News Stories

Tower Ballroom

The Tower Ballroom, near the ‘reser’ was a great venue, and like the Locarno, had a revolving stage.
Many star and local acts appeared here over the few decades it was open.
It was also well known for it’s ‘Grab-a-Granny’ nights, and I spent many night on those ocassions, even though most fellas, there were only in their 20’s and 30’s!

Sadly The Tower, closed down and was derilict for a while, untill recently and now, local people who are delighted  the Tower Ballroom is once again as a live entertainment venue. Entrepreneur Liam O’Connor has taken the derelict ballroom,  complete with its revolving stage,
and spent almost half-a-million pounds restoring it to its former glory.

Its grand reopening with a champagne reception featured 1960s stars Mike Pender’s Searchers,
the Merseybeats and the Cufflinks.

As a lifelong supporter of Chelmsley Wood Boxing Club,  Limerick-born Mr O’Connor, who also runs the Kerryman pub in Digbeth, said he was planning amateur and professional boxing matches and various activites, involving the whole community

Its prime aim is to attract an over-25s audience.  Other entertainers to appear here include the
American Four Tops, Abba UK, Joe Longthorne, the American Drifters, the Extreme Supremes and the Union Gap.

 

Compiled by Keith Law

Recording of New Order at the Tower 09/04/1985 sent in by Neil Hollins:

 

Digbeth Civic Hall (Institute)

The Digbeth Institute is a 2,000+ capacity music venue in Digbeth, which has been synonymous in the development of the British rave music and drum and bass scene.

Capacity: 1,500 (The Institute), 600 (The Library), 300 (The Temple)

A former church and theatre, the venue is now called the Sanctuary and was the original home of Godskitchen`s weekly club nights.

As well as Godskitchen, The Digbeth Institute / Sanctuary  has also played host to famous club nights such as Atomic Jam, Uproar, Slinky, Sundissential, Athletico, Ramshackle and Panic.
Many influential hip hop artists performed at Digbeth Institute  including Redman and Keith Murray.

snarky-puppy-the-institute-birmingham

 

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Designed by Arthur Harrison, it was officially opened January 16, 1908 by the wife of the Pastor of Carrs Lane Church, John Henry Jowett, as an institutional church attached to Carr’s Lane Congregational Church.

In the week that followed, it hosted a variety of acts.

The area which surrounded it was predominantly slums and industrial.

In 1954, the building was put up for sale by the trustees as they felt the building was not needed for its originally intended use. It was bought by Birmingham City Council in 1955 for £65,000 and was used as a civic hall.

The exterior is a mixture of red brick and grey terracotta.The grey terracotta forms the more ornate features of the facade including the three towers, the 1.65 metre tall allegorical figures and the window and door frames.
The allegorical figures are believed to be the work of John Evans, the chief modeller for Gibbs & Canning.
The drawings of the building by Arthur Harrison do not include the figures, indicating that these were probably added in 1909.[2] The building is Grade B locally listed.

People known to have made speeches at the Digbeth Institute include Neville Chamberlain, Henry Usborne, Florence L. Barclay and Herbert Hensley Henson.

In 1987, the building was used as a film studio by the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop for the Channel 4 film ‘Out Of Order’. The venue later appeared onscreen again, when it played a part as one of the main locations in the feature film ‘Lycanthropy’, filmed in 2005-2006.

At the rear of the Institute was The ‘Jug ‘O Punch Folk Club, which thrived in the 60’s. on Thursday nights.
The club was run by Ian Campbell, for me the most under-rated influence in folk music and a man whose influence rates alongside that of Ewan MacColl.

The Ian Campbell Folk Group included the great Dave Swarbrick, Ian’s sister Lorna – whose singing was unsurpassed in Britain and the late John Dunkerley.
The group had also included one Dave Phillips, and later Dave Pegg on bass, who was to join Jethro Tull,
and Fairport Convention

Compiled by Keith Law

Ron Brinsdon sent in this ticket stub of The Fall’s gig here.

Digbeth-Civic-Hall

Rum Runner

 

 

Photo below via Dave Travis “Here’s a photo that I took at the last night at The Rum Runner or ‘Demolition Party’ as it was referred to.”
Last night Rum Runner Demolition Party via Dave Travis

 

 

 

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Broad Street

The Rum Runner nightclub was opened on Broad Street in the Birmingham city centre in 1964. It was demolished in 1987.

One of the first ‘house’ bands, playing the cover versions of the day, became Magnum featuring Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin. They left the club in 1975 to play their own material of melodic rock.

Ray Berrow, who along with brother Don, their sister Tissy and another brother, were the original owners. Paul Berrow started at the club washing glasses, as did his younger brother, Michael. Ray and Don Berrow were all bookmakers.

Paul and Michael Berrow, relaunched the club with an eclectic power playlist borrowed from Studio 54 in New York. Roxy Music and David Bowie nights were accompanied by jazz funk nights which were strongly influenced by New York’s Chic powerdisco.

A real milestone in the history of the Rum Runner was when a newly-formed group of musicians called Duran Duran walked in one day with a tape. There was an instant mutual appeal between the Berrows and the band, and the Berrows offered Duran Duran a place to rehearse and play gigs.

The band found themselves becoming heavily involved with the running of the club with John Taylor working the door, Nick Rhodes deejaying for £10 a night, Roger Taylor working as a glass collector and Andy Taylor polishing mirrors, painting and cooking burgers for cash. Duran Duran quickly became the resident band at the venue.

