"TITTER YE NOT".
A young child says to his
"Mom, when I grow up I'd like
to be a musician.
" She replies, "Well honey,
you know you can't do both."
Q: What do you call a
musician with a college
A: Night manager at
Q: What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A: A vocalist.
Q: How can you tell when a singer is at your door?
A: They can't find the key,
and they never know when to come in.
Q: What do you call a guitar player that only knows two chords?
A: A music critic.
THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS
HAPPY HEAD LIVE
New book recalls rock 'n' roll
heydays at Dudley club JB's
U2 came over from Ireland to
try to establish themselves in
front of JBs punters in 1980.
This is a book about the life
and times of a remarkable
little club that helped to
launch the careers of
hundreds of big bands.
The Weeping Messerschmitts
JB's Dudley, usually known simply as JB's, was a nightclub and live
music venue located on Castle Hill near the centre of Dudley, West
Midlands. Originally opened on a different site in 1969, it claimed to
be the longest running live music venue in the United Kingdom, and
hosted early performances by acts such as Dire Straits and U2.
IT was where it all started for so many rock heroes. Blur had their
first paying gig there, Dire Straits earned £50 for a show, and a
fledgling group called U2 came over from Ireland to try to establish
themselves in front of JB'S punters in 1980. Queen wanted a date
there, but asked for too much money. The Sex Pistols hid out at the venue after defying a ban
imposed by neighbouring Wolverhampton Council and playing as The Spots.
The Pretenders, UB40, Joy Division, The Police, Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats and the Manic Street
Preachers all gigged there as they climbed the ladder to stardom, and Kidderminster rock god Robert
Plant gave some low key performances.
The club was, first set up at Dudley Town Football Club in 1969 by childhood pals Sam Jukes and
Sid Weston. It moved to King Street 18 months later, arriving at its current premises at the bottom of
Castle Hill in 1995.
Sam and Sid, both put in £100 to start the venue after Sam, a one time professional footballer with
Walsall, noted that his then team Dudley Town was in a desperate financial situation. They paid a bill
so that the electricity would be switched on again, and named the club after DJ Johnny Bryant, who
would run regular nights there.
Soon, live bands were added and the move to King Street was prompted because far more people
wanted to get in than the 200 capacity would allow.
THE WILD FLOWERS
POP WILL EAT IT SELF P.W.E.I.
There then followed a golden era, which saw Thin Lizzy play in
1971, plus a host of hungry young bands who were desperate to wow The Black Country music fans, for a small fee and as standard, a crate of Newcastle Brown ale.
Sid’s twin brother John, who worked behind the bar for several years, said there was little evidence of Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott being the hellraiser he would later turn into.
He recalled: “Phil was just down to earth. He came to the bar for a drink and was very friendly.”
Anarchistic, foul mouthed punks the Sex Pistols, with the sarcastic God Save The Queen riding high in the charts, dropped in undercover in 1977 for a drink, after playing an illicit gig in Wolverhampton. John said: “They had been banned by Wolverhampton Council, as they had by many other councils and had appeared at the Lafayette as The Spots, which stood for Sex Pistols On The Stage.
The owner of the Lafayette had asked us if we could look after them. “Johnny Rotten was ever so nice he asked for half a lager and a packet of crisps and he said please! They just sat with the punters. One of the customers said Sid Vicious drew his name on the toilet door.”
Up and coming pub rock band Dire Straits, led by the clever compositions and fluent guitar work
of former journalist Mark Knopfler, played around the same time as the song Sultans Of Swing
was starting to cause a stir.
JBS was where it all started for so many rock heroes.
Sam, whose memory has been affected by the two strokes he has had, said: “It was very low key they were pretty much unknown at
the time. We got them a support slot for about £50 that was all they were worth in those days.
“When I was paying Mark Knopfler, I chatted to him and said, ‘You’ve got a half decent chance, and I wouldn’t mind managing you’.
He said to me, ‘Sam, we’ve just signed up with someone else’. That man was Ed Bicknell and with him they became superstars.”
Sid, who had a day job as a civil engineer, said: “Dire Straits stood out head and shoulders. They were a little bit different. “With bands like that it’s all about confidence, but you could tell they’d got something.”
