Zoot Money

Zoot Money: Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne - 15th June 2017

It’s an incredible 53 years since local rocker Zoot Money put his home town of Bournemouth well and truly on the musical map. With guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Colin Allen (both destined for stardom with The Police and Stone the Crows respectively) he ditched a local residency at the Disc A Go Go club at the Lansdowne and headed for London.

Within weeks keyboard wizard Zoot’s Big Roll Band were R&B heroes, revered by the amphetamine-fuelled groovers who danced their nights away at Soho’s legendary Flamingo Club.

Last night (Thursday), just a month ahead of his 75th birthday, Zoot ( he was christened George Bruno Money by the way ) was back onstage in Dorset re-living a life and career that almost defies belief.

In a two hour show at Wimborne's Tivoli Theatre and with a band made up of the identical twin Ower brothers -  Mark and Steve on lead guitar and bass; drummer Rich Bannister and backing vocalists Nell Montague-Rendall and Lucy Martin, he unleashed his recent autobiographical album The Book of Life…I’ve Read It.

For many it was a revelation. Not only did it overlay his blues roots with a 70s style heavy rock vibe but it spilled the beans on a survivor who has done all the drink and drugs, all the crazy rock n roll capers you can imagine and emerged remarkably unscathed.

As you can see from the picture above he’s not only been there and done that but he’s bought the T-Shirt too. It’s a hell of a tale from a man whose London gaff became a meeting point for some of the biggest names in the history of rock and blues. Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green slept on his sofa for pity’s sake, though not at the same time.

For the now clean-living Zoot  this musical celebration of his crazy past as blues shouter, keyboard maestro and joker navigating a twilight  world populated by rocker’s, shockers, dealers, pimps and gangsters is deeply meaningful. His latest single is called Still Alive and, in a moving rendition of May The Circle Be Unbroken, he paid tribute to his many friends and musical contemporaries who are not.

He played like a demon from the keyboards while the Owers brothers strutted their stuff like cartoon rock gods. There were stories too, anecdotes that told jaw-dropping tales of  Zoot’s wild days out on the road punctuated the songs which ranged from Sweet Little Rock ’n’ Roller (with a  side of Green Onions) to a reworking of St James Infirmary called Jack Tar Blues. Only Zoot could make a song about dying of syphilissound so joyous. He closed the show with a revisited version of  Big Time Operator before a final song which asked “If age brings wisdom…when do I get mine?” Seeing as though he'd already told us that naivety had saved his life on many occasioins, I don’t think that’s a question Zoot wants answered in a hurry.

© Jeremy Miles 2022