1978 – music memories from High Wycombe

1978 would see another shift and mixture of trends in UK popular music and those changes appear to be reflected in the live music scene in High Wycombe.  Memories of the year to follow throughout 2018, in the meantime a bit of background on the music culture of 1978, based on my own memories.

From a popular music point of view, 1977 will always be remembered as the year that ‘punk’ made the breakthrough from an underground scene but by the early months of 1978, many of the higher profile acts from the ‘safety pin’ brigade had either burnt-out or, in the eyes of punk idealists, ‘sold-out’.

High Wycombe had been blessed with a host of the breakthrough ‘punk’ acts during 1976 and 1977 but while The Nag’s Head and Town Hall continued to be the main outlet for gigs during 1978, the venues struggled to keep pace with the ever-changing demands and complications of hosting live music.  Several gigs throughout 1978 suffered from various combinations of poor attendance, violence, last minute line-up changes, rumoured ‘special guests’ that didn’t show or in some cases a complete cancellation.  Just finding out about gigs was a challenge in itself.

However, there were still noteworthy gigs in store for the local punters, thanks mostly again to the promoting connections of Ron Watts. Gigs at The Town Hall would include Siouxsie and The Banshees (still without a record deal until much later in 1978), Generation X, Rezillos and 999 – all returning to High Wycombe after Nag’s Head appearances in 1977.  There were also debut appearances for The Lurkers, Motorhead and Penetration.  Down the road at the Nag’s Head, gigs were generally ‘punk’ free but would include a number of post-punk (or new-wave’) bands looking for a breakthrough – most notably, The Skids.  Meanwhile, local bands aiming for a piece of the action were generally restricted to support slots at the two major venues but there were occasional headline slots gigs at High Wycombe College and Townfield House.

High Wycombe would also host bands as a direct consequence of the fall-out from the split of two of the original iconic punk bands. With two High Wycombe appearances to their name during 1976, The Sex Pistols played their final live show on 14th January 1978 during a tour of the USA.  A few weeks later, The Damned, also with two or three Nag’s Head shows under their belt, disbanded (albeit temporary).  Spin-off bands would come to High Wycombe later in 1978.  This included former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, who would bring his Rich Kids (featuring Midge Ure) to The Town Hall.  Meanwhile, Damned drummer Rat Scabies would also grace a High Wycombe stage with his band, The White Cats – there would be mixed reaction to both those gigs!

Meanwhile, the other punk originals who had played locally during 1976 and 1977 (including The Clash, The Stranglers and The Jam), had outgrown the venues available in High Wycombe.  However, the local rumour mill, stirred up on more than on occasion by local promoter Ron Watts, always seemed to have the possibility of one or more of these names returning as a ‘special guest’ – sadly they never seemed to happen.

In contrast, all this was happening as record sales (still vinyl back then), particularly singles, were set to reach a new high. The popularity of buying discs prompted an expanding culture of record selling outlets in High Wycombe – the town’s shops and market stalls would become meeting places for local music fans desperate to buy the latest releases and also find out about where they could see their vinyl favourites at a live gig.

However, don’t get the impression that this era was all about the ‘punk’ or the ‘new-wave’ scene. A quick look at the UK singles charts from January 1978 reveals that ‘Mull of Kintyre’ by Wings had hogged the top spot for several weeks, while No.2 was ‘Floral Dance’ by The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.  The closest to ‘punk’ in the charts at the time was ‘Mary of the 4th Form’ by The Boomtown Rats.  Local heroes Otway and Barrett had also just managed to creep into the early January 1978 top 30 with their iconic ‘Really Free’ single.

1978 was also a year where the Disco scene boomed following the massive success of music-based films ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’. The two films would account for 18 weeks of No.1 singles throughout 1978, while the respective albums would take the top spot for 30 weeks.  The films would also attracted more punters to the local Cinemas than most of the gigs in High Wycombe during 1978 – with queues a regular occurrence when they were shown at The Palace Cinema in Frogmore.

