Noel, Russell, Morrissey – and a taste of the Black Country in Hollywood
[gallery] What's the story? Superstars Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Morrissey enjoy a night out at The Cat and Fiddle on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. But look closely and there's a touch of the Black Country lurking among the stars.
The wall of the fabled bar is adorned with none other than an old West Midlands bus blind, bearing names of stopping points such as Essington, Bradley, Coseley, Wednesbury, Stourbridge, Pattingham and Cheslyn Hay.
These places may not exactly have their own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but anyone popping into the Cat and Fiddle for a pint will be given a taste of life on the other side of the world.
Eagle-eyed people will have spotted the familiar names of Black Country areas in a photograph of superstars Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Morrissey. The snap was posted on social network Twitter by Brand.
The Express & Star has found out that they were actually sitting in front of old bus destination blinds, which drivers would use to display where they were going to, and which have been hanging in the Cat and Fiddle for more than 20 years.
The full list is of 60 destinations ranging from West Bromwich to Wombourne, Bilbrook to Blakeley Green, Princes End to Penn Fields and Bilston to Bloxwich. They used to be wound on manually by drivers but today's buses have electronic displays.
The Cat and Fiddle, where the blinds are displayed, has been a British themed pub in Hollywood for more than 30 years and was opened by Londoner Kim Gardner, who was the bassist with bands such as Creation, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke and The Birds. The last group is not to be confused with The Byrds, who had more success with songs such as Mr Tambourine Man.
Both The Birds and Creation featured Ronnie Wood, who would later go on to superstardom with the Rolling Stones.
Ashton Gardner & Dyke recorded three albums and had a number three hit in 1971 with Resurrection Shuffle.
The Cat and Fiddle moved from its original premises on Laurel Canyon Boulevard to 6,350 Sunset Boulevard. Kim Gardner died in 2001 but his widow Paula and daughter Ashlee continue to run the pub.
Ashlee, aged 30, today said the blinds had been bought at an antiques fair in the Midlands by her father – but she did not know where.
She said: "They seem to be popular with the customers and British people are interested in them. Morrissey has been coming here for a long time and we have had him in a couple of times in the last few days.
"Russell Brand started coming recently when he was filming his Brand X show for MTV – he is not a drinker but he loves to talk to everyone here."
Brand speaks openly about being a recovering drug addict and is now teetotal. Meanwhile, the comedian has taken to regaling audie nces of his new stand-up tour with tales of his night at The Cat and Fiddle, and how Gallagher and Morrisey ridiculed him while getting drunk.
But while the picture of Brand and the music legends together got people talking, it was the sight of the Black Country and Staffordshire names on the wall behind them that prompted the most interest on this side of the Atlantic.
Ashlee said her father was proud of his English heritage and 'wanted to celebrate that in LA'.
Kevin Chapman, from the West Midlands Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The blinds would either be from Midland Red or perhaps the old Wolverhampton Transport Corporation."
Where exactly the list of Black Country destinations could have come from remains a mystery. With its British influences, the Cat and Fiddle provides a little piece of home for Mancunian Gallagher, former songwriter and occasional lead singer for Oasis, former Smiths frontman Morrissey and film star Brand.
But its outdoor tables and the blazing California sunshine is distinctly American.
Former Darlaston man Stephen Page, who left his job as a Wolverhampton Council youth worker in the 1990s to move to Hollywood, said he had visited the bar in 1994 when the blinds were on the ceiling.
He has since appeared in TV shows such as Lost and Third Rock From The Sun.
In a video he posted on YouTube about the blinds at the Cat and Fiddle, Mr Page said: "When I moved here in 1994 the signs used to be on the ceiling and they're from the old Midland buses, the canvas rolls that the driver would roll around for the destination."
Destination blinds are seen as collectors' items. One from the former Wolverhampton Transport Corporation or its successor WMPTE believed to date from the 1970s sold for £82 on eBay in May.
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