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June 2018

More pictures from the Meet-ups of ex-Dungeoneers which take place every month somewhere in Nottingham. There was less dancing this time, as most chose to sit outside in the sun. Nevertheless, very enjoyable for all.

 

June 2018

 

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Peter Stringfellow

King of Clubs

RIP Peter James Stringfellow, born 17th October 1940, Sheffield, died 7th June 2018.

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One of those icons of the 1960s, Peter Stringfellow, the nightclub owner, known as ‘King of Clubs’ has died. Many who went to the Dungeon knew Pete, either through visiting his club, the King Mojo, in Sheffield, usually to attend all-nighter sessions, or dancing to his choice of music when he DJ’d at the Dungeon.

Pete ran a number of clubs and organised events in Sheffield before the Mojo and became involved with the mod-style TV programme ‘Ready Steady Go!’ as a warm-up artist and he also selected dancers to appear on the show, generally from the Mojo. Two Dungeon regulars, whilst working the season in a hotel in Brighton, received a tap on the shoulder from their friend, Pete, and were asked if they wanted to appear on the show: Jimmy Fahy and Colin Foulds were also implored to ‘remain sober’ when they went along to the studio for recording. They appeared, but did not remain sober, and Pete had to take them all the way home afterwards.

Jimmy Fahy, Dusty Springfield
Jimmy Fahy and Dusty Springfield on Ready Steady Go!

King Mojo

King Mojo
King Mojo

The Mojo was his first club that became well-known, run with the help of his brother, Geoffrey, and frequented by Mods, featuring soul, Motown, jazz, blues music similar to that played at the Dungeon, with performances from many of the top British bands of the time as well as those artists who visited from the United States. Many of these acts would play the three big clubs in the North of England at the time, the Mojo, Twisted Wheel and Dungeon, sometimes on the same night.

Corrinne Howard (now Holmes), Lynn Allen
This photo of Corrinne Howard (now Holmes) and Lynn Allen was taken after the final all nighter held at The Mojo.

From May 8th, 1967, through to February 3rd 1968, just two weeks before it finally closed, Pete played at the Dungeon on more or less a weekly basis, bringing the ‘Pete Stringfellow Show’ or the ‘Flower Power Show’ or something similar, playing his own choice of music, which was liked by some members of the club and not by others. During the times of love, he was known to throw flowers out to the audience – sometimes they threw bottles back.

Dancing competitions were held on these nights – once there was an ‘Electric Limbo’ night. Jimmy Fahy remembers taking part in a Dance Competition at the Mojo – the choice of music, ‘Land of 100 Dances’ by Wilson Pickett, was not his favourite (‘a little bit fast’) – but he still managed to win and his prize was presented to him by Tina Turner.

Veda Bromwich – “Anyone remember Jimmy Fahy from Ilkeston. I remember winning a dance contest at the Mojo with him or Tab Taylor from Peterborough or Joe Gunther from Derby, all Dungeonites back in the day.”

Mick Maltby – “Here’s my contribution. I worked at the Mojo on March 26th 1966 as drummer to Irma Thomas during her UK tour which included an appearance on ‘Ready Steady Go!’ and ended the following night. We had already done a gig that night at Sheffield’s Club West Indies and arrived at the Mojo ‘hot and sticky’; the Mojo was very hot with sweat pouring down the walls. Pete welcomed us and came over as a very kind person. He made us as comfortable as possible before our performance to a very enthusiastic audience.”

Peter Wilson – “King Mojo opened in the former Dey’s Ballroom which then sat on the junction of Burngreave Road and Barnsley Road in Pitsmoor (555 Pitsmoor Road). The brothers rented it for £30 a week from local businessman Ruben Wallis who gave them his blessing with one stipulation – they kept the pictures of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hanging on the wall. Always wondered the story behind those pictures on the wall.”

