Damon Albarn gives impromptu gig at the Red Lion

Former Blur frontman Damon Albarn surprised Leytonstone residents last week when he gave an impromptu performance of the Blur classic ‘Parklife’ in the Red Lion pub on Leytonstone High Road.

Damon Albarn was visiting Leytonstone, where he grew up as a child, a week before he releases his first solo Album Everyday Robots on 28 April 2014.

Everyday Robots includes songs based on memories of his childhood at 21 Fillebrook Rd, just a few steps from Leytonstone tube station.

Tracks on Everyday Robots include ‘Hollow Ponds‘ and ‘Mr Tembo’, a track which features the choir from the Pentecostal City Mission Church on the corner of Kingswood Road and Colworth Road.

In February the BBC’s The Culture Show featured Damon Albarn on his trip around both Leytonstone and Aldham near Colchester in Essex, where his family moved to next.

In the The Culture Show Damon Albarn talked of the positive influence that his childhood in Leytonstone had on his music and reminisced about spending a hot summer at Hollow Ponds boating lake and swimming in the Whipps Cross Lido, which closed in the 1980s.

It was after leaving Leytonstone that Damon Albarn met Graham Coxon at Stanway Comprehensive School, Colchester and after leaving school they teamed up to form Blur, which went on to be one of the biggest bands of the 1990s in an intense north-south rivalry with Manchester band Oasis during a period which became known as ‘Britpop’.

In 1998 Damon Albarn formed Gorillaz , which the Guiness Book of records described as the ‘most successful virtual band’.

Waltham Forest Council has recently announced that they are putting up a blue plaque in Fillebrook Road in honour of Damon Albarn.

Leytonstonetoday.net has long extolled the beauty of Hollow Ponds and the part of Epping Forest that surrounds it — one of the greenest parts of all London, not just East London. That Damon Albarn has immortalised this spot in song will give a further sense of pride and a little smugness no doubt to local residents who have tired of trying to explain to the good people of Zone 1 —and especially those not brave enough to venture outside Zone 1 — that the East End is not all docks and dereliction.

Let’s see if the peace and quiet of Hollow Ponds is now disturbed by the chatter of tourists and the ringing of the tills in the local estate agents.