23 January 1980 – Ramones/The Boys – Aylesbury Friars

Wednesday 23rd January 1980 was the evening when many music fans from High Wycombe travelled the short (and ever familiar) journey across Buckinghamshire to see The Ramones at Aylesbury Friars. The occasion was one of the opening dates of their UK tour promoting their ‘End of the Century’ album – their 5th album release since they spearheaded the rise of the US punk scene in the mid 1970’s.

The US band were one of the few early punk pioneers not to have played High Wycombe and as the UK entered a new decade, demand for tickets was enormous. The local outlet in High Wycombe for tickets was Scorpion records.  The £2.95 tickets (5p cheaper than The Clash gig at Friars on 5th January 1980) went on sale on the morning of Monday 31st December 1979 and were snapped up as fast as was humanly possible at the time.

Support came from The Boys who had played at The Nag’s Head, High Wycombe twice in 1977 – once supporting The Jam in February and then a headline performance in July.

The Ramones and The Boys
Aylesbury Friars poster
23rd January 1980

My old school-friend, Martin Percival, and also a companion at many gigs over the intervening years, were both up early enough to get tickets.  Martin recalls this gig as his first time seeing The Ramones and the catalyst for his love of the band rising to a different level.  Over to you Martin, 1,2,3,4..

“This was the first of the 33* Ramones gigs that I saw between 1980 and 1996. Although I had enjoyed The Clash Friars gig two weeks previously, this was the gig that had a much greater impact on me at the time as well as over the longer term

Their January 1980 gig was the Ramones’ third and what proved to be their final Friars gig after playing twice in 1977 with Talking Heads in June and the Rezillos in December. 

The Boys supported the Ramones for the whole tour and at the Rainbow gig in London their keyboard player Casino Steel accompanied the band on a very rare live rendition of the Ramones only top 10 UK hit single – a cover of the Ronette’s ‘Baby, I Love You’, produced by Phil Spector and featured on the ‘End of the Century’ album.

16 years previously in January 1964 the Ronettes original version peaked at No.11 in the UK charts, 3 places lower than the Ramones version did in 1980.  Back in 1964 the Ronettes were touring the UK with a relatively new young UK band supporting them on their first national tour…… the Rolling Stones! On 21st January 1964 the 2 bands played 2 sets in Aylesbury at the Granada cinema. It was an incredibly foggy day – The Ronettes arrived late and didn’t even have time to change into their stage clothes before starting their first set. But at least they arrived… Brian Jones was lost in the fog and missed the gig completely!

Thankfully there were no weather problems for the evening in January 1980 where the sold out gig was also the night that The Ramones received the FA Cup – the Friars Aylesbury Cup! Joey Ramone looked slightly bemused when he was given the cup on stage on the night by Friars promoter Dave Stopps, but the band were very proud of it.  When the compilation album ‘Ramones Mania’ was released in 1988, Arturo Vega, who designed the iconic Ramones eagle logo, made sure the cup was featured amongst other band memorabilia in a collage on the front cover of the album.

Ramones Mania album cover 1986
FA Cup circled – winners 1980

Friars was a venue that the Ramones loved and when I interviewed Johnny Ramone in Birmingham in December 1992 and mentioned the Friars gig he laughed and said how much he had enjoyed the venue and the Aylesbury crowd.”

Ramones – set-list – Aylesbury Friars 23rd January 1980 

  • Blitzkrieg Bop
  • Teenage Lobotomy
  • Rockaway Beach
  • I Can’t Make It On Time
  • Go Mental
  • Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
  • Rock ‘N’ Roll High School
  • I Wanna Be Sedated
  • Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?
  • She’s the One
  • I Just Want to Have Something to Do
  • Sheena is a Punk Rocker
  • Let’s Go
  • Commando
  • Surfin’ Bird
  • Cretin Hop
  • All the Way
  • Judy Is A Punk
  • California Sun
  • I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You
  • Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World
  • Pinhead
  • Chinese Rock
  • Beat on the Brat

*A big thank-you to Martin for his memories and yes I checked that the thirty three was not a typo.

