CLICK ON A YEAR TO TAKE YOU THERE:
1977 1978 1979
young chap didn't know what he was letting himself in for when he
embarked on a course that would carry him through the next 30 years.
On February 18th 1977 he promoted a show at the
Grand Theatre, Leeds and one thing
He never did learn...
is an attempt to chronicle 30 years of promoting in the Leeds area, running
through from 1977 to present day. Commencing
with the gigs at Leeds Polytechnic and the formation of the ‘F’ club leading
on to the Futurama Festivals and, eventually, 12 years of The Duchess,
concluding with my current residency at the New Roscoe.
Eventually I hope to outline the basic gigs in venue / date / acts format and then to flesh them out with my experiences of the events including any pictures or mementos I can find.
of the early gigs are a bit sketchy and I only have a few records to go on,
having lost loads of ephemera in a cellar flood. If anyone has photographs,
memories or background information on any of the early shows please email me JFK@LiveInLeeds.com
or write to
John Keenan, c/o The New Roscoe, Bristol Street, Leeds LS7 1DH
If I use anything I will credit you on this site.
This year I celebrate 34
years of promoting, mainly in and around Leeds.
Some of the
acts from Leeds.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The first show I ever promoted, in 1965
aged 16, was at Southport Art College where I tentatively held the post of
Social Secretary. It was a renegade Arts Ball at an old dancehall The Moulin
Rouge, Ainsdale. The Principal had banned us from putting on an event due
to an incident involving the caretaker who told a few tales against the
students to save his skin. The main act was John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
featuring Eric Clapton, but he was replaced by Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood by
Aynsley Dunbar support ably provided by top Liverpool band The Mojos
(with Lewis Collins)...Lewis took up acting and later joined The Professionals.
First on was my neighbour Max Lunt’s band (can’t recall the name). The event
lost money, £20, so I offered to work it off in the cloakroom of the Moulin
Rouge, where I had many a happy time being cosseted by the ladies and
gleaning glimpses of the glamorous glitterati of Liverpool...footballers, bands and
entertainers. I suppose that’s where I developed my taste for being a backroom
boy in the wonderfully varied world of show business, a position I seem to have occupied for most of my adult
By the way, the second major band I was involved in promoting was …Pink Floyd!
I didn’t start promoting again for
over 10 years.
In 1977, married with two
children, working freelance at YTV and fed up with the lack of good acts coming
to Leeds, I made inroads into the rock business. I phoned an agency, looking for
acts such as Iggy Pop and Lou Reed and I got…Alan Price.
Agents like to start you off with
something you have to work at, with a naive confidence I thought I’d start at the
top…I booked the Leeds Grand Theatre. The support provided,
which I had to take, was Lamplight, a proficient harmony rock band containing, I believe, Alan
Price’s cousin. In order to spice it up a bit, I gave the opening spot to a
friend of mine from our teenage years in Formby, Tymon Dogg. Under the name
Timon he had recorded with the Beatles and The Moody Blues, but in between he
had lived in squats with Joe Strummer, Sid Vicious and Ari Up, he taught Joe
Strummer to play guitar and was a major mover in that London punk scene (You
can now find him in Joe Strummer’s Mescaleros). It was classic to see the
faces of the theatre audience, dressed up to the nines, confronted by this
folk-punk busker accompanying himself on manic fiddle with his sardonic ditty
'Dog Dirt On Your Shoes (It's The Latest Fashion, The Latest thing To Do)'.
The Yorkshire Post sent an aged journalist (who, I was reliably
informed, had spent most of his time in the backstage bar) to review the show,
he commenced his piece with a comment that ‘Mr Price had entered from the
wrong side of the stage’…it was downhill from thereon.
I thought that having worked for the Grand Theatre in the late Sixties I would be given a favourable rate…nothing of it! Not only did I pay full whack, but the Theatre Manager also handed me a bill for £15 for programme sellers. I informed him I hadn’t asked for any, as it was a one-off concert there were no programmes. Then he brought the contract out of the office and pointed to a clause, which read ‘Programme sellers - £15’. My defence...because there was nothing to sell and nobody purveying anything I had thought the clause would not apply...didn’t wash. As he was in possession of all the box-office money I wasn't in a position to argue. I’ve never trusted contracts…or employees of corporations ever since.
Needless to say, the Grand Theatre is one venue I haven't promoted a second time.
John Keenan - Leeds / February 2002
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