Have you ever wondered what was really behind that Green Door in the Shakin’ Stevens Number One hit in the summer of ’81? It turns out the answer is rather interesting…
The Green Door was more than just an invented song lyric – the door really did exist. The song is an extended tease, constantly asking what is behind it but never quite answering the question:
“Midnight, one more night without sleepin'
Watchin' till the mornin' comes creepin'
Green door, what's that secret you're keepin'”
The song tells us there’s a piano playing behind the door and people laughing; but knock as much as he might, they just won’t let ol’ Shaky join the fun…
“Saw an eyeball peepin'
Through a smoky cloud behind the green door
When I said Joe sent me
Someone laughed out loud behind the green door
All I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the green door
Wish they'd let me in
So I could find out what's behind the green door”
It’s really not surprising that they laughed when he said Joe sent him. Joe Meek was the record producer who worked on the original recording of Green Door which was first a hit (Number 2 in the charts) for Frankie Vaughan way back in November of 1956. Joe is best known for his 1962 hit, Telstar (under the name, The Tornados). I’m not certain if the Joe in the song was meant to refer to Joe Meek. If it was then it was done with a certain irony as Joe was gay. Which brings me back to that Green Door…
In real life, the door belonged to The Gateways Club in the Kings Road, Chelsea. This, it turns out, was one of the most famous lesbian meeting places in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. I don’t think either Frankie Vaughan or Shaky would quite have blended in, somehow. The club itself featured in the 1968 film, The Killing Of Sister George, which was one of the first British mainstream films to feature lesbian characters in central roles. The Gateways finally shut its Green Door in 1985. And thus closed a little slice of pop trivia history…
There is even a book all about the club :: From the Closet to the Screen
Is that the actually Green Door I see on the cover?
This very week, back in 1981, Ultravox's epic single, Vienna, was stuck at the number two position in the UK charts. "Wow!" (you are probably thinking to yourself) "If a gem of a song like Vienna was at Number Two, the Number One record must have been a work of superhuman genius...!"
Yes, you are right. The song that kept Ultravox off the top was none other than Joe Dolce's timeless classic: Shaddup You Face!
ah,they don't write 'em like that any more (one hopes :) )