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.
Lloyd Johnson… I went to that gig…and Sue Penry -Davey run off with one of the group.It made the National Newspapers and she was finally tracked down to Earl’s court at his flat…They came straight from Ready! Steady! Go! for The Witch Doctor gig and they hung out in Hastings over the weekend…