Other Clubs

Among the clubs Pete opened or ran were:

  • 1962, the Black Cat Club at St Aidan’s Church Hall, Sheffield and the Azena Ballroom, Sheffield,
  • 1963, the Blue Moon at St John’s Church Hall, Sheffield,
  • 1964, the King Mojo, Sheffield, closed in 1967,
  • 1968, Down Broadway, Sheffield,
  • 1969, the Penthouse, Sheffield, with first alcohol licence,
  • 1970, Cinderella’s and 1972, Rockafella’s in Leeds (later, in 1973, to become combined into one club Cinderella Rockafella’s),
  • 1976, the Millionaire Club in Manchester,
  • 1980, Stringfellow’s in Covent Garden,
  • 1983, The Hippodrome, in London,
  • Stringfellow’s in New York (1986), Miami (1989) and Los Angeles (1990),
  • 2006, Angels, Wardour Street, Soho.
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Mick Maltby – “Two gigs that I did with Sons and Lovers for Pete at his club in Leeds called Cinderellas: one was a 6 night stint (13th to 18th September 1971), Pete was DJ; the next time at Cinderellas was 29th December 1971 to 1st January 1972. On the New Year’s Eve there was a huge cake on stage and at midnight a topless girl burst out of the cake. What a New Year’s Eve!”

Sex

Pete also had an obsession with sex, claiming to have slept with 2000 women. He met Coral who gave birth to their son, Scott, in January 1966. She became wife No. 2 in August 1966 and, immediately after the wedding ceremony, he left to DJ at a club in Nottingham (the Dungeon), had sex with a woman from the crowd, before driving back to Sheffield to consummate the marriage. And so it went on . . . conquest after conquest. He once said the secret to monogamy was lying.

Memories

Georgie Fame & Peter Stringfellow
Georgie Fame & Peter Stringfellow

Linda Deck Willis – “I worked 6 days a week to spend Saturday all night listening live to this guy play all night soul and mod music he made my weekends, rip Peter and many thanks. Xxx.”

Christine Tarr – “My memories of Pete …… the Dungeon Nottingham, the Mojo Sheffield, Millionaires Manchester (with Brett Hutchinson), and Stringfellows in London (with Chris Quentin) where I spent many an eve in the 90s …… love and peace to a northern lad who made himself known around the globe xx.”

David Picker – “Many memories of Pete Stringfellow from The Mojo to his Dungeon nights of ‘67 with his ‘flower power’ DJ shows. Too hippy for some of us, but still a great entertainer. RIP Pete

Murray Frew – “I only went to a couple of Monday nights. I was there once when some lads threw a Coke bottle at Stringfellow, missing him by inches, and smashed on the back wall.”

Paul Thorpe – “Murray Frew, in a recent interview I believe Stringfellow mentioned the incident, it was when he’d gone all ‘flower power’ and was throwing flowers into the Dungeon dancers, he said: “I threw flowers, they threw bottles.” Quite right, although I only threw the flowers back at him (couldn’t afford to buy coke).”

Lorna Hickton – “This is a lovely tribute to a great entertainer. I had many a chat with him while he was getting ready.”

Paul Thorpe – “Thank you Lorna Hickton, he was a huge musical influence on me when I was a young Mod at The Dungeon, he had boundless energy, enthusiasm and warmth for his audience and his music … Keep Bogalooing Pete, God Bless …”

David Thorpe – “My first time at an “all nighter” was at the Mojo in Sheffield in 1966. Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds (with Albert Lee) performed that night. It was so hot in the club that they sold choc ices!”

 

 

Robin Wyld – “Sure I was there that night Mick I also got to know Pete quite well top bloke.”

Gary Maxton – “After an all nighter, I went to his tiny office at the Mojo cap in hand, I thought had blown all my dosh and couldn’t get home. He kindly gave me my 10 bob admission back. When I got home I took off my shoes and there was £30 in the bottom of one of them. Oops! Kind man though. I remember his office, it seemed about 8 foot square, and had a 1-bar electric heater. Humble beginnings as well. Great acts and great times at the Mojo!”

Graham Sheppard – “He was the king of Party!!! Also loved Nottingham club scene. Will never be another Peter Stringfellow in today’s world of the not-so-club scene? We was very lucky to go to great nightclubs in the 60s with great bands & music. God bless Peter. x.”

Stephen Jeffery – “Once got invited on stage at the Mojo after telling Pete I had been to The Four Tops first appearance in the UK at the Savile Theatre London.”

Music

Paul Thorpe – “Anyone remember Stringfellow playing ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ by Bunny Sigler?”

