|The first gig of the Jimi Hendrix Experience in
Newcastle took place at the Club A Go Go on Percy Street on 10th march 1967.
The bands fee for the evening was £250 .There were two shows , one at 8pm in
the under 18s room called the "Young Set" and a later show at 2am in
the "Jazz Lounge". There was no support band. During the
show in the "Young Set" Jimi put his guitar
through the low ceiling and made a hole in it. He had done this a month earlier
the New Cellar Club in South Shields and he repeated the stunt at
the Club A Go Go. Here it was definately a deliberate act and witnesses
watched in amazement as Jimi rammed the headstock through the plasterboard.|
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North East based actor/singer Jimmy Nail said " I was in my mid-teens and used to go to the Club A Go Go which had a very low ceiling. Hendrix - I hadn't seen anything like it - leapt with the guitar and it went through a ceiling tile. But get this, he let it go and continued playing while it hung from the ceiling."
Sting said in his autobiography "The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an overwhelming, deafening wave of sound that simply obliterated analysis. I think I remember snatches of ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Foxy Lady’, but that event remains a blur of noise and breathtaking virtuosity, of Afro’d hair, wild clothes, and towers of Marshall amplifiers. I remember Hendrix creating a hole in the plaster ceiling above the stage with the head of his guitar, and then it was over. I lay in my bed that night with my ears ringing and my worldview significantly altered."
Club A Go Go regular Bill Chesters remembers "I only saw the gig in the Young Set. I didn't look old enough to blag my way into the Jazz Lounge until a good while later when I got to know the doormen. You paid extra for the two venues, they were both open simultaneously, and you got a fluorescent mark on your hand which allowed you into the Jazz Lounge. We used to pay for the Young Set and drop the doorman a couple of bob for him to put the "mark" on! With regards to the actual Hendrix gig, I can't remember much about it other than it wasn't full. I also spotted him using his hand to pluck his guitar strings when he was supposed to be playing it with his teeth!!! And I recall his curly hair being full of plaster dust when he put his guitar through the ceiling! "
Audience member Colin Hart said "I remember Jimi's guitar being stuck in the ceiling at Newcastle. He did continue to run his fingers all over it as it hung there. He left it hanging when he left the stage and it was quickly retrieved before any fans got THE souvenir of a lifetime. The Newcastle gig wasn't totally packed, but it was jammed up the front where I was."
Ron Seymour was also at the show " I seem to remember that Hendrix
played two sets in The Young Set and there was some dispute as to whether he
was going to play in The Jazz Lounge. I wasn’t old enough to get into the
Jazz Lounge and left after the Young Set show so I don’t know what
eventually happened. I had always thought that he played both his sets in
the Young Set and didn’t play in the Jazz Lounge but I could be wrong.
Simon Desai remembers "In the 90s I was lucky enough to get to know Ray Grehan (the manager and co-owner of the Club a Go Go in the 60s) and spent many a Friday night listening to his tales. When Jimi played the club, Ray took him aside after the gig and invited him out for a meal, asking what Jimi's favourite food was. Jimi said how much he liked 'your English fish and chips', so Ray and Jimi ended up sitting on a bench on Tynemouth seafront tucking into fish and chips."
Colin Woodland "I was the guitarist with Kim Davis and the Del 5 and as Ray Grehan was our manager I used to go regularly, on my own, to The GoGo. I was introduced to Jimi and remember him as very polite and very tall. Nice bloke for a legend."
Throughout the sixties, Newcastle’s Club A Go Go was one of the top music
venues in the North East. The Go Go was to Newcastle what the Marquee club
was to London. Many of the top acts of the day played there including the
Cream , Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band , Ike and Tina Turner , John
Mayall's Bluesbreakers (with Eric Clapton) , Wilson Pickett , Pink Floyd ,
John Lee Hooker , Lulu and many more.
The Club A Go Go was situated on the top floor in a building on Percy Street in Newcastle’s Haymarket area, above a canteen used by Newcastle Corporation bus crews. The Handyside Arcade, another well known land mark of the era, was part of the same block. These buildings have long since been demolished and in their place stands the Eldon Garden Shopping Centre.
In an interview on the ITV series ‘Northstars’ (broadcast in 2002), Bryan
Ferry recalled seeing the Junco Partners at the Go Go and playing there with
his own band – the Gas Board. He remembered carrying the band’s gear from
the Young Set across the landing to the Jazz Lounge. Ferry described the
atmosphere at the Go Go as heavily charged and said it was the best club he
had been to. He also remembered that the walls of the Jazz Lounge had a day-glo mural of a New York skyline. In fact, he helped the artist, David
Sweetman with the painting.
In 2007 the Evening Chronicle ran an article about the Club A Go Go and
requested people to write in with their memories. Many readers responded and
here are some examples ....
You can read Sting's full account of seeing Hendrix at the Club A Go Go in an extract from his book here.