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.

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:




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


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.

21 November 1977 – Wayne County/ATV/Ruts – High Wycombe Town Hall

Wayne County and The Electric Chairs returned for a third performance of the year in High Wycombe with a headline slot at The Town Hall on Monday 21st November 1977.  Support came from Alternative TV (ATV) and very early appearance by West London outfit, The Ruts.

Wayne and The Electric Chairs – circa 1977

This was another Ron Watts promoted gig and came on what was becoming a regular Monday night slot. The brief run of Monday night gigs at The Town Hall appears to have come in direct competition to the new Tuesday night ‘punk’ nights at The Newlands Club.

I am indebted again to my friend ‘Buzz’ for not only confirming the date of this gig from his 1977 diary, but also using his diary to recall his experiences at The Town Hall that evening. Buzz’s Diary reports that the doors opened at 7.30pm and the small gathering audience watched Wayne County & The Electric Chairs conclude their soundcheck.

The almost completely unknown Ruts were first on stage and according to Buzz’s diary, “played 20 minutes of undistinguished hard punk”.  Looking back on the formation of The Ruts some 40 years after their High Wycombe appearance, it appears they got together just a month or so before stepping on stage at The Town Hall.  The line-up was Malcom Owen (vocals), Paul Fox (guitar), John ‘Segs’ Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums).

Early Ruts picture from the rutsdc website – note the home made t-shirt with what would become their iconic logo

Much of the online history of The Ruts has been derived from an interview with ‘Segs’, released as part of the 2001 Ruts compilation album, “Bustin’ Out”. The interview recalls The Ruts first ever gig had taken place on 16 September 1977 at The Target pub in Northolt. The first sessions were recorded in October 1977 (a YouTube audio clip is included at the foot of this article).

At the time of writing this piece I’d not yet had a chance to listen to the interview but this also appears to be origins of the claim that the definitive Ruts line-up (listed above) made their live debut at High Wycombe Town Hall supporting Wayne County – however, the date is listed as 25 January 1978 rather than 21 November 1977. I can only assume that recollections of dates have been blurred over the years – clarification from anybody reading this would be appreciated.

ATV – cover of their Live at The Rat Club ’77 album – one from my collection

Back to 21 November 1977. Alternative TV were fronted by Sniffin’ Glue fanzine founder Mark Perry and had been formed earlier in 1977 with a line-up Alex Fergusson (guitar), Tyrone Thomas (bass) and Chris Bennet (drums).  The catalyst for forming the band appears to be Perry’s disillusionment with the punk movement, which by mid-1977 had succumbed, in the main, to the pressures of record company commercialisation.  Perry’s attitude at the time is summed up in his lyrics to ATV’s 1977 ‘How Much Longer’:

How much longer will people wear
Nazi armbands and dye their hair?
Safety pins and spray your clothes
Talk about anarchy, fascism and boredom?
Well you don’t know nuthin’
but you don’t really care

By the time of their appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall it appears that Alex Fergusson had left the band following disagreements with Perry. Thomas filled in on guitar to set-up a basic raw sound that left much of the audience baffled.

It certainly didn’t impress a teenage ‘Buzz’ who wrote in his diary, “To our surprise and disgust [ATV] were useless. On two occasions their guitarists broke strings in the middle of songs and it was a very lifeless set played to less than 100 people.  I was very disappointed by the pathetically small audience, although there was a lot still in the bar.”

Clearing the majority of the audience had come to the see the flamboyant Wayne County. He had played at The Nag’s Head on two occasions earlier in 1977 (6 March 1977 and 9 April 1977).  The headline appearance, at the much larger capacity Town Hall, was an ambitious step for an act more used to the pub and club circuit but in the week before the High Wycombe gig were also top of the bill for a performance (also with ATV support) at Portsmouth Pavilion Ballroom (16 November 1977).  While the following night they supported The Adverts at London Roundhouse, again with ATV as an additional support act on the bill.

With those two previous High Wycombe appearances behind them, they proved more popular with the Monday night audience. Buzz recalls: “Everyone assembled down the front to watch. Wayne County is an extraordinary showman…dressed in multi-coloured socks, sandals, tea-cosy on his head, eyelashes, lipstick, loose shirt and jeans, incredibly funny chats between songs. Great music, great backing band by The Electric Chairs.”

