One of Elgin’s “locals” I’ve spoken with about the ’60s music scene in NE Scotland, was Graeme Nairn, who worked for Albert Bonici at the Two Red Shoes in Elgin from ’65 until ’73 as the dance venue musical entertainment was winding down. Reflecting on impresario Bonici proprietor and promoter, Graeme said “Albert broke the mold with his imagination and depth… he thought outside the box. He wasn’t particularly organizational but a visionary.” Mr. Bonici understood how important presentation was. “Albert had a perfume factory before the dance hall and had hired the best commercial artists available for it’s packaging.”
“Jack Fallon and Andy Lothian sold bands to Albert. He started Norco Record Label and featured his house bands, Alex Sutherland Quartet and Jimmy Martin Orchestra. He also released and Lp with My Dear Watson which did well in Germany. He helped a local band, The Copycats and had me [Graeme Nairn] rebuild the New Jacobites.” With bookings, Albert “sometimes was on two telephones at once”.
Graeme, who is enthusiastic over his experiences with Albert Bonici, said that by 1965 when he came on board at the Two Red Shoes [aka “Boots”],the hall had “an iconic intensity in a part of Scotland that was otherwise thought of as “hicksville”.
THE PINK FLOYD
12 July 1967: “This is the group that brings their own lighting to set the scene oscilating and vibrating with way out sets -” 15 July: Make a date for Pink Floyd at the Two Red Shoes. The Pink Floyd were doing small dance halls and colleges as there music was just beginning to chart in summer 1967. Sid Barrett was writing for the Pink Floyd at the time though through drug experimentation, later suffered from mental illness and forced to leave the group.
Graeme Nairn related his night with the Pink Floyd in the Two Red Shoes which also featured The Copycats [20Jul67];
Graeme whose early influences included Wes Montgomery and the Miles Davis Jazz Band, was part of group during college days who later became known as The Average White Band. A few years later, he formed the “Graeme Nairn Quartet, and arranged popular songs for the dance hall when The Pink Floyd were set to arrive in Elgin. As they were doing light shows on their ’67 tour, Graeme asked Albert if he could opperate the lights that night rather than the older man who usually worked them. ” There was a control box for the PA system in back of the hall along with the spot lights. The glitterball and spotlight created strong affects as a lava light style with [various] colours and swirling affect” though operated by hand.
Graeme saw a publicity handout [dated June 24, 1967] that read, “The Pink Floyd are opening us a new world in sound and visual entertainment. In the last months, The Pink FLoyd have been developing a total show. Explosive sound, films, lights, and images, are combined into a single experience. Audiences in clubs, halls, and universities have been stunned and the group has aroused a lot of general publicity. The line-up is Sid Barrett – lead guitar; Nick Mason – drums; Rodge Waters – bass guitar; and Rick Wright – organ.
Note: Graeme explained how “Boots” later became the Flamingo Club with exotic dancers when Two Red Shoes closed. Along this line, Albert’s nephew, John Ruggeri commented, “I worked with Albert from when I was 19 until he died, it’s difficult to say when he actually stopped as we were booking acts into the Eight Acres Hotel , up until he died but bulk of promotions must have ceased” . “There was never a decision taken to stop it, it just fazed out. The booking of the exotic dancers was done by Albert and myself to try and generate business into the hall as that way we could obtain a table licence as they wouldn’t give us a bar licence… how times have changed. When the promoting side of the business fizzled out he concentrated on the other parts of the business, mainly The Eight Acres Hotel , Park Cafe, North of Scotland Walls Ice Cream Franchise and converting the Two Red Shoes (Flamingo Club) into a freezer shop and later into a Squash Club with two courts, saunas and small gym.”