2. The Buzz Club: The Mighty Lemon Drops to The Stone Roses

 

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(This photo is of loads of the live recordings of various Buzz Clubs by Dave Driscoll. I’ll include them as I write about the relevant gig)

From 1985 until 1993 myself and Danny Hagan put bands on in Surrey and Hampshire (and once in London) as The Buzz Club. Over the years we put on The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Blur, The Happy Mondays, Suede, Elastica, The Charlatans, Cornershop, Shed 7, Dodgy, Spiritualized and in the early days, lots of the C-86 bands.

I’ll document all the fliers, posters, live recordings and memories I have here. The Buzz Club lasted 7 years, mainly from The West End Centre in Aldershot. It’s taken me about 10 years to gather what I have so far…who knows, maybe more stuff will get sent to me and I’ll keep going! Please do get in touch if you went to any of these Buzz Club gigs, I’d love to hear from you.

That Petrol Emotion / The Mighty Lemon Drops November 1985

This poster is from the first ever one – That Petrol Emotion and The Mighty Lemon Drops at The Agincourt in Camberley, Surrey 17th November 1985.

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Myself and Danny were in Go! Service and Bluetrain who released 12″s on Dan Treacy’s (of The TV Personalities) Dreamworld label. We often played gigs at Dan’s Room At The Top club, above The Enterprise pub in Chalk Farm, London.

These gigs proved to be an inspiration to start The Buzz Club (and later, The Green Man Festival). This first Buzz Club featured label mates The Mighty Lemon Drops. I remember being excited that Geoff Travis from Rough Trade was in the audience to see them. That Petrol Emotion headlined the show, Go! Service had supported them a few months before at The Room At The Top..

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I got these photos from that night relatively recently – I can’t remember if it was David Newton from The Mighty Lemon Drops or Iain Baker who sent them to me – who ever it was, thanks very much! Here’s Damien O’Neil, previously of The Undertones. That Petrol Emotion were Damien and his brother John’s new band when they played The Buzz Club and we were thrilled to have them play. Their debut single, ‘Keen’ had been released on the wonderful Pink label a few months earlier.

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Singer, Steve Mack.

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Paul Marsh of The Mighty Lemon Drops

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The Mighty Lemon Drops, who were just about to release their debut single, the awesome, ‘Like An Angel’ on Dreamworld Records – the label my band, Go! Service was also on.

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Dan Treacy ( The T.V. Personalities / Dreamworld Records) and Iain Baker, later of Jesus Jones.

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Finally, here’s a live recording of That Petrol Emotion singing ‘Good Thing’ from that first Buzz Club.

 

 

 

The Blow Monkeys / Go! Service December 1985

I was a big fan of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. Danny and I went to see them a few times when ‘Rattlesnakes‘ (up there as one of my all time favourite albums) came out in 1984 (and many times after that, including going on tour with Lloyd Cole, but that’s another story). Anyway, we also really liked the support band, The Blow Monkeys.

Dr Robert, the lead singer had a cool black quiff. We got as far as buying a bottle of black dye to use on Danny but thankfully, it stayed unopened and unused by the record player in my bedroom.

We had both got jobs at Our Price Records at around this time. I worked in Woking and Danny was in Camberley. One of us bought the 12″ of  ‘Wild Flower‘ which we played at my house all the time. We decided to book The Blow Monkeys for the second Buzz Club.

We were still hiring The Agincourt in Camberley to use – a 600 capacity hall on the London Road. (Now famous locally for hosting a Friday night rock club).

The band had brought their own PA with them. It was massive. When we arrived in the afternoon, it was taking up every bit of floor space, while being put together by the sound man and roadies. Dave, the manager of The Agincourt, (who also doubled up as main doorman / bouncer) left us to it, with just one rule – ‘I’ve locked the kitchen door, I don’t want anyone in there’. When the PA was built the engineer showed me a huge fat core cable and asked where the mains were so he could wire it in direct. No plug, just this ridiculous cable. I had no idea what I was looking for (I was still in my teens, not yet a seasoned promoter), after a while it was decided that it must be on the other side of the locked kitchen door.

