14 July 1978 – Lurkers/White Cats – Town Hall

A new live music Club was launched at High Wycombe Town Hall on Friday 14th July 1978 with the ‘Peppers’ Club promoting a ‘New Wave/Punk’ night featuring London’s The Lurkers, Damned exile Rat Scabies’ White Cats and local band The Vents.

Peppers appears to be joint venture run between local promoter Ron Watts and Wycombe District Council, with the aim of offering membership to gig goers in a similar way to the much longer running Friars Club at Aylesbury.  Punters attending the Lurkers gig were given free membership cards with the promise of cheaper admission at subsequent Town Hall gigs.

The ‘Club’ idea was also intended as an attempt to prevent violence at gigs. The principle being if you caused trouble you would have your membership revoked and thus not admitted to future gigs under the Peppers name.

The Lurkers supported by White Cats – High Wycombe Town Hall Friday 14th July 1978 – Rezillos coming soon too! – Bucks Free Press advert from the wycombegigs.co.uk archive

The opening night for Peppers took place midway through a year that had slowly been taken over by music related blockbuster films ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’.  By mid-July 1978, ‘You’re The One That I Want’ by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the ‘Grease’ soundtrack had been at No.1 in the UK singles chart for five weeks.  In the album charts, ‘Saturday Night Fever’ had been sitting at the top for 11 weeks!

The live music scene at the time was about as far removed from this summer of cheese as you could imagine. A gig at the Town Hall proved a welcome relief from the increasingly nauseating Travolta based music being inflicted via national radio and TV… and the ‘Disco’ nights at the same venue on Tuesday evenings!

The Lurkers, headliners for The Peppers opening night, had formed in West London in the latter part of 1976.  They played some of their early London gigs at the iconic Roxy Club venue in early 1977.  Gigs later that year saw them support the likes of The Jam, Eater and Slaughter and The Dogs.

They released their first record on Beggars Banquet – a track titled ‘Shadow’/’Love Story’ in July 1977. A second single, ‘Freak Show’/’Mass Media Believer’ followed in October 1977, both with limited success.  Their third single, ‘Ain’t Got a Clue’/’Ooh!, Ooh! I Love You’ was released in May 1978 and proved to be their biggest hit – reaching 45 in the UK singles chart.  Their debut album, ‘Fulham Fallout’ was released in June 1978, while another single, ‘I Don’t Need To Tell Her’/ ‘Pills’ was released in the same month as their High Wycombe Town Hall gig and earned them an appearance  on Top of The Pops on 3rd August 1978.

Their line-up at the time of the Town Hall gig is believed to be Howard Wall (vocals), Pete Stride (guitar), Nigel Moore (bass) and Pete ‘Manic Esso’ Haynes (drums).

Ain’t Got A Clue – The Lurkers
Front cover of their 1978 single of Beggars Banquet – with free GOLD flexi-disc

Meanwhile, The White Cats and been formed around January 1978 following the latest split-up by punk originals The Damned – drummer Rat Scabies (real name Chris Miller) recruiting Kelvin Blacklock (vocals), Eddie Cox (guitar) and Steve Turner (bass).  Blacklock had been a member of early early punk band London SS.  The White Cats played as headliners at The Nag’s Head on 6th July 1978 and clearly had impressed promoter Ron Watts to bring them as support for The Lurkers – it was perhaps a role that they didn’t enjoy?

I’m indebted again to a couple of friends who kept diaries during 1978 and both attended The Lurkers event at The Town Hall. First up, ‘Buzz’ recalls The White Cats set as being ‘very aggressive’ and added: “I wasn’t impressed by their performance, and it seemed neither was anyone else. They got absolutely no reaction from the audience whatsoever.  The White Cats were pi**ed off, and called one song ‘Bollo*ks to Wycombe Town Hall’.  No-one seemed to care.”

Meanwhile, ‘Tapps’ also recalls the attitude of The White Cats and confirms they introduced their final song of the evening as ‘Bollo*ks to Wycombe Town Hall’.

The White Cats were fairly short lived as they struggled to find their own identity. Their set included The Damned’s ‘Stab Your Back’ and another Damned song in the making, ‘Second Time Around’.  The latter appeared on The Damned 1979 album ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, but renamed as the title track.  Other songs in their set-list that night would most likely have included ‘Escalator Love’, ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Junkyard Angels’, ‘Detectives’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Shotgun Lovers’ – all recorded for John Peel Sessions in April and August 1978.

