The first official gig of the Jimi Hendrix
Experience in Tyneside took place on Wednesday 1st February 1967 at the New
Cellar Club in South Shields supported by local band The Bond.
Unusually the support band played after the Experience not beforehand as
would have normally been the case. This was due to the Jimi Hendrix
Experience being late arriving and the support band were not allowed to set
up their equipment until after the main act had set up theirs.
James Fraser the bass player from The Bond remembers "The Man came up and
shook our hands then we had to get out of the backstage area for them to set
up. We didn't get any autographs. There just wasn't time. I don't remember
what songs were played or much else about the night at all. I think we were
a bit *in shock* at having to actually go on and do a set while everyone was
there for the great man. A very daunting *experience*."
At the time of the show the first single Hey Joe was climbing up the
charts. Jimi had just travelled up from London where he had recorded a
session for the BBC on Monday (Hey Joe, Rock Me Baby, Foxy Lady) and
appeared at the Saville Theatre on Tuesday to do a promotional film for Hey
Joe (mimed). Before setting off for South Shields on the morning of 1st
February he was interviewed for the Hull Times newspaper at the Anim office
in London (Mike Jeffery's office).
Chas Chandler said “Jimi and I were staying at my mother’s house in
Newcastle, as the band had been booked to play at the New Cellar Club in
South Shields. As we were sitting there talking, I decided to walk down to
the phone, because my mother had not put one in yet, to ring London and see
how things were going. ‘Hey Joe’ had leapt to number seven in the charts,
and I knew we were really on our way.”
In an interview for Beat Instrumental (in April 1967) Noel Redding recalled
“We arrived a little late and we were in a bit of a rush. We were on the
back of a revolving stage just getting tuned, ready to be swung round any
minute. We had got these new 200 watt units and just as we were tuning
Jimi's amp blew up. He quickly plugged into mine and I looked round for
something to borrow. In the end I had to make do with a tiny amp which the
other group had been using, it must have been all of 5 watts. As we swung
round we opened up and the sound was terrible. My bass was just buzzing like
mad. Jerry came up, gave me the P.A. amp and put the vocals through this
tiny thing. Of course from then on we couldn't hear a word except in the
breaks where we were singing and not playing, even then we just heard a tiny
whisper." The borrowed amp Noel refers to
belonged to Les Gofton . guitarist and lead singer with the Bond.
Colin Hart was in the audience that night. Colin roadied for various
local bands and owned a big old ambulance which he used to carry their gear
around in. On the night of the Cellar Club show he turned up in his
ambulance which was full of equipment belonging to the band "The Jazz
Board". Colin remembers "One of the guys at the club asked me if I could
help the band out. They needed some fuses for their Marshall amps and, of
course, I was happy to oblige and nipped out to the "van" to get some.
I offered the use of an amp as well as fuses and did bring one up, but not
sure if it was used for the show. I was a bit flustered myself at the time,
to say the least! They did keep the fuses, so it was most likely them that
went at Darlington! I had to scramble the next day to replace all the fuses
I'd nicked out of amps!"
The New Cellar Club had a revolving stage but it rarely worked. Bands would
set up on the reverse side then when it was time to go on they would be spun
around to face the audience. As the motor was broken the manager Alf Hobson
would often have to push it. It was still broken the night Hendrix played.
Noel Redding said, “Yeh, I remember the place, they couldn’t get the
stage round because the motor was knackered so we had to push it!”
Audience member Geoff Tate remembers Jimi's sense of humour "when
the stage was rotating he was briefly playing the theme from Carousel, then
settled into a few seconds of country picking (Clampett style) until the
other two were ready. Awesome through two 4x12s and just 6 feet away, I
couldn't hear anything but a high pitched whistle for a week after. I think
he started with Foxy Lady after that, but I'm not really that sure."
Colin Hart remembers "The Cellar Club was really jumping
that night and seemed about as full as they used to allow back then. As far
as their set, I can't remember what they played, other than it was an
incredible show and they played for ages for a band in their league. It was
over an hour, easily."
