The Salty Dogs were a band who played around the Nottingham area in the mid-1960s, from about 1965 to 1968. The original line-up contained four lads who all met up at Mundella Grammar School: Phil Kirwan on guitar and vocals, Maurice Moore on guitar, vocals and harmonica, John Turner on bass and Richard ‘Stan’ Staniland on drums.
They played the music of the bands they were listening to – bands like the Beatles, the Animals, Spencer Davis Group, Small Faces, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Them, the Kinks and then they started listening to and playing the music these bands were covering – Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Jesse Fuller.
At the very first gig, some girls who were impressed by the band, suggested they go to a newish club in Nottingham, the Dungeon. They did and heard the original versions of the music they were listening to, the sound of Black America, and this became a big influence and soon the Salty Dogs, now more of a Mod band, added to their repertoire the songs of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, as well as the odd self-written one.
The band played at various schools and youth clubs but pretty soon was on the pub and working men’s clubs circuit around the East Midlands, performing regularly at venues like the Maid Marion, March Hare, White Hart (Lenton), Carlton Hotel, Red Lion (Ripley), the Apollo. These were fun times – on two occasions at the Apollo, fights broke out in the audience in the middle of the same song, “We Gotta Get out of This Place” (Animals), and maybe they didn’t like this version or this song. Then at the larger venues such as Digby College, the Nottingham Palais, Mansfield Palais, the Sherwood Rooms. On one occasion, they appeared at the Sherwood Rooms as support for Junior Walker and the All-Stars. There were other gigs at various venues further afield.
Later, the band became influenced by Pink Floyd and developed a more psychedelic sound. They added John Briley on keyboards and vocals and changed the name to the Velvet Explosion.
Occasionally, other musicians would sit in on sessions such as Tony Crosby, who played in blues bands and Rik Kenton who played possibly in the Hound Dogs and later, briefly, with Roxy Music.
For the technically-minded, the Salty Dogs used Hofner, Rosetti and Framus guitars, had Marshall, Carlsbro and FAL amplification and used Shure and Beyer microphones.
The band split up when some of the members left Nottingham, each going their separate ways. Phil moved to Birmingham and played in the band Slender Loris amongst others and now plays in Dreams a tribute to Fleetwood Mac. Maurice played solo in some local folk clubs, then stopped performing for many years; eventually he was drawn back and after singing in Open Mics and the like, joined the Khan Band for a brief time and now plays in MozMicDawn, still singing some of the songs he sang in the Salty Dogs, as well as writing and recording original music and creating podcasts of his musical influences from those days in the 60s. John Turner died a few years ago and John Briley went into record production.
The band did not record in studios and no casual recordings have been found. A podcast has been created containing some of the songs the Salty Dogs covered; here is a link to it:
Micky, let’s talk about Ice Skating. I believe you started skating about three at Whitley Bay Ice Stadium.
“That’s correct. Yes.”
Do you remember the first time you went on the ice?
“I can’t exactly remember the first time I went on the ice, but I remember why I went on the ice. My parents liked Ice Hockey and for some reason they took me along as well, although I would only have been about two and a half rising three. And it fascinated me seeing people gliding around and I must have really enjoyed myself. When I got home, I do remember I had some toy tin cans, that you built, you put one on top of the other. A children’s toy, like stacking bricks but in tin. And I put my feet inside the tin cans, so I was almost on tiptoes and started trying to glide around the linoleum. And probably kept falling over.”
Did it damage the lino?
“I don’t know. I don’t know whether there was more concern about the lino being damaged or me damaging my feet. Probably the lino was more of a concern. I remember my grandmother and mother saying ‘She’ll break her neck if she carries on like this! We’d better have her skating rather than all the damage that we’re getting here.” This continued over a period of time. They perhaps waited to see if I got fed up with it, but I didn’t. I kept on and on, putting the tin cans on my feet, probably having been told not to and was eventually taken to the ice rink. And skates were put on my feet.”
Do you have any stories or memories of those days?
“Very few. I was only three.”
There were no celebrities? You probably don’t remember a lot?
“I remember being on the ice. And I remember there were some good skaters there. I remember being in a little competition. It was called the ‘Spin, Spiral and Jump’ competition. But at the end of my ‘Spin, Spiral and Jump’ I didn’t know when to stop. And everyone was waving their hands at me to come off the ice at the end, because I’d finished and I didn’t know that. So I just stood there waving my arms about. Copying them, but staying on the ice. And eventually, someone had to pick me up and carry me off. I do remember that.
I remember Mother telling people not to lift me up because they thought I was sweet, ‘cos I was only three. Eventually someone picked me up on the ice and dropped me – my mother was not very pleased!
I remember once skating very fast and I couldn’t stop. And so I stopped by putting my head down and bashing into the barrier with my head.
I don’t really remember much more. I wore little leotards and had a big ribbon in my hair. And my feet used to roll inwards when I skated. I think that can be seen from the pictures. I didn’t have a lot of support in my ankles. They kind of rolled like that – instead of being flat, they turned inwards. Whether there wasn’t enough support in my boots or I had weak ankles or whether skating with tin cans on my feet at home had damaged my ankles. It was a few years before I could stand up properly on my skates without my ankles rolling in.”