References and further reading

Aylesbury Friars website – memories and photo galleries from January 1980




Aylesbury Music Town website – researched by Stephen Daglish – more from the 1960’s – an amazing resource


Ramones – Official website


The Boys – Official website


For your listening and viewing pleasure

The Ramones – The Old Grey Whistle Test – BBC TV
Recorded just a few days before their appearance at Aylesbury Friars

2 February 1979 – UK Subs – Bucks College SU Bar

The UK Subs made what is believed to be their first ever appearance in High Wycombe on Friday 2nd February 1979, with a gig at the Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education Student Union Bar.  The date is also significant as it was on this day that Sid Vicious was found dead in his New York flat following a heroin overdose.  Meanwhile, back in High Wycombe, according to music paper gig listings, there was also the choice of seeing Adam and The Ants appearing at The Nag’s Head.

2nd February 1979 gig listings from Record Mirror – UK Subs and Adam & The Ants in High Wycombe

The basis of what would become the UK Subs had been formed out of the 1976 London punk scene, when ‘30 something’ hairdresser, Charlie Harper pulled together a band that performed under various names before settling on ‘United Kingdom Subversives’ and then the abbreviated UK Subs for their first gigs around the summer of 1977.  John Peel sessions followed but it was not until September 1978 that they released their first studio recordings – a three track single on City Records featuring live favourites ‘C.I.D’., ‘Live in a Car’ and ‘B.I.C.’  Earlier in 1978 they had two live tracks included on the ‘Farewell to the Roxy’ LP.

The UK Subs line-up for their debut release was the same as the one that appeared at their High Wycombe appearance in February 1979:

UK Subs – Gem Records promo photo 1979
Left to right: Nicky Garratt (guitar, 23), Paul Slack (bass, 21), Charlie Harper (vocals,34), Pete Davies (drums, 24)

This gig at The SU Bar pre-dated their signing to Gem Records and subsequent rise in popularity by a few months – their first widely available single, ‘Stranglehold’ would be released in June 1979 and they would return to High Wycombe to play the Town Hall twice more in 1979 to promote the single and their debut album release ‘Another Kind of Blues’.

The UK Subs still continued to perform at the time of this post – with lead vocalist – veteran rocker Charlie Harper the only common face throughout and aged 74 as of February 2019!  Their gigging history has seen them return to High Wycombe on a number of occasions – playing The Flint Cottage, White Horse and The Phoenix.  They were due to return to The Phoenix in November 2019 – an incredible 40 plus years since their appearance at the SU Bar back in February 1979.

Back in February 1979, a much younger (but still ‘old’) Harper would have heard the news of the death of Sid Vicious by the time his band took to the SU Bar stage.  Less than three years previous, Vicious (real name John Beverley) had seen The Sex Pistols in at the close by College Main Hall – a notorious character on the London ‘punk’ scene, he later became bass player for the Sex Pistols before the band split in January 1978.  He was just 21 years old at the time of his death.  The circumstances surrounding his death were still being discussed and analysed at the time of this post.

Sid Vicious obituary from Record Mirror – 10th February 1979

Advertised for the same evening as the UK Subs gig were Adam and The Ants at The Nag’s Head. The The London based band were fronted by Adam Ant (real name Stuart Goddard).  24 year old Goddard was in the stages of promoting his band, Adam and The Ants, formed around the summer of 1977 and on the back of the ‘punk’ explosion but starting to move more towards a ‘pop’ sound.  I’m unsure if the Nag’s Head appearance actually took place on 2nd February 1979.  It is listed in some publications as High Wycombe Town Hall but I can confirm the Town Hall appearance was a few days later on Monday 12th February 1979.  Perhaps The Nag’s Head was a warm-up date or simply never took place?

