Blues legend’s rare 1961 recording made in Lynn turns up at Oxfam shop

Memphis Slim
Memphis Slim
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A rare recording by the late blues legend Memphis Slim, made when he was playing at Lynn in 1961, has come to light – in the Oxfam books and music shop in Huntingdon.

Geoffrey Stalker, the shop manager, was so intrigued by the 55-year-old vinyl that he contacted the British Library to get more information.

He said: “I rang the sound archive at the British Library and as they were so very interested about the record I donated it to them. They are currently digitising it and they will make it available to the public at some point.

“The British Library think this may be the only existing recording.”

The recording was made when Memphis Slim played at the St George’s Jazz Club, which was run by Peter Heseltine and well known in local jazz circles at that time.

Mr Heseltine later moved to Godmanchester and it was after his death that the Oxfam shop was given a lot of his jazz vinyl collection.

A journalist with the Lynn News at the time, Mr Heseltine was a bass player with bands such as the Ouse Town Stompers and the the Alan Lockwood Band.

His report on the visit by Memphis Slim appeared in the May 2nd, 1961, edition of the paper.

It read: “The visit of Memphis Slim last week to Lynn must have provided travellers on the Fenman some considerable amusement when they got off the train at Lynn.

“A crowd of a dozen or so people, carrying slogans such as “We dig you Memphis”, “Welcome to Lynn, Memphis” and “Ban the bomb?” were standing on the station platform.

“Memphis said later: ‘It was a bit of a weird welcome’.

“But for those who heard him at the club it should have been a memorable night.

“Despite a bit of trouble with the microphone, his strident, rolling piano could be heard all over the club.

“The last two numbers he played with the Collegians and I have never heard them swing better. All in all it was quite a performance.”

Mr Heseltine spent six years with the paper before going to college to train as a play and youth worker. He later also had several books published.

Mr Stalker said that when the British Library sound archive team have finished cleaning and digitising the record they will send him a track list and it’s quite likely they will make the record available to the public.

He added: “It’s of such historical interest the team are very excited by this find.

“In return, they helped us by donating some duplicate records they had, which we have since sold at the shop and made between £400-£500 for Oxfam.”

The Oxfam shop in Lynn’s Norfolk Street is also keen to receive unwanted vinyl records you can donate to help with the charity’s fundraising initiatives.