Silk Disco – The Venues, Part 2


Silk Disco – The Venues, Part 2
By Pete Clemons

Baginton Oak – 13 December 1974

Last night should have been a happy occasion for the Silk Disco, a mobile discotheque that tours the Coventry area, because they were celebrating their 5th birthday.

A very special party for all their fans had been laid on at the Baginton Oak Hotel but the happiness soon turned sour when it was found that half of the disco’s singles collection – valued at more than £1000 – had been stolen.

Today the two young men who run the disco, Mr Jim Twynham and Mr Graham Wood, are desperately trying to trace their stolen records and planning a new programme for a disco date tonight.

Both men decided to give a fifth birthday party for their fans some time ago and in order to make certain that everything would go off smoothly they left their equipment, including two large suitcases full of singles records at the Baginton Oak on Thursday night.

When they went back to the hotel last night to begin the party they discovered that one of the suitcases with records catalogued from H to Z had been stolen.

The pair are offering a £50 reward for information leading to the recovery of their records

The records were never recovered but they were actually stolen from the Baginton Oak when we were daft enough to leave them there overnight, having set up there the night before our 5th birthday party!

Chesford 1812/stables November 1976 to November 1982

Having worked for the new owner of the Chesford Grange previously (via the Hylands Hotel) we were asked to re-open the nightclub when it became known as the 1812.

Chesford Grange situated between Kenilworth and Leamington Spa had long enjoyed its reputation for its hotel facilities that included a massive ballroom (Once host to the Kinetic Circus which once was a venue for many well known bands) and its own nightclub. By the mid 70s it was not trading and put up for sale.

Without any redecorating, or cleaning the 1812 reopened in November 1976 and Silk provided DJ services and equipment several nights a week as well as providing disco’s in other parts of the hotel.

The nightclub was then refurbished, twice, and a resident band, sound system and professional lighting installed. The club name then became known as Stables. At this point we sold our Transit Van and some of our lighting equipment.

Life at the Chesford was never dull and a book could be written covering all the ‘stuff’ that took place!. Great memories and happy times but when the owner did not want to give us a pay rise we said goodbye!.

3 Tuns Bull Yard, Coventry, Sunday’s, Wednesday’s and Saturday Lunchtimes June 1980 to October 1984

Through Jim’s friendship with landlord Martin, Silk were invited to present a disco a the 3 tuns (No dancing and no lights). This took place on Sunday and Wednesday evenings plus Saturday lunchtimes.

Always a good crowd who were probably on a pub and club crawl through the city centre. We could keep the sound centre there and it was never a late night.

Ryton Sports Connexion 80s – Friday’s April 1988 to August 1991

Around the early 80s we were asked to play for many private parties at the Sky Blue Connexion and became their ‘go to’ disco if one was requested.

In 1988 we started a weekly Friday evening residency which became a late night disco for the older age group who wanted a late night drink and dance.

Whilst the residency ‘lost its appeal’ in 1991 we continued to play for private parties until October 2003, our penultimate gig.

Not forgetting – short residencies and dates

Apollo Disco, Railway Hotel 1970 – Played 2 gigs here during January 1970 and had to purchase a couple of reggae greatest hits in order to satisfy the requirements of the organiser. It was not really our thing.

Walsgrave Pub 1970
– Friars promotions decided to put on progressive nights and we played there on a few occasions. However the in house DJ gear was awful and the management poor. We had a growing reputation to consider.

Dive 1971 – The underground Dive Bar started to promote rock disco nights and Silk played there during November/December 1971 on Saturday nights. Unfortunately we were very busy elsewhere and not prepared to work for the very modest fee on offer.

Circles, Builders club (sacked for a mess) moved to West End WMC (Thursday’s) 71/72

Locarno 1973 – Hawkwind supported by Barnabas. Also featured Stacia who performed her dance routine for only the second time. As a result of this a certain Coventry apprentice found himself mentioned in the Sunday People.

London – Silk never did a ‘gig’ in London but during the early 1970’s Jim and Graham were invited down by Colin Huntley, who was Hackensack’s manager at the time. He took the pair to Island records and a gig at the Cooks Ferry Inn.

Posh Annie’s above Colin Campbell October 1981/March 1982 – Previously home to the Village Heavy Rock Club in 1970/71. Posh Annie’s was in the upstairs room and we had a short Friday night residency playing rock and progressive music on an in house DJ set up.

