"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
Sid’s twin brother John, who worked behind the bar for
several years, said there was little evidence of Lizzy front-
man Phil Lynot being the hell-raiser 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 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 neighbouring Wolverhampton Council and playing as
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.
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 got something.”
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
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 a restaurant!”
“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 Bathams Beer !”
"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,
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. John said:
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,
Rats, 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 place!
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.