As The Anvil celebrates its 20th year, RAZ RAZZLE delves into the history of 20 of the Basingstoke venues which preceded it

1) Basingstoke Town Hall

When the Town Hall’s precarious clock tower was dismantled in 1961, it became the music venue of choice for the Galaxy Club which promoted gigs in Basingstoke between May 1964 and June 1966. Among the future stars that appeared there in that era were Rod Stewart (with Long John Baldry’s Hoochie Coochie Men), Eric Stewart of 10CC (in Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders) and Eric Clapton (with the Yardbirds and on no less than five occasions with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers).

The Town Hall also boasted gigs from Martha & the Vandellas, Jimmy Cliff, the Moody Blues, the Spencer Davis Group, Little Eva and a pre-television Kenny Everett Show.

The Galaxy gave opportunities to local band; Evil Eyes, the Reedmen, the Nomads, the Saphenas and the Floox all got to share the stage with stars of the sixties. The Town Hall was scarcely used again and a one-off charity gig in 1980 featuring the Mutant Babies and Horizontal Bulgarians is assumed to be its parting shot before becoming host to the Willis Museum in 1983.

 

Basingstoke Gazette:

The above photo belongs to Tony Ridley who is also in it. It was believed to have been taken in The Galaxy on August 22, 1964.

2) Carnival Hall

The hall was built in 1964. Local DJ and promoter Johnny Prince seized the new venue for his Ticky Rick Club (a rival to the Galaxy) until July 1965 when it was displaced by the short-lived Rang-A-Tang Club. Johnny also blooded local groups such as the Nomads and the Men Friday.

However it was the ensuing Rang-A-Tang Club (promoter unknown) that brought The Who to the Carnival Hall on Friday August 27, 1965. They had been booked to play the Town Hall for the Galaxy Club on Boxing Day 1964 but apparently didn’t show up.

The Who’s appearance at the Carnival Hall clashed with the Spencer Davis Group’s Galaxy gig at the Town Hall. In the intervening decades the Carnival Hall has seen many mostly local events, notably Robbie Fraser’s last appearance with Charlie’s Mushrooms in 2003.

3) The Haymarket Theatre

Basingstoke Gazette:

This venue has served as a music venue in odd spurts beginning perhaps with Gene Vincent’s appearance in 1960. In April 1965 it hosted the group Them from which Van Morrison stepped on to a successful solo career.

The Haymarket’s lounge was apparently quite roomy as the Galaxy Club staged many events there during its two-year existence; bringing the Tornados, Peter B’s Looners (Peter Bardens went on to form Camel) and a group called the Tridents that included guitar legend Jeff Beck.

This was also thought to be the venue for Bob Young’s Blue Room events. Bob grew up in South Ham and played in local groups the Other Versions and the Crack.

He left Basingstoke at the end of the sixties and found himself working for Status Quo. He then joined them and co-wrote a number of their hits. Quo themselves played the Haymarket in 1971 and 1972.

Basingstoke Gazette:

In the same era it hosted Renaissance, Al Stewart and Gentle Giant and a number of folk legends such as John Renbourne, Bert Jansch and Jake Thackray.

A one-off gig in 1978 presented three bands with local connections; Moonraker, Scorpio and Andy Perry’s White Horse. The Haymarket’s more recent music ventures include Hats Off To Led Zeppelin in October 2013 and Basingstoke’s very own Lisbee Stainton on March 15th this year.

4) St. Joseph’s Hall

Basingstoke Gazette:

This hall stood on Western Way between Richard Aldworth School and Pinkerton Road. It was built in 1959 and demolished in 1987. Carpenter’s Court today occupies its location.

Though chiefly used for the purposes of South Ham’s Catholic community, St. Joseph’s served as a venue for a number of promoters in the 1960s, not least the Galaxy Club which hired the Hall to present some eye-brow-raising acts including the Hollies, the Small Faces and Lulu.

