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.

Remembering 1967 gigs in High Wycombe

1967 – Celebrating 50 years since the birth of Psychedelia

My initial research for wycombegigs.co.uk centred on High Wycombe’s part in the ‘punk’ explosion during late 1976 and particularly 1977. However, it soon became apparent that there had been a vibrant live music scene in High Wycombe stretching back to the early 1960’s.

The boom in live music coincided with the rise in popularity of Blues, Rock’n’Roll, simple ‘Pop/Rock’and what would be described as Psychedelia,  – all this was pushed on by the availability of electrified instruments, effects pedals, the outbreak of ‘Pop’ channels on the radio and a host of TV shows keen to show the latest acts.  Not to mention mind altering substances.

These are just some of the better known acts that played High Wycombe in 1967:

Small Faces, The Move, Geno Washington, The Who, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart and the Jeff Beck Group.  I suspect more local groups emerged too, so if you have information, please get in touch.

When wycombegigs.co.uk was finally set live in February 2017, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the happenings of 1967.  This appears to be a hugely transitional year for ‘pop music’. It was also at a time when High Wycombe was undergoing social development, including a spate of new venues eager to take advantage of the growing popularity of live music.

To set the scene back in early 1967 High Wycombe, the Town Hall appears to be only Town Centre venue that hosted live concerts.  However, as the year progressed, smaller venues would try to grab a piece of the live music action.  Pubs, such as The Nag’s Head and the smaller Rose & Crown would start to publicise live music, while other venues, such as The British Legion (close to the College) and The Needham Bowl (in Desborough Road) would also promote live music nights.

All this was happening as plans to construct a new shopping centre (The Octagon) in the Town Centre were coming to fruition.  This would include a fly-over that would cut through the heart of town.  The underside of the flyover would eventually house two more live music outlets.

Nationally, notable music events in 1967 included the June release of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  Later that month The Beatles would perform “All You Need is Love” for Our World – the first worldwide television broadcast. The launch of BBC Radio 1 followed in September 1967, while locally, Wycombe Radio went to the airwaves in October 1967.

The same year High Wycombe was also still awaiting a ‘bye-pass’ to alleviate the traffic congestion caused by the fact that the A40 was the main connecting route from London to Oxford.  The first section of the ‘bye-pass’ would become the M40 and opened in June 1967 between Handycross and Stokenchurch.  Perhaps it was High Wycombe’s obvious midpoint location on the London to Oxford route that made it a popular stop off for bands during the 1960’s?

Throughout 2017 I plan to post details of the 1967 High Wycombe gigs.  These will be published on or around the 50th anniversary of each date.  Ten years later, ‘punk’ may have been the new scene but there is no denying the influence the acts that performed in 1967 had on their younger onlookers.  e.g. Small Faces/The Jam, The Who/Sex Pistols.  If you have any memories or memorabilia of 1967 gigs in High Wycombe, please get in touch or leave comments under this post or those for each gig.

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?

18 March 1966 – David Bowie – Target Club

Friday 18th March 1966 – David Bowie and backing band, The Buzz, make a ‘promotional’ appearance at the opening night of The Target Club in Paul’s Row in High Wycombe.

David Bowie in High Wycombe - March 1966 - advert from the Buck Free Press - enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk by Paul Lewis
David Bowie in High Wycombe – March 1966 – advert from the Buck Free Press – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk by Paul Lewis

A 19 year old Bowie had been signed by Pye Records in November 1965 and his appearance in High Wycombe was part of a series of shows to help push his career, particularly his single release of January 1966 – ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’.  It failed to make the UK or US charts.

His following single, released on 1 April 1966, ‘Do Anything you Say’ was the first to simply credit Bowie as artist and writer.  That failed to chart too.

The advert in the Bucks Free Press for the Target Club gig announced a reduced admission charge on the night of 5/- (25p). Membership was 2/- (10p).

The Target Club was hosted in The Memorial Club above the Co-Op shop on the West side of Paul Row’s in High Wycombe and next to The Swan public house (a former meeting place of Wycombe Wanderers in the early 1900’s). The picture below from the SWOP wesbite shows the Co-Op building and The Swan.

1965_02_co_op_swan_pauls_row_rhw38044
image from swop.org.uk – ref RHW:38044

Both these premises were demolished as part of the Town Centre redevelopment in 1968.  The Co-Op was relocated to the larger premises on the opposite side of the road, next to The Falcon.

The web page includes some further information on the evening.

http://www.radiolondon.co.uk/rl/scrap60/fabforty/may66/may662/balstory.html

Does anybody remember this club or Bowie’s appearance?

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

 

31 August 1963 – John Mayall – West Wycombe

Saturday 31st August 1963
John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers
West Wycombe Village Hall

A 29 year old John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers play ‘The Wolf Club’ hosted at West Wycombe Village Hall.  This was towards start of the Rhythm and Blues era in the UK and this gig appears to have been organised as part of, or on the back of, the embryonic stages of the famous Ricky Tick Club run by John Mansfield and Philip Hayward.

Flyer for R&B gigs, including those in West Wycombe in July and August 1963 – kindly supplied by Gary Jones

I am indebted to Gary Jones for supplying the above gig flyer. Gary later worked with Ron Watts during his time promoting at The Nag’s Head in the late 1960’s.

The flyer lists a series of R&B gigs in West Wycombe and Reading. You can also see from the flyer, a Rolling Stones gig to be played on 30th July 1963.  This gig would eventually take place at the Royal British Legion in Slough under the curious banner of Club Nod.

In between the first gig listed (Cyril Davies on 27th July 1963) and the Mayall gig, The Rolling Stones would make their High Wycombe debut with an appearance for the first time at the Town Hall on Tuesday 13th August 1963.  That would be opening of the ‘Tuesday Dancing Club’ at the town centre venue – more about those nights in future posts.

The West Wycombe appearance appears to be at a similar time that Mayall had moved to London from his northern roots in the Manchester area in order to take up a full-time career in music . The line-up for the West Wycombe gig is most likely to have included John McVie (bass) and Bernie Watson (guitar) and Peter Ward (drums) but comments are welcome.

It is interesting to read an extract from a biography on John Mayall’s official website, describing the music scene the year before the gig in West Wycombe:

“After Britain’s ten year traditional jazz boom had about run its course, a new generation was ready for something new. Out came the amplifiers, guitars and harmonicas and out came young enthusiasts from all over the country eager to form their own groups.” That seems a pattern of events that would be repeated over time.

Mayall’s appearance in West Wycombe is recalled by Ron Watts in his autobiography (Hundred Watts – a life in music). 20 years old at the time of the gig. Watts says: “It was packed, but as had happened in London at first, the audience wasn’t responding. Because I was into the blues scene by now I was feeling a bit braver than usual, so midway through the band’s second set I walked up to John and said to him, ‘You need to mix things up a bit here, mate.’  To my horror, and to probably the crowd’s delight, John announced to the band, ‘This guy’s gonna sing.’  I’d never, ever done anything like this in public before, I didn’t even know I could sing, but we went through the Little Richard rocker Jenny, Jenny and it went down a storm.”

There are a host of resources documenting Mayall’s musical journey and the huge list of musicians he played with following these early gigs. At the time of this post, the 83 year old was preparing for gigs at Ronnie Scott’s – some 53 years after his performance in West Wycombe!