24 May 1968 – Jethro Tull – Nag’s Head

The Nag’s Head hosted an early appearance for folk/prog rock giants in the making Jethro Tull on Friday 24th May 1968.  The band, formed in late 1967, had released just one single at the point of their Nag’s Head appearance and their debut album had yet to be recorded.  Less than a year later, their first vinyl long-player had hit the top 10 UK album charts and by the early 1970’s they were touring the world playing huge arenas.

Jethro Tull adverts from The Bucks Free Press for gigs at The Nag’s Head and The Crown, Marlow – May 1968

Promoter Ron Watts recalls the gig in his 100 Watts – A Life In Music – autobiography, where he claims he trialled an admission charge increase method.

“The normal price of admission was six shillings, but rather than reduce the price for an unknown band as Tull were then, I charged 6/6 (32 ½ p). I gambled that people would think that the higher price meant Tull were well-known, and potential customers would be too embarrassed to admit to their friends that they’d never heard of the night’s star attraction. The gamble worked, the place was full and Tull did a great set.”

The original band members had met in Blackpool. They found success after moving south to base themselves in Luton and settling on the name Jethro Tull.  Scottish born Ian Anderson on lead vocals and flute was a main focus, with other band members at the time of their High Wycombe appearance being Micky Abrahams (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums) and Glen Cornick (bass).  They released their first single, “Sunshine Day/Aeroplane” on MGM records in February 1968, although it was miscredited to ‘Jethro Toe’.

Following their appearance at The Nag’s Head, on 29th June 1968 Jethro Tull played the first ever free concert at Hyde Park, along with The Pink Floyd, Roy Harper and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Footage of the concert was filmed by Pathe news and has since appeared in documentaries about the band.  In August 1968 they appeared at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Sunbury-on-Thames and by most accounts, this was the point they became recognised by the national music press and their career blossomed as a result.

Support to Jethro Tull on 24th May 1968 were The Nag’s Head houseband Dynaflow Blues.  They would also share the bill with Jethro Tull at the National Jazz and Blues Festival at Sunbury-on-Thames in August 1968.

Watts also promoted a Jethro Tull gig in Marlow the following week, with a show at The Crown. Watts added in his autobiography: “Six months later Tull’s first album, This Was, had made the top ten album charts and the band had been the hit of that summer’s festival circuit. People were coming up to me in awe, saying, “You booked them, and they became stars.” It was nothing to do with me, I’d hardly heard of Jethro Tull when they played the Nag’s, but they helped me to get a reputation for being able to spot up and coming acts. That meant people were happy to see bands they didn’t know, because they thought that a few weeks later they’d be watching Top of the Pops and telling everyone that they’d seen all those performers playing at the Nag’s.”

It doesn’t appear that Jethro Tull ever returned to play High Wycombe again but there is another connection with the area as Ian Anderson moved to live in Buckinghamshire for a number of years from the late 1970’s through to the early 1980’s – residing in a farm house in Radnage – a village about 7 miles from High Wycombe.  Footage of the farm (with recording studio added), plus the 1968 Hyde Park film, appears in the YouTube clip below.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Fish ‘n’ Sheep & Rock ‘n’ Roll – Ian Anderson documentary – Channel 4 1987

Hyde Park footage is from 1:30 – filmed 29th June 1968
Footage at Radnage is from around 27:30

References:

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/hyde-pk-6-29-68.html

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/sunbury2.html

3 May 1968 – Rainbow FFolly release debut album on Parlophone

Rainbow FFolly, High Wycombe’s pop band in the making, debut album ‘Sallies Fforth’ hit the record shops on Friday 3rd May 1968.  With heavy pop and psychedelia influences from the time, the band were looking to hit the big-time, with 21 year old vocalists and lead guitarist Jonathan Dunsterville stating (with tongue in cheek) that his ambition from fame would be to own a ‘gold plated house’.  His dream didn’t quite work out but the album has since become a collector’s item and prompted the band to reform and release a follow-up some 38 years later!

Sallies Forth – 1968 Parlophone release from High Wycombe’s Rainbow FFolly

Rainbow Ffolly consisted of Jonathan Dunsterville, 21 years old (lead guitar), Richard Dunsterville, 23 (guitar) Richard Newell,19 (bass) and Stewart Osborn, 21 (drums).  The band had originally formed in early 1967 under the name ‘Force Four’ and had played many of the local smaller venues, including High Wycombe’s Needham Bowl and Townfield House.