Mick Hatcher – “Yes Paul when he wasn’t chucking flowers at us.”

Colin Messom – “Great Tooon.”

Bryan Bennion – “I remember Johnny Weir dancing manically to this one. Great song.”

Jacky Swift – “I remember he played it at the Mojo as well.”

Jeff Piggott – “Remember ‘Girl Don’t Make Me Wait’, same artist, Clouds at Derby then the night of the drugs raid, on my stag night.”

Sue Young – “Yes on a Monday night, when he came on he threw the flowers, think the men hated him, I liked to dance on stage when he was on.”

Mick Hatcher – “I thought it was Tuesday night, Sue.”

Murray Frew – “No Sue’s correct on both counts, Monday nights.”

Sue Young – “No definitely Monday night.”

Sue Young – “Wednesday was first 100 for 6 old pence.”

Paul Thorpe – “Ton for a tanner nights!!”

Sue Young – “Yes there was a long queue.”

Murray Frew – “He always played ‘At the Discotheque’.”

Sue Young – “Not sure if that was his signature tune, or was it ‘At the Discotheque’.”

Paul Thorpe – “It may have been another of his signature tunes, in early 65, before I started going, not sure when he started at The Bung: Chubby Checker ‘At the Discotheque’.”

Paul Thorpe – “Sue Young, you’re right, this was one of his signature tunes also but the year before: The Flamingos – ‘Boogaloo Party’.”

Michael Johnson – “Boogaloo Party reminds me of Stringfellow and The Dungeon on Monday nights.”

Diana Tompkin – “Outstanding.”

Gritli Maria Beckworth – “Awesome song.”

Philip Jones – “Unless I am going crackers, Bunny Sigler was a Stringfellow favourite and was played along with latterly the Flamingoes at every club in Nottingham that I went to, including the Dungeon and they were both extremely popular with the dancers.”

Maurice Moore – “I only remember seeing Pete Stringfellow once or so at the Dungeon – I’d stopped going so much by 1967 – so I don’t know what he played. However Boogaloo Party by the Flamingos was definitely a favourite played at the Dungeon earlier (in ’66).”

Kath Shaw – “Me too Maurice.”

Paul Morgan – “Fav tune, on the juke- box.”

Sally Morpeth – “It was definitely Monday night and I can see Pete dancing the Boogaloo to it, he loved it.”

Sue Young – “I remember dancing on the stage next to him.”

Peter Baxter – “I remember him playing ‘I’m Gonna Miss You’ by the Artistics. Well, Pete, we are going to miss you.”

Sally Morpeth – “Pete Stringfellow always played ‘I’m Gonna Miss You’ at the end of his sets. X”

So, amongst the tunes people remember Pete playing during his sessions at the Dungeon:

  • ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ by Bunny Sigler,
  • ‘At the Discotheque’ by Chubby Checker,
  • Boogaloo Party by the Flamingos,
  • ‘Love A Go Go’ by Stevie Wonder,
  • ‘I’m Gonna Miss You’ by the Artistics.

Also from the Mojo, I will include:

  • Going To A Go-Go by the Miracles,
  • Billy’s Bag by Billy Preston.

Flower Power

Peter Wilson – “Who remembers Monday nights with Pete Stringfellow and all those gladioli to throw in the audience (Flower Power)?”

Dave Callard – “Playing Scott McKenzie!!!”

Trev Poole – “Not a mod thing, Peter, was there too.”

Jeanette Hutchinson – “Agree with you, Trev, we used to laugh at him.”

Mick Hatcher – “I seem to remember him wearing a big floppy hat.”

Trev Poole – “That’s right, Mick, did his brother not come with him down the Bung?”

Paul Thorpe – “We used to throw the flowers back at him …”

Benita Hall – “… and that was before anyone had even thought of Dame Edna Everidge!”

Glenis Moore – “I remember that sea change at the Mojo. There’s Pete Stringfellow doing great stuff, then one week he’s sitting cross legged, waving his arms like an Indian snake charmer and playing ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair”. Then came the flowers! Very disappointing to me at the time. Lol.”

Benita Hall – “He used to play ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’, (you know …. ‘How does it feel to be, one of the beautiful people’ etc.), whilst standing in a one-legged yoga pose.”

