People in ROCK of my a) inclination b) vintage have been stunned this week to hear the awful news that Andy Wright has passed away. Andy used to run The Princess Charlotte in Leicester during the 90s and 2000s, and as well as running the actual pub bit he was also responsible for booking the bands... and CRIKEY what bands they were.
People often go on about all the really famous bands that used to play at the Charlotte, and it is extremely true that he booked pretty much ALL of the bands who would go on to become big in Britpop and beyond. The Charlotte became a staple of the so-called Indie Toilet Circuit (and, let's be honest, along with The Hull Adelphi it was one of the main reasons it was given that name!) and EVERYBODY came and played there, which was AMAZING if you happened to live in Leicester at the time. We used to spend many many happy evenings sitting in the front bar pretending not to notice when people who either WERE incredibly famous or would very soon go ON to be so wandered through looking for the way to the stage.
More than that though, he gave a stage to the huge number of local bands who grew up around it, and there was a MASSIVE local scene that would shuttle between the Charlotte and the Mag most nights, before going on to The Mud Club just between or, if feeling adventurous, the Fan Club/Sector 5 a few streets away. Gigs happened every night, and whoever he was booking Andy would always put local bands on as support. He also used to do Bank Holidy all-dayers when he'd get LOADS of local bands to come and play, and we'd all spend the day getting utterly plastered, fed on his trademark Veggie Chilli, dispensed from a big bowl on the bar.
It remains one of the places I personally have played the most, and was the site of MANY incidents which have since become Favoured Anecdotes, including Zodiac Mindwarp And The Fire Escape, The Voon Reunion Gig, Tim Stopping A Fight At Razzle Club, Nigel Blackwell Doing An Encore Despite Phil The Soundman Switching The PA Off, The Band Posh Not Enjoying Remarks About Barry Fry, Voonlapse, and The Reason We Didn't Get Paid For A Half Man Half Biscuit Gig.
I would like to close by performing this last anecdote for you, as an example of the ACTUALLY LEGENDARY way that Andy dealt with local bands i.e. helpful, encouraging, but not in a way that besmirched the purity of the relationship by actually paying you if he could help it. Way back at the turn of the century, when The Validators were just starting out, I BEGGED him for AGES to let us support HMHB and he eventually agreed, promising us an actual FEE if enough people came in. The gig was RAMMED so, at the end of the evening, I approached him expecting a hearty congratulation and a wodge of CA$H.
"I can't give you anything," he said. "There weren't enough people in."
"But the room was packed!" I, not unreasonably, replied.
"Yes, but they were all very fat."
All I could do was salute his cheek and retire defeated. He was an excellent human who did a huge amount for the bands of Leicester, and he will be very very much missed - RIP Andy!