The band opened with Foxey Lady. Other songs known to have been played
that night were Wild Thing , Catfish Blues , Hey Joe , Manic
Depression, Fire , Mercy Mercy , Like A Rolling Stone and Stone Free. By the time of this show Jimi had
also written Wind Cries Mary , Can You See Me ,Third Stone from the
Sun , 51st Anniversary , Purple Haze and Red House so these are all possible
songs. Other covers he may have done include Killing Floor and Rock Me Baby
both of which are on a bootleg
of the gig at the Flamingo Club in London recorded three days after the New
Cellar Club gig, on Saturday 4th February.
Above the revolving stage there was a circular plasterboard false ceiling
disc. You can see this in the photographs below. The whole thing moved round
as a unit. During the show Jimi lifted his strat and put a hole in it. It
had the crowd delighted. The hole stayed there, unrepaired, for a very long
Sandie Brown of Saville Brothers Records, King Street was there and
remembers "he rammed his guitar upwards, not necessarily intending to do any
damage, it was accidental, but it brought down some plaster from the
ceiling, and he just laughed at the other guys in the band with that exact
look in his eye that he had on the Lulu show when he started doing the
"unrehearsed" stuff - i.e. "Boy, are we in trouble now, but we don't
f*$=A3!!??!!ing care!". More lessons learned by us kids...."
Jimi also put his guitar through the low ceiling at the Club A Go Go in
Newcastle just over a month later and he is known to have performed this
stunt earlier too in New York in the days before he came to England.
Jimi said "I got a break playing guitar for John Hammond Jr at the
Cafe Au Go Go. That was great because the ceiling was really low and dusty.
I'd stick the guitar right up into the ceiling. It was like war."
This was August 1966.
Noel Redding also said in his interview “As if that wasn't enough
at the end of the spot we were taken back round on the revolving stage and
as we went the audience grabbed us. I was hanging on to Jimi and he was
hanging on to Mitch and we very nearly got crushed against the wall as we
went round. It's quite a life working with Jimi but I enjoy it.”
There is a rumour that the show at the Cellar Club was recorded by the
drummer from the Bond (as mentioned in an article in the Evening Chronicle
in 2007) but this has proved to be untrue.
Advertisement in the Evening Chronicle January 1967.
Another up and coming act turned up at the club that night just to see Jimi.
Then named Gerry Dorsey and appearing at the nearby La Strada nightclub, he
was soon to become famous as Engelbert Humperdink.
The ticket price was 6 shillings. An unused ticket for this show sold on Ebay in 2005 for £343 !
|Thanks to John Mackay for this photograph of his
The photographs on this page are from the twelve pictures known to exist
taken by Fietschers Fotos based in Newcastle. Fietschers Fotos was the
business name of local freelance photographer Fred Muddit who produced work
for the Bailey Organisation (who owned the Cellar Club), the local council
and newspaper (The Shields Gazette) and others.
The audience member at the far right of this last photograph is Geoff Tate who's
memories of the night can be read on this page. Les Gofton from the support band
was standing immediately to his right.
In the bottom picture Noel Redding can be seen playing an
Rivoli bass which belonged to Chas Chandler.
Geoff Tate remembers "We made a point of being at the
front and went ballistic all the way through the gig. We got the chance to
speak to Jimi afterwards and he said "Hey you were the guys who were raving
right in front of me". He was very polite, friendly and quietly spoken.
I DID get his autograph, along with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell's. He
signed "To Geoff. Be Kool. Jimi Hendrix", on the back of my Cellar Club
card. It's signed over the top of the Cream's autographs which are only in
pencil. I also got one of his plecs, which is just branded "NYLON stiff". I
have it in an earring box. I can't prove to anyone that it's his but it
doesn't really matter...I know! In addition I asked him what gauge of strings he used and he pointed out
that they were 12's. I said that was surprising as he used stringbending so
extensively, but he just said he didn't need to use lighter strings and
anyway heavier gives a better tone. Can't argue with that!"
