39 YEARS OF JFK
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1977   1978   1979

This 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 39 years.

On February 18th 1977 he promoted a show at the Grand Theatre, Leeds and one thing
 led to another.

He never did learn...

This is an attempt to chronicle 39 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 residencies at the New Roscoe and Korks.

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.

Some 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.

Facebook: John F Keenan

This year I celebrate 39 years of promoting, mainly in and around Leeds.
The Grand Theatre, Leeds Poly, The 'F' Club at the Ace of Clubs, Roots, Brannigans, Wakefield Unity Hall, the Futurama Festivals,
The Leeds Queen's Hall, The Warehouse, Leeds University, The Fforde Grene, The Bierkeller, Tiffany's (Leeds & Bradford),
Stafford Bingley Hall, St. George's Hall, Southport Theatre, Hull Tower, Deeside Leisure Centre, Ritzy's, Eros Huddersfield,
Leeds Irish Centre, Leeds Astoria, Harrogate Baths, City Varieties, Leeds Town Hall, Halifax Victoria Hall, The Duchess, York Fibbers, Rooftop Gardens,  Huddersfield Town Hall, The Cockpit,  Blackpool North Pier,  Blackpool Opera House, The New Roscoe, Leeds Uni Stylus, Holy Trinity Church, Otley Civic Hall, Korks in Otley, Thorner Victory Hall...
...I've been everywhere man!

Some of the acts I've brought to Leeds:
The Police, U2, Human League, Joy Division, New Order, Radiohead, Coldplay, Nirvana, Oasis, Blur, Muse, Manic Street Preachers,
Public Image Ltd., Pulp, Wire, The B52s, Hawkwind, The Stranglers, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Damned, Killing Joke, Adam & The Ants, Toyah, The Cult, The Cramps, Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD, The Teardrop Explodes, Soft Cell, The Birthday Party, The Slits, The Adverts, The Rezillos, Theatre of Hate, Spizz Energi, Depeche Mode, Orange Juice, The Icicle Works, Durrutti Column, Screaming Trees, The Jesus Lizard, L7, Lawnmower Deth,Bad Manners, The Beat, The Specials, The Selecter, The Bodysnatchers, Prince Far I, John Cooper Clarke, UK Subs, The Vibrators,Ultravox, Johnny Thunders, XTC, The Psychedelic Furs, Spear of Destiny, Mogwai, the Doves, The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Verve, Cast, Mudhoney, Hawkwind, Wishbone Ash, Mo Tucker, John Cale, Nico, Gong, Caravan, Fairport Convention, Maddy Prior, June Tabor, Loudon Wainwright III, John Martyn, Roy Harper, Christy Moore, Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, Nils Lofgren, Al Stewart, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Buffalo Tom, The Beat Farmers, Arthur Lee & Love, Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber, John McLaughlin, Cowboy Junkies, Michelle Shocked, Tanita Tikarum, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy, Norma Waterson, Lindisfarne, The Manfreds, Captain Beefheart (Wakefield),They Might Be Giants, Bill Nelson, Inspiral Carpets, Richard Thompson, Donovan, Bo Diddley, Stevie Marriott, Steve Harley, Ian Hunter, Ian Gillan, Georgia Satellites, Hanoi Rocks, Dogs D'Amour, The Quireboys, Wrathchild, Tiger Tailz, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, The Almighty, Judie Tzuke, Joe Jackson, Steve Gibbons, Bobbie Womack, Mary Coughlan, Mary Black, Francis Black, Moving Hearts, Capercaillie, Anne Peebles, Willie Mitchell, Gomez, Embrace, Green on Red, Robert Cray, Curtis Mayfield, Mary Black, Capercaillie, Eek a Mouse, Aswad, David Rudder, Gil Scott Heron, De La Soul, the Last Poets, The Beatnigs, The Beautiful South, Fishbone, John McLaughlin, The Zombies, The Pretty Things, The Manfreds, The Troggs, Dr Feelgood, Walter Trout, Richie Havens, Ronnie Spector, Gary US Bonds,
Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Alexei Sayle, Craig Charles, Charlie Chuck, Frank Sidebottom, the Rutles, Andy Fairweather Low, Wreckless Eric John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, Mary Unfaithful, Ted Chippington, Joe Strummer, Jesus Lizard, The Jayhawks, Tom Russell, Chip Taylor, Jim White, Tony Joe White, Richie Havens, Taj Mahal,Teenage Fanclub, The Icicle Works, Pete Wylie & Wah!, Del Amitri, The Raincoats, Wayne County, Billy Bragg, Space, Beth Orton, Suzanne Vega, Sam Brown, Kate Rusby, Kiki Dee, Shawn Colvin, Tina Dico, Sophie B. Hawkins, Laura Viers, Kate Rogers,Cowboy Junkies, The Eurhythmics, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Donovan, Al Stewart, Martin Stephenson,  Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Country Joe McDonald, Hubert Sumlin, RL Burnside, Honeyboy Edwards, Jackie Leven, Rufus Wainwright, Seth Lakeman, Glenn Tilbrook, David Gray, Damien Rice, Fion Regan, Iron & Wine, Geoff Healey, The Blockheads, Midlake, Richmond Fontaine, Tom Russell, Bob Brozman, Buddy Whittington, Bob Log 111, T Model Ford, The Jim Jones Revue, Peter Grant, Ginger Baker, Graham Gouldman, Andy Fairweather Low, Graham Bonnet, Mari Wilson, Willie Nile, Polar Bear,
...and many, many more.

Some of the acts from Leeds.
The Gang of 4, The Mekons, The Sisters of Mercy, Soft Cell, Chumbawamba, Christie, The Wedding Present, The Pale Saints, Cinerama, The Glitterati (as Resin), The Hollow Men, Spacehog, Cube, The Music (as Incense), The Kaiser Chiefs (as Runston Parva),
Corinne Bailey Rae (as Helen), Jon Gomm, Sunshine Underground, The Blueskins, Jon Strong, Michael Chapman, Waking The Witch, 
 Brendan Croker, Steve Phillips, Charlie Speed, Zoot & The Roots, Vib Gyor, Fossil Collective and lots, lots more.

 

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 supposedly 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 life.

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 thereonin. 

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.  A lesson learned, 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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