Band ‘leader’ Jonathan Dunsterville was a former student at ‘High Wycombe College of Technology and Art’ and designed the cover for the album which had been partly recorded in the front room of Stewart Osborn’s house in London Road, High Wycombe – however, the main recording had been carried out at John Jackson’s legendary studio in Rickmansworth. The recordings were intended as demo tracks for distribution to record companies but EMI were so impressed they agreed to issue the recordings ‘as is’ on their Parlophone sister label – the same label the used at the time by The Beatles.

During my research for this article I found several mentions of the band in the 1968 editions of the Bucks Free Press. An article from 3 May 1968 – the day the album was released reports that a reception for the album was held at the EMI offices in London the week before its release. The BFP feature says the group made their way to the occasion using their ‘trusty ambulance’.  It also reports the fact that fans of the group had gathered in Hazlemere (at the home of Manager John Sparrowhawk) earlier that day to wish them off on their trip to London.  The ambulance they used for transporting their gear to gigs had been decorated with a clockwork key on the roof, rainbow coloured wheel hubs and cartoon caricatures of the group on the windows.  The band themselves wore what was their usual regalia – an assortment of Edwardian clothes, embroidered silks and silver jewellery.

Rainbow Ffolly and their clockwork ambulance – picture from www.rainbowffolly.com

 

The reception included a photo session with Paul Fleviz and Beatle label mate George Harrison was apparently on-hand to watch the boys pose for photos on top of the ambulance.  The photo also attracted the attention of nearby office workers, while a female traffic warden was put-off ticketing the ambulance via the gift of a Rainbow FFlolly card.  The band then continued their photo session in other well-known locations in London before ending the day by visiting HMV records in Oxford Street to see their album on special display.  Back in High Wycombe, local record outlets Percy Prior and W.H.Smith also had picture displays of the band to promote the release.

Rainbow FFolly – montage of press cutting from the Bucks Free Press – 1968 – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

The album was followed by a single release, ‘Drive My Car’ (not The Beatles song). In August 1968 another Bucks Free Press article revealed they were due to play at the famous Star Club in Hamburg – the same venue where The Beatles had made a name for themselves earlier in the 1960’s.  The feature also said a tour of Canada had been planned – starting in Montreal and taking in most of the country.  Radio and television shows were also said to be planned in Canada.  By contrast UK dates appear to be fairly low-key but perhaps exclusive affairs?  Following the release of the album they played at a number of London clubs, including ‘Hatchetts’ in Piccadilly, while the BFP article from August 1968 claimed the band ‘have plans for a tour of East Anglia’.

The album also featured on BBC Radio One’s ‘Saturday Club’ show on 13 July 1968, where DJ Keith Skues gave the band close to 20 minutes of airtime. Sadly, for the band, the album and single crept under the radar and they split-up later in 1968.  However, over the years the Rainbow Ffolly recordings have acquired cult status.  That demand was partly responsible for the band reforming in 2016 to bring out a long-awaited follow-up – aptly named ‘Ffollow Up’.

There are a number of articles on the web relating to Rainbow Ffolly. I’ve listed what I have found below, including a website set up by the band in 2016 at the time of their new album.  Do you have connection with the band or remember seeing the band back in 1968?  Please get in touch, or post in the comments section.  Did they ever get to perform on Canadian TV?

For your listening pleasure

Sallies Forth – Rainbow Ffolly – full audio of 1968 album

References

http://www.rainbowffolly.com/ – band website launched 2016

https://www.loudersound.com/features/rainbow-ffolly-release-second-album-48-years-after-their-debut – Louder Sound interview with bassist Roger Newell from September 2016

http://www.radiolondon.co.uk/sixties/rainbowff/reccoll/rffstory.html – article from Record Collector magazine published in November 1999 – including comments from Roger Newell

http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2011/09/rainbow-ffolly-interview-with-roger.html – another interview with Roger Newell from 2011

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

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

26 April 1968 – Dynaflow Blues – Blues Loft Nag’s Head

West London based Dynaflow Blues made their Nag’s Head debut on Friday 26th April 1968 as Ron Watts’ recently launched ‘Blues Loft’ venture at the London Road venue continued to attract attention.  Looking back on the 50th anniversary of their appearance at The Nag’s Head, Dynaflow Blues drummer Mel Wright has shared more of his memories, press cuttings and priceless photos from the time.

Dynaflow Blues had been formed out of Shakey Vick’s Big City Blues Band who received an encouraging reception from High Wycombe Blues fans after playing their first gig at The White Hart with Champion Jack Dupree in March 1968 and then nearby at The Angel.

Watts then moved the ‘Blues Loft’ to The Nags Head, with the opening night on 5th April 1968 featuring Jack Dupree (accompanied by Shakey Vicks’s band).  Savoy Brown followed on Friday 12th April 1968, with Chicken Shack on Friday 19th April 1968.

