How South Shields dockers were left bemused by Jimi Hendrix’s antics

Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

Yesterday, Barry Wood was telling us about the time he saw music legend Jimi Hendrix playing at The New Cellar Club, in South Shields, back in 1967.

 Today we hear from him, and Dave Tully, who was also at the gig.

 First Barry tells how romance cost him dearly – when he gave away a treasured memento of the concert.

 “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).

 “Incidentally, 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.”

 It was also mentioned to me by a colleague that in the weeks before the New Cellar Club gig, Hendrix had apparently been seen busking in Shields (Frederick Street) and Newcastle (Chillingham Road, in Heaton). Do you know whether this was true or if it is just an urban myth?  

 Give me a shout if you know.

 Meanwhile, back to the South Shields gig, and a wonderful account of the evening from Dave Tully, of Harton Lane, South Shields.

 “I was interested to read your story in the Gazette last Friday concerning Hendrix playing at the Cellar in 1967 as I was there, and I managed to get his autograph after the set had finished.

 “Although, as you say in your article, there was some technical problems, it did not detract from the set as Hendrix was at his stunning best –and even poked a hole in the ceiling of the revolving stage with the neck of his guitar after inadvertently hitting it the first time and seeing the reaction of the audience to the sound it created.

 “The Cellar was run by Ma Hogg, mother of Stan Henry, of the Baily Organisation, and when the club was moved from its original location, in Beach Road, to Thomas Street, off Fowler Street (which is now the Perfect Smile dental practice) she asked the regulars which groups they would like to see appear at the new club as she didn’t have much of a clue.

 “So we came up with a list of names such as Cream (who opened the Cellar) Hendrix, The Pretty Things, Spooky Tooth etc – and she got most of them booked.

 “I think Hendrix was paid around £70, which was a good price, but by the time they played the gig the group would not have been happy about the fee as Hey Joe was climbing up the charts by then.

 “A friend of mine Bob Overton, who has the Rose and Crown, at Holborn, had managed to keep his ticket and I have framed together the autograph, the ticket and a photo taken at the actual Cellar gig as a memento of a special night.”

 Wonderful times, as Barry Wood agrees.

 “We were indeed blessed to be around at a time pre-dating stadium rock, “ adds Barry.

“ Time when you could actually see the whites of your idols’ eyes while they did their thing, just an arm’s length away from you.

 “Other memorable bands to grace the same stage were Rory Gallagher’s first band, Taste, Roger Chapman’s band, Family, and Jethro Tull’s first incarnation, with Mick Abrahams on guitar.

 “There were also appearances by Soft Machine, Spooky Tooth and Mack and Katy Kissoon, to name just a few that I can remember.

 “Noel Reading even played a return gig a year or so later, with his solo project band Fat Mattress with whom he played his first-choice instrument, guitar (obviously not an option while on stage with Hendrix).”

l Thanks for all your usical memories, keep them coming.