The Happy Ballroom Hastings Pier & more 13th Jan 1967 by Andre Martin


Andre Palfrey-martin collection

Two weeks into the new year, Friday 13th January 1967 and we see life appearing in The Happy Ballroom – Hastings Pier, and not just the Ballroom, but the longest Bar in the town and the Palm Court Restaurant, because it’s time for one of the BIG social events in the towns calendar – The annual KB Social Club Ball, and this year’s it’s no exception topping the bill at “The Black Cat Dance “ a big name from the world of Dance Bands – Bob Miller & The Miller Men. Dancing 8.00pm-1.00am and all for the price of 10/- [50p] This would have certainly added some sparkle to the weekend for many people. Without “Ready Steady Go” to kick start the weekend, things were usually very quiet, the Pam Dor both the coffee bar and Les’s club up stairs – admission 1/- dancing to the Juke Box, and there were one or two of the smaller clubs – The Nest for example down stairs in Robertson Street [live music] or top floor of The Fiesta. Along at the Witch Doctor, another up and coming group were booked in for that night, a group of up and coming young musicians from south London – The Herd, line up included Andy Bown [Keyboard/vocals] Gary Taylor [Bass] Andrew Steele [drums] and Lead Vocal & Guitar – Peter Frampton. The group had released 3 singles under Parlophone but none had charted, they now switched to Fontana and were under new management Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley and this was to prove a success in the coming months. The other attraction in the week, and for some this signified the start to the weekend, was the regular visit to the club from the Mad Man from Maidstone, who amongst his tricks and pranks, managed to find time to fit in some excellent music on disc that was a true reflection of the music that we all enjoyed in the town.
What would we find on Radio & Television this weekend 50 years ago – BBC Radio Light Programme offer us its usual mix – on Saturday – Saturday Club with Brian Matthew, Zoot Money Cream, Kenny Ball, Graham Bonney. Country Style, The Jack Jackson Show, Des O’Connor, Music from The Movies with Desmond Carrington, Saturday Swingalong, Saturday Band Stand with the Staff Band Royal Engineers Aldershot. Later you could have tuned into Have a Go with Wilfred Pickles, from The Ocean Club “Take a Bow” Cabaret show, Those were the Days, Bing Crosby, Forces Star-time from RAF Little Rissington- at the time home of the RAF Display Teams including the Black Diamonds pre runners of the Red Arrows [now the station is the National Fire Defence College] Dancing Round Europe and Pete’s Party.
Sunday radio, would again be very much the same, Easy Beat, Lunchtime 2 Way Family Favorites from London & Cologne, Ken Dodd, Jimmy Clitheroe, Billy Cotton Band Show, Semprini, Pick of The Pops, Does The Team Think, Movie Go Round with a special this week on Disney Films, Brain of Britain, Sing Something Simple, Grand Hotel, Sunday Half Hour, Men from The Ministry and later Jazz with Humphrey Littleton. Television on Saturday would mean BBC 1 – Grandstand, Juke Box Jury with David Jacobs and his guests again were Simon Dee, Alan Freeman, Pete Murray and Jimmy S. Dr Who, The Monkees The early film was Lost Word with Michael Renee & Jill St John, Val Doonican, Adam Adamant Lives, MOTD and The Late Show.BBC2 –Rugby Special France v Scotland, The Forsythe Saga, Whickers World and the Midnight Movie – Marlon Brands “On the Waterfront”. Sunday – International Skiing, Film Matinee “ Arise My Love” Ray Milland & Claudette Colbert, The Lucy Show, The Three Musketeers, Pinky & Perky, Film: “Cry from the Street” with Max Bygraves, Dr Findley’s Casebook and Leonard Bernstein Conducts.
Taking a quick look at the Pirate Radio Stations – Radio Caroline South with Steve Young: 1 I’m A Believer: The Monkees, 2 Sitting in The Park: Georgie Fame, 3 Sunshine Superman: Donovan,4 Anyway You want Me : Troggs, 5 Standing in the Shadows of Love : Four Tops. Over on MV Galaxy- Radio London – Ed Stewart played 1 Monkeys, 2 Nashville Cats: Lovin Spoonful,3 Matthew & Son: Cat Stevens,4 Tell it to the Rain Four Seasons and Hey Jo The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
So there you have a quick trip back 50 years to what was happening. I must admit that I did not go to the Witch Doctor that weekend, but spent the time with two chums in having a wander around the pubs mainly of the Old Town, we started in The Bodega Bar, then the Albion, the Pump House and The Anchor, and the we would have ended back at the Pam Dor for the late night bus. Kept us out of trouble. Until next week’s slice of History you all wrap up warm and be extra careful out there on the Pavements and Roads, it will soon be spring and improved weather, although we have not been too badly treated unlike some along the east coast and up north.                                Andre Palfrey-Martin © 2017

Geoff Peckham… Thanks, Andre. It takes ya back!

Karl Holden… Seeing you mention the Witch Doctor, was there a club called the Black Cat in Hastings during the mid-sixties? I’m sure we (the Midniters)played there a couple of times.

Andre Martin… Chat Noire – was over the Mac Fisheries in Castle Street, the entrance was via the alley between Wards in Queens Road and what used to be the information bureau, now a coffee shop.

Karl Holden… Ok, so as Guy Darrell & The Midniters we obviously didn’t appear at the Black Cat coffee bar. I can only think it must’ve been the Witch Doctor. This would’ve been 1963/64. Sometimes we were on the pier, sometimes in a club.

1 thought on “The Happy Ballroom Hastings Pier & more 13th Jan 1967 by Andre Martin”

  1. Seeing you mention the Witch Doctor, was there a club called the Black Cat in Hastings during the mid-sixties? I’m sure we (the Midniters)played there a couple of times.


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