Eelpiland:the birth of Rhythm and Blues
Over the summer and autumn of 2013, Aurora Metro Arts and Media, in association with Arts Richmond and the Eel Pie Club, produced a major arts and education project about the extraordinary music history of Eel Pie Island in Twickenham.
In the early 1960s, Richmond and Twickenham became the focal point of English R & B and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Two key venues were the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, and the Eel Pie island Hotel, located on a small island in the River Thames in Twickenham. The club ‘Eelpiland’ was part of a music revolution that was to change popular music forever and helped to define an entire era of music history. Its legacy continues to be a major influence on today’s UK music scene.
Our project featured:
*A new book publication ‘The British Beat Explosion‘ all about the Eel Pie scene. Written by Michele Whitby and music journalist Zoe Howe, it features photos and memorabilia, written accounts from musicians and clubgoers and a contextual history
* A new documentary film ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Island’ capturing Eel Pie’s extraordinary history through archive footage and interviews with key players, screened at Richmond Curzon Cinema in October 2013, to music and art students at local colleges and at film festivals. The film was also screened at numerous film festivals winning 4 awards for Best Documentary.
A longer version is to be shown on BBC4 in 2019.
* Live music events at the Eel Pie Club with bands and guest musicians including The Carnabys, The Others, Birdwood and guest musicians, and a special gig featuring new young bands from Heatham House Youth Centre, including First Girl in Space
·*A major exhibition full of memorabilia and photographs of ‘Eelpiland’ at Arts Richmond’s Orleans House Gallery on Twickenham Riverside, curated by Michele Whitby. One of the most popular exhibitions ever hosted at The Stables Gallery, with over 6000 visitors over 2 months.
* A series of talks, guided tours and workshops as part of our project
* A collection of over 70 interviews and first hand accounts of ‘Eelpiland’ through written contributions and oral history interviews, as well as documentation and photographic archive of ‘Eelpiland’.
Over 25 volunteers assisted the production and administration of the project, and collecting oral history, archive photos and cataloguing of an extraordinary archive and history for future generations
An ‘edited’ version of our Stables Gallery exhibition was on display at Brentford Music Museum in 2014. Twickenham Musuem in April 2014 and at Twickenham Library in Summer 2015.