Chuffers – The Engine Inn, Hampton in Arden June to September 1983 – Ex 3tuns landlord took over the pub and wanted a Thursday evening disco. So we helped launch the venue but were too busy elsewhere so gave the gig to another disco.
Memory Lane (Park Lane) 84/85

Eastern Green Village Hall – Silk’s last gig

Silk’s mobile disco’s continued through till 2003. Their last gig was Saturday 29 November 2003 at the Eastern Green Village Hall for the 21st Coventry Scout Group. It wasn’t there first time at this venue. It had always been a great crowd, always up for some fun and, as it was the last gig, we did several encores.

Fun Quiz’s June 1991 Dec 2017

Concurrently, and for around quarter of a century, Graham Wood and Jim Twynham moved into the world of organising pub quiz nights. These were held, in no particular order, at the following venues: The Maudsley, The Old Clarence, The Haven, The Chestnut Tree, The Bell Inn, The Phoenix and the Fletch.

Today, Graham looks back on his part in local entertainment history with a certain pride. And rightly so. He also mentioned that, occasionally, he still misses it. Such was the impact on his life I guess.

Photo by Sue Long

Silk letter header as sent to Trev’s Hobo Magazine for an advert in the magazine 1974

Jim Twynham of Silk Disco

Silk Disco – The Venues, Part 1


Silk Disco – The Venues, Part 1
by Pete Clemons

Punters just turn up and go home. Behind the scenes there has been a lot of organising, humping of equipment, paperwork, travel and phone calls.

And someone who organised, humped and spent a lot of time on the phone was Graham Wood of Silk promotions. I cajoled Graham into plundering the depths of his memories as I felt it was important to attempt to document his and Jim Twynham’s achievements with regard to Silk disco. Thanks Graham for your patience.

1969 – Through meeting at the Coventry City fan club Graham Wood, Jim Twynham and Steve Miles decided to ’emulate’ Pete Waterman and form Silk Discotheque.

Each partner stumped up £50 in order to purchase: 2 x Garrard SP25 decks, an amplifier, 2 EMI Speakers and a microphone.

Silk’s first gig was 20th December 1969 – a Christmas Dinner Dance at Coventry and North Warwick Cricket Club on the Binley Road.

During their heyday work was so plentiful that, at times, venues overlapped. Not only did Silk cover residencies and public dances, they also provided disco’s for private celebrations. Weddings, end of season football dances and other events.

Without detailing every event Graham has put together a list and some accompanying notes of the main ventures Silk were involved in. This has been put together as chronologically as possible.

The Plough, London Road – club night February 1970 to January 1972

Whilst Silk was a mobile disco we wanted a venue where we could play our own tastes in music – from folk/blues to rock/progressive rock.

The Plough on London Road, situated opposite a Salvation Army Hostel was not the most salubrious of venues but it had an unused back room and a landlord, Norman Rennison, who was happy for us to install a small stage and decorate to create an intimate space.

Over 2 years we established a regular crowd and developed a stereo sound system, complimented by a light show, including films and cartoons!. We were also allowed the opportunity to present/promote many local Midlands bands.

Sadly the brewery eventually decided to refurbish the pub and Silk were on the move.

In December 1970 Steve Miles left Silk to set up his own disco, ‘Smiley’ – Now that’s a play on words. The split was amicable. Soon after Jim and Graham were joined by illustrator Paul Taylor.

Live at the Plough: Hemisphere, Wandering John, Trad B Jefferson, Asgard, Indian Summer, Tobias Heat, Whistler, April, Children, Rogation Sunday, Dando Shaft, Elf, Mead, Flying Hat Band, Gentle, Lucretia Borgia, Milestones, Modern Idiot Grunt Band, Hackensack, Fang, Barnabas, Vita Brevis, Music Box, Dave Turner, Salamander, Pluto

Circles – July 1971 to December 1972

We had really enjoyed promoting bands at the Plough but had been restricted due to the size of our venues. We soon realised it wasn’t large enough for some of the better known bands and so probably started planning for Circles in late 1970. So we looked for somewhere larger and close to the city centre.

Circles started at the Building Trades Club in July 1971 planning the first four weeks with local bands and then moving on to ‘national’ bands. In week 5 Stray were our first name band and the club was packed. Unfortunately 350 people leave behind some spilt beer and a few broken glasses. Stray also helped the mess with their exploding dustbin showering confetti everywhere.

The cleaners complained and the committee asked us to leave.

Fortunately the West End Club understood our plight and we were able to resume gigs the following week followed by many more through 1971 and 1972.

Humber hotel, Arthur’s 1972

Jan 72 – July 72 Arthurs: Silk moved to the Humber Hotel immediately following ‘our eviction’ from The Plough and although it was further out of town it was an immediate success.