After many months, Michael and Paul Berrow signed as Duran Duran’s managers. The Berrows and the band then formed the Tritec Music company (named after the triangular-themed bar inside the club). The label used the Rum Runner office upstairs from the club as its official address. Paul & Michael’s father was a well known in the Birmingham entertainment scene. Michael mortgaged his house to make funds for their supporting act roll for Hazel O’Connors UK tour.

In developing the club’s musical identity they also gave free rehearsal space to bands like Dexys Midnight Runners and UB40, with The Beat filming a video for their song ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’ taking full advantage of the many mirrors that walled the club.

As time went by they opened more and more different evenings and one of the residents became DJ Dick who later went on to form Rockers Hi-Fi and who now hosts the city’s main Funk Acid Jazz night called Leftfoot, situated at The Medicine Bar.

Notable denizens of the club included De Harriss, Mulligan, and Marlon Recchi of Fashion, Martin Degville and other members of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Nigel & Jimmy (managers), Al Beard (security), and Liam (general socialite).

A sad picture of the famous seating barrels, and the club being dismatled.

Compiled by Keith Law

31 January 1967 – Eric Burdon. This is interesting because doesn’t bill The New Animals

Traffic

Jim Capaldi drums, percussion, vocals
Dave Mason guitar, bass, sitar, mellotron, vocals (left 1968)
Steve Winwood keyboards, guitar, bass, vocals
Chris Wood flute, saxophone, keyboards, vocals

This multi-talented West Midlands group gained international success
in the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly in the USA where they
attracted a large following.
In Britain, they are remembered mostly for some memorable
and ground-breaking singles and albums that scored high chart placings
during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Traffic was formed when Steve Winwood, who was the focal point of the Spencer Davis Group
(see Spencer Davis Group), decided to move beyond the restrictions of the group
and form his own band consisting of other Birmingham area musicians.
Guitarist Dave Mason had been a member of the Worcester group The Hellions
in the early 1960s along with drummer Jim Capaldi (see The Hellions).
Jim Capaldi had continued with The Hellions who were re-named Deep Feeling
after Dave Mason’s departure and to help pay the rent,
Dave worked as a roadie for the Spencer Davis Group.
Saxophone/flute player Chris Wood who was born in Harborne, Birmingham on 24 June 1944,
had been a member of the group Locomotive and previous to that,
had been in Sounds Of Blue who later became Chicken Shack.

The four musicians would often get together on stage at a hip club called The Elbow Room
on Aston High Street in Birmingham and it was there that the idea for Traffic was formed.
With Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi eager to form a new band,
Steve Winwood agreed to join the partnership along with Chris Wood
and so the four retreated to a secluded (and reportedly haunted) cottage in Aston Tirrold, Berkshire
in order to write and rehearse new material.
The cottage was to become a place of legend as regular visitors included musicians such as
Eric Burdon, Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton as well as
Trevor Burton (of The Move) amongst many others.
The new group was named Traffic (an action that prompted an obscure south London band
called Traffic Jam to re-name themselves Status Quo)
and was given full financial backing by Island Records boss Chris Blackwell
who intended to promote the band to help the launch of Island Records as a major act label.

Traffic in 1967

With Steve Winwood’s involvement, the group was assured at least initial success
and Traffic’s first single Paper Sun was released in the summer of 1967.
With production by Jimmy Miller and composed by Steve Winwood with Jim Capaldi
supplying the captivating lyrics, the song was just right for the times
and featured an Indian sitar played prominently by Dave Mason.
The single reached No. 5 in the charts and brought the group to the forefront
of the British psychedelic or “flower power” movement that was sweeping
the country at the time.

The next Traffic single was even more adventurous and was composed and sung by Dave Mason.
The song was supposedly inspired by a dream Dave had at the cottage
(although certain substances he was taking may have also played a part)
and the recording featured his innovative use of the Mellotron.
Hole In My Shoe became one of the most memorable songs of the 1960s
and captured the psychedelic atmosphere of 1967 with as much impact as
The Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play.
It also established Dave Mason as a major songwriting talent
with the recording reaching No. 3 in the British charts (years later, a version of Hole In My Shoe
was recorded by Neil from the hit BBC TV comedy show The Young Ones
with the song again making the top ten).

By November 1967, a third Traffic single entitled Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush
had been released and was also used as the title track of a film which also included songs
by Steve Winwood’s previous band The Spencer Davis Group.
Traffic’s live shows at this time included a lot of on-stage jamming and improvisation
as well as extended solos by the individual members –
something quite unusual in Britain for a pop group in those days and an indication of things to come.

December of 1967 saw the release of Traffic’s first album entitled Mr Fantasy
which showcased the individual talents of the members and proved that
Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood were more than just a backing group for Steve Winwood. The album also showed Dave Mason writing as a separate entity and indicated a clash of songwriting styles
with Dave Mason’s melodic and commercial compositions contrasting alongside
the more jazz-influenced songs of the other group members.

Possibly spurred by the success of Hole In My Shoe, Dave Mason left the group in December,
supposedly to begin a solo career, only to rejoin the band in May of 1968.
Traffic then recorded another successful self-titled album, to which Mason
contributed the classic song Feelin’ Alright, a composition that became much covered
by other artists but Mason left again in October of 1968 and a few months later, the group activities ceased.

Fearing the worst, Island Records released a “new” Traffic album called Last Exit
made up of leftover recordings, single B-sides, and some assorted live material.
A compilation entitled The Best Of Traffic was also released.
Meanwhile Steve Winwood teamed up with legendary guitarist
Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker and along with bass player Rick Grech,
formed the much publicized and short lived “supergroup” Blind Faith.
When that group split, Winwood joined Ginger Baker’s new group “Airforce”
which at one time had also included Birmingham musicians
Trevor Burton (see The Move) and Denny Laine (see The Moody Blues).
Mason, Capaldi and Wood tried forming another band called Wooden Frog
but it was short-lived and had split up by March 1969.