Did you at this stage have your own boots?
“I think I was given my own boots straight away. I was measured for boots and given my own little pair of ice skates. I don’t remember ever having hired skates.”
But later on you did have special boots?
“Later on I had boots which were known to have quite a lot of support. I think they were called something like Stubbart Specials or Stubb Specials or something like that.”
And then the family moved to Nottingham?
At what age?
“When I was about four going on five.”
So you were only at Whitley Bay about a year, if that?
“Yes. A year to a year and half, or something.”
And having arrived in Nottingham, you went straight away to the Ice Stadium?
“As soon as we could, my mother took me along. She used to skate and she booked lessons (for me) with Jimmy Rudge, the instructor.”
Was he a well known person?
“He was very popular. And he was probably right for someone like me at the time.”
Is he on the photo?
“Yes, he’s on the photograph. He went on to manage an ice rink in Birmingham.”
I believe you did ballet dancing as well?
“From an early age, in fact about two, I started ballet classes at Whitley Bay. And when we moved to Nottingham, with my interest in ice skating, my mother felt that ballet and ice skating should go together, although not everybody at the time agreed with that. So I continued with my ballet classes at Sissie Smiths Ballet School on Derby Road alongside my ice skating at Nottingham Ice Stadium.”
OK. Any stories about Nottingham then?
“I joined the Ice Cubs. And took various tests and skated in competitions. And figure skating club. They don’t do figure skating much these days, but you had to do figure skating. That’s where you make patterns on the ice. You skate on one leg and make like a circle and then make a figure of eight. And sometimes turn round. You then go over it three times exactly making the patterns.”
Your general skating, what was it called?
“Free skating. Spins and jumps to music. I started entering all the little competitions and taking my figure the preliminary, bronze and inter silver figure and free skating tests. And my preliminary ice dancing. I think I’ve already said I was in the Ice Cubs and started to make lots of friends.
Then when I was about nine, my mother sent me to Monty Readhead, who was the head skating coach at Nottingham Ice Rink. And had the ice booked just for his pupils on a Sunday morning.”
Sunday morning, what time?
“I think it was 9:00 to 12:00 or 10:00 to 12:00. And it was sandwiched with speed skaters. Speed skaters came on afterwards and I remember round the edge of the ice rink, there was a tunnel. And I remember rowing machines and the speed skaters would be strengthening their legs up, practising on the rowing machines. Then they would come on afterwards and skate with their hands clasped behind their backs and bent double.”
When did you start the competitive skating?
“More or less straight away.”
And when did the success come?
“The first big competition I won was the Under-10s, George Axe Trophy. We only had one major competition a year. We had figure competitions monthly, called the monthly medal and I won some of those. But you only won a medal once a year. They counted up all the marks. And I think I was nine, yes, going on ten when I won the Under-10s.”
But we have pictures of you winning before then? You competed before and had a second and third place … ?
“That was the Vera Pilsworth Trophy (for under 16’s)
“I think I was runner-up in the George Axe Trophy and then I won it. Then at ten, I went into the Vera Pilsworth Trophy. And the first year I was third. When I was eleven I came second skating to Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ which was quite outlandish at the time. People skated to more conventional ballet music like Tchaikovsky and I was more successful the following year.
Popular music for Ice Skating included:
George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue’,
Ernest Gold’s ‘Theme from Exodus’,
Gioachino Rossini’s ‘Thieving Magpie’,
Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’,
Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’.
You picked your own music, didn’t you?
“Yes. I picked my music and made up the programmes. I designed my own skating dresses, but then took my design, the material and the decorative sequins to a skating dressmaker called Mrs Hampson who made a lot of the skating dresses for the skaters. Her daughter also skated. And she would measure me, then I would have fittings until the costume was exactly right.”
Micky chose different pieces, such as:
‘The Skater’s Waltz’ by Emile Waldteufel;
‘Tokyo Melody’, the theme for the 1964 Olympics, written by Helmut Zacharias;
Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite’ may have been a little too avant-garde, used the year she came second in the Under-16s;
the year she won, she used the more conventional and acceptable ‘1812 Overture’ by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
And then you say you won, eventually?
“On the same day that I won the Vera Pilsworth Trophy, the George Axe Trophy was won by Barbara Sayward, with Jayne Torvill second and Susan Bracegirdle third.”
To what music?
“That was Tchaikovsky. I went back to more conventional music and I skated to the ‘1812 Overture’. Which I thought was more conventional at the time for skating to. Others being Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, that was a popular one at the time. There were probably people skating to ‘Carmen’ in competition. But I won with that programme.”
Now the other thing you did was represent the Ice Stadium, didn’t you?
“Yes, that was when I was ten. We went off to Birmingham, a team of I think six. And we skated against Birmingham’s team.”
And did the team win?