The rise of the Disco scene was mirrored by a wealth of new sounds that would make the weekly BBC show Top of the Pops a sometimes bizarre mix of disco, new wave and novelty. The line-ups could see The Adverts up against Althia and Donna, The Stranglers take on The Smurfs, Elvis Costello v Earth, Wind and Fire, The Rezillos v Rod Stewart, The Vibrators v Village People and The Jam v John Travolta to name just a few culture clashes.

To help capture these new sounds, the local music scene was boosted in 1978 by the opening of two new record shops. Second-Hand shop Scorpion Records had opened in late 1977 and became the outlet for ticket sales for gigs at both High Wycombe Town Hall and Aylesbury Friars.

Rising Sun Records would also open in early 1978 at the rear of ‘Wycombe Fayre’ – a small shopping arcade built constructed in 1977 on the site of the former Woolworths store on Church Street.  At the time of this article (2018), The Chiltern Shopping Centre is now on that site.  Meanwhile, Derek’s Records in Octagon Parade, became Venus Records and became another regular haunt of local music fans hoping to find details of the latest gigs.

I’ll be aiming to dig a little deeper into some of these gigs for the 40th anniversary during 2018 and would be extremely grateful again for any memories and memorabilia you may have tucked away.  Please get in touch via the useful contact methods.

24 March 2018 – Healthy Junkies + 3 more bands – FREE event at Phoenix Bar

The Phoenix Bar in Bridge Street High Wycombe are hosting a four band FREE event on Saturday 24th March 2018.  The first band is due on at 8.30pm.

24th March 2018 – FREE four band event at The Phoenix Bar – High Wycombe

Details of the bands – taken from The Phoenix website, read as follows:

Healthy Junkies

Parisian Lead singer Nina Courson met British guitarist Phil Honey-Jones in 2009 in the now defunct venue Punk in Soho. Both of them were in separate bands at the time, but it wasn’t long before ideas of their own and a new-found mutual volatility raised its wretched head and they started to write songs together. The shared influences of the likes of Iggy Pop, Nirvana, Blondie, Killing Joke,Sonic Youth, Bauhaus and Bowie played a big part and Inspiration for lyrics came from far and wide, blurring the lines between autobiography and fiction. They played their first gig together at an all day punk festival in Brighton in September 2010 where the promoter ran off with the money and Healthy Junkies only got to play for 15 mins before the festival shut down. Since then the band have played all over the U.K. including several appearances at the mighty Rebellion Punk Festival and their self-hosted monthly night at The Unicorn, Camden, London, called Punk’n’roll rendezvous – and have toured Europe regularly. Healthy Junkies were featured on a New York radio station and talk show in October and are laying the groundwork for an East coast US tour next year. On stage Nina interacts with the other band members and entices her audience in a way that has become the trademark of their live shows. Record releases include their debut album Sick Note in 2011, The Lost Refuge and Box of Chaos (STP Records) and the E.P. ‘Hair of the dog’.



PollyPikPocketz are a double-vocalist rock band from London. The two front girls Ally and Myura formed as a songwriting harmony duo in 2014. Frog joined to help produce their tracks and soon they were churning out songs like lyrical machines, developing songs that were metaphorical, humorous, full of fun and sung with angst. A year and a half later Pollypikpocketz evolved dramatically when Mat joined as the guitarist, bringing an improv-style that chose “awesome sounding ” over technical. Frog, previously a singer, found a new direction playing bass for PollyPikPocketz. The group today have a take-no-prisoners punk-rock feel. Their live sound has been described as “an intense, passionate performance that is in your face but with genuine emotion and laughter. Flowing harmonies and unique lyrics, that are tongue in cheek but always written from the heart. Incomparable to a single genre.”


Who Killed Nancy Johnson?

AReading-based high-energy original punk/post-punk band with a growing reputation as an incendiary live act, Who Killed Nancy Johnson? formed in 2015 and began gigging in 2016. Their 2017 EP Cops and Robbers was followed in 2018 by Flat Earth Theory, and an album is in the works for later in the year. They have played in Europe and have radio appearances and support slots for name bands under their belts.



