Musician artist Stella Tooth visits Eel Pie Island Museum and learns of “the big bang” of rock

Musician artist Stella Tooth visits Eel Pie Island Museum and learns of “the big bang” of rock

My June column for hyper local online newspaper Nub News is about Eel Pie Island Museum, which reopens its doors today.

The date is significant as it would have been the birthday of Arthur Chisnall. Chisnall set up a music club at Eel Pie Island Hotel, which he managed from 1956-1967. There he ran his ‘social experiment’ which looked at how to help the youth of the day.

Museum curator Michele Whitby calls him, “a pioneer in youth work.”

Michele Whitby Curator Eel Pie Island Museum

Eel Pie Island where “the big bang” of rock occured

Eel Pie Island Hotel was where “the big bang” of rock music happened. It is also where global superstars like the Rolling Stones played early in their careers. Its history has long fascinated me as I specialise in musician art and am resident artist at another iconic music venue, the Half Moon Putney.

Signed sticks and drumhead by the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts

Digital painting of Don Craine of iconic Downliners Sect

Don Craine (pictured below) is a member of iconic blues-based Downliners Sect. The Sect were one of the groups that played regularly at Eel Pie Island during the early 1960s. He said, “There was a sense of pleasurable anticipation from the moment we crossed the bridge to the island.”

You can find my digital painting of Don in the article (link below). The original artwork is available as a digital print and also on music tees.

Digital drawing Don Craine of the Downliners Sect by Stella Tooth. To purchase contact
To view Don Craine of the Downliners’ Sect’s line on music tees in musician artist Stella’s Red Bubble shop, click here.

The Sect made the Pretty Things seem positively suave in comparison!

The Downliners Sect stylistically are similar to blues-based bands like The Pretty Things and the Rolling Stones. According to Wikipedia,  critic Richie Unterberger  wrote: “The Sect didn’t as much interpret the sound of Chess Records as attack it, with a finesse that made the Pretty Things seem positively suave in comparison.” Apparently Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart even auditioned for a place in the band! 

Read the full story!

To read the full article and discover the fascinating story of the only inhabited island in the tidal Thames click here.

Michele says, “There are so may facets to the island’s story…the music, the boatyards, the pioneering characters and the thousands of people, past and present, who have been positively affected by its charm.”

The museum’s £5 Annual Passport is designed on the original membership cards which the police required the club to issue.


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