1 LedzepMayfair2If you were in a north east band in the mid to late sixties it is likely that that there would be two Newcastle venues on your wish list of places to play – the Club a’Gogo and the Mayfair Ballroom. If you did get a gig at either or both of these places there was a good chance that you would be supporting a well known band . Both the Gogo and the Mayfair regularly booked the top touring or chart bands of the day.

There the similarity ends. The Gogo was a small to medium sized venue, which appeared full when there were just a few hundred people inside. The Mayfair, however, had a capacity of a few thousand and, although lacking the intimate feel of the Gogo, had a great atmosphere on a good night.

Unlike the Club a’Gogo which had a life span of around six years, the Mayfair was a popular venue from the sixties until it finally closed in 1999. It is reputed to have hosted Europe’s largest and longest-running rock club, spanning nearly four decades. Some of the biggest bands in the world played at the venue early in their career, such as Pink Floyd, U2 and Nirvana.

The material on this page is primarily about the Mayfair between 1966 and 1971. If you are interested in the Mayfair Rock Disco of the nineties then click on this link.

2 Mayfair entrance
The entrance to the Mayfair was on the corner of Newgate Street and Low Friar Street (now the site of the Gate Leisure Complex). It had an oblong-shaped ballroom with a large balcony right around the room. There were several bars with seating areas on the balcony plus more bars downstairs in the areas surrounding the large dance floor.

In the sixties and seventies there was a circular revolving stage which enabled bands to set up on each side and follow on from each other without a break in the music. When a really popular band appeared there would often be a wooden barrier in front of the stage to stop over enthusiastic fans getting at their idols.

The revolving stage

The revolving stage

Sneeze at the Mayfair in 1969 behind a fan proof barrier!

Sneeze at the Mayfair in 1969 behind a fan proof barrier!

Pierre Pedersen, the organist with Sneeze, once told me an amusing anecdote about an incident involving his previous band Coloured Rain. It had occurred on 26th September 1968, several months before he joined Sneeze. Coloured Rain had played at the Mayfair on the same bill as Pink Floyd and the Nice (forerunners of Emerson, Lake and Palmer) plus another local band called the Sect. Coloured Rain had drawn the short straw and had to follow on from the Nice. 5 Mayfair Pink FloydThe climax of the Nice’s set was their electrifying instrumental version of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘America’ (from West Side Story). As ‘America’ reached its crescendo with the extremely heavy sound of the Nice reverberating through the Mayfair, Keith Emerson was standing on his Hammond organ, feet on the keys, throwing big knives at his Lesley cabinet. The stage revolved with the last chords of ‘America’ still in the air and with the crowd shouting for more. As the Nice disappeared, Coloured Rain came into view playing a very weak version of the Drifters’ song – “Down at the Club”. The Mayfair floor cleared within seconds and Coloured Rain, in particular, Pierre the Hammond organist, learned the true meaning of the phrase – “a tough act to follow”!

6 Paul K Mayfair

Paul Kossoff appearing with Free at the Mayfair in March 1970 (photo kindly supplied by David Harding)

One of the hazards in playing at the Mayfair was that the balcony overlooked the rear of the stage and was a good place for people to stand and aim abuse or even missiles at the band if they didn’t like them. The Alan Bown Set appeared at the Mayfair in 1970 and during their opening number a glass was thrown onto the stage from the balcony area above. The band promptly left the stage and refused to return.

When I appeared at the Mayfair quite regularly with Sneeze in 1969 and 1970 we used to strap our four PA (open backed) speaker columns to the balcony above the stage. After one gig we discovered that someone had methodically punctured each of the sixteen speakers with a knife. Luckily the cuts were clean and didn’t affect the sound too much.

The Mayfair stage with the balcony at the rear

The Mayfair stage with the balcony at the rear

The Mayfair Ballroom, which was run by the Mecca organisation, had a resident band called Jimmy Bence and his orchestra for formal dance nights. The venue was also hired out for corporate events (with or without the resident band) or to local promoters for a fee. A Newcastle booking agent called Ivan Birchall promoted a lot of gigs in the late sixties. He would book one or two top bands and fill the bill out with a couple of local bands that were on his books.