The back of Geoff's Cellar Club Membership card autographed by Jimi ,
Noel and Mitch.
Jimi's plectrum from the Cellar Club show.
James Fraser the bass player from the support band remembers "it was a bit of a problem as we had only recently
modelled our whole set around Jimi's songs. Everyone in the band was so
taken with this new phenomena that we were learning everything available.
Les (Gofton) even had the *teeth playing* in Hey Joe down to a fine art. The
copying of Jimi's style was no problem to him as this was very akin to his
own freeform guitar technique. Dave (Bainbridge) was the opposite. He
would sit for hours on end learning the most intricate Clapton solos
Anyway, the atmosphere was electric. We were really nervous, but we did it...dredging up songs that we had
ditched a few weeks earlier.
The stage was revolved (pushed round) and we were confronted
by Jimi who shook our hands.
I remember being surprised at his soft, gentle voice. It bore no comparison
with his stage persona.
We watched his set in awe. I truly don't recall what songs were played, but
the tale about sticking his Strat into the ceiling is true. The disc above
the revolving stage was a sort of polystyrene (or something) panel which
moved round with the stage unit. He poked a geet big hole in it (not sure if
it was accidental) which stayed there for a very long time afterwards."
James also said "You see that cross around his neck? It was a red enamelled maltese cross (cheap brass back, of no particular value). I found it on the
floor backstage after the concert. I wore it on a leather thong for years
afterwards. One time when I was really hard up I sold it for £10. Wish I
hadn't now. One of my biggest regrets!"
Colin Hart remembers "The roadie for
Hendrix took me backstage to the tiny dressing room and I was introduced to
the band as the bloke who got the fuses. I remember Mr. Hendrix seeming
quite nervous before the show. A great memory indeed. After the show I stayed to help his roadie load out and was astonished at
the way he treated the gear. Kinda launched the Marshall cabinets down the
concrete stairs, a habit I didn't pick up!!"
(The roadie he refers to will have been Gerry Stickells.)
Dave Bainbridge , lead guitarist with The Bond , remembers
"We, the Bond, Les, Robin, Jim and myself, as well as Geoff Tate, our best
pal, (and possibly Colin Hart, mentioned elsewhere, I can’t exactly
remember) arrived very early, in the hope of seeing the Man himself, and we
set up our gear as best we could on one side of the crappy revolving stage.
No-one was there yet except Jimi’s roadie, named as Gerry Stickells on your
website, and I do seem to remember him telling us he was called Gerry. As
the band were considerably delayed, we just hung out and chatted to him
backstage for ages until the band arrived. He couldn’t do any setting up
because their gear was travelling with the band. We couldn’t go on yet
(probably) because we were told the band could arrive at any time, and they
obviously had priority. I can’t remember much of what Gerry told us, but he
was regaling us with road stories of the band so far, to which we listened
with rapt attention; you have to remember that (a) we were only around 19-21
years old, and hadn’t played anywhere further away than Jarrow Civic Hall;
(b) any kind of international travel, even to Europe, was far from routine
then, so in South Shields, someone like JH was a bit like an alien visiting
from another planet; and (c) on the other hand, he was still just a cult
figure on the music scene, although it was obvious to all of us that he was
going to be mega-big. One fact from Gerry which did register was that Jimi
had huge strong hands and could bend the strings way off the neck of his
guitar “right up here sometimes!!” as he grabbed my Telecaster and shoved
the bottom string off the neck.