Possibly a better back room than The Plough. We did not decorate it or attempt to promote any bands as we were soon on the move again.

Chums, Bear Inn 1972 to 1974 (Thursday’s)

1972 to September 1974 Chums: Whist Arthurs had been incredibly successful the opportunity to open a venue in the city centre was not to be missed

The upstairs back room was certainly not the largest but the atmosphere was exciting and ‘Chums’ took off immediately with full houses most Thursday’s.

Silk was becoming increasingly busier and resources were being stretched so it was, with regret, that we moved from The Bear in September 1974.

At this time Paul Taylor left Silk due to various commitments. Again, all was amicable. Paul was a graphic artist and was responsible for Arthurs/Chums/Circles logos and associated artwork.

Thursdays, back to Plough this time the Lounge – late 1974 to June 1976

The Plough had always remained a Watering Hole and a chance to meet up with some of our friends who lived locally. But, of course, now the pub had been refurbished.

We were asked if we would like to provide a disco on a Thursday evening and the best way to describe it was like a free and easy disco night. No lights, no backing and we played selective tunes, album tracks and we encouraged people to bring along their own vinyl.

It became a very pleasant, hassle free evening.

Trocadero, Bulkinton June 1972 – April 1976 (Monday and Tuesday)

Silk had been previously hired by a local agency for various functions and one of their clients was the Weston Hall Hotel who wanted to hold disco’s in their nightclub.

The club began in 1972 and was very successful considering it was held on Sundays, Monday and Tuesdays. We used our full range of disco and PA equipment and an extensive light show. We did however have to play mainly disco, soul and pop stuff which had been taboo at earlier venues.

We ended our 3 and a half year residency when the agency chose to continue with a more local and cheaper disco, but that was fine!.

Note: During 1975 the name of the disco evening was known as ‘Waves Discotheque Club’.

The Selecter at The Lanch 3rd October 1979 – Support: The X-Certs


The Selecter at The Lanch 3rd October 1979 – Support: The X-Certs.

By Pete Clemons

 A virtually unmoving queue, four or five across, consisting of students, chequered badges, and pork- pie hats, slumps awkwardly from the entrance of the 950 capacity basement hall, up the stairs, past the bar, and to the end of the corridor.

The X-Certs are most of the way through their lively enough sounding set, and people are beginning to wonder if they will get in. When I finally do catch the last two minutes of this support act, there are still many more behind me.

Backstage, I am greeted with distrustful looks from some. ‘I’m the roadie’s brother’ from another. Finally, a couple of badges and a handshake from Charlie Anderson, the bassist, who seems quite relaxed about coming and chatting, although others twitch and flit about or sit motionless. The Selecter, I am told, are, or at least partly, from Jamaica.

Have they been into ska and pre- reggae for long ? Yes, they grew up with it. No sign of any band waggon jumping here, obviously. The band, it seems, whatever the trend, will always be a dance band.

Slavishly following musical fashion may be lucrative at some point or other, but as soon as the trend is over, bands have to fall back on their real value. I am to understand that The Selecter will last on this value, which sets them (and a few others) apart from most of the rest.

Over confident, cocky perhaps, but it still remains to be seen. I grin and agree smarmily that anyone can stand up and shout ‘This is the time…’ in a tonic suit, but the beat is sloppy, and the band are, yes – so contrived.

At the moment, The Selecter are without a manager, which does not bother them – look what Bernie Rhodes did for the Coventry Specials – nor do they mind that they reaped very little financial reward for their Gangsters B-side.

This is OK by the band – not everyone is shot straight into the public eye with something that will make people say ‘who are they’ ?, ‘where do they come from’ ? and ‘when are they touring’ ? etc. etc. At least that’s how the band see it, and now they’ve had a lot of big recording offers, while still being happy to release ‘On My Radio’ on the 2-Tone label.

Handshakes again, ‘Cheers’, but a little tension as the band makes ready for the gig. I chat to keyboard player Desmond on his way to the Gents, but there’s not really much more to ask. Silly grins, flashes from the camera, and I walk away. Back in the hall there’s no disco, and soon, it’s ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the Selecter…’ who jogged on stage amid some dreadlocks and tremendous applause.

Pauline, the vocalist, demands we enjoy ourselves, and straight into the first tune. Staccato drums, quirky beat, and the gig is immediately a success – most of the hall is up and swaying, screaming applause on the penultimate chord, and being thrust into a punchy, stompy cover of ‘Murder’.

