The Online Mod/ern/ist Archive

archive of original modernist recollections and information .
we are glad to hear from anyone with memories of the time, but we do not rewrite history .

25 Mar 2009

The Whiskey a Go-Go, Birmingham .

The 60's in Brum were the best for live bands, specially at The Whiskey a Go Go above Chetwyns on the corner of John Bright Street and Hill Street. The whiskey was unique in the fact that not only did the local bands King Bees, Modernaires, Jugs O'Henry, Moody Blues, Denny Laine, Spencer Davis play there, but also people from the states. "Motown" & "R&B" greats like Sonny Boy Williamson sang there, and all night on Fridays till 8am Saturday mornings and again on Saturday nights till Sunday morning. The owners Chris & Steve Healey were two great guys who were there to welcome us all every night the Whiskey was open. They both wore lowed striped jackets as I remember.

I have been told that Steve still has a book that records all the bands and singers of that time that they booked up, such as The Faces, Long John Baldry, and Gary Farr and The Knockouts. I remember Georgie Fame playing virtually all night. They couldn't get him off the small stage until he collapsed with exhaustion, or lack of stimulation's. Great Brummie characters also frequented The Whiskey; Sean MaHoney, Billy Sutton, Billy & Dodger Thompson, Colin Mythan, Noel Barnes, Chris and Gary Burgess, Jock Ellis, Duffy, Bugsy, Chris Wolsey, Kenny Frazer, Rob Marsh, Popeye, Dicky Martin, Bobby Summers, Henry O'Neil, Eddy The Jew, Jonnie Hutton, Dorian Walford, Black H and Spencer, who were both Brummie DJ's with Caribbean and soul backgrounds.

The place buzzed for three years until it changed hands and became the Marquee in 1967. And the chicks that went there were out of this world. One group were called "The Magnificent Seven". Other male groups of people were nick named "The Martini Set", "The T-set" and the "Coca Cola Boy's". It was cult and leading edge for urban 60's live band music, dance styles and fashions. They used to pack in nearly 250 townies and mods onto both floors, live bands on the 1st floor and DJ's on the top floor. Many dudes where "knocked back" at the door if you weren't part of the crowd, as they could not get everybody in the gaff.

After we crashed out in the mornings at the KD (Kardoma) coffee bar in New Street, we went on to the West End Saturday afternoon dance. We then had the energy to go to the "All Nighters" at the Town Hall. Spencer Davis with Steve Winwood were classic, along with the other Brumbeat bands. The Whiskey attracted people from all over the midlands, including Coventry and London scene, to dance and hear live music of the era that was very ahead of pop culture in England at that time! If the Town Hall gigs weren't on we used to go to "The Twisted Wheel" in Manchester that also played Motown & Blues".

Other live band venues we frequented where the "Lafayette" and "The Connaught Suite" in Wolverhampton.

Bobby Summers

source : internet

1 comment:

spike the mighty ruler said...

When I made my first visit I wore a beautiful calf length cream leather coat. NITSO Ronnie, fat bloke with ginger hair, the manager took me to his office and locked the coat in the safe - otherwise I'd have been rolled. Ronnie was the nicest bloke you'd ever wish to meet and a good mate, I can still hear him "NITOS SPIKE, RONNIES THE BOSS!"
I was the DJ on the top floor WHERE THE BANDS PLAYED. When I started there there was just one light bulb over the stage. I built a lighting rig using baby milk cans and coloured bulbs. The sound system on that floor was 2 12" speakers, a 50 watt mono amp that looked like a mouse cage, and two SP25 decks - downstairs they only had one deck so there was a gap between records. The big L.P. was The Sue Story Vol. 1. Getting Georgie Fame / Graham Bonds Hammond organs up the stairs was a nightmare - especially as we were all blocked [taking purple hearts, french blues, black bombers dexies, etc.] I got £2/10/0d for the night
Like you say the girls were beautiful and the guys very close.