“No, but there was a good skater there by the name of John Curry, who turned up for the Birmingham team. And I had to skate against him. He was delighted when Birmingham won and had a broad smile on his face.”
What do you mean when you say you skated against him?
“We were paired up with our standards.”
But he was six years older than you?
“Yes, I think he was paired up against me, but at the time there weren’t many male skaters. They tended to start later.”
Any other stories from Nottingham?
“Well, I remember a quiet girl a few years younger than me skating on a Saturday morning and her name was was Jayne Torvill.
And, as we’ve talked about and now we’ve found out it wasn’t in my imagination, there was some kind of programme called ‘Hot Ice’. At a time when my mother didn’t let me listen to pop music. She didn’t approve of it. I was only supposed to listen to Classical music. But there was so much excitement around ‘Hot Ice’ coming to Nottingham. Dave Berry and the Four Pennies and people like that were going to be performing. She did let me skate in that. And my friends and I sat down to watch it on the BBC and we did see me skating in the event. It was not live, it was recorded and shown at a later date. But we knew about that and we all sat down to watch it. I could see myself. But it seems to be lost in time. I’d almost wondered if it was a figment of my imagination, a false memory, but recently it has turned up in discussions on the Nottstalgia website and we went back and found it really did happen. I really did skate in that.”
Proof of this programme has been found on the BBC site. It was allegedly called ‘The Cool Spot’ not ‘Hot Ice’ and all recordings have been destroyed. Here is a link to the site –
There is a picture of people dressed up on the ice – there’s an Andy Pandy or something, you were Looby Loo or something?
“Ah, that was at Nottingham. And that was a show, a little ice show about toys put on by the Ice Cubs and I was the Doll. I had to emerge from a box as a mechanical doll and then come to life and skate. I think it was the only time I ever go a dainty part – at school I was always, a naughty character, ghost or wild animal in productions I never got the pretty parts! But on the ice they dressed me up as a dainty doll. And I had plaits and cheeks rouged, nice red patches on my cheeks. I had a pretty red satin dress with a red net skirt. I thought I looked, for me, quite pretty, taking that sort of part. Normally I would have been a wolf, or a bear, some sort of wild creature. I was quite surprised to get the dainty doll part, as later on, I was more of a hockey and tennis player, a bit of a tom-boy and ended up playing bass guitar in a rock band! That was a slight departure there, the pretty girl in the net dress. That sounds big-headed, doesn’t it, the pretty girl!”
Now at some stage you actually skated in London
What was the reason and what stage was that?
“The reason was I entered an Under-16 trophy at Streatham Ice Rink called the Albert Potts Trophy, which people from all over the country skated in. And there was some figures to skate first, and about 30 people entered this. But there was a cut, like they have in golf, where the top 24 or 20 went through to skate in the free skating. And I just made the cut and came about 23rd or 22nd. And my mother was very impressed with the pupils of John Pearce and Lesley Norfolk, a young couple coaching some of the best skaters in the country. And she liked the fact that with a husband and wife team they not only worked with the technical skating, but Lesley did some good choreography and moves, so that the skaters looked more graceful. ‘Cos at the time, a lot of skaters just skated almost with their hands at their sides. Ballet and skating was only just beginning to be acceptable and kind of merging. And some people thought in those days arm movements were almost showy or showing off. People would sometimes say that skater is very showy. In fact nowadays that would win a lot of marks in the artistic impression. It was just starting to become acceptable then. And so my mother asked if they could take me for lessons.
When I went to London to skate, John and Lesley recommended that I had boots made in Switzerland, special boots that were made to measure and posted over from Switzerland. They were shorter, closer to my ankle and I had some very sharp blades with a very spiky toe pick on the front. They looked quite scary. They were called Coronation Ace Blades.
For a year I travelled to London for training at night. Friday nights, I finished school at 4:00, and had to get a train to London, and be on the ice about midnight, after an evening session had finished.”
Until what time?
“Till about 3:00 in the morning. Then I would then go to bed and feel very groggy the next day.”
And what age were you at this time?
Did anything unusual happen while you were in London?
“I do recall a very hot day, and the ice rink at Streatham, well they must have received a phone call, because they were aware they were going to arrive, but some penguins came down from one of the zoos, possibly London Zoo, or wherever penguins lived when they were in London. They came down to the ice rink to cool off. And that was put on the main News at lunch time or in the evening.”
And were the penguins on the ice?
“Yes, the penguins were put on the ice and waddled about.”
And were there skaters on the ice?
“We couldn’t make up our minds whether we wanted to go on the ice or not with the penguins. We were not sure whether we would be allowed to. And I can’t remember whether we ended up actually on the television with the penguins or not, but I do remember them being there. And I thought they had funny eyebrows, so I’m not sure what sort of penguin that was but they had something above their eyes, feathers above their eyes. Something like that which I hadn’t expected. I don’t know what they were but their eyes were unusual.”
Again found on a BBC site, her is an item about the above incident. Rockhopper Penguins from Chessington Zoo visited Streatham – Hot penguins on cool ice.