Sam recalled turning Queen down at around the time their first album came out in 1973: “Freddie Mercury phoned up and wanted another 40 quid, and I told him to FUCK OFF! ‘‘I remember saying to him: ‘You ain’t going nowhere!’”
John said the dispute with the band, who were just two years away from crafting the all time classic Bohemian Rhapsody, had revolved around the four piece quibbling over how far the dressing room was from the stage.
Sue Jukes, Sam’s wife, has routinely prepared delicious chicken or veggie curries for acts appearing at JB’s gratefully received by
up and coming stars such as Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders,
Annie Lennox of The Tourists and local heroes like The Wonder
Stuff, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and The Mighty Lemon Drops.
She said: “We remember them all. Blur told us they stopped off
at a motorway service station after their gig here, for burger and
chips. They hadn’t been paid before this was the first cheque
they’d had, and they were keen to spend it!”
Spencer Davis, whose band included Steve Winwood, once told
the JB’s team: “Forget the music you should open up as a
Sid added: “Steve Winwood was a big real ale fan, and when
he appeared here a couple of years ago, we sent him up to
local pub The Lamp. He came back with a big jug of Bathams!”
Sid said any trouble at the venue was soon nipped in the bud
by bouncer Jimmy Fisher AKA Jimmy The Con, now dead from cancer, who would send outside anyone smoking a joint. The no-drugs rule was strictly enforced against bands by Jimmy the Con for many years.
BLUR SONG 2
Jimmy, bless him, had seen more courts
than Rod Laver. If any of the bands did
play up, he would let them know,” Sid said.
Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant last
played at JB’s in February in 2009 at the
60th birthday bash of his sound engineer
Roy Williams. Tickets costing £20 were selling for £100 at online market
place eBay. Plant has been a regular visitor over the years, rubbing shoulders with fans who idolised him.
John said: “He’s very down-to-earth and he’d just call in for a pint of Mild.
He sometimes brought [Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham up with him. When we were at Dudley Town FC he used to come up and play darts.
“A lot of times he brought Maureen with him, who was his wife then. He would arrive in an Aston Martin, the same as in the James Bond films, but he was OK and had no airs and graces.”
THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS
Sam and Sid were unhappy at the Performing Rights Society demands for three percent of the door money, which they claim was what pushed the venue into administration.
The PRS collects cash on behalf of composers and hit JB’s with a £4,800 bill. Sam said: “They sent the bailiffs down, but I still maintain we don’t owe them any money.
“If bands come in and play their own stuff, which they mostly do, I don’t think we should be liable for PRS payments. “For all these years we’ve supported live music, I’d say that 99 percent of musicians aren’t even registered with the PRS. They were the ones that forced us into administration.”
Sid, who has known Sam since he was 11, said the venue owed £80,000 to creditors, the rest of the reported £450,000 debt being his and Sam’s “own money”.
He added: “The first nail in the coffin was the smoking ban, then it was the credit crunch hitting people’s available disposable income. People still come out but they don’t come out as often, and don’t spend as much when they do come out.
“The other thing is cheap booze. People can buy lager for £8 a pack and they can smoke themselves silly at home in front of 50 inch high definition TV, so they’re probably choosing that.
“We’ve had a rich vein of great bands. On a personal level they would do anything for Sam and the club, but they have very little say in things these days it’s the agents. If another venue is offering £500 more they’ll go there.”
He said Sam was a “terrible delegator” who, despite poor health, regularly stayed at the club until 5am to make sure everything was running smoothly.
Back to the book, this is the story about the life and times of a remarkable little club that helped to launch the careers of hundreds of big bands, including Dire Straits, The Police,
The Pretenders, Judas Priest, the Manic Street Preachers,
UB40, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, U2, Nick Lowe,
With contributions by Robert Plant, Steve Gibbons, Damon
Albarn and Alex James, and many more, plus lots of hilarious, not to mention downright bizarre reminiscences from the stellar cast of die-hard fans who frequented the place!
WHAT A BOSTIN BLOKE
Frank Sidebottom (below with the big head) maintained that his set at JB's, a poorly attended gig at which the audience collectively decided to play football instead of watching the band was the best gig he ever did.