However, St. Jo’s twin boasts must be Stevie Wonder on February 7, 1966 and David Bowie & the Buzz six weeks later on Monday, March 21. Little Stevie Wonder (he was 15) was on tour with the Motown Roadshow. He played another gig at the Marquee Club in London later the same night.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Bowie made a number of promotional appearances with former Radio London DJ Earl Richmond. It was Richmond who suggested the name ‘the Buzz’ for the band formed around Bowie following his abrupt departure from the Lower Third a few weeks earlier.

5) Basingstoke Technical College

Basingstoke Gazette:

The Technical College (now called BCOT) had begun staging gigs in the sixties but as the Students’ Union grew in influence during the seventies; some fine rock bands began to appear including Gong, The Marshall Tucker Band and Home.

The Tech’s big guns were saved for the end of the seventies; Wild Horses (Brian Robertson’s post-Thin Lizzy venture) and the David Coverdale Band (sometimes mistakenly recalled as Whitesnake) made appearances on the Tech College stage while Stray, the Enid and Motorhead each appeared twice.

This year’s Sunday headliners at Basingstoke Live the Real Thing played the Tech in April 1976. It was three months before You to Me Are Everything shot them to number one.

The Tech began to put on local acts in 1979. These were to include punk legends the Urge, the Mutant Babies, the Horizontal Bulgarians, Terminal Jive and Capricorn. Events tailed off in the eighties and the main hall was converted into a refectory.

6) Queen Mary’s College

QMC has also hosted some interesting gigs, not least Queen on July 13th 1973. This was the date their first album and single were released by EMI.

In October 1977 the rock band Trapeze played at the College. That same month Central Studio was up and running. It was officially opened in February 1978 by Peter Cushing. Among its first visitors was the group Landscape who were to enjoy moderate chart success with Einstein a Go-Go in 1981.

QMC’s own alumni include Tanita and Ramon Tikaram, classical genius Roger Tapping, proto-punk Adam Lippitt and members of numerous local bands of note; Hot Matron, Kaptain Kukumber, the Rain and the Morrigan.

7) Park Prewett

PP's huge hall provided the setting for large-scale gatherings from the 1950s. It was twice rebuilt after fires in 1959 and 1981. Among the notable artists that graced its stage (between the fires) were Emile Ford in the early sixties and Top of the Pops’ dance divas Pan’s People in April 1976.

8) Basingstoke Sports Centre

This seems an odd place to present musical events but local promoter (and chiropodist) Glynn Williams brought a succession of family-friendly acts to the cubic sports hall in the seventies, including the Wurzels.

Basingstoke Gazette:

The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and folk favourites the Spinners figure among his more successful ventures.

9) The Swan public house in Sherborne St. John

The Swan hosted the vast majority of the presentations of the Cob & Pen Folk Club. Its fortnightly meets began in February 1976. The Swan can boast folk heroes Wizz Jones, Dave Evans, Stefan Grossman and Dave Doddington (in the group Flaky Pastry) but local singers and musicians were given the chance to perform.

One such musician was John (Charles) Kane, who had appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972 singing with a band called the Rock ‘n’ Roll Allstars. He became the vocalist in Basingstoke group Talisman Bowler.

10) Brighton Hill Community Centre

The centre was briefly adopted as the home of the Cob & Pen in 1977. The relationship only lasted a couple of months during which the Centre hosted Happy Traum and a new wave band from Deptford called the Fabulous Poodles.

In 1976 The Oak-Ridge Country Music Club established its home here at Brighton Hill. One of its founders, John Rapley told the Gazette: “We would have liked our headquarters at Oakridge but there is no suitable building.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

11) Magnums Wine Bar

This bar served the Basing View business community in the late seventies until new manager Terry Beecher introduced real ale and live music to boost the Bar’s income.

Breezin’ and Sound Hole appeared regularly and Magnums attracted bands from Winchester (Thieves Like Us), Salisbury (the Kitchens, the Fabulous QTs) and Bristol (the Prams). The trend continued under the ownership of Pam & Axel Solbrig.

Its value as a venue for DJs became apparent in the nineties when it changed its name to the Bang Bar. Dance events dominated its diary well into the new Millennium as TKR, Grubby, Tomi Kane, Brook, Mook, Skanking Steve and many others honed their DJ skills. In 2012 the Bang Bar became the Mousetrap.