Barry Cooper – “Not the music we wanted at the Dungeon!”

In 1967, the club in Sheffield was renamed as the ‘Beautiful King Mojo’ and concentrated more on Psychedelic music.

In answer to the question, when did he play at the Dungeon, here is a breakdown:

  • 8/5/67 – 30/10/67 – Monday nights (22 sessions),
  • Towards the end of the previous run, 21/10/67 – 4/11/67, he also played on Saturday nights (3 sessions); I believe this corresponds to the closing of the Mojo,
  • 8/11/67 – 9/12/67 – Wednesday and Saturday (8 sessions),
  • 16/12/67 – 3/2/68 – Saturday (8 sessions).

Mojo Reunion, 1984 at the Hippodrome

 

 

Obituary

Andy Smart’s article from the Nottingham Post after his death.

Tributes to Peter Stringfellow from old friends in Nottingham, the city where he made his mark

The nightclub legend said his days at the tiny Dungeon Club were among the best of his life

By Andy Smart, 7th June 2018

Nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, who has died aged 77
Nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, who has died aged 77

Leading names from the Nottingham entertainment scene have paid tribute to legendary nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, following his death on Thursday at the age of 77.

The flamboyant nightclub owner was a familiar face in Nottingham during the 1960s when he was a regular DJ at the Dungeon Club in Stanford Street.

And when he opened his successful Cinderella Rockefella nightspot in Leeds, he booked several local acts including Paper Lace and Sons and Lovers, teaming up with Nottingham agents Tony Sherwood and Brian Hart.

Tony Sherwood, still busy working with star comedian Jasper Carrott, said: “Oh dear – another link with my past has gone.

“Peter was a friend and contemporary of Mick Parker (owner of the Dungeon) and was often the DJ at Mick’s club. They often ‘shared’ the booking of some of the groups that appeared at both Peter’s Sheffield venue the Mojo, and the Dungeon.

Peter Stringfellow pictured in 2006
Peter Stringfellow pictured in 2006

“When Peter moved to Leeds to front Cinderella Rockafellas, all the top artistes that appeared there, including many groups from Nottingham — Paper Lace, Sons and Lovers, and Highly Likely – were booked by Brian ‘The Galloping Major‘ Hart and myself at Midland Management from our offices on Bath Street in Nottingham.

“Brian, in his very impressive yellow E-Type Jaguar, was a frequent visitor to the clubs and Peter always encouraged him to park the Jag, prominently, outside the club!

“I’m very sad to see Peter pass. He really was larger than life, wonderful company with a fund of great stories and anecdotes.”

On his Facebook page Stephen Greenfield, former lead vocalist with Sons and Lovers, said: “Pete was a generous guy in many ways, out of the spotlight. Sleep easy Peter, you were a really nice guy.”

And Nottingham actress Su Pollard, who worked with Stringfellow, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He was a fantastic role model for other entrepreneurs.

“When he was in the room – for a start, I used to think he was so handsome, I love men with long hair – he was lovely.

“I liked him because he was always warm, he could probably have been in showbiz in another area, but he chose to be an entrepreneur.

“You miss people that are large, and are givers. He gave of himself such a lot. He was a great person to be around. I feel for his family.”

Speaking to him last year, Sheffield-born Stringfellow told me his days at the Dungeon Club “were the pinnacle for me”.

He said: “You would get these big American stars playing on small stages in little clubs like the Dungeon and the Mojo. It didn’t get better than that.

“Artistes cut records today and you never see them in little nightclubs.

“They were great days. I used to DJ at the Dungeon and afterwards Mick would take me to the Hippo Club for a steak – in those days we didn’t have decent restaurants in Sheffield and never saw a steak!

“He used to pay me £50 a gig but he taught me how to play poker and I would lose most of it back to him.”

Blue Plaque
Members of the Dungeon reunion club unveiled a mock plaque at the site of the former nightclub last September

The Dungeon was only open for four years, from 1964 to 1968, but saw huge names pass through its doors with the likes of The Who, Elton John and Rod Stewart playing at the venue.

Stringfellow had been fighting a private battle with lung cancer while continuing to run his self-named club in London’s West End.

After being diagnosed in 2008, he underwent treatment, only telling family and close friends and kept the diagnosis a secret for nearly six years – until it was leaked in 2015.