In January 1970, Steve Winwood started work on a long-awaited solo album
and was joined in the studio by Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood.
The resulting sessions were so successful that Traffic was reformed minus Dave Mason
and the album produced from the recordings entitled John Barleycorn Must Die
was released as a group effort.
The album was critically acclaimed and became a big seller.

After enlisting top session players to the line-up, Traffic toured both the UK and the USA
where a live recording of their version of Gimme Some Loving
(originally recorded by Steve Winwood’s old band The Spencer Davis Group) made the charts.
Further Traffic albums were released in the early 1970s and were big sellers,
particularly in America where the group had a large following, but by 1974,
Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood were all concentrating on solo careers.
Chris Wood died from liver disease in July of 1983 at only 39 years of age.

Jim Capaldi released his first solo album in 1974 and scored a top five hit in Britain
in October of 1975 with Love Hurts.
He has appeared on recordings by many other well known performers
and has made several best-selling albums. Jim also occasionally collaborated
with his former bandmate Steve Winwood which included a Traffic re-union in 1994.
Jim Capaldi passed away on January 28, 2005 after a battle with cancer.

Dave Mason had moved permanently to the USA by the early 1970s
and established a successful solo career there which apart from making top selling albums,
included collaborations with Mamas & Papas singer Cass Elliot and occasional appearances
with the 1970s line-up of Traffic.
Despite battles with drugs and alcohol, he scored a big hit single in the States
with We Just Disagree in the late 1970s and continues to record and tour there
although he remains almost unknown in his native Britain
where he is remembered mainly for his contributions as part of Traffic.

Steve Winwood appeared on recording sessions for many well known musicians
throughout the 1970s and in 1981, began a predictably successful solo career.
His 1986 album Back In The High Life received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in the USA
while hit singles such as Valerie and Higher Love have scored high chart placings in many countries.
Although Steve Winwood has not enjoyed such a high profile in recent years,
he remains a major talent on the world music scene and continues to record
and perform today in between spending time at his farm in Oxfordshire.

Traffic were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2004.

With Special Thanks to
Copyright -© John R Woodhouse
Brum Beat

Compiled by Keith Law

 

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Town Hall, Birmingham – 8th May 1974

Birmingham Odeon

New Street

A once beautiful cinema, now divided into eight screens. The Paramount Theatre opened on 4th September 1937 with Errol Flynn in “Charge of the Light Brigade”.

Mothers (Carlton Ballroom)

Mothers as it is today. The club was the top floor above both shops.

This was a favourite haunt of mine, and a significant part of Brum Beat life, including my own.

The club opened 1968 and closed 1971.

In this time over 400 acts performed there, incuding many ‘Super Groups’ Here are just a few:

Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Family, Alvin Lee.

Other bands were like an ‘who’s-who’ Taste, Liverpool Scene, Fleetwood Mac, Edgar Broughton Band, Traffic, Free, Roy Harper, Blodwyn Pig, Strawbs, Fairfield Parlour, Quintessence, Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Jon Hisemans Colosseum, Nice, Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Who, Fairport Convention, King Crimson and hundreds more.

Pink Floyd recorded part of their album Ummagumma at Mothers on 1969-04-27.

John Peel, who was present, was moved to say, In a moment they unfold sonorous layers one on the other in a sinfonico bang; to another block, incredibly melancholic sounds that are intersected between them as plants of dying galaxies lost in time corridors and space.The Who performed Tommy and Traffic’s world debut took place at Mothers along with fledgling rock bands like Black Sabbath playing some of their earliest gigs there.

What they said: John Peel: People are amazed to hear that for a few years the best club in Britain was in Erdington.

Roy Harper: Oh blimey – that was the first club outside London that meant anything at all and that’s why there’s been this long association with Birmingham. I played there about six times between 1968 and 1970. I have always enjoyed playing here.

Mother’s was acclaimed as one of the most significent Progressive Rock clubs in history. I had the pleasure of meeting John Peel at Mothers, it is a meeting, I will treasure all my life.

Here is the blog from my web-site;-

John Peel, A Pint and Me!!

It was in February 1969, that I met John Peel, at ‘Mothers’ a club, in Birmingham’s, Erdington High Street.

John, who had written the sleeve notes for the 1969 Velvett Fogg Album, had been playing tracks off the album constantly on his radio shows. He was in Birmingham, visiting the club, which was renowned for its Progressive music acts. I was there the same evening as John and I introduced myself, and he and I had a couple of pints, and discussed both his sleeve notes, and my participation in the album. It is a night, I will of course, remember.

On the sleeve notes John Peel commented “There is a lot of good music on this record. Remember Velvett Fogg – you will hear the name again.”

Keith Law

Here’s a piece posted by Stircher on The Birmingham History Forum

Re: Mothers Club Erdington

I worked as a bouncer for Mothers AKA The Carlton AKA Carlton Johns Agency. It is not widely known but Mothers was a huge stepping stone for Brum Groups. Groups looking to make it in the music scene were allowed to play at Mothers for free by way of an audition. If they went down well, they would be booked to play at all the peripherals for a proper fee. John Singer was the owner and he had a team of about twelve managers or partners. I am not sure about that side of things. These twelve were in charge of Different venues around Birmingham. I said I worked for Mothers, that is true but I was mostly at these outer venues. I worked at ‘The Sydenham’ in Small Heath, ‘The Station’ in Selly Oak, ‘The Hollybush’ in Quinton and ‘The Bull’ in Hay Mills. I did the odd night here and there at Mothers and saw some great names there.