12) The Victoria/Olde Vic/Maxwell’s

Basingstoke Gazette:

This pub, situated at 39 Winchester Street served the Galaxy Club briefly in 1965 during their dispute with the Council about the Town Hall. Artists that appeared there included the Men Friday, the Troggs and the god of hell-fire Arthur Brown.

In the seventies the attached nightclub Maxwell’s also dabbled with live music; staging Terminal Jive, Lethal Dose, Runners from ’84, the Horizontal Bulgarians and others. It is today occupied by Lamb Brooks Solicitors.

13) The Caribbean Club

This club was to be found at the foot of Priestley Road where it became a popular venue between 1984 and 1993. Visiting artists Carter USM, Mega City Four, House of Love, the Rhythm-ites and Brilliant Corners rubbed shoulders with local acts Go Go Amigo, Papa Brittle, EB & the System and the Herb Conspiracy.

14) The Leisure Centre in Council Road

This venue, which is now the Irish Centre, was built in 1976. Among its earliest bands were House, High Street, Static and Prowler.

As the Irish Centre it has hosted many of Basingstoke’s best-known groups of the past decade such as Pussycat & the Dirty Johnsons, Lucifer Jazz & the Love Rats, Kokoro, Kalimoto and even Flash Fires when they were called Retro Grade.

The Irish Centre has quite recently played host to a series of concerts by legends of jazz including Chris Barber and Jim Mullen.

15) Brinkletts

This was a youth club throughout the sixties and seventies. Its premises were the remains of what had been a farmhouse in Winchester Road.

In the early sixties Johnny Prince put groups on there; they were mostly local although one such; Kerry Rapid & the Seltones (May 9, 1964) is of note. Kerry Rapid was the stage name of Alan Hope who is today Howling Laud Hope, leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

16) Fairfields Arts Centre

The centre was recently re-launched by Maria Miller as Proteus Creation Space. It has functioned as a studio and exhibition space for painters Kevin Munday and Bill Thorpe and ceramic artist Katie Smith amongst others.

Originally an infant school, it was modified to accommodate live events and, in the new millennium, Skanking Steve and others ran a series of experimental sessions with ambitious lighting and projections and a powerful sound system.

Live music was soon added to the mix with Kova, the Misnomer, Stupid and Lube contributing. Artists that have visited Fairfields include ex-Bonzo Neil Innes, ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell and Mancunian punk poet John Cooper Clarke.

17) The Drama Centre

This Sarum Hill venue was, realistically, too small for much more than rehearsals or tuition. However it did host one disastrous performance by Hot Matron in 1976. Poetry recitals were better suited to the space: Roger McGough appeared at the Drama Centre in 1976, 1977 and 1978. His fellow Merseybeat Poet Adrian Henri performed there on May 4, 1977 and Brian Patten completed a Liverpool hat-trick on November 7, 1977.

18) The Angel Nightclub

This club stood at the top of Flaxfield Road at number 4a. Pop group the Marmalade and Radio One DJ Johnnie Walker are probably the Angel’s trump cards. They both appeared in April 1976. Local covers band High Street joined others from further afield (Paper Planes, Sequel, Deep South) at the Angel during 1977 but with fierce competition from Maxwell’s and Martines (which opened in 1979) the Club resorted to bingo as its chief source of revenue before closing altogether.

19) The Moose Centre

This Churchill Way centre was built to replace the Moose Hall which stood in upper Church Street and was demolished in 1979.

The New Moose became the home of Basingstoke Blues Club in 1999. Its vast guest list includes authentic giants of the genre; Bob Hall, Top Topham, Mojo Boford, Otis Taylor, the Cadillac Kings and many more) as well as stalwarts of the Basingstoke Blues Scene (Keith Rowley, Skyport Ade, and Norrie ‘Snakebite’ Burnett to name but a few). Local blues hero Rod Garfield went to live in Australia but will be appearing at the Moose on August 1 and at Basingstoke Live in July.

20) Your local!

Many pubs and church halls in the Basingstoke area have put on live groups over the years. Please use the comments section below to tell us who you saw or about any great local gigs you attended.

 

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