His publicist, Matt Glass, said on Thursday: “It’s very sad news. He passed away in the early hours of this morning. It was kept very private, he didn’t want to tell. He wanted to keep it a secret.”

He added that the Stringfellows club in Covent Garden will continue to operate “as normal”.

Peter Stringfellow leaves behind his wife, Bella, and four children.

Interview

The above article refers to an interview which Andy Smart undertook with Peter Stringfellow again for the Nottingham Post. Here is that article.

Peter Stringfellow’s wildest nights happened at legendary Nottingham club The Dungeon

By Andy Smart, Posted: February 7th, 2017

Nightclub impresario Peter Stringfellow tells Bygones’ Andy Smart about the best days of his life – being a DJ at a tiny Nottingham club

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He has the most famous name in the nightclub business. At one time or another, Peter Stringfellow has owned high-profile venues favoured by the stars in places like Beverley Hills, New York and Miami.

At 76, he is still on top of his game with his two London clubs – Angels, in Soho and Stringfellows, Covent Garden.

But when I asked the flamboyant, Sheffield-born, multi-millionaire to pinpoint the best days of his life, he went back 50 years to a tiny back-street club in the heart of Nottingham.

In the 1960s, Stringfellow was running the Mojo club, in Sheffield, and, at the invitation of Mick Parker, came down to Nottingham every couple of weeks to be guest disc jockey at the Dungeon.

The shy and retiring Peter Stringfellow
The shy and retiring Peter Stringfellow

The Dungeon was part of a remarkable triumvirate with the Mojo and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester: small clubs featuring live acts, including top American artistes – people like Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Ben E King and a kid called Little Stevie Wonder.

“It was the all-nighters we became famous for. These big American stars would come over because they could play three gigs in different places through the night,” Peter recalls.

Little Stevie Wonder
Little Stevie Wonder was only 15 when he played at the Dungeon club

“I used to DJ my own music at the Mojo and I got a reputation for playing music that no-one had heard before, early Motown and soul music on obscure labels like Oracle.

“We started with R&B: English bands like Georgie Fame, Zoot Money and John Mayall; Geno Washington and his Ram Jam Band – he was the biggest draw of them all, yet he never had a hit record.

“Kids used to come from all over the country to the all-nighters at the Mojo, always a big following from Nottingham, and Mick said they would come back to the Dungeon and talk about me, so he asked me to come down. I was known as King Mojo.

“I think, looking back, those days were the pinnacle for me. You would get these big American stars playing on small stages in little clubs like the Dungeon and the Mojo. It didn’t get better than that.

“Artistes cut records today and you never see them in little nightclubs.

“They were great days. I used to DJ at the Dungeon and afterwards Mick would take me to the Hippo Club for a steak – in those days we didn’t have decent restaurants in Sheffield and never saw a steak!

“He used to pay me £50 a gig but he taught me how to play poker and I would lose most of it back to him.”

I asked Peter if Nottingham had helped to build his reputation as a ladies’ man. But the famed lothario, who is married to a former Royal Ballet dancer 30 years his junior and has two young children, was rather more coy, just saying: “Of course, there were the beautiful girls of Nottingham. It was a great combination and the highlight of my life.”

He also remembers one night when it all went a bit south. “I picked up a following of Nottingham kids who liked the soul music I played… then came the summer of ’67, flower power arrived – curly hair, bell bottoms and people wearing flowers in their hair.

“So I turned up at the Dungeon for my set, dressed in a kaftan, with the curly mop, complete with flowers, and I played San Francisco, by Scott McKenzie, and started throwing flowers in the crowd. They threw Coca Cola bottles back, yelling for the soul music!”

Peter Stringfellow with his wife Bella Wright
Peter Stringfellow with his wife Bella Wright

Peter was delighted to hear that the old Dungeon crowd had formed their own society.

“I am not surprised, the Mojo has one as well and I have turned up at a couple of their reunions,” he said, adding: “Please give all the old guys and girls an emotional wave from me.”