“And the other thing I remember, a man, I think his name was Mr Thorburn, he wrote things and he wrote a pantomime or a play or musical type thing called ‘Merlin‘ about Merlin, I think it was. And it was to be televised. It was put on Thames Television. I had a short solo skating in that. There were four winds – the North Wind, South Wind, East Wind and West Wind – and I don’t know, I don’t recall which wind I was but I had a small solo skate as one of the winds.”
Do you know what you wore
“I can’t remember much unfortunately. I vaguely recall some chiffon or floaty stuff to represent the wind blowing. And I never saw it played back on television. And it’s lost in time.”
Where was that filmed?
“It was at Streatham Ice Rink.
I was also invited to a party at Richmond, I think it was Richmond. And I skated to the Foundations ‘Baby Now That I’ve Found You’.”
And did any success came from your time in London?
“Well, the following year, I won the figures in that competition but finished 5th overall, which was a big jump from the year before.”
That is in the country?
It was a National competition?
“It wasn’t called a national competition but people came from all over the country to it.
However, shortly after I gave up going to London and went back to training in Nottingham. But my heart wasn’t really in skating any more, I wanted to hang out with friends and the demands of school work were increasing. I started playing hockey for the school, playing tennis and was developing an interest in music, fashion and boyfriends. And the skating, well, like many people of that age, hobbies they think they’re going to have a career in, take a back seat and new adventures start. And that’s what happened with me.”
After more than 40 years, Micky went down to the Winter Wonderland in the Old Market Square, put on those old Swiss boots and we made a video of her skating to a song she had written called ‘Born’ recorded by our band MozMicDawn. Here is that video:
When it comes to ice skating, the stories of Micky and I could not be more different.
The first time I wore a pair of skates was on the lake at Highfields Park, Nottingham, next to the University, sometime in the late 50s or early 60s – I believe there were 9 inches of ice covering the water that year and it cost 9d to skate, 1d per inch (that’s about 4p in ‘new’ money). The picture on the right is of my mother and her brother, Allen, on the lake at Highfields. I had probably fallen over again. As you can see from the photo, there were several people on the ice. I believe this was a very popular and quite regular pastime in those days. Now we do not get the same extremes of temperature and climate.
The other thing I notice from these photos, especially my cover one, which again contains my mother and Allen, is that the men were ‘gentlemen’ even on the ice; they can be seen wearing a jacket and tie, even suits. It must have been a big social occasion.
I did not take to ice skating, never became proficient, but my mother, who loved skating and went regularly, took me to the Nottingham Ice Stadium to see Nottingham Panthers playing Ice Hockey: they became champions of the English National League in 1951 and 1954. She probably intended me to develop an interest in the sport, to become a star of the future. I went to the dressing rooms to meet the players, stars like Chick Zamick and Les Strongman, where they would give me autographed photos and one or two of my own sticks, which I pretended to play with in the garden (obviously without a puck), but did not play the game. I have the autographs of several teams of the time – Wembley Lions, Streatham, Harringay Racers, Brighton Tigers and the Nottingham Panthers.
At Christmas time, there was a party for all the children, run by the Nottingham Panthers. The picture below shows the one of those featuring me, my sister, my Mother, Grandmother and Aunty.
In later years, when I was at secondary school, our sports teacher took us ice skating at the Stadium when the football pitch was frozen over.
I spent a year working in the Netherlands and in the winter, it becomes very cold. The canals and lakes become frozen over and many people get their skates out and take to the ice. I was not tempted to, but I did go out walking on the lakes. In the north of the country, they have an annual race over the waterways.
Read ‘Ice Skating – Part 2‘ for some of Micky’s memories of her ice skating days.
In my lifetime, I can’t think of many people who have had such an impact in life and in death as David Bowie. I’ve grown up with him, it seems like he has always been around, almost like a friend. The one thing I truly regret is that I never saw him perform live. I have seen many comments in social media since his death was announced, including several times people saying things like I didn’t like him, but I really liked such-and-such a song. It seems most of us liked something about him, the sign of a true icon. The whole world seems to be shocked and surprised.
I could speak of many times either at my home or visiting friends when a Bowie album was played – several of his come into the category ‘Albums that everyone owns’.
He was a musician, song writer, artist, who painted his canvas with his own picturesque musings, a mime artist, an actor, the ultimate performance artist, a pioneer, a producer and visionary. He helped to create innovative videos. He created an androgynous look, accepted and copied by many. It was different and ambiguous and surely ahead of it’s time. He was probably indirectly responsible for influencing the fashion design industry and perpetrating some of the gender nuances present in the world today.
He was a true artist, innovative, cool and always changing, reinventing himself and I’m sure many artists and performers over the years have him to thank for his influence and attitude. And it was not just the music that changed. He morphed through different alter egos such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, dressed to match each persona and launched fashion trends followed by millions. And he surrounded himself with the very best musicians who were able to project his sound and vision and style.