‘Buzz’ also recalls The Lurkers in his 1978 diary, saying: “The Lurkers played a fast, exhilarating set to a larger audience, some of which may have been their fans from London. From start to finish there was a massive area of pogoing and we all really exhausted ourselves! There was no violence at all.”

So the Club idea appeared to have worked, at least for this gig?

A review of Town Hall gig also appeared in ‘Rock On’ magazine and I include the complete text below as it collaborates with the memories from ‘Buzz’ and ‘Tapps’ :

“The hall was half full and the atmosphere wasn’t exactly electrifying either, which was disappointing when an exciting band like the Lurkers are appearing.

First on were a young band called the Vents. A lack of aggression and attack produced a rather timid less than ordinary performance.  The only memorable thing was the contorted expressions worn by the lead guitarist.

Next on were White Cats. With the inimitable Rat Scabies. Their performance was an improvement on the Rainbow showing, but only just.  Vocalist Kelvin Blacklock was a poor shadow of Billy Idol, and proceeded to act the fool throughout.  There was a good performance of the Damned’s Stab Your Back, but that apart, they were predictable, and when trying to be nasty, merely irritating.

Finally, on came the Lurkers, and alter a disastrous start when Pete Stride’s guitar strings broke during Ain’t Got A Clue, they proceeded with a superb rock ‘n’ roll performance.

The set included Be My Prisoner, Shadow, Then I Kicked Her, Total War, and the new single, Pills. Howard Wall was brilliant, and Esso gave a stunning performance on drums during the unexpected break. All in all a memorable gig, confirming their brilliance on stage and album.  But the Lurkers apart, the evening was a pretty poor one.”

For your listening and viewing pleasure:

The White Cats – Second Time Around – audio – demo 1978

The Lurkers – I Don’t Need To Tell Her – Revolver TV show 1978

The Lurkers – Shadow – live video – Red Cow, Hammersmith 1978

References:

https://www.thelurkers.co.uk/history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lurkers

https://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/whitecats.htm

 

30 June 1978 – The Skids – Nag’s Head

Scottish punk/new wave band The Skids played their first gig outside of Scotland or London on Friday 30th June 1978 (*) with a date at a Ron Watts promoted night at The Nag’s Head.

Skids – Return To London (and make first visit to High Wycombe) advert from Record Mirror – June 1978

(*) I’ve seen the date of The Nag’s Head appearance documented as both Thursday 29th June 1978  and Friday 30th June 1978. – The Thursday date was certainly the originally intended date and would tie in with the usual Thursday ‘Rock Night’s under Ron Watts’ promotion.  The music paper listings for that week show Thursday 29th June but I was delighted (and more confused) to discover the above tour advert in The Record Mirror showing The Skids ‘Return To London’ dates with The Nag’s Head appearance indicated the 30th June. My theory on why it might have been moved is below.

The Skids had been formed in 1977 in Dunfermline by then 19-year-old guitarist Stuart Adamson. He recruited Bill Simpson (bass), Thomas Kellichan (drums) and a 16 year old Richard Jobson on vocals. They played their first gig in August 1977 and released their first record in February 1978, the Charles EP on the No Bad record label (Tracks: ‘Charles’, ‘Reasons’ and ‘Test Tube Babies’). The EP was championed by John Peel and led to a rapid rise in their popularity away from their homeland.

Skids 1978 – Bill Simpson, Richard Jobson, Stuart Adamson and Thomas Kellichan

The Skids subsequently made their first journey ‘down south’ during April 1978, playing well-known London venues; including The Rochester Castle (Stoke Newington), Red Cow (Hammersmith), Hope and Anchor (Islington) and The Nashville (Kensington). The trip coincided with a record deal being signed with Virgin Records.

Their return south in June 1978 followed a first John Peel session recorded on 16th May 1978 and first broadcast three days later. The tracks were: ‘Of One Skin’, ‘Open Sound’, ‘Contusion’, ‘Night and Day’ and live favourite ‘TV Stars’.

