25th Oct, 2021

MUSIC MATTERS - From Ghost Town to host town as Coventry's City of Culture year gets under way

Coventry Editorial 7th Jan, 2021

Coventry Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.

SO COVID permitting this year at The Coventry Music Museum has all the makings of being a very special year (pun intended).

2021 will be the 40th anniversary of probably the most famous song to come out of the city, namely ‘Ghost Town’.

The song topped the charts for four weeks back in 1981, a song not really about Coventry, but more to do with the urban decay of a whole nation – indeed Glasgow and Liverpool were the main inspirations for the song.

The Music Museum will track the city and its boom time in its post-Second World War days – through to being a dominant player as a motorcity, to the sad decline of the car industry and its relevance to the Ghost Town effect.

Finally came the resurgence as a ‘host town’ and City of Culture.

Pride of place will be our original Ghost Town car and the very organ Jerry Dammers wrote and recorded the song on.

As I researched the project it struck me I was something of a Coventry stereotype – my father came from Wales to work at Morris Engines, I grew up as a baby boomer in the boom times.

I eventually worked with my father at British Leyland only to be made redundant and on the scrapheap at 23.

Eventually doing it all again at Peugeot as it closed down.

I was born in Brays Lane, Coventry 64 years ago and educated at Briton Road School.

My life has been about writing and celebrating Coventry in all its amazing musical forms, and eventually being rewarded by an honorary degree from Coventry University. Coventry is totally in my blood and it’s time to tell a little of my story in the new exhibition.

Also, as part of the exhibition will be ‘Coventry-Music City’ and will show Coventry’s impact on the world of music.

How ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ by Panjabi Mc got on the list of the world’s bestselling singles of all time, how Coventry had a hand in creating the Prog Rock and the Grindcore genres of music as well as of course the 2-Tone genre.

There will be a collection of rare overseas releases of many of the Coventry greats including a Sorrows single from Iran, a Specials single from South Africa and a King 12ins single from Venezuela.

The amazing Frank Ifield and his four number one singles he achieved in the UK, as well as a top five in the US and one of the first million sellers of all time.

We hope 2021 will be our time to show the world just how amazing Coventry is as a place of music, from Delia Derbyshire and producer Tony Clarke to the 2-Tone movement and Pete Waterman who has sold over 500million records.

The museum will hopefully be back open in January, ready to welcome the world.

For more information ring 07971 171441 or email me (Pete) at godivarocks@yahoo.co.uk.

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