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GADAFFI, CLINTON, BLAIR AND ME

03-10-2006

We've just had the 30th anniversary of the legendary punk festival at London's 100 Club - and The Stirrer can reveal that the promoter, Ron Watts, now lives locally. What's more, he's got a tale to tell about three world leaders…

These days Ron Watts seems a contented fellow. A few years back, after giving a helping hand to some of the great names of British rock (a diverse cast list ranging from Jethro Tull through the Sex Pistols to Dire Straits) he decided to get out of the London rat race and re-locate to the Midlands.

Somebody recommended Tamworth (also home to legendary rock loon Julian Cope) and he's lived there ever since.

For a time he worked with Birmingham jazz and blues entrepreneur Jim Simpson but has now given up promoting, and works in the offices of a courier company.

All a far cry from his punk heyday, which he recalls in our exclusive two-part video on The Stirrer today.

Ron hasn't just got memories of safety pins and pogo dancing mind. His recently published autobiography 100 Watts is a celebration of an entire life spent enjoying music and the company of musicians.

He's also had a few celebrities pass through his clubs from time to time as well. Bill Clinton, for example, made a trip to the 100 Club when he was merely a future president in the '70s. Clinton was studying at Oxford, and came to see one of the many blues gigs there.

When he introduced himself and declared his ambition to be the leader of the free world, he got this piece of advice from Ron: “Shave that beard off, or you'll get nowhere.”

Clinton did as he was told, and the rest is history.

Blair, on the other hand, made a pilgrimage to Ron's other old haunt the Nag's Head pub in Wycombe. This was when he was standing as a candidate in a by-election at nearby Beaconsfield.

"He seemed to be genuinely into the place," Ron recalls. "There wasn't a gig on, but he'd heard about us and wanted to soak up some of the atmosphere."

And then there was Gadaffi. It's a little-known fact that the Libyan leader attended Sandhurst military college for a few months in the mid-'60s. While he was there, he popped into the 100 club more than once.

"He really seemed into the music" Ron recalls. "In fact at one stage he became a bit of a regular. He liked a drink as well." Then he adds with twinkle in his eye, and with due deference to the Libyan leader's Muslim faith. "Mind you, it was nothing too indulgent. Just one or two."

You can order Ron Watt's autobiography 100 Watts, just £7.99 inc p&p from Heroes Publishing, P.O. Box 1703 Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 1UZ.

To buy Ron's book go to http://www.heroespublishing.co.uk/

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