Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Remembering when Birmingham's best would travel to perform in Coventry

Remembering when Birmingham's best would travel to perform in Coventry

Pete Clemons remembers when Brummie bands of the 1960s would make the short trip down the A45

The Locarno Ballroom before it became Coventry Central Library

With the eventual breakup of Denny Laine and the Diplomats, the Vikings had now been joined by Bev Bevan.

And this version of Carl Wayne and the Vikings would visit Coventry many times performing at The Matrix, The Cheylesmore Pub and The Locarno.

Roy Wood left Gerry Levene’s Avengers and by late 1964 had joined Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders. And the 1964 / 65 period saw the Nightriders play venues such as the Walsgrave and the Sportsman’s Arms on the A45.

After both Mike Sheridan and Roy Wood had left the band The Nightriders then enlisted the talents of guitarist and future ELO leader Jeff Lynne. This would have been during 1966. And this version of The Nightriders played The Walsgrave, The Sportsman’s Arms and the Parkstone Club.

Going back in time briefly and Jeff Lynne had previously been with another Birmingham band, The Chads, early on in 1965. The Chads had an agent who was non-other than Coventry’s own Vince Martin. The Chads, at this time, played the Heath Hotel on the Foleshill Road.

Another Jeff Lynne connection is fully covered in John Davies excellent book that pulls together his memories as bass player of Coventry’s own The Mad Classix. Guitarist Ron Smith left the band during February 1966 and

Jeff Lynne attended a few rehearsals with a view to being his replacement. However the Classix came to an abrupt end after a gig on St Patricks Night 1966 when their van was broken into and all the gear stolen.

During 1966 and the music scene was changing rapidly. It was moving away from beat and was fast becoming more influenced by the rock and the more progressive style of music. This led to another crop of Birmingham bands including The Ugly’s, who were led by Steve Gibbons and The Way of Life who at one time boasted future Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham in their ranks, were also beginning to gig in and around the city.

The Nightriders had now become The Idle Race but the band was still playing dates at The Cheylesmore and The Walsgrave.

The Moody Blues.

The classic line up of The Moody Blues played the Leofric jazz club in 1967. The Move played the Locarno during 1968. I could mention the Spencer Davis Group and Spooky Tooth doing similar. But are these bands strictly classed as fully fledged ‘Brummie bands’?

And this trend continued through until the end of the 1960s. Even Bobby Davies, who by now was touring the as Jasper Carrott would find his way to the City Arms folk club in Earlsdon and the Biggin Hall pub on the Binley Road.

The above is not a definitive list. It is merely an indication of who I know played here. A notable exception that sprang to mind was The Rocking Berries. They were another prominent ‘Brummie’ band back in the 1960s but they did not seem to visit Coventry in their own right. Maybe it was because they had a few hit singles early on and became nationally known fairly quickly. They did however appear at Coventry Theatre on a package tour with Roy Orbison. And I am sure there were other notables who I have missed or simply did not realise.

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