With gleeful dancing, onstage as well as off, the gig bustled on speedily, and even though I heard ‘let’s slow things down a little’ at least once, The Selecter proved themselves right by being competent and danceable. Ska – but with much other influence – jagged, Clash like chords appeared often and momentarily, coupled with intricate dub rhythms, giving a great ‘best of both-worlds’, sometimes even making rock music seem an adolescent pose, and reggae effete and religiously indulgent.

The new single ‘On My Radio’ went down particularly well, as did an excellent cover of the old ska tune ‘Carry Go Bring Home’, and the band deserved the two encores they got, people not even being satisfied with dancing on the stage to ‘007’.

So, fair enough, it’ll be instant popularity and success in the wake of The Specials, and Madness. After all they are playing to a converted audience, but their success won’t be undeserved – being a very tight and competent band. I love the single, which is on my radio as I write this, and I feel like taking back anything snide I’ve said.

Bruce Soord Trio – Nells, London


Bruce Soord Trio – Nells, London

by Pete Clemons

I appreciate that Bruce Soord plays electric guitar and rocks out a bit but, ever since I saw him do an acoustic set in Yeovil September 2009, I had always hoped to see him do a similar thing again. Delighted to say it recently happened. Although not purely acoustic, it was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be.

Even from his early days, I always felt that singer and songwriter, Bruce Soord, was always destined for a degree of success. Even in this, the difficult business of the music making industry. For me Bruce Soord is an outstanding lyric writer. His words tend to touch your very core as they appear to come from a position of things that concern him most.

Bruce’s songs are far from random and appear to come from specific circumstances. They seem to come, predominantly, from matters of the heart. That makes them very relatable but, at the same time, without losing sight of their meaning. They also have the ability to floor you ‘there is nowhere we will go, without you, you know’. And that can make them quite emotionally charged.

When those lyrics are applied to either electric or acoustic guitar, they take on a whole new life. And Bruce doesn’t just strum his guitars in familiar patterns either. He heavily uses a technique called open tuning which, on the face of it sounds a bit lazy.

Far from it, open tuning on a guitar can transform and vastly expand the possibilities of the instrument. While standard tuning remains flexible enough for most guitarists open tuning allows you to explore new chord shapes. It has been said that it can metamorphose the instrument into a whole new piece of kit.

Add looper pedals to the mix and that gives Bruce the opportunity to indulge by way of adding guitar solo’s. He can go where he fancies really. Here he adds improvisation and depth to the songs in an alluring way.

The songs are then taken to the next level when accompanying musicians add their parts. But always, at the heart of them all, is love, compassion and harmony. They are a reminder that, actually, this is all you really need.

Bruce recently completed his first solo tour. When I say solo it was actually a trio made up of Jon Sykes, Bruce’s very long time musical friend, and confidante, on bass and drummer Tash Buxton-Lewis. The tour was in support of his latest album Luminescence.

I caught a show at Nell’s, a modest sized Jazz and Blues club in West Kensington, London. With so much improvisation, the use of open tuning and loopers, arguably, made this a unique show. So it all felt absolutely fitting in such a venue.

The club was blessed with new songs such as Dear Life, Day of All Days, Lie Flat and Nestle In. They merged snugly with the more seasoned Buried Here, Field Day and Cut the Flowers.

In Luminescence, Bruce Soord has yet again produced something very special. The power in this release is completely palpable. If the high emotions generated by this record could be converted to energy then the current power crisis would be over.

But it isn’t just about the lyrics. Its the accompanying peripheral sounds that are so completely in sync. Bruce has a rare ability to get deep into the soul. Albums like this should come with a warning label.

Yes, there will always be The Pineapple Thief, Bruce’s main outlet, but I really hope time allows for more of this.

Circles Club – Coventry – A History (Silk Disco)

 Circles Club –  Coventry – A History (Silk Disco)

by Pete Clemons

Silk Disco didn’t just provide disco nights. They also began to put on bands. And a band would be incorporated with a disco evening. This type of event began almost immediately.

Graham Wood of Silk disco remembers: ‘When we (Jim Twyneham and myself) started promoting bands at the Plough we soon knew it wasn’t large enough for some of the better known bands and so probably started planning for Circles in late 1970’.

Circles worked within small budgets and, quite correctly, felt they were up against larger outfits like the ‘Lanch’ who could sustain any greater losses.

Graham’s genuine love and enjoyment of the newly developing progressive rock scene provided the temptation to move into the world of band promotion.

‘Promotion of bands began at The Plough. But we soon knew it wasn’t large enough for some of the better known bands and so probably started planning for Circles in late 1970’.