Acknowledgements

  • Obituary and Interview articles courtesy of Andy Smart and the Nottingham Post.
  • Quotes & stories – courtesy of Dungeon Club members who knew or were entertained by Peter Stringfellow in the 1960s.
  • Pictures courtesy: Deanna Fahy, Lynn Allen, Stephen Jeffery, Jacky Swift, Mark Fear, Nottingham Post

 

May 2018

Here are some pictures from the Meet-ups of ex-Dungeoneers which take place every month somewhere in Nottingham. The music – it seemed Stevie excelled himself with his choice – and the people filled the place with fun and frivolity. Many more new faces.

 

May 2018

 

 

 

  • Photos: courtesy – Maurice Moore
  • Video: courtesy – Maurice Moore

Mick Parker in the Limelight

Mick Parker after being a coal miner and starting an entertainment agency, became one of Nottingham’s most successful entertainment luminaries.

He could be considered the man who started the Mod scene in Nottingham by opening first the Beat Club at the Rainbow Rooms, quickly followed by the Dungeon Club. Later he was manager of Club Pigalle on Heathcoat Street, before moving further afield. In London, he was responsible for the Camden Palace, a home to punk bands and Steve Strange, the Hippodrome and the Limelight, the latter two both winning the award London Nightclub of the Year (in different years).

Below are two articles taken from the Nottingham Post, taken at different times of his career.

The first article was printed in the Nottingham Evening Post and written by reporter John Brunton sometime in the late 1990s.

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In the Limelight: Mick Parker toasts the success of his Limelight Club
He’s the man who walked out of a job in Notts collieries to mine a rich seam in entertainment

Mick’s own spot in the Limelight

Life was the pits – until clubland beckoned

From Notts miner to king of clubs – that’s the extraordinary story of Cotgrave-born Mick Parker. His Limelight Club, a converted church in Central London, has just been voted the capital’s best. He talks to Showbiz correspondent John Brunton about getting to the top of a highly competitive business – and staying there.

Limelight 1
Work sites: The Limelight Club in the heart of London’s West End, winner of the title London Nightclub of the Year.
Above: Gedling Colliery, where Mick tasted life working at all hours and in the dark, before it was closed and torn down.

Five years in Gedling and Radford pits had been enough to persuade him there were other ways of earning a living.

So he and a pal set up a small entertainment agency.

This was Nottingham in the early to mid-1960s. Pop music had arrived and nightclubs featuring live acts were cashing in.

“I had started off with an engineering apprenticeship at a firm in Radford, but that was soul-destroying. You sat all day looking at the clock.

“Down the pit it was different – you were fighting the clock.

“The money was very good – then they altered the bonus system and it went from good money to not-quite-so-good.

“That’s when I decided that was it. I woke up one morning and thought ‘I’m not going in.’ I didn’t.”

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Old boys: The Life Boys of Basford pose for the camera in 1948. Mick Parker is on the right of the front row.

Parker, 57, who was brought up in Basford, made his initial foray into clubs when offered the Nottingham Beat Club in Heathcote Street.

That was well over 30 years ago and heralded the start of a career that now sees him running the Limelight, a converted Welsh Presbyterian Church on the corner of Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End.

The venue has just been voted London nightclub of the year by the influential trade magazine Disco International.

It’s the second time he has picked up the award – the first was a few years ago when he was running the Hippodrome, round the corner.

“I couldn’t think of doing anything else,” he says. “It’s a hard business if you’re going to succeed, but it becomes a way of life.”

Back in the 60s it was also a relatively new business; the Beatles had only charted, for the first time, in October 1962 with Love Me Do and the Rolling Stones had arrived a year later.

The Beat Club has a resident band, the Jaybirds, who then left, changed their name and under lead guitarist Alvin Lee became Ten Years After, Britain’s most successful album band until Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin came along in the early 70s.

Parker remembers the turning point for him and the Beat Club was the day Screaming Lord Sutch appeared.

“He had come into Nottingham in the afternoon and there he was, looking like he does, running in and out of shops around the Old Market Square. It was the start of all that interest in him, and that night the club was packed.”

The club “became so successful I got a taste for it.”

His next venture was the Dungeon Club, Stamford Street, in an old warehouse.

“The estate agents wouldn’t let it to me,” he says, “so I had to find the owner myself and approach him. He let me have it.”

