search the friars website
   
 

Your Friars memories

 

Calling all Friars fans - we need your memories and gig reviews, however irreverent - please see contacts section.

Here's a few to get you started.

Mick Card  Shane 'Camel' Carlson  Simon Cheetham  Phil Simmons  Gerald McGarry  Julie Faux  David Hurst  Mary Payne  Ted Scott  Alan Timms  Tim Wakefield  Phil Davies  Peter Dainton Nik Gibson  Nigel Broom  Adrian Chant  Anna McCurdy Mick Lee  Bill Bell Stephen Ives  Gerry Saunders  Rik Moore  Stewart Walker  Helen Doran  Martin Purslow  Peter Donne  Alan Oakley  Gary Price  Joe McCallion  Mike Honour  Chris Gibbons  Penny Powell  Robert Dunbar  Andy Walker  Dave Filby  Steve Coles  David Bird Steve Upstone  Paul Lennon  Andrew Eggleton Malcolm Graham Steve Sherburn Steve Beswick Timothy Toni  Glenda Lake  Susie Vieira David Page  Mick Fagg  Brenda Lane  Carsten Schaefer  Dafydd Powell

Mick Card, former local boy, now in Chester writing in 2007:

I went to see Fish at Hobble on the Cobbles this summer (2007) - first time I've been to an Aylesbury gig since mid eighties. Mega excited, especially when I heard the rumour about the reunion. Can't convey just how tremendous it was to hear Market Square Heroes in the Market Square for the first and probably only time ever. A lot of sad forty year olds cried that day....

It brought back the memories  of seeing Marillion at Friars for the first time. Queueing outside Earth Records to buy their latest twelve inch, going to Friars, probably one of my first gigs, never forget asking my mate who the obnoxious big tall bloke was who'd just pushed past me at the bar  - that's Fish he said. Oh I thought...

Half an hour later, I was transfixed by this onslaught of music, the instruments soft and tuneful being pummelled into the background by this enormous gyrating figure blasting out resonance from every sinew. An hour later, it climaxed with Forgotten Sons - lullful music punctuated by "HALT! who goes there?" "Death...  .. approach friend" as our face painted poet sunk to his knees and pulled the trigger to his mouth....

Also saw the Alarm a couple of times, the Cult, and several years later returned to see Hazel O'Connor - a small quiet gig, intimate and evocative - the hauntingly beautiful Will You sending shivers down your spine.

Looking back, we were so fortunate having Friars on our doorstep. Wish I'd discovered it earlier! I remember a friend going on about it, and seeing the Jam. I never appreciated them at the time, but I bet that was a gig.

Great to hear that Friars isn't forgotten.

Shane 'Camel' Carlson, former local boy, now in Dubai writing in 2008:

The year 1977 was pivotal year in my life. It was the year I met the lady that was to eventually become my wife. It was the year I left school and entered the world at large. It was the year I turned 18 and could "legally" drink aclhohol in public!!! But, in music terms at least, it was a key year too - for it was then that I saw my first live band...

The date was January 27th 1977. The venue - The Civic Centre, Aylesbury. I had been persuaded by fellow friends and sixth formers at Mandeville School (where I attended) to go the Friars and see The George Hatcher Band plus headliners UFO.

Upon entering the Civic Centre, I was immediately captivated by the atmosphere and the anticipation of seeing my first live rock band was tremendously exciting. I boldly located myself at the front - centre stage. As the support band, The George Hatcher Band came on to perform...the first notes rang out...and I was hooked to live music for life! I don't recall much of UFO, but I still have the GHB album of that year and, when feeling nostalgic, will relive that night on occasions even now...

I subsequently went to Friars a few times immediately after that to see John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett, Procol Harem and Motorhead to name but a few.

But it was on 25th August 1977 that I eventually got to see may favourite band (Camel) live for the first time as part of their "Rain Dances" tour. Despite having all the Camel albums to that point I had yet to see them perform live and that night reaffirmed my love of the band and set me on a path of worship which I have maintained to this day! In 1981, it was also due to Friars Aylesbury that I met my heroes for the first time!

The first date I had with, my now, wife was at Friars on 1st October 1977 (the day before my 18th birthday). We had lied about her age so that she could join Friars as a fully fledged club member! The band that night was The Little River Band from Australia who were touring to promote their new album "Diamantina Cocktail".

