On John Bright Street and was formerly the Laura Dixon Dance Studio
Later called The Marquee and The Limelight
John Bright Street/Hill Street
The Whiskey a Go Go was above Chetwyns on the corner of John Bright Street and Hill Street.
The Whiskey was well known for live Mod bands, and for showing locals bands such as, King Bee’s, Modonaires, Jugs O’Henry, Moody Blues, Denny Lane, Spencer Davis and The Williamsons.
Amongst other UK who appeared were, The Faces, Long John Baldry & The Steam Packet, and Gary Farr and The Knockouts. Georgie Fame would play virtually all night.They couldn’t get him off the small stage until he collapsed with exhaustion, or lack of stimulation’s. It also starred American acts such as “Motown” & “R&B” greats like Sonny Boy Williamson, (see my note below) & Ike and Tina Turner.
The club put on all nighters on Fridays till 8am Saturday mornings and again on Saturday nights till Sunday morning.
The owners Chris & Steve Healey were two great guys who welcomed you in jazz striped coats. Great Brummie characters of the time also frequented The Whiskey, and it read a who’s-who’ of Birmingham club goers
They used to pack in nearly 250 townies and mods onto both floors in those days with no fire escapes only a small front door with narrow wooden steps up to the 1st and 2nd floor’s. Live bands on the 1st floor and DJ’s on the top floor.
On busy nights, many clubbers where turned away at the door if you weren’t part of the in-crowd!
People would fall asleep on the wooden floor after they tired from dancing at about 5pm, but the bands and DJ’s played on till about 8am the following morning. Money and stuff all over the floor, came out of peoples pockets, it was like an “Aladdin’s Den” The Whiskey attracted people from all over the midlands, including Coventry and London scene, to dance and hear live music of the era, that was very ahead of pop culture in England at that time!
My special thanks to bobsummers of the Birmingham History Forum, for the essence of this post.
Here is an article from Brum Beat
Brum Beat- Sonny Boy Williamson & John Mayal In The House
Friday, January 12, 2007
Sonny Boy Williamson & John Mayal In The House.
I just wanted to revert back to the last blog with regard to Keith Law, something that came up again in conversation recently which I thought was definitely worth sharing with you all,Keith’s first band was a West Brom outfit called “The Williamsons”.
Keith played in the band during the mid 1960’s and amongst their support slots they performed before the legendary blues artist “Sonny Boy Williamson”. Williamson had been been brought to play in the Golden Eagle in Hill Street by Georgio Gomelski while touring with the Yardbirds, another who played before Sonny Boy in Birmingham was Spencer Davis. “The Williamsons” band became a dedication to Sonny Boy.
Before he left the Industrial heartland, Sonny Boy gave Keith’s band a wonderful accolade by declaring the Williamsons “..a great young blues band.” true praise indeed from a man who started his own career playing alongside people such as blues hero’s Robert Johnson, Robert Nighthawk, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Elmore James.
Sonny soon returned to the U.S. after his European shows and continued to play until his untimely death on May 25, 1965. Sonny Boy Williamson left behind an array of truly inspired future Rock legends such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Robbie Robertson to name but a few, and talking of Eric Clapton… (taken from a recent email from Keith Law)
‘Someone mentioned Wolverhampton, and one night in the late 60’s I stood in a queue with Robert (Plant), outside Wolverhampton Town Hall. Top of the bill, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Bob and I went to the Gents, and were chatting, and then we were joined by two blokes, on Bob’s left hand side stood John Mayall, and on my right, stood Eric Clapton!!! ‘ – Keith Law
(Robert Plant later covered Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Bring It On Home’ while playing in Led Zeppelin)
And so, back to 2007. I think that the need for a small low key but well fitted out blues venue in central Brum today is quite apparent, Ronnie Scot ts fitted the bill until it turned into a lap dance bar, although the prices were a little steep (when it was Ronnie’s of course), anyone reading this with a love of Blues could do far worse than put their money into a low key Brum Blues joint, the performers are out there, they just need a stool, mike, amp, drinks and audience to entertain (I really don’t like large overpriced venues like the Alexandra), anyway I shall let Keith close this blog.. stay safe guys. BB
‘You don’t have to be famous, to make a living in the music business,
just give the folks, what they want’ – Keith Law
This fella wrote to me personally, and here’s a copy of his post on another site.
Good reading it brings back happy memories was a Mod in the 60s and went to all the usual places where the Mods frequented.
Nobody has mentioned Laura Dixons above Chetwins mens outfitters the corner of Navigation St when i used it was The Whisky A GO GO. Spencer Davis was more or less a resident group there,i saw some great groups at that place Georgie Fame,Yardbirds when Eric Clapton played with them The Yarbirds played one easter in the 60s and all my mates went to a Manchester club called Tiles on their scooters my scooter was out of action, the night the Yardbirds played there was about 30 people in the club it was great being able to have a chat with one of my favourite groups especially Clapo by the way he’s a Baggies fan.
On a nother ocassion i was going to the Whisky to see the late great harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson
I was waiting by the bus stops in Navigation to meet a girl ”dolly in them days” of the 45 bus from Kings Norton she never got of the bus that she was supposed to,the buses were every half hour so i decieded to go for a pint in the Navigation Pub when i got in i could not believe my eyes there was Sonny Boy drinking whisky,he wanted to buy a full bottle the barman said he could’nt he turned to me and i tried to tell him the reason why he could’nt what a great feeling talking to one of my favourite harmonica players
Happy Days Mossy The Mod
Here is a piece posted on the Birmingham History Forum
|I was the disk jockey on the second floor in 1965 /66……..I first went to the Whisky in a full length white leather coat….Nitso Ronny, the manager took me into his office told me I had arrived in Birmingham….he took the coat and locked it away until the club closed, then gave it me back! I loved Ronny…fat bloke with ginger hair, where is he nowThe second floor was where the bands played….the small corner stage had a single light bulb over it and nothing happened when the band wasnt playing. I suggested to Ronny that I played some records and put some lights over the stage….he agreed and paid me Â£2.10 shillings [Â£2.50] to work from 12 midnight till 7am….supply your own blues. The lights were baby milk tins with coloured bulbs in them!
I remember bands like The Small Faces, Georgie Fame [saw him recently and even he remembered getting his Hammond up those f’in stairs! and my favourite Graham Bond..with Ginger Baker [heh Ginger], Dick Heckstal Smith and Jack Bruce [later to become Cream]. The favourite record of all time was Shotgun Wedding by Roy C, the greatest LP The Sue Story
The name changed to the “Crazy E”
Chris and Steve started to go to the Isle of Wight during the week…I took them in the back of my van every Sunday….we put a settee in and they sat and drank vodka and bitter lemon all the way to Portsmouth…..
They bought a club on The Isle of Wight called Chequers [Pete Van Buren joined us but that’s another story]. I moved over and we had a great couple of years running the place. We had weekly residences with Ten Years After, Skip Bifferty, etc. The Hippies had arrived though and everything changed.
Thanks to BHF Member Skip Davies for this article
Compiled by Keith Law