It was a golden time and all the major acts of the day – especially black artists – put in an appearance. “They all came,” he says, “Stevie Wonder, Edwin Starr, Wilson Pickett, the Drifters, Martha and the Vandellas.”

Stringfellow

There were major British pop performers, too. “The Kinks, the Who, Moody Blues and Rod Stewart when he used to be with Long John Baldry.

“There was a band called Bluesology and their keyboard player was Reg Dwight.” Dwight, of course, is now multi-millionaire pop star Elton John.

“Peter Stringfellow – I’ve known Pete for years – used to DJ,” says Parker.

Stringfellow had started in Sheffield and the two keep in touch, not least because Stringfellow’s own club is not far from the Limelight.

Twenty years ago Mick, by then divorced – he has a son he rarely sees – left for London.

He had teamed up with another night-club luminary, George Parker, and they opened the Camden Palace, formerly a BBC theatre where the Goons – Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine – had recorded theor 1950s radio shows.

The Camden Palace originally opened as the Music Machine but soon changed its name. There was another boom, too, this time punk.

Celebrated man-about-town Steve Strange fronted the club, and bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Clash and The Jam all played.

Later, it was the turn of Wham! During the early days of George Michael’s pop career.

Parker left London for St Helen’s, Lancs, where he turned a loss-making club into a success. Then it was back to London, and back in partnership with George Henry.

That partnership is still going strong and the Limelight, with its capacity of 800 people, is considered THE place in the capital.

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Clubland: Inside the Limelight

Business is changing, though Parker has no thoughts of retiring: “The Limelight isn’t so much a celebrity club. Lenny Henry comes in from time to time but London isn’t the celebrity scene it used to be. There isn’t the glamour.

“People don’t dress up. They do in the provinces, but not here anymore. And anyone really well-known who goes out these days will probably find themselves pestered to death.”

Nonetheless, Parker still loves the lifestyle.

He works from 9am until 3.30pm, goes home – he and his partner, Sandie, a singer, live in Finchley – then at 9pm returns.

He stays there “behind the scenes2 until 1am and sometimes later. The club shuts at 3am.

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Relative values: Mick Parker and his sister June

He still visits his family in Nottingham: “As often as I can.” His two sisters, both married with children, live in Brinsley.

At 57, though, does he want to continue the nightclub lifestyle?

“I never thought about giving it up,” he says. “I would be lost if I retired. It’s a way of life, a great business to be in.

“And anyway, I never wanted a proper job.”

The second article was written by Andy Smart and printed in Nottingham Post’s Bygones supplement on February 6th 2017.

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Mick Parker outside his Soho nightclub Limelight

They were exciting times … it touched people’s lives

Ex-miner Mick Parker stumbled into the nightclub business by accident – but it led to the birth of a Nottingham legend.

In his spare time, the Gedling Colliery worker had been helping local entertainers the Reg Guest Trio. “We decided to open a little agency, Guest Parker Entertainments, in Talbot Street. We managed a few local groups, organised some local gigs: groups like Ivan Jay and the Jaycats, the Jaybirds.

Born in Plumtree but raised in Old Basford, Mick said “We started the Nottingham Beat Club in the Co-op, on Stanford Street.

“I remember going down to London for a Saturday night stage show to see Screaming Lord Sutch and his Savages. I booked him to come to Nottingham.

“He came up in the afternoon and I remember him running into Jessops dressed in his leopard-skin outfit, terrifying everyone.

“The club was choc-a-bloc that night.”

Mick, a former pupil of Whitemoor and Ellis schools, realised he was onto something. Kids were desperate for the new music and there were plenty of groups around looking for bookings.

“But the rent kept going up, so I found my own premises, ground floor and basement, and I came up with the name … The Dungeon.”

Speaking from his home in Mallorca, where he was watching snow fall on the beach, he said : “We started off with bands like the Paramounts. They had a hit with Poison Ivy before becoming Procol Harum.

“There were so many great groups around at that time. I remember an Irish group called Them playing at the Dungeon. I only found out recently that the lead singer was Van Morrison.

“Then, through London agents, we brought in these top black American acts. Edwin Starr played many times, he was a top draw. And I will never forget Little Stevie Wonder turning up. Little? He was six feet tall!”

The Dungeon didn’t serve alcohol but, says Mick, the kids didn’t need it.