Watts was soon to book in the newly formed Dynaflow Blues at The Nag’s Head. Mel confirms the line-up of the band as Ron Skinner (vocals/bass), Rod Price (guitar), Chris Elvin (blues harp) and Mel Wright (drums).

Dynaflow Blues – picture taken on the footbridge opposite The Nag’s Head during the Spring of 1968. Left to right – Chris Elvin, Rod Price, Ron Skinner, Mel Wright. Sitting at front, Ron Watts. Photo by Ron Holley and kindly supplied by Mel Wright for wycombegigs.co.uk

Mel recalls: “The 26th April 1968 gig at The Blues Loft was our third gig of that week, after playing at Ron Watts’ The Thames Hotel in Windsor. We were excited to play The Blues Loft and had an enthusiastic crowd come to see us.  We had a new set of songs that included ‘Big Road Blues’, ‘Stones in My Passway’ and ‘Too Much’ – a mix of Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed and Tommy Johnson numbers.  Ron Watts was very pleased with the rousing packed reception and reunited us to play with Champion Jack Dupree at Conway Hall, London.  This was another great gig which we prepared by rehearsing to his album ‘Blues From The Gutter’.”

Dynaflow Blues were based in London and Mel says they were not used to the warm welcome they recieved when they played in High Wycombe. He added: “During 1968 we played at The Blues Loft at The Nags Head five times – alongside Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown and Shakey’s new band (we were still friends!). We also accompanied Texas bluesman Curtis Jones.”

Mel’s memorabilia collection includes a Bucks Free Press article from May 1968 that reviewed those early days of The Blues Loft. The Teen and Around column said “The club itself has a very good atmosphere. Everyone is very friendly. The audience show their appreciation of the music with lots of foot stamping and cheering of they think a piece is good.”

Blues Loft memorabilia – Bucks Free Press article 24 May 1968, poster and advert

Promoter Ron Watts was also asked in the article to define the type of music played at The Blues Loft. He said: “The type of blues featured at The Blues Loft is not the country or folk blues, but their city cousin, the amplified swaggering music of the negro ghettos of North America. It shares the same roots as country blues but has absorbed elements of jazz and other musical forms.  The Blues are an emotional outlet based on the fact that if you tell the world your problem, the problem is shared.”

Mel goes on to say that Ron Watts also formed The National Blues Convention and as Watts’ gig empire grew he wrote to Mel in August 1968 from his Aveling Road, Wycombe address to ask Dynaflow Blues to play at his second Blues Loft venue at The Derby Arms, Aylesbury. There were also invites for his other gigs, including The Crown – Marlow, Rugby Club – Maidenhead, and later at The 100 Club in London.  Mel added: “During this period Roy Holley, a local photographer became a good friend and took lots of pictures of Dynaflow Blues around the Nags Head. This all helped us get a manager. Tom McGuinness, along with Manfred Mann, had formed an agency and got us on at The Marquee club and National Jazz and Blues Festival at Kempton Park.”

Dynaflow Blues went their own ways by the end of 1968 but Mel reminds us that Rod Price went on to play with Foghat in The States and become quite a star! Indeed, he was right.  A quick bit of internet research reveals that Price went on to join Black Cat Bones (late 1968/early 1969) – replacing Paul Kossoff.  They recorded their only album, Barbed Wire Sandwich (released November 1969) but it failed to be a commercial success and the band subsequently split-up around the end of 1970.  Price joined Foghat in January 1971 – with their debut album, ‘Foghat’ released the following year and produced by Dave Edmunds.  It was through these recordings that Price would become renowned for his slide guitar work.

Dates of those early Blues Loft gigs at The Nag’s Head as advertised in the Bucks Free Press

Friday 12th April 1968 – Savoy Brown Blues Band plus Sunshine

Friday 19th April 1968 – Chicken Shack

Friday 26th April 1968 – Dynaflow Blues plus Watercolour Blues Band

Friday 3rd May 1968 – The John Dummer Blues Band (featuring Tony McPhee)

Friday 10th May 1968 – Giant Marrow Fat

Friday 17th May 1968 – Dynaflow Blues plus The Colin James Blues Band

Friday 24th May 1968 – Jethro Tull

Friday 31st May 1968 – Battle of The Blues – Dynaflow Blues versus Giant Marrow Fat

Friday 7th June 1968 – Shakey Vick’s New Band

Friday 14th June 1968 – Doc K’s Blues Band

Friday 21st June 1968 – Black Cat Bones

Friday 28th June 1968 – Dynaflow Blues plus Colin Smith

Please share any memories or memorabilia from these gigs.