Building Trades Club, Whitefriars Street – (the numbers are attendance figures)
8 July 1971 Boots and Liberation 154
15 July 1971 Phineas Hog and Fresh Maggots 140
22 July 1971 Fang and Good Habit 130
29 July 1971 Hackensack and Lucrezia Borgia 118
5 August 1971 Stray 350

Circles tenure at the Builders (Building) Trades Club was short lived. As Graham remembers ‘They sacked us after 5 weeks due to the mess left after the Stray gig on 5 August. The place was rammed with, approx 350 people. And yes they did spill a bit of beer. Also a few glasses were smashed. All this was not helped by Stray’s exploding dustbin that showered confetti all over the floor’.

Graham conceded that the place did look a mess but the club probably took more money in beer sales that night, than they had in a complete month. A 15 strong committee summoned Silk representatives, Graham and Jim Twyneham, to a meeting the following Sunday and we ‘were out’.

It left us 5 days to find a new venue !!. And that new venue was The West End Club just off the ring road at the Spon End junction.

West End Club – (the numbers are attendance figures)
12 August 1971 Hookfoot 284
19 August 1971 Mick Abrahams 311
26 August 1971 Dando Shaft (Palladin – Cancelled) 280
2 September 1971 Bronco 287
9 September 1971 Paul Brett’s Sage 138
16 September 1971 Stackridge 163
23 September 1971 Quiver 90
30 September 1971 Ginger (Bell and Arc – Cancelled) 85
7 October 1971 Supertramp 104
14 October 1971 Caravan (Toby – Cancelled) 304
20 October 1971 Palladin 90
28 October 1971 Hackensack 156
11 November 1971 Stray 203
18 November1971 Writing on the Wall (Brett Marvin and the Thunderbolts – Cancelled) 146
9 December 1971 Hookfoot
16 December 1971 Man 138
20 December 1971 Hookfoot 95
23 December 1971 Hackensack and Butch 163
30 December 1971 Van der Graff Generator 355
27 January 1972 Duster Bennett 102
24 February 1972 Mick Abrahams Band 115
30 March 1972 Hackensack and Jizzel 223

Locarno – (the numbers are attendance figures)
13 April 1972 Hawkwind and Barnabus 678

27 April 1972 Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, The Pretty Things and Pugma Ho (Words promotion)

11 May 1972 Argent and Vinegar Joe (Words promotion)
18 May 1972 Emperor Rosko Show and Hackensack 320
21 December 1972 Hackensack 225

2 Locarno gigs, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and Argent) were promoted by Words, a southern based promoter, who asked Silk to provide the disco and light show. Both good nights but not great attendances.

When Silk promoted Hawkwind and Emperor Rosko they only chose the Locarno because of its larger capacity and it was a kind of swansong and was never going to be a regular promotion like Circles.

In truth Graham cannot remember why Silk never continued booking bands for Circles beyond mid 1972, with the exception being Hackensack at the tail end of 1972, ‘which I guess was our Circles finale’.

John Coles attended and, still clearly remembers, the vast majority of the above gig nights. He was just 16 in 1971. John had been challenged about his age during a Silk night at The Plough in 1970. Of course he had to think on his feet and distort the truth in order to get in.

If Graham Wood has one slight regret then that was that he and Jim didn’t gamble more on bigger bands, the likes of Mott the Hoople for example.

With no disrespect for the bands they did promote Graham thinks the problem was a mixture of; competing with the Lanch and Warwick Uni and trying to get the right bands at the right price. And, of course, there was all the other admin stuff which all took time!

But, in my opinion, Graham Wood and Jim Twyneham had real bottle to go for it. And there is absolutely no need for regret. The legacy that this pair have left us, with their Silk and Circles ventures, is really quite amazing. They even made a national newspaper. But that story is to come.

My sincere thanks to Graham for all his time and insights.

Hawkwind – The Sunday People April 1972 – Why I Danced in the Nude – by pop girl.


Hawkwind – The Sunday People April 1972 – Why I Danced in the Nude – by pop girl.

By Pete Clemons

She joined Hawkwind and began dancing for the group during 1971. But the legend of Stacia, actually started right here in Coventry when she made the national newspapers.

A month or so after the Coventry concert, mentioned below, Hawkwind released their single ‘Silver Machine’ a tune recorded earlier in the year. It reached number 3 in the charts and remains the bands biggest selling hit.

An article that appeared in the Sunday People is below. And I have left the newspapers spelling of the name Stacia as it was printed………..

People who thought the Hawkwind pop group was all male got a surprise when a naked girl danced to their music at a concert.