“They were exciting times, things were new, it was fresh and the music was everything.

“It touched people’s lives.”

Mick’s life had changed forever. The days at the pit were behind him and he spent the rest of his working life running clubs.

“I sold the Dungeon and went to run the Pigalle Club for Jack Davis and Eric Lewis, and I finally ended up in London. I did 25 years running clubs, including the Camden Palace, that was when punk began, and the Hippodrome.”

He makes occasional visits back to Nottingham and is aware of the local Dungeon fans who meet once a month to recall old times. “I keep meaning to get to a meeting,” he said. “Hopefully I will be there in April.”

Monthly Meet-ups

Mick attended the Dungeon Reunion meet-up in March 2017 and was present to unveil the ‘Mock’ Blue Plaque outside the Club premises in August 2017.

Acknowledgements
  • Articles taken from and with courtesy from Nottingham Post and Nottingham Evening Post.
  • Reports – John Brunton, Andy Smart
  • Photographs – Mick Parker, Nottingham Post, Maurice Moore

First and Last

From the Beginning …

The Mod Scene probably started with the Beat Club, a regular dance club with various up and coming bands playing, held at the Rainbow Rooms, part of the Co-op on Broad Street which has since become the Broadway Cinema. It was run by Mick Parker who went on to become the owner of a new club in town – the Dungeon.

Grand Opening Night

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Friday July 10th, 1964 was the Grand Opening of the club and it cost 5/- to get in (25p in new money). The first band to play on the Dungeon stage was Big Ugly Dane and the Diamonds who were supporting the second band to play, the Dennisons.

Big Ugly Dane and the Diamonds

They were managed by Philip Smith who had been a partner of Mick Parker in the ‘Beat Club’ project.

Philip Smith – “Yep, I was their manager, originally Ray Dane and the Diamonds. An excellent all round pop group. They spent MANY months touring U.S. Air Force camps in Europe due to their popularity; they were sent from camp to camp without any help from me. I changed the name to ‘Big Ugly Dane’ and the Diamonds to attract interest when they returned to England … it worked!”

The Dennisons
Embed from Getty Images

The Dennisons were a 5-piece ‘Merseybeat’ band from Liverpool who played from 1961 till they disbanded in 1967, taking their name from a Liverpool street. They released three singles – the self-written ‘Be My Girl’ (number 46 in the UK charts) in 1963, Rufus Thomas ‘Walking the Dog’ (number 36) and ‘Nobody Like Me Babe’ both 1964. Their drummer later achieved fame as an actor, best known for his role as ‘Jack Sugden’ in the soap opera ‘Emmerdale’.

Here are some samples of the Dennisons’ music:

 

… To the End

As reported elsewhere, an advertisement was printed in the Nottingham Evening Post for the weekend of 16th-18th February 1968, as follows:

Last advert

There were no more ads, therefore we have to assume that the all-day marathon featuring Mint on Sunday February 18th was the last event at the Dungeon.

So, we can assume that the last live act to play at the Dungeon was Mint – they travelled all the way from Leicester to perform in the club.

The Mint

At the time the band consisted of:

  • Alan Jones – guitar, vocals
  • George Moorley – bass, vocals
  • Phil Cartwright – drums, vocals
  • Rick Martin – lead vocals

In the words of Alan Jones “Apologies for not recollecting the gig – and being the last group there. I just hope we weren’t the reason for it’s closure.”

Mint were formed in the late 60s in Leicester by Alan Jones to play in Germany. The line-up changed over time, personnel joining who played in other local bands such as the Martins, the Berkeley Squares, Mick Poultons’ Pendulum, The Rockets.

The band had twin lead guitars and harmony vocals (falsetto lead) playing songs like ‘Marianne’ by Grapefruit and ‘Under My Skin’ by the Four Seasons. They travelled Europe and the UK and received national recognition with record releases, and Radio 1 and TV appearances.

They had more success in the 70s after becoming a 5-piece, culminating in them becoming the only band to win shows on both Opportunity Knocks and New Faces.

After being a successful club and cabaret band, they eventually called it a day and the various personnel who had played in the band went on to perform in a multitude of other bands. In recent times, the band have reformed to play odd gigs.

 

You can hear performances by the band on YouTube: