Skip to main content

Roger Armstrong

Born on 28 July 1948, I was very much part of the Beatle generation, though through my older brother Perry I did get to hear rock'n'roll records at an early age and we would jointly buy 45s. Knight's Record Library in Belfast was also a big influence, providing access to a huge range of albums that I could not otherwise afford. I went to University in Belfast, discovered some like souls with an intense interest in music and started the Esoteric Music Society (well it was the 60s). At first we sat around in a darkened room and listened to each other's records, but soon started to promote live shows. Progressing from local bands to mainland imports, we soon had a regular Sunday night slot established. The little local difficulty that started at the end of the 60s made it difficult to persuade bands to play Belfast, but we did manage to run a show virtually every weekend, and for a year or more we were the only show in town.

I left Queens in 1972 and moved to Dublin. I worked with Jim Aiken, a local promoter, trying to turn the Chieftains professional. But it was before their time and so after about a year we parted company. I then co-managed an Irish showband called Chips who were mutating into a rock/funk act with the aim of breaking out of the confines of the Irish circuit as had Horslips, my partner Michael Denny's other act. Chips disintegrated and I tour-managed Horslips for a while after that, then moved to London to manage a new band, St James' Gate, being put together by an old friend, Ruan O'Lochlainn. We cut an album, a deal was negotiated with RCA, they broke up and I quit management. I wasn't cut out for the managerial life. After a spell scuzzing around and trying to get studio work as the oldest tea boy in town I started to work with Ted, who I had known for many years, looking after a market stall in Soho selling second-hand records etc. From the market stalls we started a record label in 1975 and the rest is history.

Click here to see the Rocks Off page

Well... I remember buying records off a fresh-faced and friendly Irishman with sticking out ears and bad teeth called Shane at the Rock On stall in Soho Square. He had a band called The Nips and he convinced me to buy their self-financed single: "Gabrielle". I didn't regret it. All the specialist record shops seemed to be run by Irishmen in those days (1977-79). I remember one refusing to serve me because I said I liked Steve Winwood's voice better than Van Morrison's. Comment: Adam Blake

The Soho Rock On stall was another regular haunt of mine! And the original Vinyl Solution shop. I bought my import copy of the first Modern Lovers LP from Beggars in Ealing - in fact I traded some of my older brother's LPs in for it. He wasn't best pleased. Comment:John Stapleton

Name Mike Spenser Comment There were actually 2 Rock On stalls in Soho market. There was the first one in the centre of the market where I first met Ted and Roger in February 1975 and then it moved to the outskirts of the market just opposite the street that was the edge of Chinatown. The pub opposite was where I used to drink with Joe Strummer during his 101er's days and my ex-Count Bishop days. It was in the later stall that I used to sit with Shane McGowan and drop acid and take the piss out of all the passersby!

Andy Cameraguy‏ @acameraguy1

Memories. I used to hang out at the Rock On stall a lot back in the 70s when #ShaneMcGowan worked there. I owe my music taste to those guys. (May 27, 2017)

Jonh Ingham

Ted Carroll

‘Chaos? This is natural living!’ The genius of Shane MacGowan

Sean O’Hagan

When I got to know Shane and his fellow Pogues not long afterwards, his stomping ground was King’s Cross, where he lived, and the not-so-dark streets of Camden Town. When the bars closed, back then, after-hours drinks could be had in the local Greek restaurants and tapas bars, which Shane knew intimately. I had first crossed paths with him at some now hazy point in the mid 1970s, when he manned the Rock On record stall in Soho Market, which was round the back of Leicester Square tube station. He was not the greatest salesman. I remember turning up more than once to find the stall unattended, Shane having gone off to grab a sandwich or a drink, but the often obscure soul, blues and garage-rock records he cajoled me to buy were always gems.

Chiswickwas started in 1975 out of a couple of market stalls selling second hand records in London, and inspired by the American independent labels of the 50s and 60s. Not having a host of great blues and soul artists to hand we recorded the British equivalent and not having the budgets available to the major record companies we recorded fast and cheap. Flushed by the relative success of our first record by the Count Bishops, we scoured the bars and clubs of London for more. Pretty soon we had stumbled over Joe Strummer and his 101ers, finally got a record out of Jesse Hector and his Hammersmith Gorillas, but then along came punk and its perfect cousin Power Pop.


Comments

Details

Location


Next in London: Rockin' Records