He kept going, even in the early days. His first single was released in 1964, but his first success was his 10th single, released in 1969, the ground-breaking “Space Oddity”, which has been a hit several times and will probably be so again after his death. And in those later times, when he knew he was dying, he remained inventive and determined to complete the job, to get that last album released.
He was a post-modernist, an avant-garde, always looking for new directions, who inspired and represented many people of my age – able to change, accept new challenges, keep learning, fulfil fantasies by creating alter egos – we could achieve the impossible, we could be a hero for one day, or more. He liberated us from our constraints. I have always been like this and still keep moving forward.
David Bowie the person and Star Man is gone, like Major Tom lost in space and time, but his music, attitude, style, imagination and inventiveness will live on and be admired on the internet and in people’s minds for many years to come.
By the mid 60s, Nottingham had a vibrant music scene. Most venues had jukeboxes – I remember at least one video jukebox – and live music could be heard in many other venues:
pubs and Working Men’s Clubs had bands playing or folk sessions;
clubs were opening, which were relatively small meaning the audience was very close to the musicians (“like having the band playing in your own living room!”) and DJs were starting to play music not heard in the media: the Dungeon, the Beachcomber and the three Boat clubs by the river – the ‘Brit’ (Britannia Boat Club), the Boat and the Union; two I knew less about – the Pigalle and the Parkside; and of course there was the late night venue, the Belvedere; and the Dancing Slipper in West Bridgford;
larger venues, which previously I presume had been dance halls, had some of the larger bands: the Sherwood Rooms, the Palais (every Thursday was known as ‘Grab a Granny’ night), the Elizabethan Rooms, the Albert Hall;
theatres and cinemas hosted the Package Tours where several acts would perform, each playing maybe half a dozen songs: the Theatre Royal, the Odeon;
universities and colleges booked bands: Nottingham University and the Polytechnical College and Digby College.
I will mention below the acts I remember seeing. There were probably many more, especially support acts, but my memory is not what it was.
One of the first places I went to was Digby College. I do remember seeing the Mockingbirds there; this contained a young Graham Gouldman, a very accomplished song writer who wrote hits for the Yardbirds and Hollies amongst others, and Kevin Godley, both of whom went on to form 10cc. I think I saw the Toggery Five there, who were runner’s-up to the Bo Street Runners in ‘Ready Steady Win’, the Ready Steady Go national band competition.
The Elizabethan Rooms was a large ballroom on the top floor of the Co-op building, Co-operative House. It was the first place to host the Beatles in Nottingham. I did not attend this concert. But I did go there to see Dave Berry & the Cruisers. Dave Berry ‘crept’ onto the stage from the back, fingers first: he apparently tried to appear completely hidden by a prop – to “not appear, to stay behind something and not come out”. He often hid behind the upturned collar of his leather jacket, or wrapped himself around, and effectively behind, the microphone lead. The support act was Nottingham’s own Jaybirds, featuring Alvin Lee, before they became known as Ten Years After. At one stage I would go into the Kardomah Coffee Bar after school to meet friends and Alvin sat there playing his guitar.
I have already mentioned the Dungeon in another post, however for completeness, I will mention again the acts seen there:
‘Little’ Stevie Wonder, a young 15 or 16 year old boy then singing and playing his harmonica to such hits as “Fingertips”, “Hey Harmonica Man” and “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”;
Mark Four, later to become the Creation, who at some point fused the electrics; their guitarist, Eddie Phillips, was allegedly the first to play his guitar with a violin bow;
the Steampacket, singers Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry and Julie Driscoll backed by the Brian Auger Trinity, arguably the very first Supergroup;
The Who, who claimed that their equipment had been stolen, Pete Townshend played a guitar with bits clamped on: I stood next to this small guy on the dance floor – it was Keith Moon – I’m not sure whether Townshend smashed up his guitar at the end or whether Moon kicked his drums over;
The Small Faces, they really were small in height but produced an amazing big sound;
Screaming Jay Hawkins, who jumped forward menacingly in “I Put A Spell On You” with explosions going off and fused the electrical system; all you could hear was the horn section;
Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles, containing Patti, Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, who later became Labelle, and Cindy Birdsong, who joined The Supremes; they were probably backed by Bluesology;
Inez & Charlie Foxx, the Dynamo Duo, with a dynamic set including the lullaby “Mockingbird”;
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, who were possibly the first band I saw using big fan-cooled speakers;
Jesse Fuller, the one-man band who afterwards was seen on the street giving out very small slips of paper with his autograph on;
The Drifters, who appeared eventually after a police raid;
The Farinas from Leicester, who later became Family.
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, one of the best live bands on the circuit – Hand Clappin’ Foot Stompin’ Funky-Butt … Live!
The Beachcomber was another club in Nottingham in the Lace Market. It spread over several floors – there seemed to be stairs and rooms everywhere. The main stage and dance floor was on the bottom level, there were other dances floors on other levels and a coffee bar at the top of the building. I didn’t go there as much as the Dungeon, but I certainly remember seeing:
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers: I think I saw them twice, once maybe with Peter Green, but definitely with Mick Taylor;
The Shotgun Express, Rod Stewart and Beryl Marsden singing with the Peter B’s (Pete Bardens on keyboard, Peter Green on guitar, Dave Ambrose on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums);
Lee Dorsey, with classics like “Ride Your Pony”, “Working In The Coalmine”.