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)

 

 

5 April 1968 – Blues Loft opens at The Nag’s Head in High Wycombe

My research for wycombegigs.co.uk has confirmed that Friday 5th April 1968 marks a significant date in the live music history of High Wycombe – it was the opening night of the ‘Blues Loft’ in the upstairs room at The Nag’s Head on the London Road.  Organised by a then 25 year old Ron Watts, it proved to be the start of many years of live gigs at The Nag’s Head.

Nag’s Head – Blues Loft – Bucks Free Press advert for opening nights on 5th and 12th April 1968

The advert above, taken from the 29th March 1968 edition of the Bucks Free Press, shows that the acts on the opening night were ‘Champion’ Jack Dupree backed by Shakey Vick’s Blues Band.  The following week, Savoy Brown would continue the Blues theme that would run on an almost weekly basis for the remainder of the year.

Watts had chosen The Nag’s Head after he had arranged Blues gigs earlier in the year at Wycombe pubs, including Ye Exchange, The White Hart and The Angel. Watts explains his choice of The Nag’s Head in his 2006 autobiography – 100 Watts – A Life in Music.

“I went to have a look at the upstairs room, and it was perfect. The bar was at one end of the long, narrow room, which had windows along one side and when we started there were two open fireplaces that came in handy during the winter, when the place could be freezing cold until the customers started to arrive. There were proper dressing rooms, at first to the side of the stage and later, when we had to install a fire escape in the area they took up, we used a small room behind the stage, with direct access onstage. With a capacity of 200, the room was bigger than the ones I’d used before, but I never had any doubts that I could fill the place. And for almost 25 years, I did.”

In my efforts to track down more information on the 5th April 1968 gig, I discovered a webpage (on http://blues.gr/) that contained a picture of Jack Dupree, playing in front of a poster for the opening two nights of The Blues Loft at The Nag’s Head.  The poster is now recognisable as the style that Ron Watts introduced for his Nag’s Head promotions.  It is understood that Les Watts (no relation to Ron) designed the posters.  Behind the band, there is also a sign (partially covered) that says Big Ron’s Blues Loft.  The photograph appears to have been sent to as a memento by Jack Dupree. So much information in just one photograph!

‘Champion’ Jack Dupree at The Nag’s Head – 5th April 1968 – picture kindly supplied by Mel Wright – taken believed to be taken by Roy Holley

I was subsequently delighted to have made contact with the drummer in the photo – Mel Wright – who believes the picture was taken at the Nag’s Head on that opening night – 5th April 1968 and taken by Roy Holley.

Mel was drummer for Shakey Vick that night and later when on to form Dynaflow Blues, who performed at The Nag’s Head on at least five occasions before splitting up towards the end of 1968.

Recalling the night of the first gig at The Nag’s Head on 5th April 1968, Ron Watts said:

“So many people turned up that the bar staff got caught on the hop, working flat out from opening time until last orders. I realised all the other stuff I’d been involved with had been a dress rehearsal. The Nag’s was where I became a real promoter.”

Watts was well known for having his helpers during his promoting days. Nag’s Head landlord at the time, Ron Saunders, was no doubt delighted with the extra trade coming through his door?  Although the Nag’s had a history dating back to the late 19th century, this appears to be first time it had been used a regular venue for live music.  The previous year (1967) it had been used as a disco and during the early months of 1968, the local ‘High Wycombe 18+ Club’ had used it for their new HQ which met at the venue of Tuesday evenings.  Watt’s efforts to promote gigs, saw him use local man, Nick Prigg.  According to Watts, Prigg was a ‘big beared guy’ who drove a wan around with his mate Ivan, covered in posters.  The van was then used to sell hot-dogs in the Town Centre when the pubs closed.  This was pre-kebab days!

Mel kindly sent another photo from the same gig (again taken by Roy Holley of Pinnions Road, High Wycombe).

Line-up in the picture is Ron Skinner (bass), Mel Wright (drums), Rod Price (guitar) and Jack Dupree (piano/vocals). Out of shot is Chris Elvin (Blues Harp).

Please get in touch if you have any memories or memorabilia from these early Blues gigs at The Nag’s Head. I plan to publish further articles throughout 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary.

To give a feel for the kind of music you would have heard that evening:
For your viewing and listening pleasure

Calcutta Blues – Jack Dupree – Beat Club, German TV, June 1969

Savoy Brown at Fillmore East 1969 – music dubbed to colour footage

References:

http://blues.gr/profiles/blogs/brit-author-and-musician-mel-wright-talks-about-british-blues

http://www.melwright.co.uk/

http://www.britishbluesarchive.org.uk/

http://shakeyvick.com/

 

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

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:

http://wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/the-emperorss-bits/

Listen again:

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

References:

http://swop.org.uk/