The tour dates show The Skids playing a 28th June 1978 show at The White Hart in Acton.  Listings show this gig with the Scottish lads supporting Tubeway Army (Gary Numan’s electronic band in the making).  By some accounts it was a violent evening at a venue famous for its ‘punk’ nights.  I also noted a couple of other interesting gigs from the same weekly listing. The Clash made their Aylesbury Friars debut on Wednesday 28th June 1978 in front of a sell-out 1,000 plus crowd – they had played the Nag’s Head in November 1976 in front of barely 100 people!  On Thursday 29th June 1978, David Bowie played before around 20,000 fans at London’s Earl Court.  He had made a very early appearance in High Wycombe during 1966 – also playing to less than 100 people.  Perhaps the original date was moved to avoid clashing with The Bowie date? Members of The Skids were big fans of Bowie? Meanwhile, if you stayed at home to watch Top of The Pops on the Thursday night, you could have seen Dave Lee Travis presenting a typical show for the year – culminating in John Travolta and Olivia Newton John’s – ‘You’re The One That I Want’ video being shown for the third consecutive week. It would remain at No.1 for a further seven weeks! There was hardly a ‘punk’ revolution storming the top of the charts in the summer of 1978!

Back at The Nag’s Head the crowd for The Skids was also around the 100 mark. Promoter Ron Watts recalls the evening in his 2006 autobiography – 100 Watts – A Life In Music, saying:

“The Skids [were] yet another band with obvious massive potential. Richard Jobson was a dynamic singer, not blessed with the greatest of voices but he could handle a crowd. They also had Stuart Adamson, a guitarist who went onto even greater things with Big Country before sadly committing suicide in America. That was a real tragedy; Stuart had so much talent, yet he couldn’t cope with the situation.”

Success for The Skids would come relatively quickly following their Nag’s Head appearance. Within 12 months they had recorded three further sessions for John Peel and released a trio of singles that would propel them into the limelight.  Their debut on Virgin, ‘Sweet Surburbia’, was released in September 1978, while their ‘Wide Open’ EP released in October 1978 featured the storming lead track ‘The Saints Are Coming’.  Both singles had minor chart success but that was blown out of the water with the release of ‘Into The Valley’ in March 1979 – reaching No.10 in the UK charts and earning them regular appearances on Top of the Pops.  The track was taken from their debut album, ‘Scared to Dance’ – released in February 1979.  In November 1979 – less than 18 months after their Nag’s Head show, they had sold out The Rainbow Theatre in London.

For your listening and viewing pleasure – starting from the era The Skids played The Nag’s Head

Skids – 1st John Peel session for BBC Radio One – recorded 16th May 1978

The Saints Are Coming – The Skids – BBC Top of the Pops – November 1978

Into The Valley – The Skids –BBC Top of the Pops – March 1979

References and further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skids_(band)

http://www.the-skids.com/WEBPROTECT-timeline.htm

http://auralsculptors.blogspot.com/2012/01/tubeway-army-early-years.html

https://writewyattuk.com/2017/05/26/absolute-game-on-reconvening-the-skids-the-richard-jobson-interview/

2 June 1978 – Penetration plus support – Town Hall

County Durham’s favourite punk band, Penetration, played a headline slot at High Wycombe Town Hall on Friday 2nd June 1978.  Their appearance was during a break from their support slot on a national tour with The Buzzcocks.  Support for Penetration at The Town Hall was originally billed as London based Reggae Regulars but was changed closer to the date of the gig to a selection of more local bands.  Although not particularly well attended, the evening was a chance to catch a band that were gaining ever increasing positive reviews and attention through the national music press.

Penetration – montage of memorabilia from High Wycombe Town gig – 2nd June 1978 – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

Penetration had formed towards the tail end of 1976 with a line-up of Pauline Murray (vocals), Robert Blamire (bass), Gary Smallman (drums,) and Gary Chaplin (guitar).  The band was named after a Stooges’ song.  They released their first single, ‘Don’t Dictate’ in November 1977 on Virgin Records and the follow-up, ‘Firing Squad’ was released the month before their visit to High Wycombe.

Their tour with The Buzzcocks had seen them take in another date in Buckinghamshire – Saturday 6th May 1978 seeing them support Manchester’s finest punk export at Aylesbury Friars.  However, the High Wycombe date was a rare chance for Penetration to headline at a decent sized venue outside of a major city.

