News Stories

The Probe

Chris Wilmot sent this great piece about his former band The Probe and the stunning poster for a gig supporting the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

I wonder if anyone remembers the band The Probe who played around the area and beyond from 1967 to about 1972.

I was the guitarist with the band and remember some great gigs at The Plaza Old Hill / Handsworth, The Factory, Swan at Yardley, George Hotel Walsall, Birmingham Top Rank (now the Academy) Woverhampton Queens Ballroom, Dudley zoo Queen Mary Ballroom where on one of our many gigs Robert Plant wanted to sing with us but our singer said no!! plus loads of local gigs in the vacinity.We were all from the Halesowen, Blackheath, Old Hill and Dudley area.

Over time we went from playing Soul to Progressive which gave us appearances as support for Family, Jethro Tull, Geno Washington, Amen Corner, Bonzo Dog Band, Fleetwood Mack, Marmalade plus loads more big names….we were pretty busy 2 gigs a night a couple of times thanks to the Plazas revolving stage…we set up on the back while the pevious band played on the front…then turned round playing….a bit scary looking back! Our old valve Vox and Marshall amps took a beating but never or rarely went wrong.

The most weird were the gigs in London at the height of the psychedelic 60’s…one underground club under a church ( i think it was famous)and we were invited to play at a party later that night complete with liquid lights and full weirdness.Our bass guitarist reckons we played at the Marquee but I don’t remember that!! or supporting The Moody Blues at Stourbridge Town Hall, but hey ho I’m getting old!

We won a record contract via a Radio Luxembourg band contest in around 68/69 and had to meet the infamous Jimmy Saville at Belle Vue in Manchester for a meal and later played at the equally infamous Top 10 club for his charity work!! He was a strange and scary man.
We recorded an album at De Layne Lee Studios in London, which was The Place in the day….Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mack, Stones tapes lying about in there on the side…the old 8 track metal tape reel cans….My big regret is I didn’t take photos…I never thought it might be interesting for the future. Apparently Jimi recorded Hey Joe and the Are you Experienced album in there…it was tiny and below offices in Soho but has now been redeveloped and is out of town.

Look it up as is very interesting. For some unknown reason based on the contract, we never released it and despite best efforts, couldn’t even buy it off them to use. The producer was looking after Black Widdow at the time…somebody Meeham Junior….bit of a 60’s type complete with e-type and lotus cortina. I didn’t take a shine to him much.
Any way…hope it stirs some memories!!

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!


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