The stories abounded in the area of rock stars and other celebs who had either visited or lived in the area. It was while we were in the Red Lion, Tregaron, one day that Happy asked us to go to a party with him. When he mentioned it was at the home of Michael Wilding Jr. and there were “plenty of chicks” there, I was in. It turned out to be an uneventful day.
A London connection of Smiles, a man named Doug, was of interest to us. Devizes and Dick Lee were anxious to identify him as he was part of Smiles’ distribution network. An associate of Smiles told Eric and me that Doug was likely to be at the Wilding party. He wasn’t. But, it was a further reason to go to the party near Devil’s Bridge.
I did meet Michael Wilding Jr. at the party and it intrigued me to meet him as the son of Elizabeth Taylor. She was one of the most talked about movie stars back then. Her tempestuous relationship with her then husband, Richard Burton, was renowned. Their antics were cannon fodder to gossip columnists and paparazzi the world over. She was often dubbed as the most beautiful woman in the world. I had read many articles about Liz Taylor that mentioned her violet coloured eyes.
I spoke to Michael Wilding for some time as I chugged on a cold beer. He was a pleasant, softly spoken young man about six years younger than me. He seemed unfazed by who he was, or rather, who his mother was, and I did not bring her up in the conversation. What I did notice about him above all else were his eyes. They were the most stunning eyes I had ever seen in a man or woman. They were violet but shone with a luminosity that was a little unnerving. I had the vicarious sensation I had been gazing into Liz Taylor’s eyes.
Jeff was a guy Eric and I had seen hanging a shop sign in the street in Llanddewi Brefi. He became another conduit to us meeting the music stars of the day. We struck up a conversation with him in the New Inn. It centred on his art and design work. The shop sign we had seen him hanging was his work. It was good. We learned that he had a connection to a beautiful lady called Pam. She was later going to let a house to us which was to become our base. Not only for the winter months, but also for the rest of our undercover days in Llanddewi Brefi.
Pam was the ex of John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers fame. A band that at one time included both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. Jeff’s artist work must have been known in the London-based music industry of the 1970s. He approached us and asked us to take him to Kent to deliver a commissioned painting, a large mural, to the home of Ric Lee, the drummer of Ten Years After fame. He or his wife had commissioned the mural.
We agreed to take Jeff and the painting to Kent, for a fee. We never saw the painting. Jeff wrapped it in a shroud. Before we got to Kent the plan was to stay overnight in Pam’s London home. It was in Orme Square opposite Kensington Gardens. We did stay there and Pam and John Mayall’s adopted son let us in. He was living there. It was a pleasant evening. The son and Jeff were convivial company and I learned a lot about music owing to their shared love of blues music.
The son left partway through the evening. Eric thought he said he was going to the corner, like as popping out to the corner shop. But he didn’t return.
It was later realised he actually said, “I’m off to see Alexis Korner.”
Korner was a family friend and often referred to as one of the founding fathers of British blues music. In the 1960s, Korner formed Blues Incorporated, a loose-knit group of musicians with a shared love of electric blues and R&B music. At various times the group included Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry. It also attracted a wider crowd of younger fans, some of whom occasionally performed with the group. They included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Rod Stewart, John Mayall and Jimmy Page.
We were in illustrious company. One of Pam’s London neighbours was also well-known. He was Jeremy Thorpe MP, the leader of the Liberal Party. He later became notorious during the ‘The Thorpe Affair’ of the 1970s. It was a British political and sex scandal, and ended his career as the leader of the Liberal Party and Member of Parliament (MP) for North Devon.
Our van looked conspicuous parked among the Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Lamborghinis. Those luxury cars are common currency in this part of Bayswater. The following morning, we took breakfast in Queensway then strolled along to the Portobello antique market. Pam had a stall there and a successful business dealing in antiques.
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