Here are a couple of posts from The Birmingham History Forum

Roy C..
Isle of man

I was at mothers when the “Fairies ” were playing and John Bonhan was in the audience Pissed. And he had a drumming “Battle” with the “Fairies” drummer and came second….There were socks and under-pants thrown in to the audience from the end of drum-sticks…Say no more……..Also there when Floyd recorded Umma Gumma and they did “Careful with that Axe Eugene” absolutely the best performance I seen there….walked back to Sheldon afew times at Christmas….
Ps I have still got my “Mothers” Membership card..

Alberta bacons end

I used to go to the Carlton in the late 50s.
No live bands then just a bloke putting vinyl recorders on the record player.
It was the ‘place to be’ in Erdington 1950s along with the Milk Bar a couple of doors away and the Coffee Bar further up towards the Green.

Oh to go back to the days of fluorescent coloured socks(for girls and boys)

Compiled by Keith Law

The predecessor of Mothers in Erdington. Our aim to build a complete list of gigs at the Carlton Ballroom. Here’s a start but we need your help!

Soft Machine, Sam Gopal Dream 03/02/68
Plastic Penny 11/02/68

Syd Wall was a regular at Mothers and on the ‘scene’ in Birmingham at this time. Sys has sent some really incredible posters and photos into the archive and I’ll be adding to them over the next few weeks but they really are amazing and shed a light on the consideration and detail and thought given to the design process of promo posters for Mothers (and others) during this period. Simply stunning.

Henry’s Blues House

Hill Street/Station Street

Henry’s Blues House was great venue, and was situated on the corner of Hill Street and Station Street. It featured many of the up and coming local blues,and R&B bands, including Robert Plant, Crawling Kingsnakes and Band Of Joy. Led Zeppelin was one of the first bands to play there.

Band Of Joy

Jim Simpson was a well known musician and band manager and photographer for the Midland Beat newspaper.He was manager and trumpet player of the pop group Locomotive, and opened the club seeing the potential for his band in playing at the venue.

Earth then Black Sabbath

Thinking this might be a good opportunity, the members of Earth the name before Black Sabbath approached Jim to see if they could perform there too. Jim Simpson was at that time managing local bands Bakerloo Blues Line and Tea & Symphony. It was obvious that Earth needed a manager who understood their music so Jim allowed them to open for the well-known band Ten Years After at the club. The audience response to Earth’s performance was favourable so Simpson also agreed to manage them

Our aim to build a complete list of gigs at Henry’s Blues House. Here’s a start but we need your help!

Bakerloo Blues Line, Tea & Symphony 25/06/68
Tea & Symphony 27/03/71
Anno Domini 09/05/71
Paladin 11/05/71
Karakorum 06/06/71
Pete Brown & Piblokto! 08/06/71
Thin Lizzy 11/07/71
Anno Domini 18/07/71
Alan Bown 08/08/71
Gypsy 10/08/71
Open Road 10/11/71
Gypsy 12/11/71
Status Quo 24/11/71
Blonde On Blonde 16/12/71
Stackridge 19/12/71
Tea & Symphony 21/12/71
Gypsy 19/03/72
Gnidrolog 26/03/72
Budgie 09/05/72
Thin Lizzy 16/05/72
Capability Brown 30/05/72
Trapeze 20/06/72
Warm Dust 18/07/72
Thin Lizzy 29/08/72
CMU 17/09/72
Supertramp 19/09/72
Strife 01/10/72
Budgie 03/10/72
UFO 10/10/72
Chicken Shack 31/10/72
Judas Priest 27/12/72
Skin Alley 30/01/73

 

Jim Simpson hosted a talk about Henry’s at The Crown where regulars attended and talked about some of the great bands that they had seen play there and the memories of the music and wider cultural landscape of Birmingham. The talk was attended by an ex-member of Henry’s, Member 199 according to the membership card he brought with him!

 

Birmingham Town Hall

1950

Friday 20th October 1950

1962

1962

May 1969

May 1969

Oscar Peterson

April 1966

Town-Hall

Thelonious Monk

April 1966

April 1959

April 1959

1959

1959

15th February 1958

15th February 1958

1959

1959

Nov 1957

Nov 1957

1960

1960

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Bill-Wyman-2011

jack-dejohnette-town-hall

Birmingham Town Hall is a Grade I listed concert and meeting venue in Victoria Square England.
It was created as a home for the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival established in 1784, the purpose of which was to raise funds for the General Hospital, after St Philip’s Church (later to become a Cathedral) became too small to hold the festival, and for public meetings.
Between 2002 and 2008, it was refurbished into a concert hall and is now used for performances as diverse as organ recitals, rock, pop and classical concerts and events such as graduation ceremonies for Aston University.
Joseph Hansom, of Hansom cab fame, and Edward Welch were chosen as the architects and they expressed that they expected the construction cost to be £8,000. Hill of London was hired to build the 6,000 pipe organ for £6,000.
Construction began on April 27, 1832 with an expected completion date of 1833. However, Hansom went bankrupt during construction, having tendered too low. The contractors were also losing money. Three guarantors donated money for the building;W. P. Lloyd, John Welch and Edward Tench.

