Henri Henroid: A Tribute

By Bill Harry  

Henri Henroid, Bill Harry and Screaming Lord SutchI was roused out of bed one morning by the persistent ringing of the phone. Henry Henroid was on the other end of the line to inform me that John Lennon had been shot.

Equally as devastating was the call I received from Dinky, Henri’s partner, some years later, to tell me that Henri was dead.

Henri had been a good friend to Virginia and me for over thirty years.

He was part of the generation that created rock ‘n’ roll in Britain, another of the genuine unsung heroes of the music scene.

The 2 I’s coffee bar in London was one of his haunts – and is where Mickie Most first met him in 1957.

When Henri spotted the Animals appearing at the Cavern in Liverpool, he phoned Mickie – and Mickie signed them to a recording contract. 

For some time Henry worked for Don Arden, he acted as road manager, then manager to Gene Vincent. He later became a close acquaintance of many groups, including the Beatles and he booked major American names and lots of Liverpool bands for Hamburg’s Star Club.

Henri had such a fund of amusing stories that it is a pity that all his memories have gone with him.

Over the years he kept me and countless others amused with his stories. Late in 1997 I arranged for Bob Spitz to interview Henri for a new book on the Beatles and shortly before he died he was interviewed for a TV documentary on Gene Vincent.

Realising that Henri’s stories were gems, I did begin taking some notes, intending to build up a file of his tales. Sadly, I was only to note down a few of them before his tragic illness hit him.

Discussing the Star Club, he told me, “I first attended the club with Gene Vincent. I think the world and its mother played the Star Club. When Ray Charles was to perform they phoned me to look out of the window and there was a queue of black people the length of the Grosse Freiheit, going out into the Reeperbahn and what had happened was that they’d come all the way from the American bases. So I went down and spoke to them and asked if there was an officer and there was. I took him over to Ray’s hotel and said, ‘we have a dilemma. We’re sold out and I have downstairs a black American officer and they’re all dying to see the show. What d you want?’ He said ‘Right, we’ll do a matinee.’ And he did. That’s how it was in those days; the artist was much more helpful.

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