8 September 1978 – Rich Kids/Four Daughters – Town Hall

Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids made a long awaited appearance in High Wycombe on Friday 8th September 1978.  The former Sex Pistols bassist had formed the band in 1977 and by the time of the September 1978 date at the Town Hall, interest was high to see what his new band would deliver.  Local band Four Daughters were support for a gig independently promoted by Ron Watts.

Rich Kids – High Wycombe Town Hall – 8th September 1978 – flyer from my own collection

Matlock had been fired by Pistols Manager Malcom McClaren in early 1977 having played High Wycombe on two previous occasions with the punk originals – February 1976 and the College and September 1976 at The Nag’s Head. Matlock, aged 22 at the time of the Town Hall gig, had spent the previous year refining the line-up of The Rich Kids which now included Midge Ure on vocals (aged 24), Steve New on guitar (aged 18) and Rusty Egan on drums (just shy of his 21st birthday).  Ure had previously performed with Slik – best known for their single ’Forever and Ever’ – No.1 in the UK charts at the time The Sex Pistols played High Wycombe college in February 1976.

Rich Kids – 1978 -posing for Oh Boy magazine
Left to Right: Rusty Egan, Glen Matlock, Midge Ure and Steve New

They had signed to EMI records in December 1977 and released their first single, ‘Rich Kids’ in January 1978 – earning them an appearance on BBC’s Top of the Pops and the trailing of ITV alternative music show, ‘Revolver’. A date of 30 January 1978 had been pencilled in by Ron Watts for an appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall but arrangements fell through.

Local live music punters keeping an eye of the national music press would also have been excited with reports of a date of 30 July 1978 at High Wycombe Town Hall with The Slits as support. However, despite this date since appearing in gig archive listings, it never took place. Indeed, promoter Ron Watts was busy that evening with a gig at The Nag’s Head.

What we can be sure of is that the 8th September 1978 gig did take place.  Three of my friends recall the gig and I was also pleased to find a flyer for the gig in my own archives – probably obtained from Scorpion Records and now appearing on the internet for the first time in this article.

My fellow music friends who attended this gig were ‘Buzz’, Martin63’ and ‘Tapps’. The latter recalls that: “The Rich Kids were a bit of disappointment. Their brilliant single ‘Ghosts of Princes in Towers’ was easily the highlight of the night but the crowd expected something more from Glen Matlock, having reputedly penned most of ‘Never Mind The Bollo*ks.”

All three also recall local support band ‘Four Daughters’ – they included former Deathwish, Party, Pretty and Ventilators guitarist Kris Jojvatis. ‘Tapps’ remembers that their drummer was Dave ‘Dudge’ Williams. Does anybody else reading this have more information on this band?

Based on a set-list from a Rich Kids gig at Birmingham Barbarellas a few weeks earlier in 1978, the songs played that night at High Wycombe Town Hall would most likely have included:

  1. Sound Of Marching Men
  2. Put You In The Picture
  3. Here Comes The Nice
  4. Empty Words
  5. Young Girls
  6. Bullet Proof Lover
  7. Lovers And Fools
  8. Twelve Miles High
  9. Holy Holy
  10. Burning Sounds
  11. Strange One
  12. Cheap Emotions
  13. Hung On You
  14. Ghosts Of Princes In Towers
  15. Shake Appeal
  16. Rich Kids.

The band eventually split-up at the end of 1978, with Matlock going-on to perform in several other bands and return to High Wycombe and many occasions. Midge Ure and Rusty Egan went on to form an early incarnation of new-romantic band Visage. Ure later gained commercial success with Ultravox.  Matlock’s time in Visage was short but he returned to live performing with several bands and returned to High Wycombe on several occasions, including Jimmy Norton’s Explosion, Spectres, London Cowboys, Dead Men Walking and reformed Faces.

Steve New later played in Public Image Limited, Generation X and with Iggy Pop. He also helped out Matlock on his solo projects but sadly passed away in May 2010 from cancer.  He played with Rich Kids in January 2010 in an one-off benefit concert for his needs.

