January 1967

January 1967

The live music scene in High Wycombe during 1967 appears to be generally centered around the Town Hall.  But for whatever reason, as the year progressed, other venues appeared eager to grab a piece of the action.  These are some key dates and venues from January 1967:

Montage of press cuttings from the Bucks Free Press – January 1967

Friday 6th January 1967 – No Urging Action (Disco) – Nag’s Head

The Nag’s Head in London Road was not a current live music venue back in January 1967 but there were efforts to bring some sort of ‘scene’ to the East of the Town with the opening of a new Friday Discotheque night.  ‘No Urging Action’ was an ’18 and over’ event debuting in the first week of January 1967 with a crowd of around 50 turning up.  Organiser was Ian Tilbury, whose plans were said to include fashion shows and top American artists in ‘guest appearances’.  Were you one of the Disco goers at The Nag’s Head?

 Tuesday 10th January 1967 – Amboy Dukes – Town Hall

A band by the name Amboy Dukes was around in 1967 and included a young Ted Nugent.  They were a US based band.  However, this gig was by the closer to home, mainly Reading based band of the same name.  Admission was 6/- (30p) with Don Jordan playing ‘Top Discs’ at the regular Tuesday ‘Dance Night’ at The Town Hall organised by Ron Prior.

Saturday 21st January 1967 – Force Four – Needham’s Bowl

Needham’s Bowl was on Desborough Road, High Wycombe and on the same site on what would later become the Chiltern Rooms (opened in 1972).  Not much background on Force Four – although they appear to have supported Geno Washington in Dunstable on the Friday evening before they were billed to perform in High Wycombe.

Sunday 22nd January 1967 – Al Stewart – Rose & Crown

This appears to be the debut of what was billed the ‘Folk Chamber’ at the Desborough Road/Mendy Street pub.  Al Stewart went on to become a renowned artist – best known for his 1976 Year of the Cat, album and single.  Glasgow born Stewart was 21 at the time of this advertised appearance in this small pub in High Wycombe.  Did he really play The Rose & Crown in his early days?

Tuesday 24th January 1967 – Small Faces – Town Hall

The visit of The Small Faces to High Wycombe in January 1967 was quite possibly the highlight of the month for the local gig-goers of the time.  However, technical issues marred the night with The Small Faces forced to abandon their set 30 minutes into their planned 40 minute slot due to £300 worth of their amplifiers going, according to press reports, ‘phutt’.

Speaking to the press after the gig. Small Faces front man Steve Marriot said:

“We just lost four amplifiers out there. But apart from that it was great. We’ve played before the Wycombe audience before and we went down well then, but tonight was good, yes it was really nice”.

Directly after the gig The Small Faces went to Barnes where were due to start work on their new LP, with songs written mainly by members Marriot (still a week away from his 20th birthday at time of the gig) and Ronnie ‘Plonk’ Lane (a couple of months short of his 21st birthday).

At the time of the January 1967 gig The Small Faces had already penned classics including ‘All or Nothing’, ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee’ and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’.

Admission was 8/- (40p) with support advertised as Respect.

Saturday 28th January 1967 – Jay Brothers – Needham Bowl

Advertised as ‘Cabaret Night’ down The Desborough Road venue with entry 2/- (10p) for Members and 4/- (20p) for Non-Members.  The additional tag line of ‘Saturday Moonlight Bowling’, suggests that the Ten-Pin bowling venue kicked into life after the band had finished?

Tuesday 31st January 1967 – Spencer Davis Group – Town Hall

Once again 8/- would gain you entry to see one of top UK groups of the time.  Spencer Davis Group had been formed in Birmingham in 1963 by Spencer Davis, Steve Winwood and his brother Muff Winwood.  They had signed to Island records in 1964 and at the time of their January 1967 appearance at The Town Hall had just enjoyed enourmous chart success with their single ‘Gimme Some Lovin’.  It reached No.2 in the UK charts in November 1966 and had only just dropped out of the Top 50 by the time they took stage at The Town Hall.

Next up – February 1967

26 February 1977 – Black & White Minstrels – Chiltern Rooms

Saturday 26th February 1977 –Black and White Minstrels Show – Chiltern Rooms

While the youngsters of the time were getting a hard time in both the press and in person for looking a ‘bit different’ and listening to music that wasn’t ‘progressive’, back in February 1977 it was seemingly still OK for the white middle class to ‘black up’ for the sake of ‘light entertainment’.

A Bucks Free Press advert shows The Black and White Minstrel Show was due to perform at The Chiltern Rooms in Desborough Road on Saturday 26th February 1977.  The £1.85 entrance cost would also reward you with a ‘Chicken in the Basket’ supper.

Bucks Free Press advert for events coming up at The Chiltern Rooms in February and March 1977.
Chicken-in-the-Basket seemed popular at the time

It would be fair to say that this show has not stood the test of time. Apparently, viewing figures for the BBC show of the same title (first broadcast in 1958) reached a peak of more than 20 million by the mid 1960’s.  Despite on-going controversy over its portrayal of black people, it remained on the screens throughout the majority of the 1970’s before finally be axed by the BBC in July 1978.

Where you would start attempting to explain the premise for this show to the generation born post 1978? It would also be interesting to hear the thoughts of the significant Caribbean origin population of High Wycombe to a show of this type being presented on their doorstep?

In keeping with the ‘Life on Mars’ style time-travel, the entertainment advertised for Thursday 10th March 1977 was billed as ‘STAG 77’ – no not a band from the New Wave of Heavy Metal but a ‘Gentlemen’s Evening, with Adult Comedians – beautiful Girls, Girls, Girls’. This time, £2.50 would gain you entry, including the obligatory ‘Chicken in the Basket’ supper.

But there was alternative entertainment on the same evening that ‘STAG 77’ strutted their stuff at The Chiltern Rooms –at the other end of Town down the London Road, Billy Idol’s Generation X were returning to the Nag’s Head supported by the only gigging Wycombe ‘punk’ band of the time, Deathwish.

1 December 1976 – I swear I was there

Wednesday 1st December 1976

Less than three months after attracting virtually no publicity for their gig at The Nag’s Head, The Sex Pistols went the 1976 equivalent of ‘viral’ when they said f**k and s**t on early evening TV in the UK.

Those in the High Wycombe area at the time would have been able to tune into Thames TV ‘Today‘ programme, hosted by Bill ‘as drunk as I am’ Grundy.  Broadcast at 6pm, by the time the programme had closed 30 minutes later, Grundy’s now infamous run in with The Sex Pistols and their entourage had shot the punk rockers to the front pages of the tabloids.

Wycombe would take a little more waking up though.  Later on in the evening of 1st December 1976, the lovely Anita Harris would perform at Desborough Road’s Chiltern Rooms.

Anita Harris at The Chiltern Rooms - advert from The Bucks Free Press

£2 would have gained you entry, including a buffet supper. Or you could have pushed the boat out and spent £5.50 to include a ‘Four Course Dinner’.

Here’s the footage of the Today programme from 1st December 1976.
(Obviously contains swearing).

From that day on everything changed.

A few days later at the close by Desborough Hall, Wycombe’s Deathwish took to the stage as they became the first local band to grasp the punk scene.