A four-piece punk band from Surrey, Freakouts formed with the idea of inspiring carnage. Their raucous live shows make them ones to watch as they are beginning to break out of the hills and take the rest of the UK by storm. They’re loud, fast, and in your face.


 Please support live music in High Wycombe

Check out the Phoenix Bar website below for their latest gigs


Please post or send your reviews of the gig – see contact page for more details.  Thanks

10 March 2018 – Blunders, Yur Mum and more – Phoenix Bar

A FREE entry five band ‘punk’ spectacular took place at The Phoenix, High Wycombe on Saturday 10th March 2018.

The Blunders – Phoenix Bar flyer for 10th March 2018

To give you an idea of what to expect the following was posted before the gig – in no particular order and with descriptions as quoted from their respective websites/social media outputs – here’s a list of the bands:

The Blunders

“Hard hitting biting lyrics with a driving yet understated beat that lets you scream at the worlds faults while dancing ya arse off.”

They impressed at The Phoenix on their previous appearance in November 2017.


Yur Mum

“London based DIY grungers. Yur Mum bring their brand of high energy rock and roll”


Static Personality

“3-piece indie post-punk explosion hailing from High Wycombe. Our message is audacious, bold, subversive, witty and is an exciting new branch to the post-punk alternative indie”


Carter Daze

“Woking’s favourite rebel sons Carter Daze’s DIY approach mixes a punk ethos with rock ‘n’ roll storytelling to create a diverse sound that’s somewhere between ‘Blue Album’ Weezer and ‘Up The Bracket’ Libertines, with a socio-political twist. With a whole host of gigs coming up across Surrey and London this spring, their live show is always intense, chaotic and not to be missed!”


DC Spectres

“3 Piece Garage punk/trash…fusing 60’s garage and 70’s punk with side orders of surf and Klub Foot rhythms.”


 Please support the live music venues in High Wycombe

21 February 2018 – Emperor’s Bits – Wycombe Sound radio show

I was again honoured to be asked to guest on local radio station Wycombe Sound – this time by Andy Aliffe for his ‘Emperor’s Bits’ show broadcast on Wednesday 21st February 2018.

Andy, assisted by his friend Stevyn Colgan, launched the show earlier in 2018, with the website description claiming : ‘The Emperor’s Bits’ is an eclectic mix of music and chat and looks at the quirkier side of Wycombe history. It is not wrong!

The Emperor’s Bits – Wycombe Sound radio show featuring Andy Aliffe (right) and Stevyn Colgan (left).

I was extremely grateful to be called in to promote the wycombegigs.co.uk website and also give from some background to High Wycombe appearances by a few of the iconic artists featured to date – including The Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie and The Move.

It was also amazing to share the studio with fellow guest Barbara Arucci. Barbara attended The Rolling Stones gig at Wycombe Town Hall in December 1963 aged just 13 and was lucky enough, through a family connection, to be allowed backstage with members of the group.  A photo of this meeting appeared in the Bucks Free Press and an original survives as a prize possession of Barbara until this day.

Backstage photo of The Rolling Stones taken at High Wycombe Town Hall – December 1963

Back in 1999, Barbara and her friends were invited to attend a re-launch of Wycombe Museum in Priory Road, where a blown –up version of the photo was proudly displayed.

The three girls featured in the 1963 back-stage picture with The Rolling Stones are re-united at a re-launch of Wycombe Museum in 1999 – picture from swop.org.uk

It was fantastic to hear from somebody who was actually at these great moments in the history of the town and her recollections of other music venues. Barbara also brought along another picture of The Rolling Stones, with a complete set of autographs on the rear – including the sadly departed Brian Jones.

Barbara in February 2018 with her treasured signed Rolling Stones picture.

An enjoyable hour or so in the company of Andy and Stevyn. Both gentlemen can boast an fascinating history of working in all manner of walks of life – Andy spent 20 years with the BBC, Stevyn spent 30 years working for the Police in Cornwall but has more recently worked as researcher on the QI TV show and also written several books.  You can read more via the link at the foot of this page.

They warned me I might be invited back to track through memorable music moments from the 1970’s, 1980’s and beyond.  So keep an eye and ear out for that and tune in for an hour of random fun.