If the multiple events of Friday 2nd February 1979 weren’t enough to keep up interest at the time, local gig goers could have also taken in an appearance by Sham 69 at Aylesbury Friars on Wednesday 31st January 1979 – this was the gig where lead singer Jimmy Pursey claimed this would the final live appearance for this band – Pursey becoming increasingly frustrated with crowd trouble at Sham 69 gigs.  A day after The UK Subs gig at The SU Bar you could have travelled across to Friars again to see Stiff Little Fingers play as headliners on their Rough Trade tour to promote their recently released debut album, ‘Inflammable Material’.  A busy week!

Anybody with any memories or clarification of these gigs, please get in touch.

For your listening and viewing pleasure:

January/February 1968 – Charts acts visit High Wycombe

The opening months of 1968 were a busy time for gigs in High Wycombe. Major charts acts, including Traffic, The Herd, Love Affair and Amen Corner all appeared at the regular Tuesday night dances at The Town Hall.

Montage of Bucks Free Press gig adverts from January and February 1968

These were the dates I uncovered from the Bucks Free Press archives:

Tuesday 23rd January 1968 – Traffic– formed in April 1967, when 19-year-old singer, keyboardist, and guitarist Steve Winwood left The Spencer Davis Group.  Other members of the band were Jim Capaldi (drums), Chris Wood (flute) and Dave Mason (guitar).  Winwood and Wood would play with Jimi Hendrix later in 1968 and appear on the iconic album ‘Electric Ladyland’.  Traffic are best known for their 1967 release ‘Hole in My Shoe’.

Tuesday 30th January 1968 – The Herd – included an 18-year-old Peter Frampton on guitar. Their March 1968 release, ‘I Don’t Want Our Loving to Die’ reached No.5 in the UK charts.  The band could be seen performing on ITV’s ‘Come Here Often’ show on the same evening they played High Wycombe.  Other members of Herd at the time of the High Wycombe gig were Andy Bown, Gary Taylor and Andrew Steele.  Frampton was later voted the ‘Face of 1968’ by teen magazine Rave.

Tuesday 6th February 1968 – Love Affair – The young band were at the peak of their success at the time of their Town Hall appearance with their “Everlasting Love” single reaching No.1 in the UK charts in January 1968.  Lead singer Steve Ellis was just 17 years old at the time of the High Wycombe gig.  However, drummer Maurice Bacon had celebrated his 16th birthday just a week before the Town Hall gig, with other band members, Michael Jackson (18) and Lynton Guest (17), making them one of the youngest bands on the circuit.  It appears that only The Beatles outsold them in singles sales in the UK during 1968.

The Town Hall gig was mentioned by the band in Bucks Free Press interview for the ‘Teen and Around’ column published shortly afterwards. Steve Ellis said the band were worried that the Town Hall facilities couldn’t cope with their mass of electrical equipment: “There were not enough plugs and sockets for all our gear and we afraid of blowing the fuses.” Despite their fears, the gig went off without a hitch and fans of the band spent more than half-an-hour after the gig seeking autographs of the young pop stars.

Tuesday 13th February 1968 – Amen Corner – This appearance came as a last-minute fill-in for Georgie Fame who, according to the adverts for the gig in the Bucks Free Press, was ‘flying to America on Sunday 11th February and had refused to honour his contract with the Town Hall’.  Prices were reduced to 8/- (40p) as a way of an apology by the promoters.  Their ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ single reached the UK Top 30 in early 1968.  The band included guitarist and vocalist Andy Fairweather Low (19 years old at the time of the Town Hall gig).  Other band members were Allan Jones (saxophone), Dennis Bryon (drums), Blue Weaver (organ), Clive Taylor (bass) and Neil Jones (guitar).

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Hole in My Shoe – Traffic – promo video 1968

I Don’t Want Our Living to Die – The Herd – German TV (?) 1968

Everlasting Love – Love Affair – official video 1968

Bend Me, Shape Me – Amen Corner – Top of the Pops 1968