Over at the Dancing Slipper in West Bridgford the Spencer Davis Group performed. This would have been sometime after “Keep On Running” and The Second Album which I played continuously. Stevie Winwood has always been one of my favourite singers.
I travelled over to Leicester to attend an all-nighter at the Burlesque Club: there was allegedly a stabbing before we arrived and in a room at the back there were beds for people to sleep or whatever. The music was provided by Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band. Another time I remember going down to London on a day’s bus trip with some friends and we went to Tiles Club which was a Mod basement club on Oxford Street and once more I think Geno Washington was the performing act.
Somewhere, I saw the Artwoods, who included Arthur Wood (Ronnie’s brother) on vocals, Keef Hartley on drums and Jon Lord on Hammond Organ, who later went on to form Deep Purple.
Another group I saw somewhere was the Alan Bown Set.
During a trip for an all-nighter at the King Mojo Club in Sheffield, I think I saw Ike And Tina Turner.
During this period, I was in the group, the Salty Dogs, who played soul, blues and r’n’b music; we played at several of the venues mentioned above.
The Sherwood Rooms was a larger venue, probably a dance hall in the past. Here I saw:
The Pretty Things, in the days when they played blues – in the charts with songs like “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”;
Junior Walker and the Allstars: the support band for this concert was my band, the Salty Dogs; I was on a course in London at the time but came back to play the gig as they were one of my favourite bands; when the Allstars arrived and came into the Dressing Room, we were asked to leave, so there was no time to chat to them;
the Nottingham Blues Festival, featuring:
Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, a popular soul band,
Wynder K Frog,
Long John Baldry and Bluesology,
the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I’m quite sure Jimi set his guitar on fire at the end of the set;
Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, a band from Sheffield who played on a similar circuit to the Salty Dogs until they recorded “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
Note: Bluesology who I’ve mentioned a couple of times were formed by Reg Dwight and contained amongst others Elton Dean on saxophone; Reg later went solo and took names from Elton Dean and Long John Baldry, the vocalist, to become Elton John.
I had a few visits to London during this period and visited a few clubs – the Marquee, the Flamingo, but don’t remember who I saw. At the UFO Club at the Roundhouse, I went to an all-nighter to see Eric Burdon and the Animals, Family, and a psychedelic band called Hydrogen Juke Box who became the Third Ear Band.
Next were a series of package tours. The first was over at De Montfort Hall in Leicester and featured:
The Flowerpot Men
Tomorrow, a psychedelic band featuring Keith West (“Excerpt from A Teenager Opera”), Steve Howe (founder of Yes), John “Twink” Alder (later with Pretty Things and Pink Fairies)
The Mindbenders, containing Eric Stewart (later 10cc)
Vanilla Fudge, an American band who recorded covers of Beatles and Motown songs with a psychedelic twist.
Next, back to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham for two tours. The first:
Traffic, would have played music from their soon-to-be-released first album Dear Mr Fantasy
The second, I probably went to the later of the two shows.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Pink Floyd – this was around the time Syd Barrett was not always turning up and in fact he did not for the first show when Dave O’List, the guitarist with Nice, stepped in to replace him; he did arrive for the second show;
Note the prices to see this concert: 5/- (5 shillings) through to 17/6 (17 shillings and sixpence) or £0.25 to £0.75.
I attended two concerts in a room right at the top of the Portland Building, part of the Nottingham Technical College (now Trent University). Artists seen were:
Cream, this would have been after the release of Disraeli Gears and their new single “Sunshine Of Your Love”
The Moody Blues, after the release of Days Of Future Passed and while they were recording In Search Of The Lost Chord
The three boat clubs by the River Trent had many acts. At the Boat Club, I saw:
P.P.Arnold; when I arrived, there was a commotion outside the club – the roadies were having a problem getting Keith Emerson’s Hammond Organ out of the van and into the venue (the Nice were P.P.Arnold’s backing band at this time)
Tim Rose, great versions of “Hey Joe” and “Morning Dew” plus “Come Away Melinda”
Chicken Shack; standing at the bar, I recognised the person standing next to me with a droopy moustache: I quickly realised it was John McVie, who had just got married to Christine Perfect, keyboardist and singer with Chicken Shack. John and Peter Green joined the band on stage for the second set.
King Crimson: a packed house for a fairly unknown band, but they had just played in Nottingham a few weeks earlier.
Over in Thurmaston, Leicester, they held the “Barn Barbeque Dance” in what I believe was an old warehouse or something. The line-up was quite impressive:
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – with Mick Taylor
Fleetwood Mac, after the first album Fleetwod Mac and around the time the single “Black Magic Woman” were released
Jimmy James and the Vagabonds
The Alan Bown
The Soft Machine, probably played as a trio – Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt
Fairport Convention, very early in their life when Judy Dyble was the vocalist
Sons and Lovers
A one day festival was held at Nottingham Racecouse called “12-Hour Happiness“.