"When eventually they did arrive (around ten o’clock, I think, but I’m not
sure – we’d certainly been there for at least a couple of hours by then),
Alf (the well-known manager of the club, who always wore a black dinner suit
and bow tie, and therefore always commanded authority, he could chuck you
out, after all) marched in and said (and I do remember this as if it was
yesterday!) “Right, Bond OUT, Hendrix Experience IN!” and we had to file out
squeezing past these three diminutive fellows in the doorway - I was a
gangly 6ft 3” then; Jimi was only about 5ft 10”, the other two shorter. But
he did give us a warm smile and a wink, although we didn’t have time to
shake hands. We then just became members of the audience at that point. The
back of Geoff’s head is in one of your photos, he says Les was standing to
his right, and I was standing to Les’s right, so we saw the show very close
up. And some lucky folks seem to have got to meet him afterwards, while we
the Bond had a show to do! Anyway, the show was phenomenal, even though NR
said their gear was duff and they had to borrow one of our amps (more
later). I can remember us fans going berserk at seeing a guitar player who
was EASILY the best we’d ever seen (remember that at this time, Clapton was
GOD, and Jimi was way more exciting than him, so what did that make Jimi?).
My one main outstanding memory was of him, on his own, kicking off an
absolutely killer version of Muddy Waters’ “Catfish Blues”, a slow, sensual,
lascivious, wicked blues with guitar licks the like of which the world had
never heard up to that point (or so it seemed to us). He could have easily
played the whole gig solo, because from that point, Noel Redding and Mitch
Mitchell became almost redundant – they seemed like they were almost just
“joining in” and found it hard to keep up with him. Other tunes I can just
about remember were “Foxy Lady”, “Hey Joe” (of course), “Manic Depression”,
“Fire” and “Stone Free”. Altogether, despite what Noel Redding said, it was
for all of us a truly life-changing gig, and our band had to follow it!!
Remember we were virtually penniless at this time and although Robin had a
half-decent red Premier drum kit and I had an early Fender Telecaster (which
I’ve still got, actually, of which more later), our gear was pretty crappy,
especially the PA, which was so bad I can’t even remember if we had one.
There would be no question of borrowing the JH Experience’s rig as (a) as
Noel Redding said it wasn’t working properly, and (b) they’d have had to
take it straight down and ship it out for the next gig. Incidentally, the
amp which the Experience had to borrow, the “all of five watts” thing that
Noel Redding referred to in the magazine Beat Instrumental a couple of
months later, was a very respectable thirty-watt Fenton-Weill german thing,
head and cabinet, that Les Gofton had got for a song in a second-hand shop a
few months earlier (Les never paid more than his pocket money for anything,
and used to get some AMAZING gear for nowt); the amp sounded fantastic with
my Telecaster through it, and I would pay a lot of cash for that amp now if
it were still around, although it did buzz a bit even then!
"Anyway, we did go on, kicking off with “NSU” by Cream, which was a hard
thing to play due to it’s queer, off kilter time signature (check out the
original), and we pulled it off that night and gig after gig before and
since, so we must have been a half-decent outfit. I can’t remember what else
we played, but I do remember the club clearing before our eyes… Whether we
were crap in comparison to the JHE, whether they weren’t interested in
anybody else, or whether they just wanted to see if they could catch him
leaving the venue, I don’t know, but I do know the club was packed when he
was on, and it wasn’t when we were, so for me, I left the venue that night
feeling down. However those feelings quickly faded because I, like the rest
of the people there that night, have nothing but fantastic memories of being
in the thick of history being made."
Les Gofton , lead guitarist and singer with The Bond , remembers "I
played at the Cellar gig with the support band. My memory is that The
experience used the house PA which was terrible, since one of their
Marshall's had gone. Our Drummer Robin Thompson didn't record the gig,
although we did record the Cream three months earlier at the opening night
of the new cellar. Hendrix was a fantastic performer. Standouts from the set
for me were Mercy Mercy, Wild Thing, Foxy Lady, Hey Joe. I think he did Like
a Rolling Stone too, but that may be wishful thinking."