By the time of their Town Hall appearance, original guitarist Gary Chaplin had left the band – departing in March 1978 and being replaced by Penetration fanatic, 19 year old Neale Floyd. Chaplin had written the entire band’s music to date, with 20 year old Patti Smith fan, Murray providing the lyrics.  During my research for this article, I found a Sounds interview from the 27 May 1978 issue. It reveals that Robert Blamire had just ‘discovered’ his first song – saying: “I came up with the bassline at a soundcheck.” Pauline Murray added that the song proved to be an ‘inspiration’ and she eventually added lyrics, including the following:

Caught up in the scheme/Mixed up in a moving dream
Music in the motion/Rhythm just repeat, repeat
Echo multiplies and waves of sound are lost in space/Motion in the wheels
And pulling all the strings

The song would become ‘Movement’ and get an airing at High Wycombe Town Hall and in Phil Sutcliffe’s Sounds article, the journalist states: “‘Movement’ is probably the crucial song in Penetration’s development, the convincing assertion that they are far more than punk buzzsaw merchants.” He added: “The vocal and and words feel just right with Pauline embodying actual power and potential rather than the impotent, straight-jacketed aggression which characterised early punk. This is the mood of ’78 (I hope), action instead of self-pity”.

I’m grateful again to my long-time friend Buzz who not only attended the gig but also wrote his immediate thoughts in his 1978 diary. The listings for this gig in the music press had the support line-up down as The Ventilators, Vice Creams and The Yonkers.  However Buzz confirms via his diary that the latter two bands didn’t play and were replaced by The Mystery Girls. A band of this name had been due to play at The Newlands Club in October 1977 but they never appeared.  I assume they were a band from the High Wycombe area? I have no more information at this stage, so if you are able to add any background, please get in touch.

Meanwhile, The Ventilators were a High Wycombe based band consisting of far more familiar faces at the time.  They were Kris Jozajtis (guitar and vocals), Kevin Smith (guitar and vocals), Mark White (drums) and Carlton Mounsher (bass).  Jozatjis, White and Mounsher had originally played together during the latter months of 1976 and early 1977 in Deathwish.  Later in 1977 they regenerated into The Pretty and then The Party.  Buzz recalls that the trio were still at school at the time of the Penetration gig in March 1978 and their new band were introduced by promoter Ron Watts before coming on stage as: ‘one of the best bands to come from Wycombe for years.’

Buzz’s diary recalls the performance of The Ventilators as ‘excellent’ but also commented that he was, “dismayed by the astonishingly small audience”.  He added: “By the time Penetration started, the audience was still smaller than the group deserved but at least everyone came to the front of the stage and thus created a reasonable mass of people.”

The small audience can be attributed to a number of factors, including the chaotic and violent scenes at the previous Town Hall gig – the 28 April 1978 appearance by Siouxsie and The Banshees – an evening where the moronic actions of those playing up to the stereotypical ‘punk’ and ‘skinhead’ factions, ruined the enjoyment for the vast majority who had come along to simply enjoy the music. In an attempt to try a fool the ‘thickos’ (as described by gig promoters of the time), details of up and coming concerts were kept low-key. Outcome, the ‘thickos’ struggled to figure out when and where the gigs were. While ‘music-lovers’ (i.e. those who could read), turned up as normal.  Result, smaller audience and no trouble but bands and promoters were left wondering whether it was all worth the bother.

My friend Buzz can thankfully be included within the ‘music lovers’ group and commenting on the sounds he heard that evening, he wrote in his diary: “Musically, Penetration were very good – though they seemed to have surprisingly little equipment. Also, the three blokes had very little stage presence, but this was compensated by Pauline, who was excellent.  Despite demanding a second encore we only got one.”

Penetration line-up – May 1978 – as published in Sounds 27 May 1978

Songs played by Penetration on that evening on June 1978 would have most likely included:

  • New Recruit
  • MoneyTalks
  • Don’t Dictate
  • Firing Squad
  • Movement
  • Life’s a Gamble
  • Future Daze
  • Stone Heroes
  • Lovers of Outrage
  • Vision
  • Nostalgia (Buzzcocks cover)
  • Free Money (Patti Smith cover)
  • VIP
  • Silent Community

They would recruit an additional guitarist in July 1978 when Fred Purser joined. A first John Peel session was recorded the same month and in October 1978 they released their debut album, ‘Moving Targets’.  A headline performance at Aylesbury Friars followed in November 1978 and a second album, ‘Coming Up For Air’, was released in September 1979.  They split-up the following month to concentrate on separate projects.  However, in 2001 they reformed with original members Pauline Murray and Robert Blamire.  They were later joined by former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Don’t Dictate – Penetration – live Manchester – August 1977

Note classic example of ‘Thicko’ being dealt with by ‘Music Lovers’ at around 1:20.