You can use the ‘listen again’ feature on the Wycombe Sound website to hear the show again for up to a month after the original broadcast date.

More information on the show via the link below:


Listen again:




9 February 2018 – Rage DC, Black Bullets, DSA, Slow Faction, Useless Easters – Phoenix Bar

Bracknell rockers Rage DC topped a five band event at The Phoenix bar in High Wycombe on Friday 9th February 2018. Entry was just £5 and was billed as ‘An evening of good old Punk Rock’n’Roll.’

Rage DC and plenty of support at The Phoenix on Friday 9th February 2018

Plenty of info on Rage DC via their Facebook group, including links to the supporting bands too.


Due on first at 7.30pm were The Useless Eaters – they are a punk covers band and are no strangers to High Wycombe having played several times at The Hobgoblin (since renamed back to The Three Tuns).

Read more about The Useless Eaters on their Facebook page.


Running Order

  • Rage DC 10:30:00 PM 11:15:00 PM
  • Black Bullets 9:45:00 PM 10:15:00 PM
  • Slow Faction 9:00:00 PM 9:30:00 PM
  • DSA 8:15:00 PM 8:45:00 PM
  • Useless Eaters 7:30:00 PM 8:00:00 PM

Please support live music in High Wycombe

Check out the Phoenix Bar website below for their latest gigs


20 January 1978 – XTC release debut album

Swindon based XTC released their debut album White Music on 20 January 1978. The Virgin record release came just over six months after they had made two appearances at The Nag’s Head.  Their debut at the London Road venue came on 16 May 1977, with promoter Ron Watts bringing them back again on 6 June 1977.

White Music included classic pop singles ‘Radios in Motion’, ‘Statue of Liberty’ and ‘This is Pop’, plus their take on Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’. The album, recorded at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, was put to tape at the time of their Nag’s Head appearances and produced by John Leckie.

The XTC line-up for White Music was Andy Partridge (guitar and vocals), Colin Moulding (bass and vocals), Barry Andrews (keyboards and piano) and Terry Chambers (drums). That line-up would record follow-up album Go 2 in October 1978 before a change of personnel saw Barry Andrews depart – eventually opting not to replace him with another keyboard player and instead bring in second guitarist Dave Gregory.  XTC would go on to record the straight pop album Drums and Wires – recorded at Townhouse Studios in West London and produced by Steve Lilywhite after the band were apparently impressed with his work on Siouxsie and the Banshees debut The Scream.  The second single from the album, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’, would become a Top 20 UK hit just a few weeks after a May 1979 appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

White Music – Full Album audio via YouTube

BBC Sight and Sound – March 1978

Live on French TV – Chorus 1978

February 1967

February 1967 saw the gig scene in High Wycombe continue with a string of dates at The Town Hall, plus what appears to be a new venture held at the Royal British Legion building close to the Town centre. These are brief details of gigs that I have traced and backed up by advertising evidence found in the Bucks Free Press.  If you have any further details of these gigs or can add more dates, please get in touch.

February 1967 – gig adverts from the Bucks Free Press

Tuesday 7th February 1967 – Geno Washington – Town Hall

Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band took to the stage of High Wycombe Town on Tuesday 7th February 1967 for a gig billed in the Bucks Free Press advert by the strapline: “We’ve given you The Small Faces, Spencer Davis and now we present the greatest act in the country!” At the time of this performance Geno Washington was aged 23 years old, having starting performing with The Ram Jam band in 1965.  Washington was a former US airman based in East Anglia.
Admission was 7 shillings and 6 pence (37 ½ p) with DJ Don Jordan playing ‘Top Discs’.

This is Geno and his band performing on German TV in 1967

Saturday 11th February 1967 – Tom Jones – Town Hall

See separate post on this unconfirmed performance by the famous Welshman.

Monday 13th February 1967 – The Move – Town Hall

See separate post on this performance.