Wayne County would return to the more appropriately sized Nag’s Head twice more the following year (1978), by which time he was on his way to becoming Jayne County. ATV released a few independent records in 1978 and 1979 but don’t appear to have returned to High Wycombe – although friends, ‘Here and Now’ did pack out the Nag’s Head in 1979.  The Ruts were the group who blossomed the most, taking reggae and ska influences to produce some of the most powerful post-punk records ever.  They would return as support for The Damned at The Town Hall in April 1979 on the verge of their break-through into the public eye.

For your viewing pleasure

Ruts – 1st demo session – October 1977

Alternative TV —Life After Life – live 1977

Alternative TV —How Much Longer?

Wayne County and The Electric Chairs – Live in France October 1977

Judging by this video, it appears he may dressed down for the Town Hall gig a month later!

Further reading:








3 October 1977 – Bunch of Stiffs Tour – High Wycombe Town Hall

High Wycombe Town Hall had the privilege of hosting the opening night of The Bunch of Stiffs Tour on Monday 3rd October 1977 and this piece was written and published shortly after the 40th anniversary of this historic occasion.

Bunch of Stiffs Tour – High Wycombe Town Hall – montage of press cuttings and ticket

The much-publicised tour would showcase five artists on The Stiff label, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric and Larry Wallis. The initial idea was for each act to play around 20 minutes on a rotating headline basis but the partially chaotic events at the opening night in High Wycombe led to a change of plan – Elvis Costello and Ian Dury would eventually alternate the headline slot, with the remainder sharing the support roles during a tension filled tour across the UK.

The Stiff publicity machine encouraged a host of journalists to attend The Town Hall gig, but the tour entourage did little to please promoter local Ron Watts. The events are recalled in Will Birch’s ‘No Sleep Till Canvey Island’ book first published in 2000.

The book claims that on arriving at High Wycombe Town Hall in a torrential downpour; the journalists marched to the front of the queue, where they were greeted by promoter Ron Watts. “You’re not bringing that lot in,” roared Watts, “they’ll all have to pay.”

It goes on to say that Jake Riviera [Stiff boss] was apparently furious and ordered Glen Colson [Stiff Publicist] to resolve the issue at once.  The book then quotes Paul Conroy [Stiff Manager] as saying: “Jake always liked a guest list, but for Ron, who had been doing the local Nag’s Head for years, the Town Hall was the big one.”

These were comments that obviously riled Watts and he attempted to put the record straight in his ‘100 Watts’ autobiography, saying: “I admit I wasn’t happy at the sight of dozens of Stiff employees, journalists and hangers-on demanding free entrance and eating into my takings, but I’d worked with bigger and better artistes than Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, good as they were.”

However, Watts would have been delighted with the turnout from the general public. By the time the doors opened at 7.30pm, the queue outside the front entrance of the Town Hall was tailed back around 100 yards towards the High Street.

Birch’s book is less than accurate about the running order on the evening of the High Wycombe gig. The recollections from more than 20 years previous suggest Nick Lowe opening proceedings, followed by Elvis Costello, then Wreckless Eric and Ian Dury headlining.  However, reviews in Record Mirror, Sounds, Melody Maker and local fanzine Bucks Shee Press, written within days of the gig, give a more reliable sequence of events.

By 8.30pm the punters inside the venue (described by Melody Maker journalist Allan Jones, as having, ‘the immediate feel of a youth club on a cancelled Sunday afternoon’) had to be patient. A mass of roadies on stage battled with the logistics of dealing with five sets of equipment before the first act could take to the stage.

Les Prior, a member of Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias, was sent on stage to keep the audience amused. “We’re here tonight to play a benefit concert. A benefit concert for the Save The Whale Fund!” he joked. “..but unfortunately the whale’s been held up at Dover.” He waffled on for a few more minutes before introducing Wreckless Eric (playing only his third gig). W.E., donning a hideous pink knitted jacket, played a short set with Ian Dury guesting on drums.  The highlight is when he plays his single, ‘Whole Wide World’.

Ian Dury would return next with his Blockheads for a set that would ultimately steal the show.  He made his entrance by shouting ‘Oi! Oi!’ at the crowd and adding: “I used to go to a school near hear at the top of Amersham Hill. The headmaster was cruel to me because he didn’t like me, an’ that’s why I’m warped.”

Dury had previously played High Wycombe with his previous band, Kilburn and The High Roads, and this was one of his first outings with the highly professional Blockheads. The set drew mainly from The New Boots and Panties album, and included, ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll’, ‘Plaistow Patricia’, ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’, ‘Wake Up and Make Love to Me’, ‘Billericay Dickie’, ‘Clever Trever’, ‘I’m Partial to your Abracadabra’ and ‘Blockheads’.