The bands were all starting to arrive and I had no number for Dave so I gave the all clear for them to get into the kitchen. This involved four burly roadies smashing the door down.

Luckily they were able to wire the system up and the sound checks started. I was running around trying to sort various things out and didn’t notice when Dave returned. I did hear the shouts and swearing as he found not only his kitchen door smashed in, but all of The Blow Monkeys and their girlfriends in there making cups of tea and cooking food from the fridge. I managed to calm him down with the promise I would organise a new door and pay for it to get fitted myself. ‘I’ve had The Swinging Blue Jeans here you know, even they didn’t get to use the kitchen’ he fairly spat out as he left to organise his fellow bouncers for door duty.

We lost money that night, my Dad and brother Sam were good enough to put a new door up for me the next day. So, not too costly, however I think in hindsight having a junkie on the door wasn’t the brightest move as most of the money we did take went into his pocket. I didn’t know what a junkie was, I just thought he was a bit pale and tired.

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Oh well, we live and learn. I can’t remember much about the gig, I know my band Go! Service supported (what’s the point of having your own club if you can’t play?) and that The Blow Monkeys had an effect on the sale of polo necks and cardigans in the area for a couple of weeks afterwards. Thanks to Tim Paton for the photo.

A few months later The Blow Monkeys were in the charts and on tv with ‘Digging Your Scene‘. People kept saying to me ‘you put them on didn’t you? I wish I’d gone to that’. Yeah, so do I!

 

 

The June Brides December 7th 1985

After two Buzz Clubs at The Agincourt in Camberley we decided to move to The West End Centre in Aldershot – smaller, friendlier and more suited to our type of music. The June Brides were one of Danny’s and my favourite bands at the time. We had the wonderful 7″singles, ‘In The Rain‘ and ‘Every Conversation‘ released on the equally wonderful Pink Records.

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Our band Go! Service had previously supported them in London at Dan Treacy’s (from The T.V. Personalities) Room at the Top night, above The Enterprise in Chalk Farm.  We didn’t know it then, but this was the start of what is now called the C-86 scene. Books and articles are being written about those days, with album releases and celebration gigs organised, as it is now looked back on as the start of the British indie scene.

Dan Treacy released a 12″ by Go! Service on his Dreamworld label. (Plus Jon from The June Brides played trumpet on ‘Parade’ by a later band of mine,  Bluetrain, on the 12″ also released on Dreamworld.)

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Anyway, we were very chuffed to have The June Brides play our club. Danny and myself both worked in local Our Price Record shops at the time, so we were able to stock the records by bands we liked and had coming to play, plus we were able to get our fliers displayed in all the local Our Price shops. I think it helped the indie scene in the area that we were stocking the records and putting the bands on. I remember that we went up to one of the London Our Price shops for our job interviews and seeing The June Brides album, ‘There Are Eight Million Stories‘ in the rack there knew we would be happy working for them!

This is ‘In The Rain‘ recorded by Dave Driscoll on his hand held Walkman from that night.

Not from The Buzz Club, but not long before – The June Brides from 1985. It’s slow to start hang on in there, it does play!

Here’s a wonderful article in The Guardian from 2006, written by Dave Eggers about The June Brides.

 

 

 

Terry and Gerry The Buzz Club 16th February 1986

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There was a healthy rockabilly / psychobilly scene around us in Surrey. Lots of colourful quiffs, bleached jeans and sleeveless tee shirts. Bands like The Meteors and King Kurtwere very popular. Not really our thing, there was however also a more indie side, that produced bands like Terry and Gerry.