Vasey: “I gathered the following information on Jimi’ s visit to South
Shields. I spoke to eight people, seven of whom I had worked with for up to
nine years and I believe their information to be reliable:
Someone took a photo of Gerry Dorsey and Jimi together before the concert
but that that couldn’t be located. Jimi changed guitars several times during
the gig and wasn’t too gentle when handling them according to somebody who
was in the audience. At one point Jimi chipped a hole in the ceiling as he
raised his guitar above his head. The Experience played “Killing Floor”,
“Stone Free”, Rock Me, Baby”, Hey Joe” and ended with “Wild Thing”. They
played a few other songs but no one could recall the titles. I asked
Frank Hearn [bouncer at the time] and Dorothy [ticket lady], who both had
worked there from the day the club opened, about the JHE night and about the
wooden table that all the up and coming stars carved their names on. Frank
and Dorothy remembered the night well, saying that despite the amp problems
Jimi was tremendously loud. They thought Jimi came across well and that his
playing was amazing. Jimi did carve his name on the table but it was sold
many years ago."
Graham Cook remembers ... "I was reading our local rag last night re
South shields gazette, with an article regarding Jimi Hendrix's gig in the
cellar club back in 1967, myself and two of my pals were there, we had never
heard of him, but we were open to all types of music at that time, we had
previously seen Cream at the same venue some 3 weeks before. I recall this
wild looking lad strolling on to the stage with his fender and producing
sounds whch had never been heard on this earth before, it was all very
amazing, a new breed of music had been born,I remember departing the club
quite literally "gob smacked". I was 21 at that time, and had just completed
my apprenticeship as a sea going engineer, the venue never attracted huge
crowds maybe about 100 people were there Jimi was a complete unknown at that
time, we tended to go no matter who was on, it used to cost 5 bob to get in
,25 pence, it was the same for cream ,3 wks earlier cheap when you consider
that I paid £50 to see clapton in glasgow 4 years ago.Jimi never really said
much as I recall except to mumble the name of the next tune he was going to
blast out, it was all rather surreal.The cellar club in shields was owned by
a chap called Stan Henry, this was the second cellar club he had, the first
was in Beach road, and had a resident band called the the Allen price combo,
with Chas Chandler on bass."
"The highlight I remember was a girl with a
broad Sunderland accent shouting out " Eye, Jimeye, yor the grey-a-test".
Jimi blinked and the crowd howled with laughter."
Barry Wood told the South Shields Gazette in 2015...
“I got Jimi’s autograph on the back of a fag packet, which, I subsequently,
gave as a token of my undying love and affection to a sweet little thing
from St Albans, with whom I had a holiday fling which lasted all of a couple
of weeks (not one of my better ideas with the benefit of hindsight).
A couple of weeks before the gig, a pal of mine and I were in the new Tyne
Dock Hotel, (now Kennedy’s bar) when the main act on the Ready Steady Go TV
live pop show was The Jimi Hendrix Experience playing their new hit Hey Joe
on the pub telly. Also watching the show were half a dozen shipyard workers
on a half-shift, and having a liquid lunch. “We had to laugh when one of
them turned to a late arrival, announcing that the newcomer had just missed
seeing a man with a mad haircut playing the guitar ... with his nose.”
A review appeared in the Shields Gazette on 9th February 1967 (one week
after the show). Click here to
read the review.
The Support Band
The opening act for this evening was South Shields based band the Bond.
The Bond had come into being only a short while beforehand and were formed
from the remnants of two defunct local bands; Les Gofton and Dave
Bainbridge (both guitarists) from the Sneakers, James Fraser (bass) and
Robin Thompson (drums) from "The Way In". Hence the name, bonding the two groups together
, which was coined by their manager Dave Walker. The two guitar players had very different styles , Dave
Bainbridge having a clean
crisp Telecaster blues style and Les Gofton with his country blues/folk based
improvisations. This contrast allowed the band to play a wide range of
material from their standard opening number Midnight Hour and a selection of
motown standards to various blues/rock numbers of the day by people like the
Cream , John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and of course Hendrix. The band
continued on into the eighties though changed both bass player and drummer
along the way. One of their later highlights was to support Bo Diddley at
the Boilermakers Club in Sunderland in the 1980s. The Bond have now sadly
The Bond's business card.