In 1970 the Sunderland promoter, Geoff Docherty began promoting concerts at the Mayfair in addition to the gigs he had been promoting at the Bay Hotel and Locarno in Sunderland. Geoff’s first promotion at the Mayfair on Thursday 9 April 1970 featured Rory Gallagher’s Taste and Black Sabbath.

8 Mayfairtaste
The first time I played at the Mayfair was with the Jazzboard in April 1966 supporting the Pretty Things. I particularly remember the night because our drummer, Nigel Olsson didn’t turn up. He had been picked up by the police earlier in the evening on a warrant for some trivial matter and they wouldn’t let him go to the gig. We had to persuade the Junco Partner’s drummer, John Woods to fill in for Nigel.

I subsequently played at the Mayfair regularly with three other bands – Village, Sneeze and Scalliwag. I remember one gig at the Mayfair in December 1969 when Sneeze was supporting Love Affair. The Love Affair’s vocalist Steve Ellis surprisingly announced on stage that he was leaving the band. There were lots of tears from the band’s stunned fans.

I suppose there’s one gig at the Mayfair I’ll never forget. That was on the 24th May 1968; the night I first met my wife!

9 mayfairclipsixEddie Martin, the vocalist with popular Newcastle band the Sect remembers that the band used to play every Thursday with two different local bands and usually a top chart band. The bands that Eddie remembers being supported by the Sect were the Troggs, The Move, Humble Pie, T Rex and Dantalions Chariot (which was Zoot Money’s band when he moved away from the soul music).

Sneeze at the Mayfair Ballroom

Sneeze at the Mayfair Ballroom

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Here’s list of some of the gigs at the Mayfair (compiled from various sources) for the period 1966 to 1971: –

1966

25/02/1966 – The Animals
21/04/1966 – Pretty Things & Junco Partners
14/07/1966 – Alan Price & Chris Farlowe
20/07/1966 – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich; The Sect, Pieces of Five
11/08/1966 – The Troggs & Tony Rivers and the Castaways

10 DDBMT
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1967

26/04/1967 – The Tremeloes
27/10/1967 – Small Faces
28/11/1967 – Alan Price Set, Jimmy Powell and the Dimensions & Mr Poobah

11 Mayfair Alan Price 28_11-67
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1968

16/01/1968 – The Troggs
28/02/1968 – Procol Harum
29/03/1968 – Zoot Money’s Dantallions, Mr Poobah & Pleasure Machine
19/07/1968 – Traffic
26/09/1968 – Pink Floyd, The Nice, Sect & Coloured Rain
04/10/1968 – Yardbirds, Junco Partners & Downtown Faction24/10/1969 – Manfred Mann Chapter Three
11/12/1968 – Sect, Junco Partners, Mr Poobah’s Chicago Line & Traction

12 Mayfair 29_3_6813 Mayfair 4_10_6814 Mayfiar 11_12_68

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1969

12/06/1969 – Maramalade, Sneeze & Animal Farm
15/08/1969 – Deep Purple, The Gun, Doc K’s Blues Band, Animal Farm
24/10/1969 – Manfred Mann Chapter Three
20/11/1969 – The Move, Mr Poobah, Pleasure Machine & Sneeze
23/12/1969 – Love Affair, Junco Partners & Sneeze

