Lords above! Earl of Courtown recalls Cockney Rebel at Friars Club - but admits he wasn’t in to John Otway

John Otway
John Otway

Aylesbury’s famous Friars Club and two of the town’s well-known rockers received a mention in Parliament last week.

The name-check came as Lords debated on Thursday how best to support small grass-roots music venues.

The Earl of Courtown, one of the last remaining hereditary peers whose family is believed to have spent time living in Aylesbury’s Walton Street, told his colleagues: “Noble Lords mentioned the many venues that they have seen various acts at, and I should mention that many of those venues formed an important part of my youth, such as Friars in Aylesbury, where I remember seeing Cockney Rebel twice in one year.”

However, the Earl of Courtown admitted he was not such a fan of self-styled ‘rock n roll’s greatest failure’ John Otway, or fellow rocker Wild Willy Barrett, both from Aylesbury.

He said: “I also saw John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett, although I did not really get too much into their music, to be perfectly honest.”

Friars boss David Stopps’ advice to the Lords to ensure the future of music venues was to make sure they can live harmoniously with their residential neighbours.

“They are immensely important and there’s a big movement at the moment to brand cities as music cities. They take a downtrodden area, such as the Adelaide port area, build a couple of cafes and rehearsal rooms and suddenly it becomes a very cosmopolitan area. Then the developers come along, build flats and it becomes very gentrified. That is happening a lot.

“But if you are going to build around a venue it has to be sound-proofed, you can’t bully it to close down because some very expensive flats are being built.”

Mr Stopps added that it was a ‘tragedy’ that the Civic Centre was demolished. “Aylesbury could do with another venue. The second space at the Waterside Theatre is not very usable, we need something bigger with a 500 capacity or a club, that would be marvellous.”

Cockney Rebel played Friars four times in 1974.