It was freezing in early 1986. I got a call at Our Price in Woking on the day of our Terry and Gerry gig to say that there was too much snow on the roof of The West End Centre and they couldn’t open the venue that night. By luck a larger venue, also in Aldershot; The Princess Hall, was free and we were able to hold the gig there. This turned out to be very lucky as more people than we could have fitted into The W.E.C. turned up. We were happily able to accommodate them all at The Princess Hall. It was the first time we made money! I can’t remember how much, maybe £100. Support came in the shape of Guildford buskers Inspector Tuppence and the Sexy Firemen.

I don’t have any fliers for this gig, but again thanks to Dave Driscoll here’s Terry and Gerry singing ‘C.A.R.S.’ recorded live at The Buzz Club on 16th February 1986.

 

 

Skiff Skats The Buzz Club 15th March 1986

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Keeping in the vibe of quiffs, stand up bass guitars and British hilly billy music, we booked Skiff Skats. Back at the West End Centre, we got a pretty good crowd in as I recall.

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Support came from two local bands, The Vulgar Brothers and Catfish.

 

We had a local band night next – not sure of the date.

Screaming Hearts / Inspector Tuppence and the Sexy Firemen / New Tennessee Waltz / Zaz Turned Blue

 

 

The June Brides Saturday 24th May 1986

Well, the C-86 era was definitely with us now! We re booked The June Brides. They had first played the previous December and now this fledgling indie scene was gathering some momentum. My band Go! Service had supported The June Brides at Dan Treacy‘s Room at the Top club in Chalk Farm, North London and we’d taken a trip to see them in Brighton in Gary’s old Triumph Herald. We sat shivering on the stoney beach before heading over to see them play the Escape. We invited them back to The Buzz Club.

They had a new drummer and I seem to remember that the back drop behind the stage fell on his head mid -set. Sorry mate! He carried on but did look a little miffed (understandably so really).

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We used to go to Guildford University on a Sunday night where they had cool free gigs in the students union. We got chatting to a guy who went there one night when my band Go! Service were playing. He handed us a demo by The Desert Wolves . I liked it, so booked them for The Buzz Club.

 

A Certain Ratio 14th June 1986

So now I’m working in Our Price Records by day and either rehearsing or playing with my band Bluetrain or drinking the The Hero in Bagshot on Friday and Saturday nights. It was brilliant at The Hero – there was a d.j. some nights, playing great music. I remember falling in love to the 12″ of ‘She Sells Sanctuary‘ by The Cult when I heard at played at The Hero.

My band had changed from Go! Service after our European tour when drummer Mike Auton (who introduced us to The Hero in the first place) was replaced by Kevin Moorey, a regular at The Hero. A very cool fella and most importantly a friend from primary school days. Danny, Kevin and my brother Tom had all been in the same class at school, I was a couple of years younger and our guitarist, Rudy a couple of classes below me.

When Kevin joined the band, he brought with him a slightly cooler taste in clothes and music. I was into New Order and Factory Records but Kevin first made me aware of A Certain Ratio. 

Danny and I decided to book them for The Buzz Club. We phoned their manager, Mick Paterson and sorted out a date. (Mick by the way popped up briefly again into our lives when he managed Spiritualized – the only band to have played both The Buzz Club and The Green Man.)

We got the fliers and posters done and started telling everyone A.C.R. were coming to Aldershot.

We used to make our own contracts, printed on my Dad’s Amstrad word processor and about three clauses long. Basically saying the band agreed to play at our venue, the date and fee.

A Certain Ratio hadn’t sent theirs back yet, and we started to worry. I ‘phoned Mick a couple of times and he said all was fine. We were still nervous though.

We saw that A.C.R. were playing at Ronnie Scott‘s in London so we went up early to see if we could catch them while they were sound checking. We printed off another copy of the ‘contract’ and headed up to London.

When we arrived at Ronnie Scots at about 4pm we just asked if we could see Mick the band’s manager and we were let it. Mick was surprised to see us, and happily signed the piece of paper. We watched the band sound check and Mick asked us if we’d like to go on the guest list for the gig.