15 mayfairclip416 Mayfair gun17 mayfairclip318 mayfairclip2

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1970

09/01/1970 – White Trash, The Windmill, The Sect & Sneeze
13/01/1970 – Traction, Good Lovin’ Band & Sneeze
16/01/1970 – Fat Mattress & Man
27/01/1970 – Sect, Junco Partners, Gorilla & Spyda
03/02/1970 – Sect, Mass Action, Blondie & Envelope
14/02/1970 – Spyda, Junction Partners & Sneeze
24/02/1970 – Animal Farm, Morning Glory & Sneeze
27/02/1970 – Crazy World of Arthur Brown
19/03/1970 – Free, Juicy Lucy, Junco Partners & Raw Spirit
08/04/1970 – Sect, Sneeze, Dogg & Juice
09/04/1970 – Taste & Black Sabbath
16/04/1970 – Yes & Graham Bond
30/04/1970 – Edgar Broughton & Terry Reid
07/05/1970 – Tyrannosaurus Rex , The Sect & Dave The Rave
15/05/1970 – Colliseum & Man
22/05/1970 – Radha Krishna Temple & Black Widow
29/05/1970 – Savoy Brown + Juicy Lucy
12/06/1970 – Edgar Broughton + Quintessence
19/06/1970 – Terry Reid & Fat Mattress with Noel Redding
26/06/1970 – Rare Bird & Hard Meat
03/07/1970 – Roy Harper, Pretty Things & Brinsley Schwartz
08/07/1970 – Junco Partners, Gollum, Saratoga & Sneeze
10/07/1970 – Chicken Shack, Mathew’s Southern Comfort & Man
17/07/1970 – If, Lord Sutch and his Heavy Friends
23/07/1970 – Atomic Rooster & Van Der Graaf Generator
31/07/1970 – Deep Purple & Taste
07/08/1970 – Derek and The Dominoes
14/08/1970 – Quintessence, Mott The Hoople & Supertramp
28/08/1970 – Tyrannoraurus Rex
11/09/1970 – Blodwyn Pig
02/10/1970 – Keef Hartley, Strawbs & Pink Fairies
09/10/1970 – Fleetwood Mac
04/11/1970 – Sect, Raw Spirit & Steam Coffin
19/11/1970 – Chicken Shack
26/11/1970 – Curved Air
15/12/1970 – The Who
22/12/1970 – Edgar Broughton Band
30/12/1970 – Lindisfarne

19 mayfairclip121 Mayfair Sect 27_1_7022 Mayfair Sect 3_2_7023 Mayfair Free24 Mayfair 8_4_7025 mayfairclip726 Mayfair Sect 4_11_70

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1971

05/02/1971 – Family & Dada
18/02/1971 – T. Rex
18/03/1971 – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin at the Mayfair on 18th March 1971

Led Zeppelin at the Mayfair on 18th March 1971

26/03/1971 – John Peel introduces Mott The Hoople & Medicine Head
08/04/1971 – Skid Row
30/04/1971 – Quintessence & Stone The Crows
14/05/1971 – Buddy Miles, also Robin Ayers
28/05/1971 – The Faces, featuring Rod Stewart
18/06/1971 – Curved Air
25/06/1971 – Deep Purple & Quiver
03/07/1971 – Procul Harum, Stone The Crows & Chicken Shack
09/07/1971 – Groundhogs
16/07/1971 – Wishbone Ash
23/07/1971 – Coloseum & Osibisa
30/07/1971 – Rory Gallagher & The James Gang
06/08/1971 – Curved Air & Medicine Head
13/08/1971 – Mott The Hoople
20/08/1971 – Quintessence & East of Eden
27/08/1971 – Faces
17/09/1971 – Curved Air
08/10/1971 – Wishbone Ash & Quiver
22/10/1971 – Quintessence & East of Eden
29/10/1971 – Stone The Crows
18/11/1971 – Edgar Broughton Band & Stray
17/12/1971 – Juicy Lucy & Fat Grapple

26 Mayfair Sect 4_11_70

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29 Rory Gallagher

  1. Barry Irwin

    January 23, 2015 •

    Some real blasts from the past there, brilliant, Pieces Of Five, remember Frankie Burke vocalist very well, also my cousin Bob Braidwood, played organ for Spyda, back in 1970ish, was never away from the Mayfair, those days.

  2. Mac

    February 19, 2015 •

    I remember a night run by the students union at the Mayfair in the 60s where they would have on 3 or 4 top groups. My mate and I were upstairs buying hot dogs and I got ours and put plenty of Tomato sauce and Mustard on both and went to move away from the counter when a guy in a light tan suede cowboy jacket backed into me covering his suede tassels in sauce. I wanted to tell him but I chickened. I gave my mate his and told him see that guy look at the back of his jacket just as he turned round and it was `Chris Farlow. He was on stage about ten minutes later and when he turned around to sing to people upstairs from the revolving stage the sauce had spread as a large black arc across his back. I bet he wasn’t too happy when he was told.