And, as an investigation into the act got underway last week, 19 year old dancer Statia – ‘that’s my only name’ – made it quite clear that she did not strip on the stage of the Locarno in the Lady Godiva city of Coventry.

She said that during her 25 minute spot she first danced in a costume then went off the stage to strip and returned to dance naked.

‘It sounds much more daring than it is’ she said. ‘We use a lot of lights flashing on and off and the dance and nudity is only an expression of the music’.

‘It is music about freedom – and I feel free with nothing on’.

‘A lot of the audience never even realise I’m in the nude because of the lights and the type of music the band plays’.

The act was part of a gig at the Mecca owned ballroom organised by Graham Wood a 20 year old commercial apprentice.

Said Mr. Wood: ‘we would never book any group of artists or musicians if nudity comes into the act. Hawkwind is supposed to be an all male group. Investigations are going on.

The ballrooms relief manager Mr Ronald Williams said he did not see the group, but was finding out from staff members what had happened.

He added ‘on this occasion the hall was hired out as a private booking to Mr. Wood’.

The group’s manager Mr Doug Smith said: ‘Statia isn’t what you think of as your normal stripper – she’s a big girl’.

In the short time after the Coventry gig Stacia became incredibly well known on the rock music circuit.

Later on in 1972 the incredibly busy Hawkwind had several concerts recorded and released the next year titled The Space Ritual. That reached number 9 in the album charts and dented the billboard top 200 in America. The Space Ritual album was an attempt to capture the music but also try to convey the whole audio visual experience of the show by way of the album sleeve. The outer fold-out part of the record’s sleeve features an illustration of Stacia flanked by the hounds of the king set over stage shots of the band.

Was that gig in Coventry, or at least the reporting of it, responsible for the sudden rise in Hawkwind’s popularity. Who knows but it did coincide with, arguably, one of the most successful periods for the band.

Local band Barnabus from Leamington Spa, namely John Storer on guitar, Tony Cox drums


and bass player Keith Hancock, provided support on the

Sex Pistols and The Clash Lanch 1976


Sex Pistols and The Clash Lanch 1976

By Pete Clemons

Punk rock and, arguably more so the punk rockers, were despised when the genre initially broke through in the UK during 1976. The bands and their music were condemned before anyone had barely heard them. Initial front page headlines from the red tops didn’t help either. But gradually the scene was accepted to the point where, today, it has almost legendary status.

Saturday 17th December 1977 saw The Sex Pistols, by then described as ‘the most controversial rock band of recent years, play Mr. George’s nightclub.

It was the second time in a year that the band had played the city. Just 12 months earlier Lanchester Polytechnic had hosted their appearance as part of the 1976 Arts Festival. The Pistols had been supported by The Clash and had been booed off the stage, declared racist and fascist and paid a mere £50.

In complete contrast the 1977 visit saw the group have an entirely different welcome. The Pistols played for just under an hour and a packed house went bananas over Anarchy, Pretty Vacant, EMI and other goodies presented.

Going back to November 1976 and punk rock artists the Sex Pistols left their entertainments fixture at Lanchester Polytechnic without full payment after an impromptu meeting of union officers at the concert heard complaints about the group’s stage act.

Lanchester followed the NUS (National Union of Students), then, national policy which recommended colleges not to invite people with racist or fascist views onto campuses, and it was decided that the Sex Pistols act had included racist and fascist references.

The Sex Pistols and supporting punk rock outfit, The Clash, had been booked for £475 but were actually paid £50. Lanchester union officials then sought legal advice about their rights on further payment, and are to inform the NUS entertainments office in London about the group and the type of act they presented.

Attendees of the concert reported to union officials that it had been ‘fairly obscene’. At one point the audience booed Sex Pistols after their version of ‘Substitute’, which the group’s lead singer countered with familiar Anglo-Saxon invective,

To balance the views it was also reported that nobody saw anything ‘blatant’. It is simply, and widely accepted that the band were fascist. Reasons like ‘I came away with the impression that they were because they were so populist’.

Further reasoning within the unions report included that – It comes out of the experience of unemployment, bad housing, sleeping rough and being anti-establishment. They are not working class, more drop-outs. But their support is working class. They see themselves as mediums of these frustrations, they see their role as a political role, using the channel of popular music because other channels are being closed.

It went on – the support band, The Clash, started off the concert with a song the lyrics of which could be seen as inflammatory. The Clash were also described as ‘Incoherent, inarticulate and not inter-viewable’ while Sex Pistols were ‘more eloquent and forthcoming’. The bass guitarist of Sex Pistols, in reply to the suggestion that the group could use their power over young people to do something about racism, replied: “Yeah, I agree with you. I’m not racist’.

