man in the Bowler Hat' was!
These pics and many more to be used for onstage films in the upcoming show The Korgis Time Machine during our performance of The Last Plimsoll. TICKETS HERE! /gigs
James caught up with George years later on at an awards ceremony where George talked fondly about Stackridge and The Man in the Bowler Hat.
Hope you enjoyed this little story!
Al ‘Honest’ Steele