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

Before the Club

A New Dawn

The Dungeon Club could have been described as an early version of the later Discotheques – sort of late night drinking and dancing establishments – or a Youth Club: there was a minimum age limit of 16 (although many went under this age) and it was not licensed, you could only buy soft drinks such as Coke or milky coffee. But what did 60s teenagers do in Nottingham before the Dungeon opened?

Many went to one or more of the many Youth Clubs that existed. These were places where many would meet to talk and socialise with like-minded individuals, to play sports such as table tennis, to listen to music – many bands of the time started their musical journey playing in a Youth Club. They were usually organised by a local church or school, maybe a Sunday school, somewhere with space which could be utilised.

Locarno
Site of the Locarno Ballroom, St Ann’s Well Road

There were also the old dancehalls and ballrooms – places where hundreds of people would dance on real wooden, sprung floors to the big bands of the day playing a selection of jazz and dance music. In Nottingham, there were places such as the Astoria Ballroom, which had by the 60s become the Sherwood Rooms, on Greyfriar Gate, the Palais de Dance on Lower Parliament Street, the Victoria Ballroom, which had become the Locarno Ballroom, on St Ann’s Well Road, the Elizabethan Rooms, at the top of the Cop-op on Parliament Street.

Immediately prior to the Dungeon opening, Mick Parker, it’s owner, ran the ‘Beat Club’ in the Rainbow Rooms on Broad Street, a place frequented by very early, young Mods who were entertained by the upcoming groups of the early 60s.

Youth Clubs

Sheila Russell
Sheila Russell Centre, Strelley
1 – The West End – Strelley, Aspley, Bilborough

Mick Hatcher – “Can you remember your pre-Dungeon youth clubs you attended before you were brave enough to make the steps up to the Dungeon Club? Mine and Paul Thorpe’s and many others were the Sheila Russell Centre, Strelley and St Margaret’s, Aspley.”

Ann Barry – “I went to both of those Mick. For St Margaret’s I must’ve only been aged 11; I was 14 when I started to go to The Dungeon. In the years before I went to a youth club in the school hall on Westwick Road, latterly called Portland School. I remember dancing to Chubby Checker ‘Let’s Twist Again’, Susan Maughan ‘I want to be Bobby’s Girl’ and ‘Hey Paula’ by Paul and Paula amongst others.”

Linda Pettifor – “I went to the youth club in Portland School as well around 61/62. Then we moved to Beechdale youth club that was held in the old Beechdale Primary school. The school was no longer in use as a school and the 3 infant classrooms were taken over along with the hall by the youth club. I went there till about 64.

“Most of the kids I hung about with were from the Bracebridge Drive area of Bilborough. We would hang about in the Co-op doorway, the chip shop or sit on the pub wall (Pelican) making a nuisance of ourselves.”

Ann Barry – “My overriding memories of the place was the music.”

St Margarets
St Margarets Church Hall, Aspley Lane

Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright – “St Margaret’s, Aspley Lane – always remember being with Ann in the off-license on the corner of Melbourne Road when we heard Kennedy had been assassinated.”

Paul Thorpe – “Mick, we also went to the Aspley Methodist youth club, Aspley Lane”

Ann Barry – “I went to Sunday school there, Paul.”

Mick Hatcher – “Yes, Paul, I meant Aspley Methodist, not St Margarets, mate.”

Paul Thorpe – “Mick, we did go to dances/disco’s at St Margarets as well mate, they held one every few weeks.”

Trev Poole – “Wollaton Grange on Tremayne Road, in Bilborough”

Maurice Moore – “The Salty Dogs played at a youth club at a church hall on Aspley Lane.”

Paul Thorpe – “The Aspley Lane venue would be either St Margarets behind the church or Aspley Methodist Youth Club, which was quite small, my guess would be the first one as they had quite a large hall, perhaps Linda Thompson or Mick Hatcher would know more about live bands at those places.”

Linda Thompson – “Paul Thorpe, I can remember a live band playing at the Methodist but can’t remember who they were and don’t think they had live bands very often.”

Paul Thorpe – “Linda, were The Children on there once?”

Linda Thompson – “Paul Thorpe, yes, I remember seeing them there.”

Mick Holland – “I saw my first live band at St. Margarets … the Rockin Vulcans, with Mick Maltby on drums!”