However, George Melly, author, ex-film critic of the Observer and 1950s blues singer attended the concert, and asserted that: ‘They are fascist’.

Meanwhile, during 1977 at Warwick University, a headline in a campus missal declared ‘Yes it could have been true!. The Sex Pistols could have played here. The entertainments team were offered the band for the Xmas Party provided the gig was unannounced. After accepting those conditions the band were booked.

A major scoop indeed but then problems started. For reasons unknown all the bands tour dates were put forward a week which scuppered arrangements at Warwick.

It was then that the decision was made to switch to Mr. George in Coventry city centre. So near yet so far.

Warwick did, however, have it on good authority that if the entertainments team were offered The Sex Pistols again they will accept them if conditions are acceptable. Of course, that never came to fruition.

Hype or not The Sex Pistols still continue to excite and that’s why they’re the band they are and why they continue to enjoy legendary status.

Yesterday and today. No-man Coventry 1992, The Pineapple Thief now


Yesterday and Today. No-man Coventry 1992, The Pineapple Thief Now.

by Pete Clemons

Here is a short story that involves several of my favourite bands and artists from the last 30 years. I wouldn’t normally disclose private conversations. And I haven’t fully with this one. But I just felt that this needed to be out there as it shows real compassion and proves how we all change through life’s strange journey. Its also a bit of a ‘he said, she said’ piece.

It began when I was reading, and really enjoying, a couple of recently written articles on Bruce Soord, and The Pineapple Thief’s latest early career spanning box set, ‘How Did We Find Our Way’ had me researching the name of the author. Something I very rarely do.

I myself do a lot of writing, its just something I enjoy, and reading others always leaves me with that ‘I wish I could write like that’ feeling.

When I did discover the authors website I came across, within it, an overview of his career. I was staggered. It was a real ‘well f**k me !!’ moment.

This same guy, who I had genuinely enjoyed reading, was the very same guy who, during 1992 and under a completely different name, had slaughtered one of my favourite bands back then. No-man featuring Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness. He had been studying at nearby Warwick Uni and this had happened after no-man had appeared at the Tic Toc club in Coventry with past members of Japan. His review was printed in one of the national music papers of the time. NME perhaps?. I was completely thrown by what I had come across and the feelings it all brought back.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I challenged the author. Far from it. But I did email him to see, just out of curiosity, if he remembered that No-man gig. Incredibly I had a reply………..

‘Hi Pete, Yes, I remember reviewing them, and what can I say? Cloth ears! I was pretty quick to jump to a bullish opinion back then, and didn’t have a lot of patience in appreciating more complex music. I’ve really liked the stuff both of them have done since and I liked the sporadic output in recent years (Love You To Bits and Schoolyard Ghosts). Thanks for reminding me of my youthful follies anyway’…

Soon afterwards I excitedly messaged Tim Bowness with news of what I had uncovered. His reply was even more revealing as Tim had had actually dealt with this writer since…….

Tim: ‘I remember the Coventry review well and the writer. He’s been really supportive over the last few years and interviewed me for Prog magazine a few years back. It was very pleasant and I didn’t bring up the 1992 gig. He was really nice (and open) during the interview I did with him. I enjoyed it’………

This response had me writing back to the article author who responded: ‘Oh god, now I just feel even more guilty. Oh well, youthful indiscretions and all that’…

Tim, as gracious as ever, and possibly sounding a little warning against that I might have been ‘having a go’ at the article writer (yes I admit to being a loyal fan) followed up with: ‘as long as there’s no bad feeling (on either side), all is fine’.

I assured Tim ‘absolutely not. I actually heaped praise on the writer for his recently completed Pineapple Thief articles. Additionally, I have since read your Prog magazine interview with him. He is actually a really good writer and I have since become a bit of a fan’.

Where there was once an angry defiance is now a middle aged guy trying to do his best. And very good it is too. How could I get angry about the past. We have all been there. Google recent articles about the bands and artists hinted at above – I enjoyed them, see what you think.

Welcome to Sleep Town…..Vance Anderson

 Welcome to Sleep Town…..Vance Anderson 

By Geoff Veasey

Post supplied by Pete Clemons

……” Dream Carefully,” Vance Anderson and I would sing together, during the happy days when he was the drummer and I was the singer in a Coventry based Rock combo called Black Parrot Seaside. I just heard the devastating news that Vance has now actually begun his final journey to Sleep Town, over in the USA. What a talent. What a career. What a great band member to have. RIP brother.