The former Grammar School boy won most of the crowd over but part way through the set a local wag shouted out, “The guitar solos are too long”.  Dury responded to the heckler with; “An’ what exactly do you know about it? Anyway, the guitarist gentlemen is now at the Joanna [piano].” Not put off by Dury’s retort, the heckler adds: “The guitar solos are still too long.”  Dury comes back again with: “What is this, a f**king debating society? Shadup!” The face in the crowd is not heard again.

Nick Lowe (formerly with Brinsley Schwarz) had the task of following Dury – coming on stage in a green suit covered in question marks.  His band included two drummers, including Dave Edmunds and Larry Wallis (ex-Pink Fairies) on guitar. They opened with ‘So It Goes’ – a familiar number with the crowd.  Wallis took over the vocal duties later in the set to perform his most well-known song, ‘Police Car’ but the set never hit the heights of Dury.

Headliner for the night, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, had played a sell-out night at The Nag’s Head just a couple of months previous. However, he chose to play mainly new numbers for his Town Hall appearance – a situation that didn’t please some the crowd when some called for more recognisable numbers. “If you’ve got it, you can go home and listen to it.  If you haven’t you can go out and buy it.”  It was not the greatest tactic so late into a multi-act show.

The evening got worst for Costello when half-way through the set, Ian Dury’s publicist B.P Fallon threw hundreds of badges into the crowd.  The badges were a set of four, saying ‘Sex and’, ‘Drugs and’, etc.  The Town Hall punters scrambled to collect the set while Costello played on.  The incident did not amuse Jake Riveria who was seen to physically ‘reprimand’ Fallon.

Interesting to note that the High Wycombe date was originally intended to be recorded for an official live album to be released just four days after the gig. However, for whatever reasons, the Town Hall recordings were never used and the live album instead called upon material from later dates at Norwich, Leicester and London Lyceum. I wonder if the live recordings made at High Wycombe are still in existence?

If you have any memories, memorabilia or pictures from the gig please get in touch via the contact page.

Here’s a few YouTube clips of the artists on show at High Wycombe on 3rd October 1977.

Wreckless Eric – Whole Wide World

Nick Lowe – Sound of Breaking Glass – this is from 1978 but he’s performing in the same green jacket as the one from the Town Hall gig

Larry Wallis – Police Car

Ian Dury and The Blockheads – Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Watching the Detectives

Stiff Live Tour Album – 1977


23 July 1977 – The Jam/New Hearts/Cocksparrow – Town Hall

The first ‘rock concert’ at High Wycombe Town Hall for more than a year saw The Jam attract a near sell out crowd to the Town Centre venue.  With three previous High Wycombe appearances to their name at the The Nag’s Head, this was the first chance for many locals to witness, not only a ‘rock concert’, but also anything approaching the ever growing ‘punk’ scene.

Bucks Free Press advert for The Jam at The Town Hall – followed by Elvis Costello and then The Darts at The Nag’s Head

The date at The Town Hall on Saturday 23rd July 1977 came at the end of The Jam’s first major UK tour.  On 4th June 1977 The Jam had played a Ron Watts’ promoted gig at The Nag’s Head following a abortive attempt to join The Clash on their White Riot tour.  It was packed that evening in June 1977 and by the time of their return at The Town Hall they had played close to forty more dates nationwide – including iconic venues such at Erics Liverpool and The Electric Circus in Manchester.  The tour would climax on the evening following the Town Hall date when they would play their biggest venue to date, with an appearance at The Hammersmith Odeon in West London.

With a debut single, debut album and appearances on Top of the Pops behind them, their new single release – All Around The World – a week before this date made this the busiest Saturday evening seen in High Wycombe for years.

Also interesting to note the support acts that evening.  New Hearts appear to be another mod revivalist band formed in early 1977 with Ian Page (vocals), David Cairns (guitar),  and Matt McIntyre (drums).  Page and Cairns would later become disillusioned with the ‘punk’ scene and in 1978 would form a self confessed ‘mod’ band in the form of Secret Affair.

Cocksparrow have a history dating back the early 1970’s.  Founder members were Colin McFaull, Mick Beaufoy, Steve Burgess and Steve Bruce.  It was the rise of the punk rock movement in 1976 that seems to have been the catalyst for their break – signing a record deal with Decca in 1977 and releasing their first single in May 1977 – ‘Runnin Riot’.  That and the following single – Rolling Stones’ cover ‘We Love You’ didn’t meet the sales expectations of the record company and they were dropped in 1978.  Despite that set-back, their popularity rose again as a result of the 1980’s ‘Oi’ scene and they were still performing at the time of this post in July 2017.

