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Gravesend pub celebrates its 40th year of hosting live music

PUBLISHED: 15:42 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:16 31 January 2018

The Red Lion Pub in Gravesend. Picture: Google

The Red Lion Pub in Gravesend. Picture: Google

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Four decades ago, Leo’s The Red Lion pub in Crete Hall Road, Gravesend - which according to owner Terry Lee, would look more fitting in the middle of Camden - began showing live music, and Terry looks back at the last 40 years with pride, as he plans to continue catering for some of the biggest acts and their fans.

Pub owner Terry Lee with his partner Natalie. Picture: Terry LeePub owner Terry Lee with his partner Natalie. Picture: Terry Lee

He said: “This place is so unique and since 1978 the people of Gravesend have been able to enjoy every kind of music here.”

The 40th anniversary of live music will be marked by band The Dualers, who will be performing at the celebration on Friday, May 4.

Terry recalls fondly some of the biggest and best of the industry stepping through the doors of the venue, including Iron Maiden, Gun, Manfred Manns Earth Band, Bad Manners and many more.

“Bands like Iron Maiden started off here.

Acts performing at the pub. Picture: Terry LeeActs performing at the pub. Picture: Terry Lee

“I remember when they were on tour once and actually asked one evening if they could come back to the pub to play, I had to arrange it all in cognito because of their following at this point, but they did come back because they loved it here.”

The biggest and best acts have always performed at the pub, and Terry remembers it being the norm to see some of them on ‘Top of the Pops’ between playing at The Red Lion.

Terry takes pride in the fact that the venue has always been a platform for bands plaing original material, usually progressing onto bigger things soon after.

He added: “These kind of places were and remain to be so important and influential for the music industry.

“It’s sad to see the demise of live music venues, but in this case if people don’t use it, they lose it.”

Having been in the industry for so long, Terry said that the significant decline in pubs is painfully noticable in the area: “There used to be at least 10 other pubs along this road, I could still name them all.

“The reason this pub is still standing is because of the hard work I have put into it, and the fact that many people do still want to attend local venues that show live music.

“The live music scene deserves places like this to keep it going, and the people of Gravesend are very lucky to have somewhere like this.”

Terry started off by putting on shows at Woodville Hall, before deciding to buy a venue.

Despite the array of acts that Terry has enjoyed throughout the last 40 years, one of his favourites will always be Steve Marriot: “That was quite a moment for me.

“Everyone will have a different favourite and it’s all relative, but he was one of the best performers I’ve seen here.”

The pub also arranges festivals every year, such as Hero Fest, in which every penny raised goes to charity Help for Heroes.

Other music events held by Terry include Leo Fest as well as blues rock festivals.

Considering the demise of places such as these, Terry considers it a true achievement that his small venue is still around, and isn’t showing signs of stopping.

This year in particular has highlighted to Terry the lasting popularity of the pub, he said: “We have never had so many people wanting to play here.

“Now until December we are completely booked.

“I wouldn’t refer to this as a pub now, we are first and foremost a music venue.

“Every now and then we will instead have a tribute act as a bit of fun, but that’s only if the band isn’t around anymore or it’s impossibe to get the real thing for whatever reason.”

Despite a long career in the industry, Terry has no intention of stopping any time soon.

“It’s less a labour of love and more an expensive hobby that I never want to give up.”

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