Hi John. Just found your website. Where have I been!!
I was in a 1960's band called Size Six. Although we came from Bromsgrove, we played most of our gigs in the Birmingham area. The Black Horse, Hen and Chix, Mackadown, the Music Hall Shrewsbury, The Place at Stoke etc. etc.
We also played in a "Group Competition" at the Handsworth Plaza in about 1962/63 and won vouchers for gear from Ringway Music. We also did several performances on Midland Beat, a radio programme featuring local bands.
Its great to read through the list of bands, many of which we would meet up with after gigs at a certain world renowned Pie Stand. Happy Days.
Best wishes - Gavin Jones
Hi John. Just been given the link to your site. What memories it brought back for me! Although now a resident of Coatesville, Indiana, USA, I was born and brought up in Wolverhampton and the 1960's was my time. Saturday and other nights would see me and my friends down the Civic Hall. Bands such as Slade (who I remember played our school dance as The 'N Betweens).
I remember The Move visiting Beatties record department in the basement with such a crowd to see them. There were so many local venues for bands to play in those days, The Volunteer, The Queens, The Civic, Club Lafayette, and The Mill, to name but a few. There were also many record shops in the town or at least somewhere that sold 45's, EP's and LP's. I guess we all had our favourites - there was what was no more than a shack on the Cannock Road in Park Village, Preedy's, and many, many others.
On a personal note, one thing about living out here is the gratification of just how much British 60's music is still played over here. Radio, TV, they all play our stuff here. Records are still being sold too although mostly in CD form these days but you can go into a shop and buy CDs by all of the top 60's bands. For example, out here I have bought stuff by The Moody Blues, The Who, and of course The Beatles. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed having the grey matter, very grey these days - given a workout.
Yours sincerely, Frank Batkin (former rhythm guitar in "Intent & Purpose") late of Wolverhampton.
Thanks John - so many memories! Nearly all good - sometimes they get confused. What a best seller all these old stories from the groups would make if the grittier versions were told!
It's tough at the top but it's tougher at the bottom. The new generation of performers all want to start at the top and that's why they can't hack it I say. Stick them in the north east clubs for a week or some shite hole army base full of hostile drunken squaddies. Survive that and THEN you can call yourself a popstar. Oh, and make sure the heater in the van doesn't work - that's standard. And if it breaks down you have to walk at least five miles in the freezing cold to find a phone box that doesn't work and spend the rest of the night huddled trying to keep warm. Character building - and after all that, the gig is the easy bit!
Thanks for keeping the good times alive,
Best wishes, Ron Dickson
Hi John - re your bio on Jimmy Powell. I was delighted to see Jimmy getting the sort of recognition he deserves, albeit long after it was due. Even more delighted to read your recent interview and hear that he's well and still singing. I was part of the lighting and entertainments team at the Joint Guild of Students at Aston from about 1967 to 70 and got to know Jimmy quite well. I used to do lightshows on him at Aston and the odd one booked out to other venues (real liquid lightshows!). Ended up as Social Sec and Entscomm chair 69 -70.
Despite his strong R&B roots, Jimmy was an extremely versatile and reliable performer as well as being the ultimate professional. No airs and graces, awkwardness or tantrums, always arrived in good time, with just an absolute readiness to get on stage and do the job as well as possible. Of all the people I worked with in the mid and late sixties/early seventies, there were two who could be guaranteed to have even a hostile or leaden audience eating out of their hands by the end of the second number at the latest. Jimmy and... Geno Washington!
We booked Jimmy regularly and he was a delight to work with, as were the band Ray and Bob on guitar and Derek on drums. They would happily take on the graveyard spot following the headline band at a big gig, when most of the audience have migrated to the bar, and would have the hall well populated and moving within a couple of numbers. Booking Jimmy and the boys ensured a good night for both audience and crew. If you feel able to pass this message on to him with my email address, or just that someone was asking after him, please do. He was a great guy and one of the happiest of memories of gigs in the sixties. Tell him I'm still doing the lightshows and would love to meet up again for a gig... but I'm over 500 miles away on Skye now!
Cheers - Pat Myhill.
Hi John. Was looking at Brum Beat and brought back loads of memories. I am 63 now and live in Colchester, Essex. Left Brum in 1969 aged 22. I used to work at the Chesterfield Club as a barmaid for a year or two. Charlie Phillips owned the place and was a real wheeler dealer. Used to make us re-use left over beer by pouring it into a jug and passing it on to unsuspecting customers. DREADFUL!!!! Wonder what happened to him?
