Duster Bennett playing a white Fender Stratocaster guitar
at Godalming’s Gin Mill Club
Picture from Duster Bennett Jumping at Shadows,
the authorised biography by Martin Celmins

 

Anthony Robert “Duster” Bennett was a British blues singer and musician who recorded live at the Gin Mill Club at the Angel Hotel in Godalming on the 17th April 1969 his album, Bright Lights, Big City. His album was released on the Blue Horizon label. Stella Sutton (whom he later married) sang the backing vocal, Peter Green played the six strings Fender bass, and Anthony ‘Top’ Topham played lead guitar. He was a friend of Peter Green who founded Fleetwood Mac and helped Bennett sign to Mac’s label, Blue Horizon

Duster Bennett attended music schools in Kingston-upon-Thames and Guildford. He was a one-man band playing electric guitar, harmonica, bass drum and hi-hat cymbal and had a faithful following.

Bennett married Stella Mary Sutton in 1969 and they lived in Dorking before moving to Shropshire. He met his death at the age of 29 when, after performing with Memphis Slim (1915-1988) the American blues pianist, singer, and composer in 1976, he fell asleep when driving home in Warwickshire, collided with a car and was killed.

A book has been written by Martin P Clemins on Bennett, Jumping at Shadows (2007). The title was taken from Jumpin’ at Shadows written by Bennett and performed by Fleetwood Mac.


Now, what can you say - there isn’t much to tell
But I’m going down hill, but I blame myself
I've been - jumpin’ at shadows, thinkin’ - about my life


Gin Mill Club


This club was held in Angel Court and opened on the 14th January 1969 and continued until the early 1970s. Angel Court was where the historic Angel Hotel once stood fronting the High Street. The hotel frontage was demolished in the 1930s and Angel Court created. Part of the remaining hotel buildings on the left were reinstated as ‘The Angel Hotel’ and c.1969-77 owned by Len and Anne Berry. The old function room remained at the end of Angel Court and it was here that the Gin Mill Club was held. Today it is What-Not’s.

Jean-Jacques ‘JJ’ Burnel played at the Gin Mill Club and became a musician, producer and songwriter, known as the bass guitarist with the British rock band The Stranglers since their inception in 1974 in Guildford and originally known as The Guildford Stranglers. The band played again in 2013 at G Live in Guildford with JJ Burnel on bass and lead vocals.

J J Burnel moved to Godalming in c.1964 when he was about 12. He was born in England to French parents. His father was a chef and his mother was front of house running a thatched restaurant in which he grew up. His father, Roger E C Burnel, was listed in the British Phone Books at the restaurant, ‘The Little Thatch’ in Meadrow, Farncombe, from 1967-1970. J J Burnel worked in the restaurant every weekend from the age of 14. He attended the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, until 1969.

Godalming Museum © 2013

 

 

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