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Episode 116 : Norman Jopling on Record Mirror + Rhythm & Blues + Rolling Stones

13 December 2021

In this episode we welcome the wonderful Norman Jopling to join us in RBP's sleek Hammersmith recording suite (yeah, right) and reminisce about his days as a budding "pop reporter" on Record Mirror.

As a rhythm 'n' blues obsessive in early '60s London, Norman was the first music journalist to write about the "Rollin' Stones" — in May 1963 — and he tells Mark, Barney & Jasper about the Sunday night in Richmond when he first saw and heard Mick, Keith, Brian, Bill & "Charles Watts" blow the roof off the town's Station Hotel. He also talks about his Record Mirror colleagues Peter Jones, Ian Dove & the legendary Guy Stevens; about giving the 19-year-old Eric Clapton a lift on his scooter; and about the interviews he later did with Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.

From there we return to the episode's broadly Stonesy theme, hearing audio clips from Robin Eggar's 1997 audio interview with the late Charlie Watts and discussing the man's unique drumming style and endearingly unpretentious personality. Also sadly lost to us this year — this week, to be precise — are reggae icon Robbie Shakespeare and "freaky deke" critic Greg "Ironman" Tate; we pay tribute to both these giants.

With Norman pitching in, Mark talks us out with his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach (both Maureen Cleave interviews from 1964) and Columbia's Clive Davis (a Loraine Alterman interview from 1974). Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Sophie Heawood's 2009 Snoop Dogg interview and Michael Gonzales' retrospective piece on Common's Electric Circus album.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Norman Jopling; keep an eye out for his book Shake It Up Baby.

Please note that this episode was recorded before the death of Mike Nesmith, so we'll be paying tribute to him in the next episode.