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:

https://www.wired.com/2009/05/dayintech_0512/

http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/oldott/www.offthetelly.co.uk/index5111.html?page_id=562

 

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.

13 February 1967 – The Move – Town Hall

Monday 13th February 1967 – The Move – Town Hall

Birmingham  based The Move came to High Wycombe at point of their first UK chart success.  Formed in December 1965 with a line-up of Trevor Burton (guitar/vocals), Roy Wood (guitar/vocals), Chris Kefford (bass/vocals), Carl Wayne (vocals) and Bev Bevan (drums), they released their first single, ‘Night of Fear’, in December 1966.

The single peaked at No.2 in the UK on 26 January 1967 and just over a week later they were the headliners at High Wycombe Town Hall’s Valentine Ball.

The Move – Bucks Free Press advert for their 13th February 1967 appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall – the ‘A NIGHT OF FEAR’ caption is a reference to their single of the time. Note the added attraction of ‘TOP DISCS’!

The Move were grouped into the ‘Psychedelic’ tag that the music press of the time were starting to use.  This was during a period of mass experimentation in not only the latest electronic music gadgets but also the mind altering substances prevalent in the music industry.

A quick look at the lyrics of ‘Night of Fear’ seems to reveal more, “Just about to flip your mind, just about to trip your mind”.

Their follow up single in April 1967, “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” reached No.5 in the UK charts and was also accused of containing references to ‘the synthetic effects of hallucinogenics’.

Wood, 20 at the time of the Wycombe gig, would go on to claim fame with Wizard in the 1970’s, while Bevan (22), would become better known for his time in the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).  They were both still performing at the time of this article, 50 years after their appearance at The Town Hall!

This is what they looked and sounded like back in early 1967.

11 February 1967 – Tom Jones – Town Hall (maybe)

Saturday 11th February 1967 – Tom Jones – Town Hall

I found a picture on the internet (Getty Images) that claims it’s from a Tom Jones performance at High Wycombe Town Hall on 11th February 1967.

The Bucks Free Press archives from February 1967 has no mention of the gig, before or after the suggested date.  Looking at the picture, it is certainly not in the main Town Hall but could quite possibly be The Oak Room. Did it actually take place and on what date?  Do you know anybody who may have attended?

11 February 1972 – David Bowie – Town Hall (maybe)

11th February 1972 – David Bowie – Town Hall

This is another gig that I’ve had difficulty in verifying if it actually took place.

Numerous David Bowie archive websites list the 11th February 1972 as the 2nd night of the Ziggy Stardust tour.  However, the gig was not advertised in the Bucks Free Press and the performance (if it took place), passed without comment in the local press.

The date came less than two week’s after Bowie’s legendary performance at Aylesbury’s Borough Assembly Hall.  That 29th January 1972 date saw Bowie perform tracks from Ziggy Stardust for the first time.  An advert for this gig appeared in both the Bucks Free Press and Midweek in the days leading up to ‘Friars’ show.

Advert for David Bowie gig in Aylesbury 29th January 1972 – from Bucks Free Press

But what about the High Wycombe show?  A young Bowie had performed in High Wycombe back in March 1966 but by 1972 he was now reaching superstar status.

Any information on any of his High Wycombe performances, gratefully received.

These are links to two websites that list the 11 February 1972 gig

http://www.davidbowie.com/news/ziggy-imperial-college-day-1972-54146

The above suggests the High Wycombe show was ‘debatable’.

http://www.bowiewonderworld.com/tours/tour72.htm

Ron Watts

It would be fair to say if it wasn’t for Ron Watts, the live music scene in High Wycombe during the late 1960’s, through the 1970’s and the into the 1980’s, would have been a much duller place.

Watts first promoted gigs in High Wycombe in 1968, with some of those early names including: John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Jethro Tull, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then, having taken a break from promoting gigs in High Wycombe, it was a chance viewing of the Sex Pistols at High Wycombe College in February 1976 that led to him giving them a series of shows at Oxford Street’s 100 Club venue.  In September 1976 he would bring the Pistols back to The Nag’s Head just a couple of weeks before appeared at the famous 100 Club Punk Festival and less than three months before they hit national notoriety via the ‘Bill Grundy’ episode.

Watt’s would go on to bring the up and coming ‘punk’ and ‘new wave’ to High Wycombe during the remainder of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The most well-known names include The Stranglers, The Clash, The Damned, The Jam, Generation X, The Jam, Siouxsie and The Banshees, XTC, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Tom Robinson Band, The Psychedelic Furs and U2.

Ron sadly passed away during the initial research for this website and, in the absence of a working version of wycombegigs.co.uk, I wrote an obituary that was published on chairboys.co.uk on 16th July 2016.

I introduced the piece thus:

Watts is best known for his involvement in the rise of the punk scene in 1976 and 1977, promoting gigs at the famous Nag’s Head venue in High Wycombe in addition to the legendary 100 Club venue in Oxford Street, London. However, it  would be an insult to his legacy to leave unmentioned his part in bringing top Blues acts to venues in the UK during the late 1960’s and beyond, plus his front man role in legendary Cajun Blues band, Brewer’s Droop.

You can read the full piece at:

http://www.chairboys.co.uk/history/2016_07_ron_watts_obit.htm

Ron’s name will pop up time and time again on this website and it would be great to hear your memories and tributes to the man responsible for so many gigs in High Wycombe, many of which provided the inspiration for future bands to form, or in my case, a leading figure in inspiring the creation of this website.

30 November 1965 – The Who – Town Hall

The Who make their fourth appearance at The Town Hall during a hectic six month period in 1965.

1965_11_30_who_town_hall_ad_bfp

Formed in 1964, the West London based rockers had released their first single, I Can’t Explain, in January 1965 and at the time of their November 1965 appearance at The Town Hall, their ‘My Generation’ single had reached No.2 in the UK Charts. The same titled debut album was soon to be released too.

What would be their final appearance in High Wycombe, took place at the popular ‘Tuesday Club’ held at The Town Hall. The same venue had hosted The Small Faces the previous month, while December 1965 would see the visits of The Kinks, The Moody Blues and Dave, Dee, Doxy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.  All four gigs would have set you back less than £2!

17 December 1963 – Rolling Stones – Town Hall

Tuesday 17th December 1963

The Rolling Stones play their third gig of the year at High Wycombe Town Hall. An advert in the Bucks Free Press includes the added draw of seeing a ‘selection of MISS HIGH WYCOMBE’. Admission 7/6 (37 ½p).

Rolling Stones advert from the Bucks Free Press. Enhanced by Paul Lewis for use on wycombegigs.co.uk
Rolling Stones advert from the Bucks Free Press. Enhanced by Paul Lewis for use on wycombegigs.co.uk

A picture taken backstage showing Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is archived on the SWOP site.

1963_rolling_stones_wycombe_town_hallmhw01881