Another Hero regular was Dave Harvey. Dave used to run the Get Downs at The Agincourtin Camberley. Funk and soul from the ’60s and ’70s..

It just so happens that there was a Get Down that night in Camberley. We knew everyone would be there and so, rather stay and get on the guest list for A.C.R., we were so excited that we’d met them and seen them sound check, we declined the offer of the gig and headed back to Camberley to tell everyone about our adventure! Haha!

So on June 6th 1986, A Certain Ratio came to Aldershot.

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Luckily Dave Driscoll with in with his trusty Walkman and so was able to record the night, here’s the set opener ‘Flight’.

Also luckily photographer Tim Paton was there and took this great shot.

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The Pale Fountain September 1986

One of the good things about putting bands on, is sometimes you can put a band on for your friends as much as for yourself. Not to make money, (although making a little was always a good feeling!) but just because you know they’ll really enjoy it. Such was the case with The Pale Fountains. I’ve mentioned before my band Bluetrain. Our drummer Kevin Moorey introduced Danny and myself to The Pale Fountains, and so we booked them and got Bluetrain to support. It took a while to organise as I recall. I got main man Michael Head‘s home ‘phone  number (I don’t remember how) and used to call him quite frequently until he agreed to play! I remember he said he was thinking of changing the band’s name, or words to that effect, so I’m guessing it was one of the last, if not the last, Pale Fountains gig. The wiki page for Michael Head’s next band, Shack, says they formed in 1986. This gig was in September of that year.

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Anyway. I loved the two Albums by The Pale Fountains; ‘Pacific Street‘ and ‘From Across The Kitchen Table‘.

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I recorded ‘Pacific Street’ onto a TDK C90 tape with New OrderLow-Life‘ on the other side. In the summer of 1986 me and my friends used to sunbathe on the roof of my parent’s house or down at the lakes in The Hatches in Frimley Green. I’d take my Sanyo tape  player with either compilations I’d made or that one with The Pale Fountains and New Order on, sun bathe, mess around and feel just great.

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Here’s ‘Jean’s Not Happening’ from their second album, ‘From Across The Kitchen Table’

I started to collate what Buzz Club fliers, posters and photos I had in about 2008. Scanning away and putting word out to see if anyone had anything from those days for me to add to my collection. I was annoyed to have no evidence of this Pale Fountains gig, as it was a particularly special one.

Looking through some old photos recently though, to my delight I spotted over my shoulder…..a poster!

michael 2.jpegLook also at the tickets and posters on the walls. Lots of Lloyd Cole, a couple of R.E.M..

And here’s Danny I guess taken at the same (‘Let’s take photos of each other!’) I can spot several tickets for The Jam, The Undertones. I think that’s flier for the series of gigs at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith where I first saw label mates The Mighty Lemon Drops. James Dean – ha! A flier for (my band) Go! Service supporting The Housemartins! All these fliers and tickets are long gone now of course. Makes these photos even better….

michael 3And finally from this awesome photoshoot (‘Let’s take a photo of my guitar and the Bluetrain 12″!), single posters for The Smiths (working in Our Price Records you could get wonderful things like this), more gig posters Go! Service and the tour we did with The T.V. Personalities. Boxes of 7″S and 12″s. Those were the days!

michaelsAnyway, please forgive me. I’ve strayed a bit from the original subject. Not much about that Pale Fountains gig, so here are some cool photos, sadly not from The Buzz Club, but of that cooler than cool Liverpool band, The Pale Fountains….

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Andy White 18th October 1986

We saw Andy White perform ‘Religious Persuasion‘ on ‘Whistle Test’ in 1986 and knew he was to be our next Buzz Club booking. In fact, we mentioned it on the flier…

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Recorded in a field in County Antrim, Andy played ‘Religious Persuasion‘ on a roof in Belfast for BBC’s ‘Whistle Test‘, the ‘Melody Maker‘ headline read “Yer Man’s Brilliant”, and Andy went on the road with his acoustic guitar. Features singles ‘Reality Row’ and ‘Vision of You’. An album that lived on my turn table for quite a while.
Support at the Buzz Club came from our friends New Tennessee Waltz and local band The Bridge.
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 Looking at the photo used on The Pale Fountains post above, you can also see my signed Andy White poster, just next to The Pale Fountains Buzz Club one!

