I remember him from when we were kids on Pilgrims Way prefab estate. We lived at number 36 and the Watts family were up the road at number 23. Charlie was two years older than me. One day he held me and my sister up with a toy gun and said something like “Hands up – or I’ll fill you with slugs.” I thought he meant those slimy garden pests that used to chew their way through the lettuces growing in our back garden. Years later, some time in the 60s, we met briefly in a pub in Wembley, where he was playing with an R&B group. I didn’t mention the slugs.
My mum and his mum were good friends from the post-war prefab days right up to when both families had moved on to another council estate in Kingsbury. By that time I had left home and Charlie was famous. My mum told me he sometimes turned up to visit his family, dodging the fans and the press.
In 2012 Wembley historian Philip Grant wrote a brief account of Charlie’s formative prefab days and his later rise to fame. You can read and download it here.
Pilgrims Way photo courtesy Brent Archives.