I remember The Modernaires. I went out with one of their friends, Mick Willis, for a few weeks or was it months? Remember getting up on stage on New Year's Eve 1965? and singing some Motown thing. There were others involved too but Charlie was having none of it and made us get down! Went to the lead singer's house for a party afterwards. I remember him clearly and his wife. I also remember going to Shustoke Village Hall in 1964 and Carl Wayne and The Vikings were playing. I also used to go to the Coach & Horses, Coleshill, and the BRS, Tyburn Road? Tuesday nights where they used to have some big names. I only found out quite recently that Carl Wayne had died. My husband Jim and I were in Australia at the time so obviously didn't hear the news.
Regards, Ingrid Ransome (nee Martin) formerly Ashville Avenue, Castle Bromwich.
Back in June this year Jeff (Jake) Commander, one time guitarist with The Andicaps, replacing Jeff Lynne in 1965 and later to be live monitor engineer and the unseen third vocalist on the ELO 'Out of the Blue' tour arrived back in the UK from his base in Boston USA. The word got round amongst some of his old mates and musicians that he was keen to pick up his guitar again and play some live music. Coincidentally, I was just starting a new live music venue at Wishaw Golf Club, Sutton Coldfield, with a resident three-piece band and inviting other musicians to come along and play. Ex Paradox, Ochre Daydream, World of Oz, and Kansas Hook (who backed Gene Vincent on his last ever tour of the UK) drummer Rob Moore is part of that three-piece along with myself and Martin Daly (ex Mike Sheridan and The Nightriders & The Random Band amongst others).
Rob knew ex Sundance and Ochre Daydream keyboard player Steph Griffin and towed me along to an impromptu meeting at John Kerton's place to meet up with Jake and play a few songs together. I didn't know any of the other guys and had only recently started working with Rob (Stick of the Yard) Moore so didn't know what to expect. With just a little trepidation I arrived with the quartet already assembled. Without much prompting the five of us dropped into some good old rock 'n' roll numbers, the inevitable few songs by The Beatles - and "The Traveling Pilbury's" was born. Nothing to do with Jeff Lynne's project with George Harrison and Co. but Jake had travelled a fair old way back to blighty and at our age we're more Pilbury dough than Whistling Wilbury's. And that was it - no egos, no prima donnas, just a bunch of guys getting together and having a ball playing music - amid much laughter and leg pulling. At some stage ex Boulevards bass player Kenny Hepworth arrived on the scene and did a few numbers but two bass players in one band seemed a bit extravagant!
The Wishaw Golf Club gig is an open mic event where guest acts are welcome after Grammar School (that's Rob, Martin and me) have "warmed up" the place. The Traveling Pilbury's started performing regularly soon after, adding a few new 'old' numbers at the fortnightly sessions. We then went on to perform at 'The Gate' in Sutton Town Centre and 'supported' DC Fontana at a charity gig in Coventry. All too soon though, Jake's time in the UK was at an end and he returned to the States in August. He keeps in touch via email and wants to know what we're all up to now that he's not around.
We had such a blast we decided to carry on with The Pilburys and dragged Martin Daly in to 'replace' Jake (well Martin is at Wishaw with me anyway, so it seemed the obvious thing to do!). We've decided were going to put The Pilbury's out on the road in the new year. Any venues interested, we'd welcome the chance to get out there and play! Mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.orgRegards - Graham Savage
Back in 1965 I went to the Plaza, Old Hill for the first time. I caught the 137 bus from Brierley Hill. I was 16 and went with my older sister and looking older than my age I managed to get a membership card. Back then they were savvy to have in your wallet and flash to the girls (see below). I was hooked the minute I walked through the door. Downstairs the smell of hot dogs with smart men and women in suits and frocks, bouffant hair do's. Winkle pickers were just taking over from brothel creepers, string ties, drain pipes with slit and button instead of turn-ups, clothes from Ahearns, Teen and Twenty, Zismans and Austin Roper Dudley C&A Brum to name but a few. Cherry B, Babycham, Ansells Mild & Bitter, Park Drive, Woodbine, Gold Leaf - tipped if you were the sophisticated type.
This was it. Packed to the brim, I could not wait to go upstairs and as I did, the music got louder and you could feel the buzz. On the rotary stage, Ronnie and The Redcaps were belting it out in their burgundy suits and little leather black ties. What a tight band they were. They closed their session and the stage revolved with them playing out to reveal a freshly placed kit on stage which looked all second hand. The drummer emerged with the longest hair I had ever seen. He walked on stage in a jumper and jeans, bent over the drums to reveal a split in his jeans from base to apex - yes he did have pants on. And then, on came two other long haired chaps - one very smart with an immaculate Gretch White Falcon guitar and very long fringed blond hair. Then in complete contrast another with fag in mouth looking dead pan as if he was not bothered or on our planet, plugged in and plucked a few notes. By this time there was a deathly hush over the dance floor and every one was craning their necks to see what was going on as they had not played on as the stage rolled round.