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Local Band night December 1986:

Steel Bill and the Buffalos / Second Balcony Jump / The Jeremiahs / West One

 

 

The Brilliant corners – 10th January 1987

Working in Our Price gave me a chance to listen to records by bands I had read about but never heard. ‘Growing Up Absurd’ by The Brilliant Corners was one such record. A classic piece of ’80s indie guitar music. The band were from Bristol, I got their address and I wrote to Davey the lead singer. That was how I booked lots of the early gigs, by writing letters or somehow getting ‘phone numbers and calling people at home.

We were lucky, the night before The Buzz Club gig The Brilliant Corners had a track played on The Tube on Channel 4. It meant the gig was packed.

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Here they are having a drink in the bar before they played. They were pretty confused that so many people had come to see them and couldn’t quite believe the crowd was really for them!

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Here they are on stage. Whisps of smoke in the air, you were still allowed to smoke at gigs.

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Tim Paton took this picture. I think Guy Van Steene took the ones above.

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It was a fantastic night and we invited them back to play a few months later at Camberley Football Club….more of that one, including live recordings soon.

 

 

Mighty Mighty 7th February 1987

I was working in Our Price Aldershot. I had worked for Our Price Records for a year or so by now and was confident in my role. Sales assistants would get moved to a different shop every few months. The area manager would visit the shop and after a chat with the store manager, would call you in the processing area of the shop. (This is where the stock all came in. The vinyl, cds and cassettes would be put into master bags before the sleeves, and cases were distributed out front. ) Woking had been my first shop, Aldershot my second.

I started to stock specific records for the shop. I made an ‘indie’ section and ordered in records by The June Brides, Hurrah!, The Loft, The Television Personalities, The Room, Benny Profane, 10, 000 Maniacs, old New Orderalbums, Postcard and Creation 7″s. Bands like The Smiths, R.E.M., Lloyd Cole were stocked by head office as they were big sellers. I listened to Bluenotealbums. Discovered John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon.

We started to get regular customers, indie kids I guess you’d call them, coming in to check out what we had in stock. Dressed in slightly too large suits from charity shops and Dr Martin shoes, quiffs and Argyle socks. I actually don’t remember there being any girls buying indie records in the shops I worked in! I was wearing baggy Levi 501s bought second hand from Camden Market, with turn ups and stripy tee shirts, I also had Dr Martin shoes and Argyle socks.

Sometimes customers would ask for records we didn’t have in stock yet or weren’t out yet. I’d order it in for them. ‘Have you got the new Mighty Mighty12″?” was one customer’s weekly question. The release had got delayed but he came in each week to ask for it, just in case this was the day we would have it. So, I decided to ask them to play The Buzz Club. It helped that The Buzz Club was also in Aldershot. We started to build a local indie scene.

I had one record by Mighty Mighty and the C-86 tape also had a track by them on it.

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The gig got reviewed by Record Mirror.

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Support came from local bands The Bridge and The Jeremiahs, who were managed by Tim Paton who took looks of fantastic photos for us over the years.

We used to borrow an old tv and stand it on a chair on the little stage in the bar area of the West End Centre. Mark Nelms, a Buzz Club regular, helped us compile videos to play. I got in touch with various labels who would post physical vhs tapes to me with videos by their bands. Mark would then do a tape to tape for me and so we worked on the compilation tape for the bar. We put stuff like clips from cartoons and live footage of bands we liked on there too. High tech stuff! We put bands on that stage sometimes too. People would come and just hang out in the bar, even if they didn’t want to buy a ticket to see what was going on in the hall. It was a great vibe.

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