"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."
What do you call a
musician with a college
A night manager at KFC or
What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
How can you tell when a singer is at your door?
They can't find the key,
and they never know when to come in.
What do you call a guitar player that only knows two chords?
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.
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 front-man Phil Lynott
being the hell-raiser he would later turn into.
“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 under cover in 1977 for a drink, after playing an illicit gig in
“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.
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 neighboring
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
Cradley Heathens - Sam started the club after his football and speedway career
ended prematurely after a bad accident in a meeting with Cradley Heathens. The
former Walsall FC trainee, who played for semi-pro teams Kidderminster Harriers
and Dudley Town, says he was riding for Sheffield during the mid-60s when he fractured his leg
and knee. "I got crocked down Cradley and that brought everything to an end," he said. "My thigh
was broken in three places and I'm still limping now. "I've still never seen an accident like it -
somehow I hit the starting gate going down the straight.
"Sam and Sid, both put in £100 to start the venue after Sam, 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.
JB's took its name from the initials of local DJ John Bryant, who Sam says was a hit with the ladies:
"He was a bit like George Best only better looking. "The women used to love him to bits and he'd fill venues so we thought it would be a good name for the club.
"We used to go down the colleges and universities and end up getting home at six or seven in the morning and then be in work for eight. Eventually we thought we'd better get a base of our own."
The first night at JB's was virtually empty but soon Sam and Sid was turning away hundreds of music fans and had to look for bigger premises. 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.
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
Sam recalled turning Queen down at around the time their first album (QUEEN with "Seven
Seas of Rhye") 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 WonderStuff, Ned’s Atomic
Dustbin and The Mighty Lemon Drops.
“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
“Steve Winwood was a big real ale fan, and when
he appeared here a couple years ago, we sent him up to the
local pub The Lamp Tavern. He came back with a big jug of
"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.
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 marketplace ebay.
Plant has been a regular visitor over the
years, rubbing shoulders with his fans who idolised him.
“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.”
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.
“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,
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (The Tourists),
The Wonder Stuff, Squeeze, and Paul Carrack,
but sadly (as you will discover inside the book), not Queen.
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
SAM JUKES WHAT A BOSTIN BLACK COUNTRY BLOKE
Frank Sidebottom (below) 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.