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With the injection of this money, the building was successfully opened for the delayed Music Festival
on October 7,1834, despite the building still being unfinished.
During construction, on January 26, 1833, two workers were killed when a 70 foot crane constructed to install the roof trusses broke and the pulley block failed. John Heap died instantly and Win Badger died a few days later from his injuries. They were buried in St Philip’s churchyard and a memorial, consisting of a pillar base made by one of the workmen for the Town Hall,was dedicated to them. Architect Charles Edge was commissioned in 1835 to repair weaknesses to the design of the building.He was also commissioned for the extension of the building in 1837 and again in 1850. Built in brick, created in Selly Oak, and faced with Penmon Anglesey Marble presented to the town by Sir R. Bulkeley, proprietor of the Penmon quarries, the hall is modelled on the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome. Some limestone was used in its construction and fossils of plants and animals are visible. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the front arches were glazed to create an entrance foyer.

Charles Dickens gave public readings here to raise money for the Birmingham and Midland Institute, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius were both premiered.

Sir Arthur Sullivan’s “Overture di Ballo” was also premiered here in August 1870, as part of the Triennial Musical Festival
which commissioned new works for every season. The hall was the home venue for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1918 until 1991 when they moved to Symphony Hall.

In November 1880, the Hall was filled to capacity for a Birmingham public protest meeting in support of Revd.
Richard Enraght, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Bordesley, who was imprisoned in Warwick Prison under the Disraeli Government’s
Public Worship Regulation Act.

On August 9, 1902, the town hall, along with the council house, was illuminated in celebration of the coronation of King Edward VII.
It was illuminated again on June 22, 1911 for the coronation of King George V. In 1901, it was the scene of rioting on the occasion
of a visit by Lloyd George.

It featured prominently in the 1967 Peter Watkins film Privilege and doubled for the Royal Albert Hall in 1996s Brassed Off.

In 1937, as part of the celebrations for the Coronation of George VI, the Town Hall was regaled in the various Arms of the Lord of the Manor of Birmingham since 1166 and each column festooned with garlands. The pediment also had images of Britannia, supported by mermaids, which were sculpted by William Bloye. This decorative scheme for the Town Hall and the whole of the city
was devised by William Haywood, Secretary of The Birmingham Civic Society.

The Hall closed in 1996 for a £35 million refurbishment, undertaken by Wates Construction, that has seen the
Town Hall brought back to its original glory with its 6,000-pipe organ still in place.

The Hall was used for many pop shows, and unlike the Odeon and The Hippodrome, it tended to steer toward a headline acts and just
a couple of support acts.

Many great stars appeared here, in the 1960s and 1970s, such as
The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan

I saw many shows here, including,Traffic and Buffy Saint Marie.

Compiled by Keith Law

Ken Jones of Bright Eyes has sent an incredible list of gigs he attended at the Town Hall (and other venues) from 1964 to 1974, so a huge thanks to Ken.

1964

Saturday May 2nd : The American Folk, Blues & Gospel Caravan featuring Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davies, Cousin Joe Pleasants & Otis Span

1966

November : Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, Incredible String Band (12th)

1968

January : Dave Dee, Dozy, Beak, Mick & Tich (26th)

February : Sam Gopal Dream (3rd), Plastic Penny (11th)

March : Simon Dupree & The Big Sound (8th), Fairport Convention (14th)
Manfred Mann, Moody Blues, Spencer Davis Group, Picadilly Line (13th)
A Mystical Pantomine with The Incredible String Band and their Dancers! (Saturday 16th)

May : Carl Perkins (13th) Blossom Toes (15th), Blonde On Blonde (16th)

July : Marmalade (12th)

August : The Frame (31st)

October : Incredible String Band (Friday 25th), The American Folk Blues Festival (Monday 28th)

November : Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera (24th) Chris Farlowe (23rd), Colosseum (29th), Mike Stuart Span (30th)

December : Gun (14th)

1969
February : Tyrannosaurus Rex, David Bowie mime artist, Vytas Serelis sitar rectal, John Peel catalyst (15th)

April : Pink Floyd & John Peel (Sunday, 27th) B.B. King, Fleetwood Mac, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Duster Bennett (28th)

May : John Mayall’s Blues Breakers (9th) Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Clouds (Thursday 15th) The Mothers Of Invention (Friday 30th)

June : Led Zeppelin, Liverpool Scene, Blodwyn Pig (Friday 13th), Pink Floyd (20th)

October : Tom Paxton (Friday 3rd), Jethro Tull, Terry Reid, Savoy Brown (8th), Changes ‘69 : featuring Humble Pie & Their Friends incl. David Bowie (Friday 10th), Ravi Shankar (Monday 20th), Incredible String Band (24th)

November : Deep Purple (24th)

December : Delaney and Bonnie & Friends with Eric Clapton & George Harrison (3rd), Ten Years After, Blodwyn Pig, Stone The Crows (10th)

1970

January : Led Zeppelin (Wednesday 7th), Ginger Baker’s Airforce (Monday 12th), Al Stewart, Third Ear Band (Saturday 24th

February : Pink Floyd (11th), The Nice (25th)

March: Love, Colosseum (10th) Fotheringay, Nick Drake (16th)

April : Viv Stanshall’s Big Grunt, Tea & Symphony (1st), Keef Hartley Big Band (Thursday 9th), Roy Harper (10th), Jeff Beck (13th), Johnny Winter, Heavy Jelly, Stackridge (Wednesday 15th) Flock, Edgar Broughton Band (20th), Black Sabbath, Egg (21st)

May : Taj Mahal & Rare Bird (Friday 1st), The Spinners (Saturday 2nd), John Mayall featuring Duster Bennett (Tuesday 5th), Ten Years After, Matthews Southern Comfort, Writing On The Wall (Monday 11th), Deep Purple (16th), Family, Emily Muff (Wednesday 20th), Colosseum (22nd), Roy Harper, Strawbs (28th), Traffic, If (Friday 29th)