Shields Gazette clipping from when The Bond were first established. The
article has Dave and Jim's names the wrong way around.
The New Cellar Club in Thomas Street , South Shields , opened it's doors
for the first time on Friday 2nd December 1966. The newly built club was the
brainchild of Stan Henry who at only 34 years old was head of the Bailey
organisation which ran a string of nightclubs around the north east. The new
fifty thousand pounds club was to replace the old Cellar Jazz Club on nearby
Beach Road. The building was designed after extensive research into the
clubs in London , Europe and New York and was to provide a nightspot
specifically tailored towards the 18 to 25 age group , a first for the town.
Membership was five shillings and the club was inundated with membership
applications in advance of the opening after it was first announced in the
local paper the Shields Gazette.
The opening night featured the Cream with Eric Clapton , Jack Bruce and
Ginger Baker supported by local band the Trend. However , they were not the
first band to play the club. This honour went to local band the Jazzboard
who played at a private party for the contractors and staff the night
before the official opening. Cream were interviewed at the club after their
show for the BBC by local reporter and broadcaster Dave Walker (who was also
the manager of the Bond). Eric Clapton was not present at the interview so
it was conducted with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker only.
The New Cellar Club had live bands playing most nights of the week with
acts ranging from popular local bands to some of the top acts of the day
such as Geno Washington , John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and of course the Jimi
Hendrix Experience on the 1st February 1967 two months after the club first
Shields Gazette article November 1966 about the forthcoming opening of the
New Cellar Club.
Two photographs from the New Cellar Club taken in 1967 showing the revolving stage. The band pictured is
"Jazzboard" and the guitar player at the far left with his back to the
camera in the first photograph is Les Gofton from the Bond.
Over the years the New Cellar Club building has gone though various owners and
name changes including a long period as a disco called the Chelsea Cat
during the 1980s and
also reopening under the name the Cellar Club in the late 1990s to once
again put on live bands. This second incarnation produced many memorable
shows from people such as Jack Bruce , Gary Moore , John Mayall , The Hoax ,
Walter Trout , Geno Washington and a return gig after more than thirty years
for Jimi Hendrix Experience bass player Noel Redding who appeared with Eric
Bell (ex. Thin Lizzy) on guitar. Les Gofton and Dave Bainbridge from
the Bond played a thirtieth-anniversary gig there in 1997 with a
stand-in bass player and drummer and the Junco Partners also played the same
This picture (another from Fietschers Fotos) hung on the wall in the foyer of the Cellar Club during it's
second incarnation in the late 1990s.
After two change of ownerships the Cellar Club closed in
2000. Since then it spent a period as
a disco called Wave then closed again and remained empty for some time.
In 2009 it was refurbished and converted into a dental surgery which it
still is today.
The New Cellar Club building closed and empty photographed in 2008.
The New Cellar Club building as it is today (photographed in 2009).
Roadie Colin Hart went on to become tour manager for Deep Purple and Rainbow.
Guitarist from The Bond Les Gofton's daughter is the TV presenter Lauren
The photographs of Jimi show him wearing the antique military waistcoat that
he bought at the shop "I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet" in London. This was
something he wore often including the photo session which produced the "Are
You Experienced" album cover and the legendary concert at the Monterey pop
festival in June 1967.
Three days after this show on 4th February 1967 The Jimi Hendrix Experience played at the Flamingo Club
in London. An audio recording of this show was made and it can be listened
to on Youtube using the link below. Its not the best quality but it will give you an idea of
what the show may have been like at the New Cellar Club on this
Set list :
1. Killing Floor
2. Mercy Mercy
3. Can You See Me
4. Like A Rolling Stone
5. Rock Me Baby
6. Catfish Blues
7. Stone Free
8. Hey Joe
9. Wild Thing
Click here to listen to the show on Youtube