Bet you have guessed by now who this band was. Then it arrived on stage with maracas and tambourines flirting from one place to another. And then the announcement "Ladies and gentlemen, live on stage for the first time in the Midlands, fresh from the Craw Daddy Jazz Club Richmond (I think he said) The Rolling Stones". Mick Jagger got to the mike and just said "Our new single release - "Come On" and the chaos started and lasted the best part of 45 minutes. We were mesmerised by it all - Bill Wyman playing the guitar vertical, Brian Jones never smiled. He just stood in one place all night. Charlie Watts bashing it out with a vacant look with Jagger and Richards covering just about every part of the small stage. The end of the gig and the stage rotates with them playing out. The place is traumatised, everyone froze to the spot wondering what the bloody hell had happened and what to do next. I think that's what we now call the X Factor.
The next week at work that was all I could talk about then a couple of weeks later they were on the telly. I think it was Beat Club or the early Top of The Pops and as they say, the rest is history. The Pretty Things and Yardbirds followed soon after plus all of the best of the Brum bands. What a place! I continued to go there right through to my Scooter Mod days, Move, Amen Corner, Jimmy James, Alan Bown Set and too many others to mention. What a shame it now seems to have reached the end of the line good old Mrs Regan - a pioneer in Brum entertainment.
Love Brumbeat.net Just great to catch up and wander down memory lane. People say what was all the fuss about in the 60s and early 70s. To explain the buzz and all that was happening in the world at the time you just had to wake up each day and get the kick from it. You could feel it, touch it, alas not wanting to bore the kids of today, I just say it was a great time to be alive and be part of.
Regards - Brian Hodgetts
My wife I were visiting our son and his wife plus three month old grandson Noah in Kingston, Ontario in July this year when on a trip into town we were taken to 'Brian's Record Option' located at 381, Princess Street, Kingston, ONT K7L 1B9. The place, as you will see from the picture, is an "Aladin's Cave" of old collectable vinyl plus all other musical formats.
Brian (he's the one in red, in the photo) is a larger than life character who tells me he gets people in all the time taking pictures of the store. I told him all about the Brumbeat site and he was pleased that I had suggested this article. In his younger days Brian had been to the UK and had visited Birmingham but, said he had never heard it referred to as "Brum". On one of many hitchhiking exploits across the UK he flagged down this fellow with a smart manicured beard and horn rimmed glasses who, just before dropping him off after a hundred miles or so revealed that he was no less than Roger Whittaker!!
As a long shot, I mentioned to Brian that I would be interested in an early Ventures LP from 1962 and without more ado he zipped through the aisles stepping over boxes full of vinyl treasures and went straight to the album I wanted. He claimed to know all his stock from memory and said that he mails to collectors all over the world. His email address by the way is email@example.com and his 'phone number is (613) 542-2452. The store itself is in much the same vein as The Diskery in Bristol Road (formerly Hurst Street) Birmingham.
Why not give Brian a call? I bet he will have what you are looking for! I certainly will be spending some time there when I'm next in Canada at Christmas.
Brian Nicholls. Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England.
Having found your web site (BrumBeat.net), and read so many letters from names from the 60's, I had to write and say hi to all the old Brum rockers. Now long retired and living in southern Spain, my reading often goes to the two books Brum Rocked! and Brum Rocked On! Some of you may remember me from my promoting around the pubs and ballrooms of Birmingham. Also the all nighters and concerts at the Birmingham Town Hall.
Have only been in contact with my old mucca Johnny Neal in the last ten years, but still think of those great venues in and around brum. It was sad to read of so many of our old rockers passing on, but also good to hear some of you are still out there rocking away. Anyone who wants to make contact my email is firstname.lastname@example.org Those I still owe money to needn't bother. The last time I met up with the old scene was at a Mother's (Erdington) reunion in Dudley many years ago. Keep rocking!
The 60's in Brum were the best for live bands, specially at The Whiskey a Go Go above Chetwyns on the corner of John Bright Street and Hill Street. The whiskey was unique in the fact that not only did the local bands King Bees, Modernaires, Jugs O'Henry, Moody Blues, Denny Laine, Spencer Davis play there, but also people from the states. "Motown" & "R&B" greats like Sonny Boy Williamson sang there, and all night on Fridays till 8am Saturday mornings and again on Saturday nights till Sunday morning. The owners Chris & Steve Healey were two great guys who were there to welcome us all every night the Whiskey was open. They both wore lowed striped jackets as I remember.