June : Soft Machine (11th), Edgar Broughton Band (Monday 15th), Pentangle (29th)

July : Barclay James Harvest (17th), Incredible String Band (Friday 24th)

September : Manfred Mann Chapter III, East Of Eden (12th), Groundhogs (22nd), Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, Tir Na Nog (Friday 25th)

October : The Pentangle (Saturday 3rd), Derek & The Dominoes (5th) Free, Mott The Hoople, If (Tuesday 6th), Tyrannosaurus Rex (not as T-Rex yet!) (Wednesday 14th), Emerson Lake & Palmer (Wednesday 21st), Van Der Graaf Generator (27th), Incredible String Band (31st)

November : Jack Bruce (10th), Fotheringay (13th), Al Stewart (21st), Family (27th)

December : Strawbs, Hard Meat (8th), Pink Floyd (18th) Mott The Hoople, Bronco, D.J. Andy Dunkley (Saturday 26th)

1971

January : Black Sabbath, Freedom, Curved Air (8th), Yes, Iron Butterfly, Dada (19th), Van Der Graff Generater, Lindisfarne, Genesis (Monday 25th), Faces (27th)

February : Alexis Korner, Karakorum (3rd), Deep Purple, Hardin-York (12th), T Rex (Tuesday 16th), Every Which Way, Rare Bird, Jackson Heights, Audience (Monday 22nd), Free, Amazing Blondel (Wednesday 24th)

March : Brinsley Schwarz, Eclection (13th), Atomic Rooster, Audience, Stray (20th), Van Der Graaf Generator, Dog That Bit People (27th)March : Yes, Jonathan Swift (9th), Incredible String Band nb. Malcolm Le Maistre debut (13th), Humble Pie, Comus (15th), Quintessence (Saturday 20th)

April : Electric Light Orchestra (5th), Emerson Lake & Palmer (9th), Steeleye Span, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, Tir Na Nog (12th), Groundhogs, Mick Abrahams, Wild Turkey (13th), Strawbs (20th), Mott the Hoople, Bronco (Thursday 22nd)

May : Head Hands & Feet (12th), Faces (18th), Rory Gallagher (21st), King Crimson (Saturday 22nd), Marmalade (28th)

June : Wishbone Ash, Renaissance, Stackridge (18th), Curved Air, Marc Ellington, Mick Abrahams Band (Wednesday 23rd)

July : The Bronze Summer Outing : featuring Uriah Heep, Paladin (Friday 2nd), Quintessence (23rd)

October : John Mayall, Eggs Over Easy (5th) Incredible String Band (8th), Pink Floyd (Monday 11th), King Crimson (Wednesday 13th), Yes, Jonathan Swift (18th), Steeleye Span, Andy Roberts (19th), Supertramp (20th), Van Der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Bell+Arc, Lindisfarne (Wednesday 27th) The Pentangle (Saturday 30th)

November : Mott The Hoople, Peace (Monday 1st) T Rex (5th), Family (12th), Fairport Convention (Friday 19th), Groundhogs, Egg, Quicksand (Saturday 27th), Lindisfarne (Tuesday 30th)

December : Soft Machine (6th), Amazing Blondel, Sutherland Brothers, Claire Hamill (8th), Curved Air, Skid Row, Nick Pickett (17th), Ralph McTell (22nd) ,

1972 Birmingham Town Hall

January : Trapeze, Brinsley Schwarz (7th), Procol Harum, Amazing Blondel (19th), Black Sabbath, Wild Turkey (24th, 25th), Wishbone Ash (Friday 28th) ,
Barclay James Harvest, Wonderwheel (21st), Dando Shaft (22nd)

February : Audience, Stackridge (1st), Free (2nd), Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack (10th), Third Ear Band (12th), Strawbs (15th), Hardin & York (22nd), Mungo Jerry (29th)

March : Roy Harper (3rd), Jethro Tull (6th), Rory Gallagher, Nazareth (8th), David Bowie (17th), Head Hands & Feet, Patto (22nd), Groundhogs (Monday 27th), Edgar Broughton Band (28th), Curved Air, Gary Moore Band (29th)

May : Hawkwind (12th)

October : Deep Purple (2nd), Jackson Heights, Magna Carta (6th), ELO (10th), Stone The Crows (15th), Steeleye Span, Amazing Blondel (Tuesday 17th), Kinks, Blackfoot Sue (18th), Ten Years After (28th)

November : The Pentangle, Clive Palmers C.O.B, Wizz Jones (Wednesday 1st), Nazareth (4th), Humble Pie (6th), Incredible String Band (10th), Focus, Fruupp (Monday 13th) , Groundhogs, Stray, Gentle Giant (17th), Slade, Thin Lizzy (19th), Ralph McTell, Natural Acoustic Band (20th), Wishbone Ash, Curtiss-Maldoon (Wednesday 29th),

December : Cat Stevens (2nd), Family (6th), King Crimson (Sunday 10th), Quintessence (22nd)

1973

January: Trapeze (12th), Badger (17th), Roberta Flack Friday (Friday 19th question date?), Roy Harper (23rd), Uriah Heep (26th), Al Stewart (27th)

February : Mott The Hoople, Sensational Alex Harvey Band (Monday 19th),
Magna Carta (3rd), Deep Purple, Nazareth (21st) , Can (Tuesday 27th)

March : The Strawbs (Friday 2nd), Procol Harum

April : Arthur Brown (21st)

May : Procol Harum (25th)

