The New Cellar Club , South Shields

Wednesday 1st February 1967


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 time afterwards.

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.



Cuttings from local newspaper the Shields Gazette (L to R) Advert from one week before the show , Advert from the day of the show , Top twenty from the entertainments page of Thursday's edition (the day after the show) which shows that Hey Joe was at Number 4.


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 ticket.





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 Epiphone 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 note-for-note.
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."

Lawrence 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."


Mick Massie  "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 split up.

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 Venue

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 opened.

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 night. 

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 Laverne.

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.



Further Listening

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 legendary night.

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