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.
poster source: http://www.leehawkins.com Ad supplied by Sarah Harvey
Sarah Harvey… Must admit this one rather took me by surprise when I came across it. February 1st, 1969.
Phil Gill… From the words ” personal appearance” It looks like that might have been a Status Quo meet and greet rather than a gig.
Mick Knights… Status quo did play there not sure if it was the witch doctor or cobweb, but it was when pictures of matchstick men was a hit.
Sarah Harvey… I was wondering the same as you Phil about the ‘Personal Appearance’ bit…..but it would be nice to clear this one up….did they play or did they just show their faces?
John Storer… I’m thinking that the words “Personal appearance by” was an attempt to make the Quo look a bigger, more popular, band than they actually were at the time. By Feb 69 they had had top ten hits with “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and “Ice in the Sun”, but their next single “Technicolour Dreams” (released in September 1968) had flopped miserably, failing to reach the Top 60. Feb 69 saw the release of their 5th single “Make Me Stay A Bit Longer” and that also failed to chart. Those were the days when you were only as big as your last single. Like many bands, they were on the road pretty much non-stop. In January 69 they had been the support band for Small Faces on a short tour of Germany. Their set list still included a fair number of cover versions of songs by other acts, including Little Richard and The Beatles. They even did a cover of Vanilla Fudge’s cover of the Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On”. Two days before the Cobweb “appearance””, they had been in Manchester recording a session for the BBC. During the week after, they played gigs at Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Ross-on-Wye. Later that month they were 3rd on the bill to The Move and Spencer Davis Group at the Royal Albert Hall It would be another 13 months before they had another hit – “Down The Dustpipe” – which marked a change in their image from psychedelic dandies to denim-clad rockers. 1970 also saw the release of the rather excellent “Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon” album, followed in 1971 by “Dog of Two Head”. Neither album, however, caught the attention of the record-buying public and both failed to chart. The change in their fortunes came in 1972 with the “Piledriver” album and the “Paper Plane” single. This started a 17 year run of unbroken hit singles and albums, by which time they had almost become a self-parody.
I was only 12 in Feb 1969 so what do I know, but I’m guessing that their appearance at the Cobweb was a gig. It certainly features in their gigging history. Like many others, I tend to regard Quo as a bit of a joke these days, but those 3 early 70s albums mentioned above still sound bloody good today … and their cover of The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” on “Piledriver” is, for me, better than the original
Caz Simpson… I remember the GoGo competition, I even remember the semi finalists but I can’t remember the name of the winner. The prize was a holiday in Spain and she asked Ginger for the £30 instead! He obliged.
Mick O’Dowd… Very Interesting!(as they once said on was it Rowan & Martins Laugh In?) Never thought the Quo appeared in town before their Pier concert. I believe Andre Palfrey-martin & Paul Casson tried to book them on The Pier but it fell through.
Joe Knight… Still got my collection like new in the blue round container!!! lol great days!!
Garry Mitchell… I can settle the debate over the nature of Status Quo’s appearance as I was there! It was indeed The Cobweb by then and The Quo were brilliant. All dressed in Mod gear with neat haircuts. Can’t remember the setlist but, apart from their two hits already mentioned, i definitely recall a great version of Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be Wild’ which I hadn’t heard before. Strobe lights flashing; standing right by the stage; the great sound, for me, it was a night to remember. I have had a soft spot for Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt ever since although, apart from seeing them in early 1973 on the pier, have never been to another Quo concert or bought any of their stuff.
John Wilde… I distinctly remember not going
leaflet source: http://www.bowiewonderworld.com/tours/tour58.htm
supplied by Rod Smith Hastings and Area, Past and Present Facebook Page and Ad supplied by Andre Martin
Rod Smith… “Apparently, David Bowie never played in Hastings but did play four times in St Leonards, at The Witch Doctor, Marine Court. On 13th Nov. 1964 and 30th January 1965 as Davy Jones & The Manish Boys. On 17th July 1965 as Davy Jones and The Lower Third. The final time was when he had become David Bowie and appeared there as David Bowie and The Buzz on 3rd September 1966. This is the leaflet from their site for 30th Jan.1965”
Jim Breeds… Good stuff.
Mick O’Dowd… This should help clear the fact that he didn’t appear with The Konrads on Hastings Pier with Tony Rivers & The Castaways.
Andre Martin… When the Witch Doctor was being changed into The Cobweb,for several weeks they used the Dolphin Ballroom to keep the punters happy but you see John Schofield and Strand Entertainments has just started with the Pier Ballroom.
John Warner… I was Manager of the Witchdoctor club back in the 60’s having moved from the Star Ballroom in Maidstone. I later went to Mr. Smith’s nightclub in Manchester as entertainments manager. The Grenadier club and casino was run by Eric Rennie.
Andre Martin… Welcome to the site John – long time since we last met! Look forward to some more stories from those days.😇😇😇😇😇
Andre Palfrey-martin collection
Peter Fairless… So, what was the story, Andre, did it ever reopen?
Andre Martin… The club never re-opened, it moved to the George Street site and was rebranded The Aquarius. There were rumours flying about at the time as to the damage and the cause, but nothing was ever substantiated, it just seemed funny that it happened just 24 hours before one of the busiest nights of the year.
Kevin Burchett… I will try and get the tickets on sale by December 1st same place, Seconds Away in Kings Road. Don’t forget if its your birthday somewhere near the 31st March if you celebrate it with us, I will get you one of our special Scalliwags birthday cakes. This offer runs if your birthday is between the 24th march and the 7th april 2018 and you bring your friends to celebrate thanks.