June : Captain Beefheart, Henry Cow (3rd) Edgar Broughton Band, Manchild (Monday 4th) Faust, Gong with Daevid Allen (Wednesday 13th) David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars (Thursday 21st & Friday 22nd) Fairport Convention, Kreeds (Saturday 23rd)

September : Family : A Farewell Tour (Wednesday 5th)

October : Faust, Henry Cow (5th) Incredible String Band (19th)

November : Al Stewart (Tuesday 13th) Groundhogs (21st) Mott The Hoople, Queen (Tuesday 27th)

1974

January : Argent (Friday 25th)

February : Ralph McTell (Monday 11th), Neil Sedaka (Tuesday 19th)

March : Incredible String Band (29th)

April : Gong, Hatfield & The North (24th)

September : Procol Harum (Wednesday 11th)

October : Lindisfarne (Saturday 26th)

November : The Spinners (Sunday 3rd), Queen (16th), Ralph McTell (Monday 18th), Captain Beefheart (18th) Bert Jansch (Tuesday 19th) Mott The Hoople, Sailor (27th)December : Rory Gallagher (Monday 16th)

Ron Brinsdon is a very active gig goer! Ron has sent in a bunch of ticket stubs from a range of venues and I’ll be adding these to the site in due course but I wanted to add the Town Hall gigs Ron saw to this page. I have to say that I’m pretty jealous of who Ron saw at the Town Hall. As always, please keep sending in your memories!

Syd Wall has an amazing archive of concert posters and other Birmingham music memorabilia and this is a poster of the Tyrannosaurus Rex gig of the 15th February 1969, with John Peel hosting and featuring a David Bowie mime artist. It’s a stunningly beautiful poster. If you know who designed it, or if you were there, we’d love to hear more! Thanks to Syd for sending in the picture.

 

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Uriah Heap onstage at Birmingham Town Hall, 26th January 1973.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle, Hill Street circa 1981, this amazing picture sent in by Chris Bates. Spurred on by the photo of the Golden Eagle, Midge has sent these stubs of punk/anarcho punk bands that played at the venue in the early 80s

The Golden Eagle, Probably the best pub venue in the City.

Many local bands, made their name there, including the Spencer Davis Group

Spencer Davis played solo guitar spots at the Golden Eagle pub on Hill Street in Birmingham
which was at that time a hangout for the city’s rhythm and blues enthusiasts.
It was there where he met the Winwood brothers while they were performing on stage
as the Muff-Woody Jazz Band in early 1963. Steve Winwood was aged 15 at the time
but he posessed a vocal style that was way beyond his years and was also talented as an instrumentalist
and alternated between guitar and piano on stage.
Finding common musical ground, Davis joined them and brought in accomplished jazz drummer
Pete York (born August 15, 1942 in Nottingham), a Birmingham University student, and the group became known as the Rhythm and Blues Quartette.

A regular visitor to the Golden Eagle R&B nights was future Slade star Noddy Holder

Legendary venue on Hill Street in the city centre. We would like to build up a history of the gigs that took place here, so if you know any of them please send them in!

Compiled by Keith Law

The Plaza’s- Handsworth and Old Hill/ The Ritz Ballroom- Kings Heath

The Old Hill Plaza was one of four venues run by the legendary Irish husband and wife team Mr and Mrs Regan. Mary ‘Ma’ Regan was an ex-schoolteacher and a shy but formidable woman. She came over with my grandfather Joe from Ireland when they were teenagers. During the Second World War she was a teacher and became head of PE for girls for Warwickshire. After that she opened tea shops in the Birmingham area and started tea dances. This then led to the dance halls. They started on a small scale and they had a lot of success. I remember once that Jerry Lee Lewis was due to play at one of her venues. For some reason there was an issue with his piano and they had to use my grandmother’s. She set up The Plaza in High Street, Old Hill, 45 years ago. It was a dance venue, and hosted almost every top act that was in the Top 30, before later becoming a bingo hall. One of Mrs Regan’s great pleasures was to tell people about The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Animals, who all played at The Plaza in the early 1960s.

Bob Bailey, who used to drive the bands, said of The Beatles: “When they played here, there was nowhere for them to stay so Ma put them up at her home in Woodbourne Road, Edgbaston.” She would cook chicken and chips for The Beatles  and made sure Noddy Holder stayed off the ale. The clubs became known as “the Regan circuit” Acts on the circuit included The Beatles, Kinks, The Animals, Dusty Springfield, Brenda Lee, The Searchers, The Tremeloes, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Manfred Mann, The Moody Blues, Jerry Lee Lewis and Del Shannon. In their early days, the beat groups from the Wolverhampton area set their first sights on gaining a toehold on the emerging and rapidly flourishing, Birmingham beat scene. To play at either the Plaza in Old Hill or in Handsworth or the Ritz in King’s Heath (the ‘Regan Circuit’) was seen as being tantamount to recognition of a group as possessing genuine ‘potential’, especially as it was quite likely that you would be playing alongside successful chart groups from Merseyside or Manchester. Hardly any of the groups who reached the Top Thirty during the years 1963 to 1964 failed to play at one or other of the ‘formidable’ Ma Regan’s venues. John Howells of the ‘N Betweens remembers the first time his band met Ma Regan: “We had changed our name from the Vendors to the ‘N Betweensand had started doing more R&B stuff. We wanted to broaden our horizons somewhat and so we went and did an audition for the Regan circuit. We had been told that Mrs. Regan was not always easy to please but she seemed to like us and our style and we got a regular Monday spot at her venues. That meant that you would have to play at two of the venues during the evening, involving a quick hike across from Old Hill to Handsworth etc.” Graham Gomery feels that being accepted on to the Regan circuit was an important step forward

“Getting an audition with Ma Regan was possibly a part of winning the Big Beat Contest, I’m not really sure. Whether that was the case or not, the important thing was that when you started to play on that circuit you got an opportunity to meet and hear other, better groups and that could only be beneficial to you. Coming around on that revolving stage at the Plaza Old Hill was a real event. You felt like a star, especially when you might be following a group like the Beatles, Big Three or Merseybeats etc.”