Firing Squad – Penetration – audio of single – released May 1978

Life’s A Gamble – Penetration – live Reading Festival – August 1978

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penetration_(band)

23 June 2018 – No More Heroes 4 – Wycombe Arts Centre

The 4th annual ‘No More Heroes’ punk festival took place in High Wycombe on Saturday 23rd June 2018.  There was a change of venue this year, with the slightly bigger ‘Wycombe Arts Centre’ in Desborough Road, taking over from The Phoenix Bar in Bridge Street.

The event kicked-off at 11am and ran right through until midnight, with close to 20 bands taking to the stage throughout the day.

The running order was expected to be the following:

11-11.30 BRASH BULLETS

 11.40-12.10 INNER CITY

 12.20-12.50 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

 1.00-1.30 AMBITION DEMOLITION

 1.40-2.10 CHINESE BURN

 2.20-2.50 THE ANORAKS

 3.00-3.30 THE DOLE

 3.40-4.10 NUFFIN

 4.20-4.50 COMPLETE DISFUNCTION

 5.00-5.30 SCREAMING DEAD

 5.40-6.10 HUNG LIKE HANRATTY

 6.20-6.50 SATELITTES

 7.00-7.30 BLUE CARPET BAND

 7.40-8.10 THE KULT 45s

 8.20-8.50 MORGELLONS

 9.00-9.30 THE FECKIN EJITS

 9.40-10.20 ACID ATTACK

 10.30-11.10 CHARRED HEARTS

 11.20-12.00 WITCHDOKTORS

Event links

https://www.facebook.com/events/1326673124115911/permalink/1602443129872241/

http://www.arts4every1.com/events/no-more-heroes-punk-festival

PLEASE SUPPPORT LIVE MUSIC IN HIGH WYCOMBE

Here’s a picture of Public Service Announcement performing at the 2018 event taken from their Facebook page.

Public Service Announcement – No More Heroes 2018

Feel free to post or let me know any videos or pictures you have from this event.

24 May 1968 – Jethro Tull – Nag’s Head

The Nag’s Head hosted an early appearance for folk/prog rock giants in the making Jethro Tull on Friday 24th May 1968.  The band, formed in late 1967, had released just one single at the point of their Nag’s Head appearance and their debut album had yet to be recorded.  Less than a year later, their first vinyl long-player had hit the top 10 UK album charts and by the early 1970’s they were touring the world playing huge arenas.

Jethro Tull adverts from The Bucks Free Press for gigs at The Nag’s Head and The Crown, Marlow – May 1968

Promoter Ron Watts recalls the gig in his 100 Watts – A Life In Music – autobiography, where he claims he trialled an admission charge increase method.

“The normal price of admission was six shillings, but rather than reduce the price for an unknown band as Tull were then, I charged 6/6 (32 ½ p). I gambled that people would think that the higher price meant Tull were well-known, and potential customers would be too embarrassed to admit to their friends that they’d never heard of the night’s star attraction. The gamble worked, the place was full and Tull did a great set.”

The original band members had met in Blackpool. They found success after moving south to base themselves in Luton and settling on the name Jethro Tull.  Scottish born Ian Anderson on lead vocals and flute was a main focus, with other band members at the time of their High Wycombe appearance being Micky Abrahams (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums) and Glen Cornick (bass).  They released their first single, “Sunshine Day/Aeroplane” on MGM records in February 1968, although it was miscredited to ‘Jethro Toe’.

Following their appearance at The Nag’s Head, on 29th June 1968 Jethro Tull played the first ever free concert at Hyde Park, along with The Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Footage of the concert was filmed by Pathe news and has since appeared in documentaries about the band.  In August 1968 they appeared at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Sunbury-on-Thames and by most accounts, this was the point they became recognised by the national music press and their career blossomed as a result.

Support to Jethro Tull on 24th May 1968 were The Nag’s Head houseband Dynaflow Blues.  They would also share the bill with Jethro Tull at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Sunbury-on-Thames in August 1968.

Watts also promoted a Jethro Tull gig in Marlow the following week, with a show at The Crown. Watts added in his autobiography: “Six months later Tull’s first album, This Was, had made the top ten album charts and the band had been the hit of that summer’s festival circuit. People were coming up to me in awe, saying, “You booked them, and they became stars.” It was nothing to do with me, I’d hardly heard of Jethro Tull when they played the Nag’s, but they helped me to get a reputation for being able to spot up and coming acts. That meant people were happy to see bands they didn’t know, because they thought that a few weeks later they’d be watching Top of the Pops and telling everyone that they’d seen all those performers playing at the Nag’s.”