In 2016, Matlock reformed Rich Kids again for a show at Shepherds Bush and then went back to solo touring. His was embarking on a solo tour of small venues on Europe at the time of publication of this article.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Rich Kids – Rich Kids + Ghosts of Princes in Towers – Revolver TV pilot show May 1978

Glen Matlock + Midge Ure interview – Thames TV 1978 with Anne Nightingale

Rich Kids – Here Come the Nice (Small Face cover) – live audio 1978

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

https://punkygibbon.co.uk/bands/r/richkids.html

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/archive/index.html

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

 

20 August 1968 – Fleetwood Mac – Town Hall

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac appeared at High Wycombe Town Hall on Tuesday 20th August 1968.  Some 50 years later, at the point of publication of this article, the name Fleetwood Mac is linked with legendary rock n’ roll status. However, back in 1968 they were a far different band compared to what they would evolve into during their world concurring success of the 1970’s and 1980’s – they were also embarking on a 50th anniversary tour at the time of this post!

Fleetwood Mac – High Wycombe Town Hall – Tuesday 20th August 1968 – advert from Bucks Free Press enhanced by wycombegigs.co.uk

A quick look at their history has guitarist Peter Green forming the band in London in 1967 along with fellow guitarist Jeremy Spencer and drummer Mick Fleetwood.  They soon added John McVie on bass as they took their initial steps on the road as a traditional rhythm n’ blues outfit – a combination of the band members names made up the title of the band.  The foursome recorded their first album between April and December 1967 and the self-titled work was released in February 1968 and reached No.4 in the UK charts. A second album, ‘Mr Wonderful’ was recorded in April 1968 and released at the time of the Town Hall date in August 1968.

It was also around the time of the Town Hall date that they had recruited a further guitarist in the form of Danny Kirwan.  It’s at this point that it’s worth mentioning that an early rehearsal and gigging venue for the band was The Nag’s Head in Battersea, South London.  Kirwan’s live debut with the band is documented in many recognised biographies as August 1968 at this Battersea venue.  However, the nature of the internet has seen some printed and online articles turn this into a performance at the equally famous Nag’s Head in High Wycombe.  It’s not inconceivable that Fleetwood Mac did play the Nag’s Head in High Wycombe but during my research of the local High Wycombe press, I have found no evidence of them playing the London Road venue and Ron Watts’ autobiography makes no of Fleetwood Mac either.

Having said that, I was delighted to find an advert in the Bucks Free Press for the 20th August 1968 at one of the regular Tuesday evening dances at the Town Hall, High Wycombe, with Fleetwood Mac described as ‘The Biggest Drawing BLUES BAND in the County’. The date doesn’t appear to be documented elsewhere on the internet, so hopefully people with far more knowledge of the band than I’ve been able to piece together in the time available, will be able to corroborate.

Also interesting to note that a few days after the Town Hall gig, Fleetwood Mac played an open air concert at Hyde Park, London. The free concert took place on Saturday 24th August 1968 with Family headlining, supported by Fairport Convention, Roy Harper, Peter Sarstedt, Ten Years After and Fleetwood Mac.

Fleetwood Mac’s set-list at the time included: ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, ‘I Believe I’ll Dust my Broom’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’ – the latter becoming a massive hit for Santana in 1970. Fleetwood Mac’s first major hit, ‘Albatross’ was still at the writing stage but would be recorded in October 1968 and released the following month.  In between those times it also appears the band returned to the Town Hall on Tuesday 8th October 1968 – again billed as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’.

Where you at any of these gigs to see the legends in the making?

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Need Your Love So Bad – Fleetwood Mac – Dutch TV 1968

Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac – Single audio March 1968

https://www.fleetwoodmac.com/

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

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/Hyde-park-8-24-68.html

http://peel.wikia.com/wiki/Rock_Family_Trees:_The_Fleetwood_Mac_Story

 

18 August 1978 – Rezillos/Patrik Fitzgerald/Vents- Town Hall

The Rezillos made a long awaited and welcome return to High Wycombe on Friday 18th August 1978, playing to a near sold-out Town Hall with support advertised as punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald and local band The Vents.