The Express & Star columnist described Ma Regan as

‘a softly spoken Irish ex-school teacher who uses the same psychology with the groups as she did with school pupils, discipline and organisation’ and the Plaza Old Hill as the ‘principal venue in the area for up and coming groups ‘. It is not surprising therefore that local groups felt that the first step towards success was acceptance by Ma Regan and the opportunity to play at one or other of her venues. It was thanks to an appearance at the Plaza in Old Hill and the personal recommendation of Ma Regan that the Strangers got an offer from Decca to appear on the Brumbeat album.

Bev Bevan, ex Move and ELO wrote:-

Former schoolteacher Mary Regan and husband Joe’s original ballroom venue was the Gary Owen Club in Small Heath, not far from Birmingham City’s football ground, St Andrews. Then came a converted snooker hall in York Road , Kings Heath which they re-named the Ritz Ballroom. Next came the Plaza in Handsworth, and finally the Plaza in Old Hill.The most memorable day in the short but eventful life of Denny Laine and the Diplomats was that of July 5th, 1963, when we were chosen to open the show for The Beatlesat the Old Hill Plaza on the Halesowen Road.

‘Ma’ Regan took care of the business side of things, leaving Joe to run the venues and act as compere, usually dressed in evening suit and black dickie bow.

He would confidently announce the various bands, groups and singers in his lilting Irish brogue. The Handsworth Plaza was the biggest of the four and regularly had half a dozen or more groups performing on the same night. Old Joe was not much of a book-keeper, and a few times, on a night off, we would roll up at the Plaza”, convince him that he most definitely had booked us for the night, slot in with all the other groups there and play a 30-minute set.

Then we would pick up our £12 fee and drive to Alex’s pie stand in Birmingham to celebrate our little con trick. Mary and Joe Regan played a big part in the development of rock’n’roll music in the West Midlands by allowing dozens of local bands the opportunity to play these venues, in front of usually packed audiences.

They also brought to the area some top-line names. We opened for The Bachelors, Susan Maughan, Julie Grant and, also in 1963, an absurdly talented 13 year-old singer, songwriter, pianist and harmonica player who was promoting his big USA hit Fingertips. His name was Little Stevie Wonder.

But preceding The Beatles on stage – wow, this was something else indeed! Remember that this was the beginning of Beatlemania. John, Paul, George and Ringo had already had big hit records with Love Me Do and Please Please Me and had just registered their first number one with From Me To You.

They were currently topping the LP charts with their debut album Please Please Me. Because of our popularity in the Black Country, Joe Regan decided we were best suited for the unenviable task of being the group on stage directly before the biggest pop phenomenon since Elvis Presley.

Actually, the huge crowd – literally hanging from the rafters – was very good to us and many of our own fans were in the audience. Nevertheless we still got the occasional chant of “We want The Beatles, we want The Beatles” from the dominantly female crowd. This night was a double-header for the mop tops and their small roadcrew.

Firstly they were booked to appear at the Regans’ other Plaza in Handsworth. Unsurprisingly, they ran late and our scheduled half-hour spot became an hour or more. Usually we would perform several Beatle songs in our set, but obviously we had to drop those from our repertoire.

Truth was, we were running out of songs to play and reverted to a couple of ambitious instrumentals. We included Hava Nagila (which had Denny playing lead guitar behind his back ) and the Dave Brubeck Quartet classic jazz piece Take Five, which featured me playing a drum solo in 5/4 time.

We realised The Beatles had finally arrived and we could hear them talking backstage. Then we saw them all watching us from the side of the stage. We finished our set, the curtains closed, the crowd now in a state of nervous, near hysterical anticipation. Then two, separate, unforgettable things happened.

Firstly, our rhythm guitarist (under strict instructions from his fiancé Gill),had the presence of mind to ask John, Paul, George and Ringo for their autographs. They all signed the reverse side of one of our Denny Laine and the Diplomats black & white, glossy, handout picture postcards. So there you have it – the four Beatles autographs on one side, and a photo of a group on the other that just happened to feature one Denny Laine, who, 10 years later, would join Paul McCartney in his band Wings.

This is a unique piece of rock’n’roll memorabilia that will one day fetch many thousands of pounds in a Sotheby’s music auction. The second thing that happened is that Paul McCartney strolled over to where I was packing away my drums (no roadies in those days!) and began talking to me. Yes, Paul McCartney of The Beatles walked over to this awestruck kid from Sparkhill, Birmingham and said in his broad Liverpool accent:

“Aye mate, dat was really fab gear dat, really great like, y’know playing dat drum solo in 5/4 time like. Our drummer Ringo, he could never do dat!

The Plaza Bingo Hall at Old Hill ,has now closed following the death of 94 year old Mary. Compiled by Keith Law
The Beatles at Old Hill

 

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Photograph by Bob Summers, Birmingham History Forum The Ritz Ballroom in Kings Heath featured The Beatles on 15.02.1963 and Pink Floyd 16-12 1967

18 February 1967 – The Moody Blues with Traction and The Attack

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We are now actively looking for content for the archive and will always add content that you send to us. The archive is a labour of love and we update it in our spare time.