Friday 4th March 1977 – Cherry Vanilla/Police – Nag’s Head
This is the second night of the USA Rock Weekend at The Nag’s Head and the flamboyant Cherry Vanilla is headlining. The Police are the relatively unknown support act – playing what appears to be their third ever gig.
The Police have been formed in late 1976 when 24 year old Curved Air drummer Stewart Copeland teamed up with bassist Gordon ‘Sting’ Sumner (25). They recruited French guitarist Henry Padovani (24) and made their live debut on 1st March 1977 at Alexandra’s, Newport, South Wales, as support act for the opening night of Cherry Vanilla’s UK tour. Sting and Copeland also formed part of Cherry Vanilla’s backing band. Their second gig is two days later at The Roxy in London, with the venture to High Wycombe taking place the following evening.
The Police would use punk as a vehicle to get their music career moving, playing at the French based Mont de Marson Punk Festival in August 1977 with the likes of The Damned and The Clash.
But the punk tag was never going to fit and it was only when the initial punk craze of 1977/78 fell by the wayside that they eventually hit chart success with the re-releases of ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ and ‘Roxanne’ and ‘So Lonely’.
Rewinding back to March 1977, their early set at The Nag’s Head would have included their debut single ‘Fall Out’, plus ‘Landlord’, ‘Kids to Blame’ (Curved Air cover), ‘Clowns Revenge’ and ‘Dead End Job’.
Their debut single had been recorded in February 1977 and was released in May 1977 by Illegal Records. YouTube audio below:
Moving onto the main act for the evening, 33 years old, Cherry Vanilla was a former publicist for David Bowie but formed her first band in 1974. Her 1977 band included Vanilla’s boyfriend/guitarist Louis Lepore and pianist Zecca Esquibel, along with Sting and Copeland. Apparently the latter duo loaned their services and equipment in exchange for £15 a night and the support spot on her tour.
Kris Needs writing for the April 1977 edition of Zig Zag commented on Vanilla’s Nag’s Head performance:
It sure must be something, ‘cos when I saw Cherry at The Nag’s Head, High Wycombe, she just about rocked the fly buttons off every pair of trousers in the joint – and she was suffering with a nasty case of flu. You wouldn’t have known it from her performance, but she was so ill that she arrived at the gig unconscious. Yet she did a full set with whooping passion and still managed two encores…what a trooper!
The set consisted of songs written by Cherry and the band. Cherry’s lyrics are autobiographical – she’s got plenty of eventful past to write about, and this seems like a good place to clue you in.
Pictures of Cherry Vanilla’s performance at The Nag’s Head are available on the Getty Image website and are shown embedded into this page below. You can see Sting on bass and in the background, part of the gig poster for the three day event.
The final night of the USA Weekend at The Nag’s Head would see another flamboyant act take to the boards of the former Blues Loft – Wayne County and The Electric Chairs, the entertainment for the High Wycombe punters tempted to wander down the London Road on Sunday 6th March 1977.
Do you remember any of these nights? It would be great to hear your memories.
Since this article was first published, local live music fan, Dave Tapping, sent the cutting below taken from Sounds magazine, advertising the tour that included the date at The Nag’s Head.
Other dates on the tour include iconic venues, Liverpool Eric’s, Middlesbrough Rock Garden, Birmingham Barbarellas and London Nashville.