Rezillos August 1978 Tour montage – featuring Friday 18th August 1978 at High Wycombe Town Hall – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

The Rezillos had played The Nag’s Head just over a year previous as a relatively unknown punk outfit from Edinburgh.  By the time of the return to High Wycombe in August 1978 they had released their first album ‘Can’t Stand the Rezillos’ (July 1978) and had just secured their first real chart success with their ‘Top of the Pops’ single.

Promoter Ron Watts had been looking to bring the band back to High Wycombe for several weeks and an original date of 14th July 1978 had been booked (with Sore Throat support) but the gig was cancelled, along with the rest of a proposed Rezillos tour, due to unrest amongst the band.

Their eventual return on 18th August 1978 came just over a week since their Top of the Pops debut – Peter Powell introducing a track that was essentially slagging off the programme.

Here’s a quick extract from the lyrics

Does it matter what is shown

Just as long as everyone knows

What is selling what to buy

The stock market for your hi fi

Take the money, leave the box

Everybody’s on top of the pops

A packed house at the Town Hall witnessed a manic set that included all The Rezillos favourites – they also threw in a 100mph version of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ – The Sweet classic from 1974.

Two weeks after their Town Hall appearance they were back on Top of the Pops as their record of the same name hit the top 20. A follow-up single, ‘Destination Venus’, was released in October 1978 but for reasons what are described as ‘growing tensions in the band’ led to an eventual split by the end of 1978 (all very well documented via the links below).

Please get in touch or leave or comment if you have any memories of The Rezillos gig at The Town Hall – including any more information on local support band The Vents.

For your listening and viewing pleasure:

The Rezillos – Top of the Pops – BBC Top of the Pops – August 1978

I understand that lead singer Faye Fife was wearing something similar at The Town Hall?

References:

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

http://www.rezillos.rocks/

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

 

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)

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

30 April 1968 – Bill Haley and the Comets – Town Hall

Rock ‘n’ Roll legends Bill Haley and the Comets played a nostalgic concert at High Wycombe Town on Tuesday 30th April 1968.  The Bucks Free Press advert promoted the evening with the strap-line: ‘A Legend in Their Own Lifetime! From U.S.A. – the Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll.’ 8/- (40p) would have gained you entry with ‘Seats available in the balcony for non-dancers’.

Bill Hayley and The Comets – High Wycombe Town Hall – 30th April 1968

The U.S.A. group had first hit the charts in the 1950’s, with ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ becoming the first rock ‘n’ roll single to break in the UK charts in December 1954. Their most famous song, ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was originally released before this date as a ‘B’ side and its success didn’t take off until it was used in the opening credits to the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’, released in March 1955.

Returning to their 1968 appearance in High Wycombe, the Bucks Free Press previewed the gig by saying: “Perhaps the greatest group to come out of Rock and Roll was Bill Haley and the Comets. They will be playing at High Wycombe Town Hall on Tuesday.  Though for most teenagers the days of rock and roll are a bit distant, Bill Haley has a fantastic stage act and this should be an evening worth watching.”

Unfortunately there was no review of the gig in the BFP but mention of the gig can be found in the August 2016 edition of Record Collector magazine where a letter from Dean Smith recalls: “I did get to see Bill & His Comets, at High Wycombe Town Hall. I was in the darker area at the back of the hall enjoying not only the full spectacle but also lots of 30-40-something couples trying to get space enough to jive amongst clumps of young teenagers jigging up and down and trying to throw shapes copied from rock’n’roll film posters.”