Paul Dexter – “I think it was St Johns Church near Glenbrook Infants. Friday night we used to get 10 Park Drive tipped to share plus Gaymers Olde English.”

Linda Deck Willis – “Used to go to Creepers, Cinderhill, think there’s a hotel there now.”

Wendy Watkinson – “Yes, Creepers at Cinderhill.”

Eileen Smith – “Sheila Russell was my first venture into evenings out quickly followed by The Cocked Hat.”

 

 

 

2 – Up North – New Basford, Arnold, Woodthorpe Park, Mapperley

Stuart Morris – “Sounds like you Bilborough kids lived the high life. No youth clubs in Mapperley. Still in short trousers till 3rd year. Can remember watching the older kids going in the Locarno Saturday lunch to twist. Lads still had Tony Curtis hairstyle, and brothel creeper shoes. Girls had beehives and white stilettos they couldn’t walk on. Cavendish cinema, St Annes, using my school dinner money to get in for A, sometimes X films, with Dusty, was my club. Joined the ATC with Jan in 63: went to camp, learned to fly gliders, wore a uniform. Happy days!”

Kate Holmes – “Hi, just to let you know there was a youth club in Mapperley. It was in St Jude’s Church Hall, Woodborough Road.”

Dougie Bairstow – “Downstairs, went many a time 1966-1968.”

Sue Hey – “I went to St Jude’s Youth Club, happy memories.”

Craig Strong – “Along with a couple of mates we started our own youth club; it was in a hall attached to a church, and we had to attend the Sunday service to be able to do it! It was on Palm Street in New Basford, just a room, normal lightbulbs replaced with red ones, and the sound was an Elpico record player, churning out stuff like Small Faces, Spencer Davis Group, and of course some Motown! Apart from our local mates, Jimmy Hardy and Jeff used to come as well.”

Janet Butler – “That’s brilliant Craig, shows dedication and enterprise!”

Steve Leadbeater – “Kingswell youth club, Arnold.”

Irene Morley – “I went to a youth club at Ewing School for the Deaf opposite Woodthorpe Park, learnt how to do the Twist to Chubby Checker. Then went to a club at Arnold High School.”

Judith Zipser – “St Marks at Woodthorpe.”

Christine Wright – “Bulwell Youth Club.”

Peter Wilson – “Side of the Bull & Butcher …”

Christine Wright – “Peter Wilson, not sure about the pub Peter, drank coke in those days. It was only a hop skip.”

Peter Wilson – “Christine Wright, spot on.”

3 – In the East – Bakersfields

Maurice Moore – “The Salty Dogs played in a few youth clubs – we practised in one at Jesse Boot School in Bakersfield, don’t know what it was called, we played for them as well. We played in another youth club, maybe in a church hall elsewhere in Bakersfield.”

4 – Down South – Meadows, Clifton

Lyn Frost – “Spiders, St Frannies, Holy Trinity, Clifton: great memories. Sunday afternoons at the Dungeon, ripe old age of 15 … till we got busted.”

Lynne Kasprzak – “YM Clifton and St Francis.”

Benita Hall – “Same for me … also Saturday mornings at the Palais.”

Denise-Bamford Stone – “I’m with you there Lynne, happy memories of our teenage years.”

Alan Jukes – “Me too.”

Kath Shaw – “FRANNIES early 60s. End of 64, Dungeon, I was almost 16.”

Janet Butler – “St.Faiths (Santa Fe), St.Francis!”

Alan Jukes – “Loved Santa Fe.”

Maurice Moore – “I thought I saw someone called Sutch performing at the Santa Fe, but not Screaming Lord Sutch. Was there a local version?”

Jill Rowland – “Frannies.”

Christine Yates – “Frannies every Saturday night.”

Michael Read – “Spiders in Clifton! Ray Tassi also went there.”

Steve Worthington – “St. Francis, Spiders at Clifton, Locarno Saturday mornings. Dungeon from late 1964.”

5 – South-West – Bramcote, Beeston, Wollaton
Shed
The Shed, Beeston

Danny W.Gill – “Bramcote 59 club and the church next to Collage house school.”

Josephine Pate – “The Sheds Beeston aka Beeston Youth Centre was the first.”

Linda Dietz – “63 youth club in Bramcote and then Pandoras Box on a Saturday night in the same village hall!”