It doesn’t appear that Jethro Tull ever returned to play High Wycombe again but there is another connection with the area as Ian Anderson moved to live in Buckinghamshire for a number of years from the late 1970’s through to the early 1980’s – residing in a farm house in Radnage – a village about 7 miles from High Wycombe.  Footage of the farm (with recording studio added), plus the 1968 Hyde Park film, appears in the YouTube clip below.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Fish ‘n’ Sheep & Rock ‘n’ Roll – Ian Anderson documentary – Channel 4 1987

Hyde Park footage is from 1:30 – filmed 29th June 1968
Footage at Radnage is from around 27:30

References:

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/hyde-pk-6-29-68.html

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/sunbury2.html

12 May 1978 – Vibrators/Depressions (cancelled) – Town Hall

High Wycombe’s 1978 tale of gigs that ‘never were’ continued on Friday 12th May when The Vibrators date at the Town Hall was pulled just days beforehand.  Crowd trouble at Town Hall gigs earlier in 1978 had prompted promotors to keep selected gig line-ups secret until the week leading up the actual date but, on this occasion, it was a tragic incident at a Vibrators gig in Preston that prompted the cancellation.

High Wycombe Town Hall gigs adverts May and June 1978 from The Buckshee Press – plus NME cutting for cancelled Vibrators gig at The Town Hall

The 12th May 1978 gig date at The Town Hall had been promoted some weeks previous with a line-up of ‘Special Guests’.  Local music fans interested in attending had to keep a keen eye on the music press, coupled with regular visits to the record shops in High Wycombe Town centre for a chance of confirming who might be playing.

The cancellation of the gig was confirmed in the NME published on Thursday 11th May 1978 when they reported a shocking incident at a Vibrators and Depressions gig at Preston Polytechnic on the evening of Saturday 6th May 1978.  The report read: “One person died and three others were hospitalised after a riot broke out between sets at a gig in Preston last Saturday.”  The incident happened after support band The Depressions had just finished their set.  The NME Phil McNiell’s commented in the Thrills section: “The audience seated in a kind of auditorium around the dance floor, watched with horror as two rival football gangs – Preston North End and Blackpool supporters – fell on one another wielding chairs, tables, metal barriers and whatever else they could lay their hands on.” As the incident unfolded, both bands were back in the dressing and unware of the brawl taking place.  Two people were left unconscious on the floor, with 22-year-old Henry Bailey of Higher Walton, near Preston, later dying of head injuries on his way to hospital.  The Vibrators, understandably, did not take the stage to play their set, with the venue swarmed by police in attempt to try control the chaotic and destressing scenes.

The incident made the national paper headlines and subsequently tour dates scheduled for the following few days at Blackburn and Sunderland and then High Wycombe were cancelled by the tour agency. However, other venues were not so quick to make a decision.  The High Wycombe date on the 12th May was relatively quickly replaced by a show at Manchester Rafters, while the majority of the remaining dates were left unchanged.

The NME report also claimed a team of 70 detectives were assigned to the case, with the officer in charge stating: “[We] are prepared to track down every single person at the college that night in order to find the killer.” Looking back some 40 years after the incident, it appears that nobody was ever convicted.

So, it was sobering report from a gig at Preston that consequently left the High Wycombe punters without another weekend gig and a chance missed to see a band who were just breaking into the charts having been part of the original punk scene two years previous and who played The Nag’s Head in both September and November 1976.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Automatic Lover – Vibrators – BBC Top of the Pops – 16 March 1978

Vibrators –4 songs BBC Old Grey Whistle Test – 4 April 1978

3 May 1968 – Rainbow FFolly release debut album on Parlophone

Rainbow FFolly, High Wycombe’s pop band in the making, debut album ‘Sallies Fforth’ hit the record shops on Friday 3rd May 1968.  With heavy pop and psychedelia influences from the time, the band were looking to hit the big-time, with 21 year old vocalists and lead guitarist Jonathan Dunsterville stating (with tongue in cheek) that his ambition from fame would be to own a ‘gold plated house’.  His dream didn’t quite work out but the album has since become a collector’s item and prompted the band to reform and release a follow-up some 38 years later!

Sallies Forth – 1968 Parlophone release from High Wycombe’s Rainbow FFolly

Rainbow Ffolly consisted of Jonathan Dunsterville, 21 years old (lead guitar), Richard Dunsterville, 23 (guitar) Richard Newell,19 (bass) and Stewart Osborn, 21 (drums).  The band had originally formed in early 1967 under the name ‘Force Four’ and had played many of the local smaller venues, including High Wycombe’s Needham Bowl and Townfield House.

Band ‘leader’ Jonathan Dunsterville was a former student at ‘High Wycombe College of Technology and Art’ and designed the cover for the album which had been partly recorded in the front room of Stewart Osborn’s house in London Road, High Wycombe – however, the main recording had been carried out at John Jackson’s legendary studio in Rickmansworth. The recordings were intended as demo tracks for distribution to record companies but EMI were so impressed they agreed to issue the recordings ‘as is’ on their Parlophone sister label – the same label the used at the time by The Beatles.

During my research for this article I found several mentions of the band in the 1968 editions of the Bucks Free Press. An article from 3 May 1968 – the day the album was released reports that a reception for the album was held at the EMI offices in London the week before its release. The BFP feature says the group made their way to the occasion using their ‘trusty ambulance’.  It also reports the fact that fans of the group had gathered in Hazlemere (at the home of Manager John Sparrowhawk) earlier that day to wish them off on their trip to London.  The ambulance they used for transporting their gear to gigs had been decorated with a clockwork key on the roof, rainbow coloured wheel hubs and cartoon caricatures of the group on the windows.  The band themselves wore what was their usual regalia – an assortment of Edwardian clothes, embroidered silks and silver jewellery.

Rainbow Ffolly and their clockwork ambulance – picture from www.rainbowffolly.com

 

The reception included a photo session with Paul Fleviz and Beatle label mate George Harrison was apparently on-hand to watch the boys pose for photos on top of the ambulance.  The photo also attracted the attention of nearby office workers, while a female traffic warden was put-off ticketing the ambulance via the gift of a Rainbow FFlolly card.  The band then continued their photo session in other well-known locations in London before ending the day by visiting HMV records in Oxford Street to see their album on special display.  Back in High Wycombe, local record outlets Percy Prior and W.H.Smith also had picture displays of the band to promote the release.

Rainbow FFolly – montage of press cutting from the Bucks Free Press – 1968 – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

The album was followed by a single release, ‘Drive My Car’ (not The Beatles song). In August 1968 another Bucks Free Press article revealed they were due to play at the famous Star Club in Hamburg – the same venue where The Beatles had made a name for themselves earlier in the 1960’s.  The feature also said a tour of Canada had been planned – starting in Montreal and taking in most of the country.  Radio and television shows were also said to be planned in Canada.  By contrast UK dates appear to be fairly low-key but perhaps exclusive affairs?  Following the release of the album they played at a number of London clubs, including ‘Hatchetts’ in Piccadilly, while the BFP article from August 1968 claimed the band ‘have plans for a tour of East Anglia’.

The album also featured on BBC Radio One’s ‘Saturday Club’ show on 13 July 1968, where DJ Keith Skues gave the band close to 20 minutes of airtime. Sadly, for the band, the album and single crept under the radar and they split-up later in 1968.  However, over the years the Rainbow Ffolly recordings have acquired cult status.  That demand was partly responsible for the band reforming in 2016 to bring out a long-awaited follow-up – aptly named ‘Ffollow Up’.

There are a number of articles on the web relating to Rainbow Ffolly. I’ve listed what I have found below, including a website set up by the band in 2016 at the time of their new album.  Do you have connection with the band or remember seeing the band back in 1968?  Please get in touch, or post in the comments section.  Did they ever get to perform on Canadian TV?

For your listening pleasure

Sallies Forth – Rainbow Ffolly – full audio of 1968 album

References

http://www.rainbowffolly.com/ – band website launched 2016

https://www.loudersound.com/features/rainbow-ffolly-release-second-album-48-years-after-their-debut – Louder Sound interview with bassist Roger Newell from September 2016

http://www.radiolondon.co.uk/sixties/rainbowff/reccoll/rffstory.html – article from Record Collector magazine published in November 1999 – including comments from Roger Newell

http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/09/rainbow-ffolly-interview-with-roger.html – another interview with Roger Newell from 2011

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Ffolly