I have been told that Steve still has a book that records all the bands and singers of that time that they booked up, such as The Faces, Long John Baldry, and Gary Farr and The Knockouts. I remember Georgie Fame playing virtually all night. They couldn't get him off the small stage until he collapsed with exhaustion, or lack of stimulation's. Great Brummie characters also frequented The Whiskey; Sean MaHoney, Billy Sutton, Billy & Dodger Thompson, Colin Mythan, Noel Barnes, Chris and Gary Burgess, Jock Ellis, Duffy, Bugsy, Chris Wolsey, Kenny Frazer, Rob Marsh, Popeye, Dicky Martin, Bobby Summers, Henry O'Neil, Eddy The Jew, Jonnie Hutton, Dorian Walford, Black H and Spencer, who were both Brummie DJ's with Caribbean and soul backgrounds.
The place buzzed for three years until it changed hands and became the Marquee in 1967. And the chicks that went there were out of this world. One group were called "The Magnificent Seven". Other male groups of people were nick named "The Martini Set", "The T-set" and the "Coca Cola Boy's". It was cult and leading edge for urban 60's live band music, dance styles and fashions. They used to pack in nearly 250 townies and mods onto both floors, live bands on the 1st floor and DJ's on the top floor. Many dudes where "knocked back" at the door if you weren't part of the crowd, as they could not get everybody in the gaff.
After we crashed out in the mornings at the KD (Kardoma) coffee bar in New Street, we went on to the West End Saturday afternoon dance. We then had the energy to go to the "All Nighters" at the Town Hall. Spencer Davis with Steve Winwood were classic, along with the other Brumbeat bands. The Whiskey attracted people from all over the midlands, including Coventry and London scene, to dance and hear live music of the era that was very ahead of pop culture in England at that time! If the Town Hall gigs weren't on we used to go to "The Twisted Wheel" in Manchester that also played Motown & Blues".
Other live band venues we frequented where the "Lafayette" and "The Connaught Suite" in Wolverhampton. We had a Whiskey reunion in 2007 at Solihull Arden Tennis Club. Organized by Chris & Viv Wolsey and Bobby Summers, 150 original people including the Whiskey owner Steve Healey attended. Unfortunately Chris has passed away. The reunion was DJ'd by the refreshingly knowledgeable Mike Hollis of "Smooth Radio", 40 years after the Whiskey a Go Go closed in 1967. Nobody was knocked back at this gig though!! People came from as far away as Norway, France and all over the U.K. to meet each other again for the first time in all those years. It was a great nostalgic and emotional night for us all.
Great site! I particularly enjoyed the letter from Mike Clifford telling some of our band's story, as I was lead singer with the Satellites as Lee Stevens from around 1960 until I emigrated to Canada in 1966. Mike joined us as rhythm guitar from Robbie Hood and The Merrie Men after Barry Gray left to join Johnny Neal and The Starliners. Attached is an early photo of the band which at that time included Tony Green (lead guitar) who was subsequently replaced by Paul Brunt from Jimmy Powell and The Jumping Jacks. A later version of the band "The Lee Stevens Group" included Mike, with Jimmy Alexander from The Modernaires on tenor sax.
As we were there at just about the start of that terrific era, most of the Brum bands which went on to bigger things were our friends. The late, great, Nicky James, when "between bands", would often guest with us. I still have an 8mm short film of us playing at 'The Moat House' on such an occasion. What a performer he was! John Lodge, before he joined the Moodies, sat in for our bass player, Roger Gauntlett at The Bull's Head on the Cov. Mike listed a few of the venues we played but never mentioned that we opened The Elbow Room, some time around '63.
We had a regular gig at both the Carleton and the Adelphi in West Bromwich. I first saw Denny and the Dips there and they blew us all away. Black snakeskin suits and bleached hair. Wow! The list of venues we played covers most of the favourite places mentioned by your other correspondents, and the names we played, and were mates with, is a who's who of the Brumrock aristocracy. Wonderful days and great memories. Keep up the good work in keeping green the memory of those times.
Best wishes, Norm Crandles
Probably the first band I came into contact with when I first began the fabulous merry-go-round of clubs and later pubs of the West Midlands was "The Mark Five". They would play at Albright Youth Club probably every other week on a Friday and during the week at the Albright and Wilson social Club in Tat Bank, Oldbury. The drummer Mac Poole later went on to join Warhorse and one of the guitarists Mick Pollard joined Velvett Fogg.