Christine Tarr – “Bramcote 63 club with Linda Dietz , sometimes Christ Church in Chilwell. Never ventured down the Shed at Beeston!!!!! Too scared.”

Peter Wilson – “Went to Wollaton youth club pre 64.”

Josephine Pate – “St Leonards?”

Sue Pechell – “Me too if it was SL.”

Josephine Pate – “Sue Pechell, I’ve still got a membership card Sue even though I can’t remember ever getting it or using it! Oh well.”

Irene Morley – “Josephine Pate it’s an age thing.”

Paul Thorpe – “Did we all go to Monty Hind Club on Leen Gate a few times??”

Kate Cogle – “Kingswood (Wollaton).”

Wollaton - Carol Walmsley, Christine Tarr
Outside Wollaton Youth Club – Carol Walmsley and Christine Tarr

Around the Town Centre

Colemans
Site of Colemans

Veda Bromwich – “Locarno on a Tuesday night for 14+’s.”

Susan Cassar – “I went to the Locarno Tuesday nights … I was 12 and you had to be 14!! But I lived for Tuesday nights.”

Bob Cropley – “Before the Dungeon for me it was the Locarno, Coleman’s and the Beat Club.”

Rainbow Rooms
The Broadway Cinema, which was the site of the Rainbow Rooms, where the Beat Club was held

Ray Stevenson – “Didn’t anyone go to the Beat Club in the Rainbow Rooms on Broad Street?”

John Murphy – “The Beat Club every Wednesday night in the Coop building which is now Broadway Cinema. First Mod place in Nottingham I think. Oops, forgot the Locarno Saturday nights.”

Terry Heath – “I went there as did Bob Clifford. Remember Screaming Lord Sutch playing at the Beat Club (David Edward Sutch). Also went to Bodega on Pelham Street.”

John Murphy – “Terry Heath, I saw Sutch and used to love The Exciters from Leicester. The Rattles from Germany were brilliant as well. Black polo necks, grey button down shirt and frayed bell-bottom jeans.”

Terry Heath – “Yes sounds like my “uniform”. I also used to wear a red military bomber type jacket until my mother threw it away – I was gutted. My other youth club was the Belvedere in the Lace Market.”

John Murphy – “I was heartbroken when mi mam first threw my first pair of Levi’s away cos they’d gone faded!”

Maureen Sandwith – “Also the Farinas who went on to become Family used to play there a lot and also the Pretty Things played a couple of times.”

Bob Cropley – “I would not have classed the Beat Club as a youth club. It was the forerunner to the Dungeon for Mods. They had brilliant bands. My favourite probably the Pretty Things. It was an excellent club & I saw lots of good bands there: The Rattles, Jimmy Powell and the Five Dimensions, Renagades, Pretty Things. So many more. Lots of scooter & mini mods there.”

Janet Butler – “That’s where I know you from!”

Lorna Hickton – “Mick Parker started his original club at the Rainbow Rooms and we were there until the move to the Dungeon.”

Susan Cassar – “Ummmm never knew that, never went to the Rainbow Rooms, didn’t even know where it was..?”

Maurice Moore – “Susan, it is now the Broadway Cinema.”

Susan Cassar – “Oh Wow of course … Remember the Pretty Things played there … So I have been there … My friend and I had a photograph taken outside The Lord Roberts pub with one of the Pretty Things.”

Social
The Social or Bodega

Gill Kerry – “I went to a place called Jepsons on Hockley but then discovered the Dungeon!”

Trevor Messom – “YMCA, Shakespeare Street.”

Conclusion

Maureen Sandwith – “Locarno, St Francis in Clifton, the University dances on a Saturday night were always good, San Juan, Toreador, Paprika Pancake House, Belvedere, Beat club as mentioned above, Jules et Jim in Hockley, Dancing Slipper and of course it goes without saying The Boat Clubs and the L Shaped Room and then The Hippo along with the Dungeon, Beachcomber and Ad-lib, clubs and coffee bars all based around the City Centre but I was fortunate enough to live at the bottom of the Castle Rock on Castle Boulevard.”

John Nequest Barbara Henson (Marlowe) L Shaped Room Tiggs-001
John Nequest and Barbara Henson (Marlowe) outside the L-Shaped Room

April Whitehouse – “Remember and went to them all. Brilliant times.”

Maureen Sandwith – “Weren’t they just.”

Credits

Photos courtesy: Maurice Moore & Paul Thorpe