To those fortunate enough to have been part of the Watford beat scene in the 1960s, Stan Freeman’s shop in Queens Road was the hub for aspiring ‘Skifflers’ augmenting for the electric sounds that were emerging from across the Atlantic. The notice board at the back of the shop was where musicians were found and groups were formed. The hand-written adverts listed the wants and needs of the local would- be groups, usually specifying ‘own equipment’, own transport was an unusual, but added bonus.

We assembled at Stan’s on Saturday mornings, trying out his stock of guitars and amplifiers and keeping up with any new gadgets such as echo chambers and the latest sound systems. Stan was always willing to help with advice and often lent out equipment on approval for groups to try out.

Through the adverts placed in Stan’s shop we acquired a bass player, organist, drummer and later a Tom Jones look-alike singer and our group graduated from skiffle to playing covers of the tunes of the day.

The local music scene really took off in the early sixties, local halls and clubs booked with bands such as Gene and the Cossacks, The Riotiers, Knox and the Night Riders and Beaux Maverix.

In later years I took my grandson to Stan’s shop when he first took an interest in guitars, he bought his first instrument there and went on to be a proficient guitarist.

Stan’s shop remained a constant as bigger music stores came and went. He was always ready to reminisce about the early days yet willing to help the new wave of musicians just starting out.

To take an ABBA song as a tribute to Stan, ‘thank you for the music’.

Peter Smith

Abbots Road, Abbots Langley