Not a lot of people attended (a few hundred), but those who did were treated to some good music. I don’t remember receiving the free flowers mentioned on the poster.
Note once again the price: £1.00 or in advance 17/6 (£0.75)
Yes – in their early days; they would have just released their first album Yes
King Crimson – this was not only the first time I had seen this band, but the first time I had heard them. Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald and the incredible drummer, Michael Giles appeared on stage late on in the darkness and played their music to a glorious light show. Classics like “21st Century Schizoid Man”, “In the Court of the Crimson King” blew me away. I noticed cars driving on the nearby roads and thought they might be a little unnerved with the staccato sounds and lights of “Mars”, later called “The Devil’s Triangle”, based on the work by Gustav Holtz
Nice – would have been playing music from the first two albums
Juniors Eyes – briefly David Bowie’s backing band
the Edgar Broughton Band, performing amongst other songs their anthemic “Out, Demons, Out”
Idle Race – featuring Jeff Lynne
Status Quo – this was the days of “Pictures of Matchstick Men”
My wife, Micky, was an ice skater when young and was very excited when she was asked to skate at the Nottingham Ice Stadium on a televised program, which she thought was called ‘Hot Ice’ but may have been called ‘The Cool Spot’. She performed to songs by Dave Berry and The Four Pennies amongst others. She saw the show on television afterwards. Unfortunately all recordings of these shows seem to have been lost.
If anyone is interested, I have included below a spreadsheet containing either the actual or a partial set list played at some of the events listed above or songs the acts were likely to have played.
As a child, Christmas was always a fun and exciting time. There were parties. The house was decorated with bright garlands and chains of colour, different shaped balloons, always a real Christmas tree with baubles and lights.
There was always the party at school. Games were played and food was eaten – I remember everyone wanted the jelly and blancmange. My mother used to take me to see Nottingham Panthers play ice hockey and they had a Christmas Party for the children (pictured below) which was a lot of fun.
I always helped to decorate the house – garlands of paper chains in different colours had to be stuck together, other garlands of concertina paper stretched out from wall to wall and had to be hung round all sides of the room as well as from the light fitting in the centre to each corner. Paper lanterns, fans, three-dimensional honeycomb bells, balls and soldiers and streams of tinsel were hung and all sizes and shapes of balloons had to be blown up, with for example faces on them and cardboard feet, such as soldiers. A real Christmas tree always stood in the corner decorated with baubles – plastic bells, snowmen and Santas, some chocolate, more paper bells and balls – and quite big lights, maybe with an angel perched on the top. Pine cones gathered from the woods painted gold or silver were hung on it. The Angel Chimes had to be set up, a metal construction with candles at the bottom which when lit cause angels with trumpets to fly around in a circle causing them to strike bells beneath them; the snow globe and nativity scene positioned; the various hats got ready to wear on the big day. Lines of string or ribbon were attached to the walls to hang the many Christmas cards received by the family. In one window, a large star was hung with a bulb inside it, shining the light to all the neighbourhood.
On Christmas Eve I would rush excitedly to bed making sure my sack (not a stocking!) was in clear view at the end of my bed. Eventually I would go to sleep.
When I woke up in the morning, success, my sack was full. I would sit in bed opening the presents one by one. There would always be a small orange (or tangerine) and a bag of gold coated chocolate money in there and toys. Each year I’d find a new Rupert Annual. And some new soldiers, something new for my train set or a Dinky vehicle. Maybe new games to play. If I was a lucky boy, I wouldn’t see my main present till I got downstairs – perhaps a new bike.
After opening the presents and perhaps playing with them, I would go downstairs and meet the rest of the family; my two sisters would have lots of presents also. For breakfast I would have a cup of tea with a splash of whisky and a piece of pork pie. The rest of the morning would be spent with the new toys.
By lunchtime, our Christmas Dinner would be ready. The turkey would have been hanging for a few days beforehand and then my Grandma plucked it before cooking it. Turkey and all the trimmings. The whole family sat round the table to eat. We would pull crackers, put hats on. After the main course there would be Christmas Pudding, again made by Grandma (she did almost all the cooking); before serving Grandad would pour the brandy over it and set it on fire. If you were lucky you would find one of the silver threepenny pieces hidden inside.
We’d sit down after lunch and play some games. Television was not usually watched.
Later, after having more food – cold turkey in a cob, home-made mince pies, Christmas log – we’d sit around the table and the Party Bomb would be lit – a cardboard cylinder which exploded and ejected everywhere streamers and confetti and all kinds of novelties and hats similar to those found in crackers. If we weren’t already wearing a hat, we soon would be. The lights would be turned low and the indoor fireworks lit: such as fountains, volcanoes, snakes coiling over the table, magic fern, sparklers and the one to fill the room, the snowstorm.
