Piano Teacher N8

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Drifting In and Out

Back in the 1960s when R&B was still an emerging category, R&B records were lumped under the "pop" category. As it often happens, emergent sounds that have not quite yet established themselves often end up in the general umbrella categories of "pop" (less heavy), "rock" (a bit heavier), folk or alternative, until they have grown enough to establish themselves as a separate distinct category.

Imagine yourself as owning a record shop - it would be a little disorganised and lazy to have your records merely arranged in alphabetical order by artiste, because as your customers worked their way from A to Z, they would end up going through rock records, pop records or folk records - all in a hodge-podge of musical styles. The alphabetical listing would only help if they had a specific artiste in mind, but if they went straight to Ed Sheeran, the artistes either side of him might be heavy metal bands whom they would not usually listen to.

It would be better to have separate distinct genres for your store, then once customers had made a beeline for Ed Sheeran, they might also be interested in others whose music sound like his. And so you would build your store by large, popular categories, and emerging categories would end up in the fringes of these main categories. This is how Amazon does its book recommendations to you, via its "Customers who bought X also looked at Y..." suggestions.

But I digress. Back when R&B was considered pop, The Drifters, an R&B band, scored a list of hits such as This Magic Moment (1960), Save the Last Dance for Me (1960), Up On the Roof (1963), On Broadway (1963) and Under the Boardwalk (1964). And while most successful bands score the same number of hits or more, The Drifters did so with an ever-changing lineup of lead singers. Their original singer in the formative 1950s was Clyde McPhatter, but when he left for a solo career, the group, managed by George Treadwell, went through six singers in two years - partly because Treadwell paid them a weekly salary but not a share of royalties from music. In 1958 the members were all fired and Treadwell resurrected another group in its place, with lead singers switching from Ben E. King to Rudy Lewis to Johnny Moore.

The success of the Drifters highlighted a quirky point. One main difference between classical and pop music up to that point (and still to the present day) was that in classical music, the composer is supreme while in pop music the performer holds the cards. Think of Moonlight Sonata, and you immediately associate it with Beethoven. Yet think of the song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, and you think not of the person who wrote it, Endo Anaconda, but The Rolling Stones, who performed it. With The Drifters, it didn't seem to be about who the singer was, but perhaps about the sound of the band. It seemed slightly strange then that an ever-changing group scored successes in genres that tended to place emphasis on personalities. (One only needs to see how the charts were topped by musical aliens or dancing ducks to gauge the relationship of music and personality.)

The lessons from The Drifters were copied by later bands. The Sugababes, for example, scored six UK number 1s and eighteen top ten hits within eight years with six singers rotating in and out of a female trio.

And the Drifters? Selected for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan, the ever-changing line up that included more than thirty singers up to 1988 presented a difficult question. Which of the Drifters should have been selected? (Eventually seven made it, but no prizes for guessing how the others felt!)

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More About Crouch End

Crouch End lies within a valley at the eastern end of the Northern Heights of London. Despite the sound, the name has absolutely nothing to do with crouching! It comes from the latin "crux", which means "cross".

There are various interpretations of how the "cross" came into origin. One theory goes that Crouch End is the meeting place of several ancient routes. One started off all the way from Islington, over Crouch Hill, and then following Park Road all the way to the former holy well in Muswell Hill. You can trace this route by taking the W7 from Finsbury Park. The other route originated from Holloway, and went along Tottenham Lane down to the church in Hornsey High Street before heading off to Tottenham. (You can get an idea of this route by taking the 41 bus which goes through Crouch Ed, then Hornsey and Turnpike Lane.) Crouch End was at the crossroads of these important routes.

Another theory goes that parish boundaries were marked by the siting of a cross. Rewind back a few centuries, and these boundary markers - whether they were stones or crosses - served a function not unlike the present day "Welcome to the London Borough of Haringey" or "You are now entering the London Borough of Islington" signs that you see around N4, N8 and N19.

Whichever the origin, the earliest mention of Crouch End in ecclesiastical records is in 1465.

Crouch End in the early nineteenth century was still a cluster of tiny cottages that did not extend beyond Crouch End Hill. Larger houses, some known as "halls", did exist around the Broadway in their own grounds. For example, Crouch Hall Road, which is the long road near Waitrose that leads in to others such as Clifton Road, is so named because there was a big house known as Crouch Hall opposite, pretty much where the mp4 hairdressing salon and Castles Estate Agents currently are.

But Crouch End, which was encompassed in what was known as the Great Middlesex Forest north of the Thames, slowly opened up in the 1800s. The Great Northern Railway, which operated initially out of Hornsey Station in 1850 (you can still see the pub along Hornsey High Street), did speed up the urbanisation of Crouch End, but the Crouch Hill and Crouch End Hill stations (the latter has since been closed down), which opened up the area further in 1867-8, resulted in a population increase over the next three decades.