Thursday 16th February 1967 – Ginger Tom Set – The Stereo (Legion Rooms)

The Stereo was a club night held at The Royal British Legion building opposite Wycombe College. The Ginger Tom Set were described in the gig advert as ‘A Strange name but a really good group well worth seeing’.  Admission was 4 shillings and 6 pence (22 ½ p).  At the time of this post I’d found no further background on this band.

Saturday 18th February 1967 – Stacey’s Circle – Town Hall

Billed as a ‘POWERHOUSE OF SOUND’, 5 shillings (25p) would have gained you entry to this Saturday night gig featuring Stacey’s Circle supported by Coffee Set (from London’s Clubland).

Stacey’s Circle – photo as published in Ilford Recorder in 2010

My brief research suggests that Stacey’s Circle were a band from the Ilford area of London and consisted of George Stacey Taylor (vocals), John Campling (guitar), Dave Hawkins (bass) and Frank Edwards (drums). Guitarist John ‘Ducksy’ Reardon also states he was in an earlier version Stacey’s Circle through his autobiography ‘Birth to Reunion’ published in 2015.

Tuesday 21st February 1967 – The Who – Town Hall (CANCELLED)

This was intended to be the long awaited return of The Who to High Wycombe. 8 shillings (40p) was the asking price for entry to the regular Tuesday night slot – with DJ Rod Welling billed set to play ‘Top Discs’.  Sadly the gig was cancelled, with organisers placing an advert in the following week’s Bucks Free Press stating: ‘We apologise for the non-appearance on Tuesday of “THE WHO” for reasons beyond our control. The group will appear at our next dance on MARCH 28th.’

The Who would eventually perform at The Town 25th April 1967.

DJ Rod Welling replaced Don Jordan, who had left High Wycombe for Nottingham.  An article published in the Bucks Free Press during the Spring of 1967 explained the history behind Welling’s arrival on the DJ scene.  Welling claimed that his first public performance with pop music was when neighbours called in the police because of the ‘racket’ from his record player.  The then 20 year old hoped that the Tuesday evening DJ slot at the Town Hall would be the beginning of a ‘career on the pop world’.

Friday 24th February 1967 – Pink Sam and The Shakers – West Wycombe Village Hall

This gig was billed as ‘HANGOVERSVILLE ‘67’ in the small advert carried in the Bucks Free Press. A quick search on the internet at the time this article was published, reveals that well know High Wycombe musician Steve Darrington was a piano player with Pink Sam and The Shakers.
Admission was 5 shillings (25p).

Saturday 25th February 1967 – Growth – Town Hall

Midland based band Growth appeared at The Town Hall on Saturday 25th February 1967 with support from ;London, New Faces, Great Sound, Derek Savage Foundation.  Admission was 5 shillings (25p).  At the time of this post I’d not found any details of Growth but The Derek Savage Foundation released a single on CBS during 1967

Breakin’ Through – Derek Savage Foundation – 1967 single release


Stacey’s Circle – Where are they now?


Steve Darrington


Pink Sam and The Shakers


9 December 1977 – Wire/Trash – Nag’s Head

Wire returned for a performance at The Nag’s Head on Friday 9th December 1977 for what is believed to be their first headline appearance at the High Wycombe venue.  The London based band, formed in late 1976 as part of the original ‘punk’ scene, had supported The Jam at The Nag’s Head in May 1977.

Wire/Trash advert from the Bucks Free Press – December 1977 – note the alternative entertainment at Baileys in Watford – Drifters, Tony Christie and Marty Wilde – take your pick!

Formed in October 1976 by Colin Newman (vocals, guitar), Graham Lewis (bass, vocals), Bruce Gilbert (guitar), and Robert Gotobed, real name Robert Grey (drums).

Their influence has outweighed their relatively modest record sales. Robert Smith has described how, after seeing the group live, influenced The Cure’s sound after their first album.  Wire and The Cure played a double header at Aylesbury Friars in early 1979.

A plagiarism case between Wire’s music publisher and Elastica, over the similarity between Wire’s 1977 song “Three Girl Rhumba” and Elastica’s 1995 hit “Connection“, resulted in an out-of-court settlement.