In the evening we’d all sit down and play a game of bingo or a card game such as Newmarket.
Then it was time for bed. It had been a long day, much had happened. Very tired little children fell straight to sleep.
This was the Swinging Sixties: changes were taking place. The music became ‘cool’; therefore clothes had to be ‘cool’, hence the arrival of the Mods. The look was immaculate, Mods took a lot of pride in their appearance and always wore up to the minute fashion, otherwise girls would say things like “not very mod are they”.
Amongst the first I saw were girls with closely-cropped, shaped hair, dresses with flower, geometric or op-art designs, very colourful or just black and white. In addition they wore matching plastic daisy earrings and hair slides. Al was covered with a see-through pac-a-mac, a very thin raincoat which could be folded down to purse-size so that it would fit into your pocket or handbag, which, being almost transparent, showed the clothes you were wearing underneath; the dresses of course were getting shorter with the introduction of the mini-skirt; competitions were held to find the girl wearing the shortest mini-skirt. Shoes or boots were made of patent leather, generally quite flat or with low heels.
The boys, with a typical Mod haircut, wore a parka if they rode a scooter, checked or brightly-coloured hipster trousers, jeans or a mohair suit, generally Italian and tailor-made. Under the suit would be a shirt with a button-down or pin collar and tie or a casual shirt, sometimes a polo-neck. I remember seeing guys with different coloured suits – bottle green, burgundy. On their feet, they would wear Chelsea boots with Cuban heels, desert boots, moccasins or bowling shoes.
We regularly travelled down to the ‘smoke’ – London – to look for clothes, Carnaby Street and the Kings Road beckoned. Jeans were worn, usually Levis or Wranglers as there was not the choice we have nowadays; some people, especially the girls, on buying a new pair of jeans would take them home, put them on and get in a cold bath to make them shrink! Both girls and boys liked to wear leather coats, very often long, down to the ground.
Mods liked to congregate in the Old Market Square in Nottingham, meet by the Lions in front of the Council House or just sit and chat in the square or one of the nearby popular coffee bars such as Lyons Tea Shop, the Kardomah, the Four Seasons Restaurant and the L-Shaped Room. They all liked to show off their scooters and would park them in front of the Council House; all sorts of Vespas and Lambrettas were there and my bright orange DKR Defiant, as I was always different. Suddenly everyone would leave, sometimes moved on by the police, to go nowhere in particular and a large snake of scooters would wend its way through Nottingham. One group who were always around were known as the mini-boys, as they drove around in mini cars as well as scooters; they were held in awe by many of the group.
Bank Holidays were spent in ‘Skeggie’ (Skegness) or Mablethorpe to have fights with the Rockers or ‘Greasers’ of just cause general mayhem. I never took part in any fighting but went along for the buzz. The towns would be flooded with scooters.
At the weekends, either instead of or after a trip to the Dungeon, there were always parties to gate-crash.
Although the Dungeon was probably the most popular of the Nottingham clubs at the time, there were others like the Beachcomber and the Boat Clubs – the Brit, the Boat and the Union.
With the love of dancing, all-night sessions developed. These were held at the Dungeon or the Beachcomber, but the Mods also attended sessions at other clubs, in particular the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and the King Mojo in Sheffield. I think I saw Ike and Tina Turner at the Mojo. Pete Stringfellow was the DJ there and he used to come over to the Dungeon to play a set.
After hearing all the soulful sounds played at these clubs, my band, the Salty Dogs, incorporated many of these songs into their set, songs by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave. The Salty Dogs appeared at the Sherwood Rooms as support for Junior Walker and The All-Stars: when they arrived, we had to vacate the dressing rooms.
I went to the Dancing Slipper one occasion to see the Spencer Davis Group with the amazing Stevie Winwood. On the same night Wilson Pickett was appearing somewhere in town. I remember going up to the DJ at the Slipper to request him to play a record that we were dancing to at the Dungeon, ‘In the Midnight Hour’; not only did he not have it in his collection, but he had not even heard of it!
The Mod subculture did not last very long, perhaps a couple of years. Some people continued to wear the clothes, listen to the music and Northern Soul was born, others became ’skinheads’. Many evolved into the hippie subculture which had developed in the States. My hair grew longer; I listened to and saw more rocky and psychedelic bands – Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. People I’d seen at the Dungeon in backing bands became bigger names, for example Rod Stewart, Elton John, Peter Green, and Mick Fleetwood. The Salty Dogs added a keyboard player, changed their name to the Velvet Explosion and added more psychedelia to their set.
The Mods had encapsulated a neat, immaculate look and an energetic lifestyle based on shaking their bodies to vibrant dance music. The new hippie culture saw a wilder look of abandonment, perhaps more colourful, and the music was more complex and cerebral: more spiritual, mind-bending and thought-provoking and maybe more political. Instead of dancing the night away, people would sit on the floor and listen earnestly to all that was being said.
The Mod movement gave us direction, style, friendships and helped to launch a certain creativity and artistry; we never ‘grew up’ and still retain that youthful exuberance.