Other venues around the area were Tube Products and Chances Social Clubs where we could listen to Syrius and The Planets, Kenny Lane and The Bluetones. The guitarist lived on the Cakemore Estate and was a cripple. The Teenbeats from Tividale with Gary Townsend on guitar, Zena his sister was a bit of all right but thats beside the point, played there as well. This was during the week. The New Cyclones from around the Whiteheath area played Albright Youth Club as well. They appeared on "For Teenagers Only" once. I think the compere was Brian Gulliver.
As I grew older we would venture further afield to The Wagon and Horses, Wall Heath. The Californians and Sight & Sound at a pub on the Wolverhampton road, The Staffordshire Knot? The Montanas would play there as well. The Uglys at Langley Baths. Spencer Davis at The Morgue (Kings Head Bearwood) on a friday night just before Keep On Running. The Move at Old Hill Plaza on a Monday night. I haven't mentioned the top American and British artistes we would see at The Plaza but we are concentrating on West Midland bands. Nautical William (is that still there?) Tommy Burton would be playing.
We would also go to the Adelphi West Bromwich and listen to Barmy Barry playing the records. The Bolero Club Wednesbury (the Drifters "Down At The Club") Tower Ballroom Edgebaston. The Locarno in Brum (Herb Alpert's Spanish Flea will forever stick in my mind!) Smethwick baths Thimbermill. The Hen & Chicks on the Wolverhampton Road, The Black Horse Kidderminster, Mare and Colts (god knows where - I think Kidderminster area. I used to just get in the car and be driven to these places). Droitwich Winter Gardens, Malvern Winter Gardens, Hartelebury Village Church hall! Everywhere there would be bands playing. Great times!
As a 58 year old ex-Londoner and being conceived at the right time, being a teenager AKA "MOD" in the sixties in London was a wonderful time. My LI 150 Lamberetta with chrome side panels, tank aerial (with fox brush), regulation "parka" and Levi stay-press and Hushpuppies, yes a truly great time, I could go on for hours, (I once considered writing a book called "Thoughts of a London Mod", but alas I have not got the patience or the idea on how to do it).
I digress, as I said, I thought it was a great time, and London a great place to be in the sixties, until I married a Brummie girl and read Brum Rocked On! How wrong I was, you see Birmingham being smaller than London, makes it more intimate, the clubs and pubs are more closer to each other, easy access from outside Birmingham, and no matter which club you went to, you always knew the others there. In London, at the time, the "IN" places would have been found in the West End (Marquee, Whisky etc), Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea all in the centre of London. Try going to those places from the other side of London. It was murder to do it on a Saturday, try getting home early Sunday morning, and when you did get there, you didn't know anyone.
I could go on and on, but I think you have the idea. London was great, but I think, to me anyway, what I have been told and read, Birmingham was better. My wife, June told me about the "all nighters" at the Birmingham Town Hall, London did not have a Town Hall to have "all nighters", and if it did, it would have cost a fortune to get to, go to and go home from. As I say, after listening to my wife and reading the book, and the Brum Beat web site, I think I can honestly say I came to live in Birmingham 40 years "too bloody late", for it must have been wonderful here back then. I did come to Birmingham in 1970, did get to go to The Cedar, Rebeccas and Rumrunner after meeting my wife, we split, for thirty years, met up again, finally got married (that's another story) too long for this page. I now I like to think as myself as honorary Brummie.
On a personal note, I love living in Birmingham and I love the people. I shall not be going back to London - they have nothing that Birmingham has.
Thanks for a great site - Dave (ex Saaf Londnaaa)
I've just discovered your Brum Beat (website). What a cracking site, really interesting. I was thinking about the Carlton (Club) and thought I'd let you know of one or two memories. I was one of a gang of lads who went to the place a lot and I suppose we could be termed a rough crew. The bouncers had given up on us I think and sometimes asked us to help out.
Billy Fury was on one night and was really good, and the bouncers had asked us to help them get him out. Well one of the drawbacks of the place from an artists point of view was that the dressing room was in the top left hand corner of the room, and the stage was on the left hand wall in the centre, and the best way out was through the crowd to the fire escape opposite. Anyway, we all formed around Billy and started to push our way across. All of a sudden, Billy jumped about 3 ft in the air and my mate Billy Griffiths turned to me with a great big grin and said "I've just pinched his arse". The joys of being a star!!