Here’s The Jam performing All Around The World on Top of the Pops– released a week before their performance at High Wycombe Town Hall on 23rd July 1977.

Was The Jam’s appearance at The Town in July 1977 your first ever gig?

23 May 1967 – Pink Floyd – Town Hall

‘A Psychedelic Experience in Technicolour’ was how the local press advert previewed Pink Floyd’s appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall on Tuesday 23rd May 1967.  The band had been formed in London in 1965 by students Syd Barrett (guitar and lead vocals), Nick Mason (drums), Roger Waters (bass and vocals) and Richard Wright (keyboards and vocals).  At the time of the High Wycombe appearance two years later they had all reached their early 20’s and were now at the forefront of the rising psychedelic movement sweeping the UK music scene, with their debut single, Arnold Layne, released in March 1967.

Bucks Free Press advert for ‘The Pink Floyd’ appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall on 23 May 1967 – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

In the weeks leading up to their High Wycombe outing they had been putting the finishing touches on their debut album – The Piper at The Gates of Dawn – as well as performing a ground breaking concert in London.  In addition, their extravagant live performance had caused a stir on BBC TV.

‘The Pink Floyd’, as they were known then, had appeared at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall onFriday 12 May 1967 to perform the first ever ‘surround sound concert’.  The ‘Games for May’ gig was described as:

“Space age relaxation for the climax of spring – electronic composition, colour and image projection, girls, and the Pink Floyd.”

It set a landmark for future gigs but owners of the venue at the time,  were less impressed.  The Floyd’s bubble machine and flower petals had messed up the posh seats and carpets of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and they were banned from performing there again.

Two days after the show and just over a week before the Town Hall, the group performed and were interviewed on BBC’s ‘The Look of the Week’ show.  Their performance on Sunday 14 May 1967 of ‘Astronomy Domine’ is previewed by Dr Hans Keller, who suggests:

 “There is continuous repetition and proportionally they are a bit boring”.

In the interview that followed with Syd Barrett and Roger Waters, Keller asks Waters:

“Why does it all got to be so terribly loud? For me, frankly, it’s too loud.  I just can’t bare it.  I happened to have grown up with the string quartet which is a bit softer.  So, uh, why does it got to be so loud?”

 Waters replies:

“Well, I don’t think that it HAS to be. But I mean, that’s the way we like it. And uh, we didn’t grow up in the string quartet so I guess that could be one of the reasons why it’s loud.  I mean, it doesn’t sound terribly loud to us.”

The gig hungry Floyd were soon back on the road, taking in lower scale gigs in Newcastle, Southport and Brighton, before their ‘Technicolour’ performance in High Wycombe.

The set list for the Town Hall gig would most likely have included many of the songs performed from the ‘Games of May’ gig:

‘Matilda Mother’, ‘Flaming’, ‘The Scarecrow’,”See Emily Play’, ‘Bike’, ‘Arnold Layne’, ‘Candy and a Currant Bun’, ‘Pow R. Toc H’ and ‘Interstellar Overdrive’.

‘See Emily Play’ was released as their second single in June 1967 and they performed the song on Top of the Pops in July 1967.  The original video recordings were wiped by the BBC put a badly damaged copy was discovered in 2009 and was since uploaded to YouTube.

Meanwhile, ‘The Look of the Week’ clip is also available via YouTube:

Did you find it ‘terribly loud’ at High Wycombe Town Hall on 23rd May 1967?

References and further reading:




25 April 1967 – The Who – Town Hall

Tuesday 25th April 1967 – The Who – Town Hall.

The Who returned to High Wycombe for the first time since November 1965.  They had previously appeared at The Town Hall on four occasions during 1965 and their April 1967 return came during a period when their original ‘mod’ roots were seeing a decline in popularity.

The Who – High Wycombe Town Hall – 25th April 1967 – Bucks Free Press advert – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

They had originally been booked to play at The Town Hall in February 1967 but it appears that a four date tour of Italy may have taken preference?  The 25th April 1967 appearance also took place a few days before dates in Norway and Sweden.

Released on the weekend before the date at High Wycombe Town Hall was the single ‘Pictures of Lily’.  Written by a then 21 year old Pete Townshend, it was described by The Who’s guitarist in an interview with NME published in May 1967, as ‘power pop’.

This is footage of Pictures of Lily being recorded:

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