The gig appeared to briefly relight the old school rock ‘n’ roll scene in High Wycombe and a ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Show’ was subsequently arranged at the Town Hall on Tuesday 14th May 1968.  However, a brief mention in the BFP of that evening suggests it was not well attended and further Tuesday evening concerts tended to stick to the more current ‘pop’ acts.

For you listening and viewing pleasure

Bill Haley returns to England – 1968 Pathe News

References:

http://recordcollectormag.com/letters/hail-haley

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haley_%26_His_Comets

28 April 1978 – Siouxsie and The Banshees – Town Hall

Fast rising punk icons Siouxsie and The Banshees braved the hostile atmosphere of High Wycombe Town Hall on Friday 28th April 1978.  The eagerly awaited gig was promoted by Ron Watts and came as a band initiated campaign was underway to get The Banshees signed to a major record label.  Support on the night came from El-Seven plus ‘Special Guests’, sparse guitar and vocal duo Spizz Oil.

Siouxsie and The Banshees – NME advert for their High Wycombe Town Hall gig on 28th April 1978. Also up and coming gigs at The Nag’s Head

Siouxsie and The Banshees had played The Nag’s Head twice in 1977 in an earlier incarnation of their line-up. The Town Hall show came as their popularity had snowballed following their debut sessions for John Peel – the first broadcast in December 1977.  Just over a week before their trip to play at The Town Hall they had sold out London’s Music Machine venue in near record time.

The campaign to wake record companies up to The Banshees was shifted to a different level when the London offices of the likes of EMI, CBS and Polydor suffered graffiti messages saying ‘SIGN THE BANSHEES – DO IT NOW!”

The graffiti coincided with the broadcast of a second John Peel Session – broadcast in February 1978. The session included ‘Hong Kong Garden’ and stark version of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’.  Other new tracks were ‘Carcass’ and the haunting ‘Overground’.

Lead singer Siouxsie was quoted in Mark Paytress’s 2003 Authorised Biography of SATB as saying: “We picked up a publishing deal before we got a record contact. All I can think is that record companies saw no future in the concept of a woman fronting a band – or at least a woman with an attitude.  The Sex Pistols were rooted in rock ‘n’ roll tradition.  They were just The Who or Small Faces with an edge, whereas what we doing didn’t fit into anything they could relate to quite so easily.  Perhaps [the record companies] thought if they didn’t sign we’d go away?”

For anybody who attended the gig at the Town Hall on Friday 28th May 1978, their memories will be sure to include the intimidating atmosphere that boiled over on a number of occasions.  Support acts El-Seven and the then two-piece Spizz Oil attempted to warm up the audience for The Banshees but crowd trouble was always bubbling under – with band members and some of the audience having to run for cover during the most violent parts of the evening.

Once again, I call upon the diary of my music loving friend Buzz for his musings – written within 24 hours of the end of the gig. “For long periods the gig was in a state of complete chaos as the most horrific mass violence erupted repeatedly from 9pm onwards. And it didn’t only affect the audience – the groups were forced to stop playing, especially when [Spizz Oil] were literally chased off stage by a mob.  It seemed for a time that SATB would not appear, and certainly that future gigs are seriously jeopardised by the incidents.”  Buzz had also witnessed violence at the Generation X gig at The Town Hall two weeks previous but this was far worse in comparison.

The set-list for The Town Hall gig remains unconfirmed but bootleg recordings of gigs during the same tour suggest the songs and order would have been something similar to this:

  • Helter Skelter
  • Mirage
  • Nicotine Stain
  • Metal Postcard
  • Make Up to Break Up
  • Hong Kong Garden
  • Overground
  • Carcass
  • 20th Century Boy
  • Suburban Relapse
  • Pure
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Love in a Void (possible encore)

Buzz concluded: “The fear seemed to anaesthetise the atmosphere rather than add to it. Siouxsie and her group, forced to stop on a couple of occasions, showed disgust at the situation and showed that they were not prepared to tolerate it, but also that they were prepared to play for the real fans if they could.  Siouxsie was magnificent. Obviously scared at times, but also angry, she handled the tense situations superbly. The group played a little warily, but I was lost in admiration for Siouxsie and her group.  They are the greatest on Earth…”

Record companies agreed and at last started to think there were hits in the making. They eventually signed for Polydor records in June 1978 for a rumoured £400,000 advance.  They never returned to High Wycombe.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Siouxsie and The Banshees – John Peel session audio – February 1978

Spizz Oil – 6,000 Crazy – John Peel session audio – August 1978

Did you survive the evening at High Wycombe Town Hall back in April 1978?