Their December 1977 date at The Nag’s Head came as part of a nationwide tour to help promote their latest single – Manequin/Feeling Called Love/12XU and debut album – Pink Flag. Dates on the tour also included two nights supporting The Tubes at Hammersmith Odeon (6th and 7th December 1977).

Aside a period of solo activities from 1981 to 1985 Newman, Lewis and Grey continued to perform together as Wire and in January 2017 they released a new album called Silver/Lead – their 16th studio album.

Support act, Trash, appear to be a band with members from Weybridge and Reading. The link below to the excellent boredteenagers website gives more background – including a mention of their gig in High Wycombe supporting Wire.

For your viewing and listening pleasure

Manequin -Wire – audio

Three Girl Rumba – Wire – audio

Priorities – Trash – audio

Further reading:




28 November 1977 – Tom Robinson Band – Town Hall

Having played The Nag’s Head less than two months previous, the Tom Robinson Band made a triumphant return for a Town Hall gig on Monday 28th November 1977.  The Nag’s Head date had been at the start of their ‘TRB Delivers’ tour set up to promote their debut single, ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’.  The success of the single had thrown the band into the spotlight, with a Top of the Pops debut on Thursday 27th October 1977 and the single subsequently reaching the top 5 of the UK singles charts.

Tom Robinson’s promise to the audience of October 1977 gig at The Nag’s Head to return to the town was honoured with another Ron Watts promoted affair at The Town Hall. Tickets for the gig had been sold at the recently opened Scorpion Records.

Buckshee Press cuttings from TRB gig at Town Hall, November 1977 – many thanks to Martin63 for passing on his copy of the debut edition of the High Wycombe fanzine

A review of the gig was included in the debut edition of High Wycombe fanzine, ‘Buckshee Press’ where Peter Cottridge wrote: “[TRB’s] return [to High Wycombe] illustrates just how far [they] have come since playing The Nag’s Head. From local favourites to pop-stars in just eight weeks! A single in the top five, vast amounts of equipment back drops and young girls (?) hankering for autographs at the stage door.  An inevitable process richly deserved by the Tom Robinson Band.”

The fanzine confirms the set list for the gig at The Town Hall was much the same as The Nag’s Head and included the following:

  • Long Hot Summer
  • Don’t Take No For An Answer
  • 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  • Martin
  • Winter of ‘79
  • Better Decide Which Side You’re On
  • I’m All Right Jack
  • Right on Sister
  • Glad to Be Gay
  • Power in The Darkness
  • Up Against The Wall

Encores were, Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’ another play of ‘2-4-6-8’ and Lou Reed’s ‘Waiting For My Man’.

The whole gig was recorded by the Island Mobile and the track ‘Right on Sister’ was included as one of four tracks on the ‘Rising Free E.P.’, released in early February 1978 as a follow to ‘2-4-6-8’.

TRB would release their debut album, ‘Power in the Darkness’ in August 1978 and return again to the Town Hall in April 1979.

Right on Sister – audio recorded live at Town Hall, High Wycombe, November 1977

Don’t Take No For An Answer – audio recorded at Sussex University, Brighton, December 1977

This is the uncensored version. An amazing live performance.

25 November 2017 – Pussy Cat and The Dirty Johnsons – Phoenix Bar

Another great night down The Phoenix Bar, High Wycombe, on Saturday 25th November 2017 when Pussy Cat and The Dirty Johnsons headlined a ‘punk’ influenced event. Scroll down for two self shot videos from the gig.

Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons – Phoenix Bar High Wycombe – 25th November 2017


Headliners Pussy Cat and The Dirty Johnsons have been described as ‘Punk-Rockabilly-Grunge-Glam rockers’, while East Town Pirates describe themselves as a ‘voodoo pirate rock and roll band and have also been likened to a cross between The Pogues and Motorhead.

Other acts were: The black bullets, The Blunders, HatePenny and The GOGO Cult.

Venue Home page 


Here are two self shot videos from the gig

Ship Ahoy – East Town Pirates- live at The Phoenix Bar, 25 November 2017

One of the Boys/Hell Bent – Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons – Live at The Phoenix Bar – 25 November 2017

Please support your local live music venues in High Wycombe