  3. Jack

    March 10, 2015 •

    Looking back at who appeared in the 60's and 70's has the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Attended some of the gigs including Rory Gallagher, Ten years after with medicine head, Quintessence and more.

    Bring back the Mayfair

  4. Nev

    June 23, 2015 •

    Fantastically enjoyable reading of some classic moments in time. I wonder if there are any bands that may have been recorded on 'Cine 8' or whatever other formats that there were around at the time for recording? In the early to mid '70's, I saw a band called Dogg, Taylor & Gunn. I wonder if 'the Dogg' was the same one who had previously played The Mayfair in the '60's? What a time it must have been in the development of progressive rock!

  5. Rod Eglin

    June 30, 2015 •

    I remember going there to see AC/DC the night following a fire in the Ballroom. We travelled from West Cumbria to see the show. Very fond memories. Also remember going to see Motor Head and Cheap Trick. I was in Newcastle last week and could not remember where the Mayfair once stood. Standing there, I could not believe it was at the 'Gate'

  6. Lesley

    July 16, 2015 •

    There was a resident band in the Mayfair, Johnny Bence Orchestra. Does anyone know if they kept on playing or split up?

  7. trev jones

    October 20, 2015 •

    The Faces on my 17th birthday 28/5/71 a musical life changer,David Bowie,Rory Gallagher,Groundhogs,Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Frankie Miller,Steve Earle. Diverse bands and magical memories. Catching the milk train home in the early hours from the Central Station to Morpeth then walking with pals the 3 or 4 miles to GuidePost every moment and hangover worthwhile.

  8. Bill Mcgill

    November 1, 2015 •

    I was lucky, along with a friend of mine to get tickets to see Derek and the Dominoes in 1970. I'm glad the promoter, Geoff Dockerty added " featuring Eric Clapton " on the posters otherwise I would not have gone, Eric had asked him not to put his name on the poster but Geoff took a chance and it turned out Eric' just laughed about it. I was lucky to play there a couple of times myself as I played the clubs with a band that went on to become Federation who used Ivan Birchill, the booking agent for the Mayfair at the time. I was sad to hear that the Mayfair was being demolished, suffering the same fate as a lot of the social clubs as music and the culture has gone into decline.

  9. Eddy Ross

    December 27, 2015 •

    9th April 1970
    Black Sabbath were a no show, Ozzie was ill, band replaced by Atomic Rooster

  10. Linda Southern (Fraser )

    December 27, 2015 •

    I remember all these gigs so well and the support band Traction.
    The local bands were brilliant playing The Rex whitley Bay on a regular basis
    I knew a member of the Traction very well and still have fond memories of those halcion moments in time. Thanks for all those brilliant memories.

  11. DEnise Emmerson

    March 26, 2016 •

    I worked at the mayfair And on friday nights i sold Ice Cream cones i once left my stand To watch Rod Stewart also i met David BowiE before he went on stage such happy Memories

  12. Chris bell

    August 12, 2016 •

    I remember buying tickets for the Yardbirds only to find out that only jimmy page remained.i still went and found it poorly attended only a hundred or so people.pages new band did not go down well with most of the audience.the lead singer kept climbing on top of the speakers and screaming.two months later I bought led zeppelin One,

  13. Margy

    November 14, 2016 •

    Does Anyone have a list of bands who played at the mayfair 1972 to 197 for a few years and would love to see a list to remind me of my youth!

  14. skida

    August 23, 2017 •

    I was at the Deep Purple gig in July 1970 (my first ever time) and remember the support act was Daddy Long Legs and not Taste. It was a great night, just as Black Night was hitting the charts. I was 14 and lucky to get in!

  15. simon dodgson

    September 8, 2017 •

    Truly miss place it was the only think that use to get through from Wednesday to the weekend was knowing that in was Mayfair time, my night started at Fat Sam, Dodson Trillian's Farmers Rest Percy Arms.............. then a jog along the road to the Mayfair to get in cheap with my Rock Pass.......... Saw loads of great bands but the one gig that stands out was Little angels supporting Cinderella also saw Friday Night rock show on Radio 1 Live form the Mayfair


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