all cuttings Andre Palfrey-Martin Collection
Andre Martin…..OK Mick – time to wallow in memories – from the Hastings Observer July 1964
Mick Knights….I was there, a innocent 15 year old!!! The first steps I ever took on a dance floor were there, the tune was Pretty Woman and the young lady didn’t hang around for a second one!!!!
Andre Martin… For those of you who follow The History of The Happy Ballroom – Hastings Pier on “Bands we’ve seen on Hastings Pier “you will know that we have moved to the start of a period of change and great competition, and I could not let this week go, without posting something of what was going to happen – The arrival of The Witch Doctor. I do not intent to write a weekly blog of who, what, where and when – but this was the weekend -17th/18th July 1964, FIFTY YEARS AGO. These had been some simple trails posted in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, but I don’t think that many people had any idea of exactly what the Witch Doctor was going to be. We were soon to find out – in simple terms it was very difference to what we had experienced in the past in Hastings & St Leonards, it brought the entertainment potential right bang up to date. The ownership of the club can be traced back to Manchester and the Chain of nightclubs called Mr Smiths, these were expanding into the South and in particular around London, operating under the name of The Witch Doctor, and for whatever reason, we end up with one in St Leonards, in Marine Court, above the Dolphin Ballroom. The Opening night featured The Nashville Teens as Top of the Bill, but what was to make even more publicity, that went national the next day, was the story of a young lady from Hastings, the daughter of a well know lawyer who ended up in London with the lead vocalist from the group and being returned home by the Metropolitan Police – have withheld the names and the file is sealed. If the readers want to find out more, I will leave that to you. With this new venue in place the entertainment scene in the area would change quite dramatically and we would become all part of this change, leaving us to this day with memories both good and bad, happy and sad.Above are a few images from the local newspaper from all those years ago, I apologise that some of the images are poor – but this was 50 years ago, and the quality of newsprint in those days, does not survive well.
Peter Fairless… Was it open long enough, with enough visiting acts, to sustain it’s own group? What do people think?
Andre Martin…The Witch Doctor 17 July 1964 – 7 October 1967 – it was closed for refurbishment and Opened as the Cobweb till Dec 1970. Lots of visiting acts, etc small compared to the Pier, maximum around about 450 [ slightly more when using the Bob Knights method counting attenders !
Peter Fairless… Is the space still there, Andre?
Andre Martin… Converted back to offices in the 1970s, when the club was moved in name to the old town and re opened as the Aquarius – the site in Marine was badly damaged on NYE 70 with a bad fire.
Terry Wallis… I think I saw Nashville Teens and may have been opening night? Mind you I would have only been 15 then, perhaps I dreamed I went! 😀
Alan Esdaile… interesting they are advertising a band 4 plus 1, is this the same as unit 4 plus 2 which one less musician?
Steve Maxted… what a gem, to see a billing of the opening night of the Witchdoctor. Andre has a wealth of information, well done.
Ronald Burgoyne… I was there.
images from eil.com
What magazines/newspapers did you used to read? Reading Andy Knights recent post about The Melody Maker, reminded me of the magazines of the day. Always read Record Mirror, Sounds and remember my sister reading Jackie.
Leigh Wieland-Boys… ‘Jackie’, ‘Disco 45’ & NME
Andy Qunta… As many as we could find! NME, Sounds, Record Mirror, Beat Instrumental was a good one, & many more! Melody Maker was the one we had delivered to the house every week. It sometimes arrived a few minutes late, as we eventually found out our paper boy used to stop and read it before he delivered it! Said paper boy being future bassist-extraordinaire Roger Carey!
Jim Breeds… I usually subscribed to one per week that the newsagent delivered but often switched allegiance. Mostly NME (still do sometimes) but I tried them all at one time or another. Also we used to lend them to each other at school so that we could read them all.
Pete Fairless… NME for me!
John Storer… It was Roger Carey who told me about the New Musical Express around 1969 or 1970 when I was 13 or 14. After buying my first copy, persuaded my Mum to order it from the newsagent for delivery instead of my usual Lion & Champion comic. Would literally read it from cover to cover. For years and years, I looked forward to the paper boy delivering it. Would photocopy the crossword and me and Mick Watson would spend Thursday afternoons at work racing to see who could complete it the fastest In 1984, when I was doing my law finals in Manchester, one of my fellow students, Rob Mortimer, asked me if he could have my copy when I’d finished with it, as he had no grant and couldn’t afford to buy one. I agreed. Several years later, I would see him again … he’d changed his first name from Rob to Bob and had teamed up with a bloke calling himself Vic Reeves. Not long after, I gave up the NME for Blues & Soul but went back to it in the early 90s and the start of the Madchester / BritPop scene … never lived up to its former glories, though … those halcyon days when Danny Baker, Ian Penman, Paul Morley, Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons were the lead journalists. Finally stopped reading it about 15 years ago. Also bought Sounds form about 1971 and had that every week until it started going ultra-right wing around the time of Oi and Gary Bushell. Does anyone else remember Streetlife? … a really hefty mag, issued fortnightly, and which aimed to become the UK’s answer to Rolling Stone. Had every copy from start to its end about a year later. Responsible, along with John Peel, for introducing me to dub. Finally, a big thank you to my neighbour up on Montgomery Road, Jean Christmas. In the late 60s, every six months she would hand me a big pile of Jackie magazines. Would stay up reading them into the small hours … those glamorous picture stories, the Cathy & Claire problem page … where has that innocence gone these days? LOL
Mick O’Dowd… Used to have NME in the 60’s then Record Mirror and sometimes Melody Maker in 70’s. Also a monthly mag called Blues & Soul.
Alan Wood…. Sounds
Patrick Lewis… Used to read NME, Melody Maker, Disc and Music Echo but the most interesting in the late 60’s was Record Mirror which always seem to avoid the celebrity crap and concentrate on the music.
Diane Knight… Don’t want to sound uncool ,but ….June and school friends!!!