Vance was the first musician we recruited by interview, having parted with several of our previous percussionists. His “audition” was astonishing. We’d never seen anything like it. We wanted to go heavier: we had bought a big P.A. We were growing our hair out. We wanted a bass player and drummer who could drive our songs-many of them our own compositions-and project us into the top drawer of Rock Goddery.

That actually never happened: not even close: but for a while Dave Anderson (as he was then known) was our distinctive, flame haired talisman. He was the only one we auditioned: we didn’t bother with any more. He downed half a bottle of brandy before launching into an accompaniment which immediately fitted the music. His time keeping and mastery of the kit just blew us away. Working by day driving a truck delivering tyres for Dunlop by night he would don leopard skin pants and woolly waistcoats to go ever so slightly bonkers from behind stacks of high hats and snares. In the grainy old photo below Vance is second from the right. Wearing slightly less than usual. Alas, three of this line up are now no longer with us.

I have only croaky old fuzzy recordings of Vance’s fiery work on songs like “Brutus” “Sleep Town” and “Small Maladjusted and Mean,” but all those years later on it remains amazing. Vance (as he soon re-christened himself) bought into the whole BPS thing. All of us had silly stage names like Ted Explosion and Orville Cosmo. We dressed up. We had stage props. And so Dave became Vance Ectomy. (See what he did there?) and joined in enthusiastically.

We performed angry, waspish, loud songs with vitriolic lyrics. We lampooned Punk, Rock, Folk, Country & Western and Reggae. We got “paid off” (i.e. asked to leave usually via a back entrance) before the end of an evening at a few gigs where we had antagonised the management or wound up the audience with what is nowadays called attitude.

All this was right on the cusp of the Punk Revolution although we were not really aware of that at the time. We were more influenced by other angry bands like Heavy Metal Kids, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Edgar Broughton. We also shared a great fondness for the Bonzos. In one song we staged a mock fight. It was all choreographed: a regular part of the act but one night upstairs at The Golden Cross we forgot to warn the Guv’nor beforehand. When I grabbed Vance round the neck and dragged him off his drum stool, bar staff came out from behind the bar with a baseball bat and unleashed the pub Doberman. It took a while to calm things down.

We developed a bit of a reputation. At a very early Godiva Festival some of our followers assured us that such a prestigious appearance would be enhanced by some pyrotechnics. What we didn’t anticipate was a huge rocket going awol and detouring through the Police tent. Mercifully, no-one was hurt, the audience thought it was part of the act and the bobbies were very understanding as we apologised profusely.

In Cov we played pubs like The Climax, The Craven Arms in The High Street, The Dive Bar, The Campbell The Dog and Trumpet and The Smithfield. We played The Lanch (later Coventry University) and Warwick University. The students also greatly enjoyed Vance and I play fighting. A few joined in and suddenly an armchair found its way off a balcony and onto the stage. We also played a Melody Maker audition at Warwick, where for reasons I cannot remember, we destroyed a full sized mock up of a grandfather clock on stage.

We ranged further afield. Birmingham University. Nottingham University. Bogarts-a popular club right in the heart of Brum. We started getting support gigs. To Rocky Sharpe (later The Darts) at Hitchin Poly. Opening for East of Eden at another infamous gig in Nuneaton.

We were doing all right, the audiences were mostly getting our cryptic weirdness and we knew we being scouted by an agent or two. We even had some proper photos done at locations like Sutton Stop and Brandon Woods.

Throughout, Vance kept us tight. He could improvise when necessary but could also be very disciplined. We knew that we could not hang on to him for long. He was talented, ambitious and keen to progress. We could not satisfy his hunger for gigs and for performance so in a totally amicable parting, he joined another Coventry band The Flys, They were getting far more gigs than we were. We were signed up and briefly were on the same label. Vance’s departure could have broken us. He was irreplaceable and so we slid gracefully into Folk. We never had another drummer: barely even mentioned percussion again.

BPS continued to slumber and awaken in various formats until 2014 when we played our last gig together and finally went our separate ways. Vance lost the “Ectomy” and became Vance Anderson. He was known as that for the rest of his life. He continued to keep in touch, taking an interest in what we were all up to. When I started doing radio he sent me promos of the bands he was discovering out in Florida and I played them on air (Still do: The Well Pennies is one example).

Abroad he thrived and achieved his ambition to work in music full time. Vance worked ( I think ) with Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder and many other well known acts. He clearly had an affinity with Tony Bennett and was distraught when he died recently. I bet they are having a gas up there together now.