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

January/February 1978 – High Wycombe music memories

January and February 1978 were relatively quiet months for live gigs in High Wycombe, compared to the wealth of shows in the closing months of 1977. However, I doubt it wasn’t for the want of trying on the part of local promoter Ron Watts.

Watts’ baby was The Nag’s Head and he put on Liverpool ‘power-pop’ hopefuls The Yachts on Thursday 19th January 1978.  The Yachts had appeared at the same venue on 16th October 1977 shortly after the release of their debut single on Stiff Records, ‘Suffice to Say’ and the popularity of that gig saw a repeat booking – albeit not a date to set the pulses racing for those keen to see something new in the same week that The Sex Pistols had played their final live date.

However, there was excitement for fans of the local music scene when the national music press, including NME and Sounds, reported that The Rich Kids, a band who included former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, were due to appear at The Town Hall on Saturday 28th January 1978.  The High Wycombe appearance looked to be a real coup for Watts as it would be part of national tour that had seen virtually all dates sell-out.  But there was bad news in store for Watts and punters, when, for reasons I’ve been unable to trace, the gig was cancelled and the local gig goers were left with another free Saturday evening to fill.

‘Pub Rock’ outfit Roogalator played at The Nag’s Head on Thursday 2nd February 1978.  They had been a regular live act under Ron Watts – dating back to a late 1975 gig at The Crown in Marlow.  They went on to appear at The Nag’s Head during 1976 and 1977 – drawing decent crowds from their loyal following despite not entirely fitting in with the direction that popular music was taking.

Their Nag’s Head date came a few weeks after they appeared at ‘Front Row Festival’, a three-week event at the Hope and Anchor, Islington, in late November and early December 1977. This resulted in the band’s inclusion, on a UK top thirty selling double album of recordings from the festival released in March 1978.  They disbanded shortly after the release of the album.

One of the most popular dates during January and February 1978 was a Patrik Fitzgerald gig at The Nag’s Head.  I’ve yet to be able to confirm the exact date but it was February 1978 and most likely on the regular Thursday slot.  Support came from Frumious Bandersnatch and one of the last appearances by local band, The Party.

The picture below is an extract from Issue 2 of High Wycombe fanzine The Buckshee Press. A great selection of pictures by Pete Bird and Henry.

Bandersnatch, The Party, Shucks and Patrik Fitzgerald – pictures by Pete Bird and Henry – as published in The Buckshee Press – April 1978

Several music historians have designated Fitzgerald as ‘folk punk’, presumably based on his link with rise of the punk movement during 1976 and 1977. He released three EP’s through London record label Small Wonder – the first and best known being ‘Safety-Pin Stuck in My Heart’.

He proved popular with the crowd and would return to The Nag’s Head and Town Hall later in the year.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

The Bingo Crowd – Patrik Fitzgerald – 1978 Revolver TV

4 April 2018 – Talking punk on Emperor’s Bits for Wycombe Sound

Not put off by my guest appearance on 21st February 2018, Andy Aliffe invited me back on to his ‘Emperor’s Bits’ show on Wycombe Sound on 4th April 2018 – this time talking about the early days of the ‘punk’ scene in High Wycombe.

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

This was another hugely enjoyable hour were I was joined and helped out by friend and Wycombe Sound’s Punkarolla host, Andy Chalk.

We got a chance to remind listeners that the likes of The Sex Pistols, Damned, Clash, and Stranglers all played the legendary Nag’s Head back in 1976 – while the following year the same venue hosted The Jam, XTC and Elvis Costello.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without a mention for ex-High Wycombe Grammar school boy Ian Dury, who played High Wycombe during his early career with Kilburn and The Highroads, before returning with his Blockheads on the Bunch of Stiffs tour at The Town Hall in October 1977.

Highlight of the show for me was hearing former Bucks Free Press junior reporter Janice Raycroft talking about the iconic Sex Pistols at High Wycombe college in February 1976. Janice, now editor of Buckinghamshire Life magazine, recalled in vivid detail her interview with Johnny Rotten, seeing Sid Viscous wielding a knife and the mixed reaction of the audience.

The show also briefly touched on the 50th anniversary of the first ever ‘Blues Loft’ gig at The Nag’s Head and it’s hoped a further edition of The Emperor’s Bits will be dedicated to the history of this sadly lost venue.

The show is available on the listen again function until 2 May 2018.

http://listenagain.wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/shows/the-emperors-bits/

Emperor’s Bits line-up 4th April 2018 – Stevyn Colgan, Andy Aliffe (nice hair), Andy Chalk and Paul Lewis

January/February 1968 – Charts acts visit High Wycombe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Hole in My Shoe – Traffic – promo video 1968

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

Everlasting Love – Love Affair – official video 1968

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

References:

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Herd_(British_band)

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

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

1968 – High Wycombe music memories

This page was initially written during the early months of 2018 as a brief introduction to my ongoing research of the history of live music in High Wycombe for the 50th anniversary of 1968.

1968 saw another boom in the popularity of live music throughout the UK and the High Wycombe venues were quick to take advantage of the growing market. The already popular High Wycombe Town Hall, was eventually joined by what would become an iconic live music venue in the Town – The Nag’s Head in London Road.

Well-known names to appear at The Town Hall included Traffic, The Herd, Love Affair, Amen Corner and a return for the ever popular Move.  Legendary Rock ’n’ Rollers Bill Haley and The Comets would also appear at the Town Hall during the twilight of their career.

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

The Nag’s Head would kick into life in April 1968 when young promoter Ron Watts took his ‘Blues Loft’ events to the upstairs room – initially bringing in cult Blues artists ‘Champion’ Jack Dupree, Shakey Vick and Savoy Brown. Later in the year he would promote an early ‘out of London’ show for Jethro Tull.

During a year when High Wycombe town centre saw the building of their new Octagon shopping centre, other venues would also look to take advantage of the demand for hearing the latest music being played on BBC Radio 1 (launched in September 1967) – either through Discos or live gigs – this included The Townfield House in Totteridge Road who hosted a very early appearance for 1970’s glam rockets in the making, Mud.

I plan to feature articles relating to the most memorable and significant gigs of 1968. As mentioned, the research is ongoing and once again, I would be delighted to receive your High Wycombe music related memories and memorabilia from the year 1968. Please use the usual contact methods.

In the meantime, and as a brief insight into the musical landscape of 1968, take a scroll through the list from the link below and see how many tracks you are familiar with and then realise they are ALL from 1968 and a good half-dozen or so played High Wycombe during the same year!

http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1968.shtml