January and February 1968 – Mud – pre-glam appearances in High Wycombe

My research for 1968 live gigs in High Wycombe unearthed a couple of early appearances by Mud – a group better known for the huge success they enjoyed between 1973 and 1976 (14 top 20 UK hit singles, including three number ones).

Mud – Bucks Free Press adverts for their High Wycombe gigs at Townfield House and Town Hall – January and February 1968

Mud had formed in Surrey in February 1966 and released their debut single ‘Flower Power’ in late 1967 and a follow-up ‘Up the Airy Mountain’ during the early months of 1968. They first played High Wycombe on Monday 29th January 1968 at The Townfield House in Totteridge Road (the road directly above High Wycombe railway station).  The venue (with a capacity of around 200) was home to the local Constituency Labour Party (C.L.P.) – it had been hosting gigs since 1967 – typically on evenings when other venues were not open.  The Mud gig was billed as ‘They play on Radio One’.  Admission was 4/6 (22 ½ p) for non-members and 3/6 (17 ½ p) for members.

It can only be assumed that the Townfield House gig was a success, as less than two weeks later they were back for an appearance at the much larger capacity Town Hall. The date of their second appearance was Saturday 10th February 1968, with the Bucks Free Press advert confirming ‘From London their name is MUD but their sound is sensational’. Admission was 5/- (25p).

The line-up of Mud at the time of their High Wycombe appearances included songwriters Les Gray (vocals and keyboards) and Rob Davis (guitarist), both 21 at the time.  The dates of their High Wycombe shows also appear to be at a similar time they signed their first professional recording contracts.  According to a band history, written by Dave Profitt (see link below), they played their first professional gig on 31st March 1968 at London’s Marquee Club – a few weeks after their High Wycombe dates.

For your listening pleasure
This is what Mud sounded like back in 1967 and 1968.

Flower Power – Mud 1967

Up the Airy Mountain – Mud 1968

References:

http://www.mudrock.org.uk/html/story.html

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

 

 

14 April 1978 – Generation X – Town Hall

High Wycombe favourites Generation X returned to the Town Hall on Friday 14th April 1978 for a riotous  performance with Scottish band The Jolt as support.

Generation X – High Wycombe Town Hall – 14th April 1978 – poster

The Billy Idol fronted band had previously appeared in High Wycombe on four occasions – all at The Nag’s Head but were invited back by promoter Ron Watts for their first appearance at the much larger capacity Town Hall.

By the time of this appearance, Generation X were well established – releasing their self-titled debut album in March 1978 – reaching No.29 in the UK album charts. Their third single, ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ was released at the same time, with a Top of the Pops appearance following just a few weeks before their Town Hall show.

Their local reputation meant that the gig was played out before a full-house and an intense atmosphere. My friend Buzz recalls being at the gig as a teenager – having already seen them at The Nag’s Head the previous year.  He was keeping a diary at the time and wrote: “The whole gig was incredible, absolutely fantastic! [The gig] had everything.”.  He went on to say: “When Gen X came on everything was great. Suddenly the place was jam-packed and their set was superb. The group really enjoyed it.” The crowd reaction prompted Billy Idol to thank the audience for such a great reception.  Describing the crowd, Buzz added: “Masses of pogoing in the front, behind were the skinheads looking for trouble, throwing bog rolls at Gen X and even beer cans, but the excitement was such that no-one cared about them.”

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Ready, Steady, Go -Generation X – Top of the Pops -March 1978