Two weeks later we went to see Steve Hillage...and my addiction to live music was re-enforced. I had never heard anything like the sounds that emanated from the stage that night...

I even took a leap of faith into the world of Punk at Friars by attending The Jam gig on 26th November. Although this wasn't really my "thing" it was, nonetheless, an amazing night full of raw energy and buckets of spit. My only regret is that I didn't have an umbrella!!

By this time, I was working on the hospital radio station at the world famous Stoke Mandeville Hospital presenting a weekly rock music show and thought it would be great if I could combine my two great musical loves...live music and radio! I was fortunate enough to meet the driving force behind Friars Aylesbury - David Stopps. Over time I became slightly more than just a bloke he met and David was extremely helpful in allowing me access backstage to meet and interview bands for my then rock radio show. I will remain forever in debt to David Stopps for his never ending support and assistance in this regard.

Thanks to David Stopps, I was able to interview Motorhead, Ian Dury, Camel, Ian Gillan, Genesis, The Blues Band, The Specials, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Slade, Marillion, John Martyn to name just a few. All of these interviews gave my show a really different slant as, at the time, band radio interviews were not that common.

S
ome of my all time favourite Friars shows must be...The Police (who can forget camping overnight in Aylesbury Cattle Market?), Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive, King Crimson (simply amazing - Robert Fripp at his best!), Steve Hackett, Genesis...plus too many more to mention!

In those days, I was proud to say that Aylesbury was my home town - as the centre of the rock music universe. Sadly, Friars Aylesbury is no more. Gone is one of (if not the) best music venues in the UK that in turn gave an outstanding platform for many of the bands considered as "legends" today.

I still have my Friars Aylesbury membership card - covered in autographs - and will keep it (I'm sure) until my dying day. Friars Aylesbury was such a huge part of my life back then and indeed nurtured and cultivated  a love of diverse live music which has remained with me all these years.

Oh for a time machine to take me back to those heady days when a fantastic night was guaranteed and new friends could be made through music. I never once witnessed any trouble or aggravation at any Friars event. Generally the people who attended went for the music (well...OK...and maybe a couple of beers too!) - but the atmosphere remained warm, friendly and welcoming.

In my travels around the world I am constantly amazed by the number of people I've met who have either heard of or attended Friars Aylesbury at some point. This is indeed a lasting testimony to David Stopps and the music legacy he left behind. Its uniqueness will, I am sure, never be repeated...
 

Simon Cheetham, Disco Student from Aylesbury, writing in 2007:

My very first memories of Friars Club were the flyers and posters that adorned some message boards at Aylesbury Grammar School.  At the age of thirteen and fourteen I was a rabid pop fan - Marc Bolan and David Bowie being my choice of poison.  However, my only experience of  'live music' was the weekly helping of 'Top Of The Pops'.

The Friars posters intrigued me. Clearly the acts featured were music artists - but they were well beyond my radar.

Fruupp, Stackridge, Camel, Gong - who were these people?

I decided to get to the bottom of this. My first visit to Friars was to see Ronnie Lane at The Borough Assembly Hall in November 1974.  He had played with Rod Stewart on 'Top Of The Pops' - as a 14 year old, I wasn't going to get to see Rod, so Ronnie would have to do. I have to be honest and admit my first reaction to the place was severe disappointment. I had been expecting some kind of brutal, tawdry den of sex and drugs.  A mix of Woodstock and Sodom & Gomorrah. Instead, Friars reminded me of a Sixth Form common room. The place was rammed with Grammar School prefects, daringly -  instead of school blazers they wore loon pants and cravats. Crikey, even my chemistry teacher was on hand to dish out detentions to those who would not dig the Lane.

It was not for me. I did return a couple of times - but Budgie, Blodwyn Pig, Wally and the rest left me cold.

Instead, I discovered The California Ballroom in Dunstable, where instead of tired old hippies in cheese cloth, exciting black American soul acts gave me what I was looking for.

But suddenly, things changed.

The first Friars gig that signalled a new era was The Flamin' Groovies in November 1976. The Groovies were heralded as the first punk band to play at Friars but to me it was the support act, The Vibrators, who really opened my eyes.  For the first time, I could imagine actually being in a group.  No longer did you have to have a double neck guitar,  a beard or a wizzard's cape - although disappointingly,  later The Vibrators were outed as bandwagon jumpers who only weeks previously were covered in denim and churning out 9 minute songs with titles like 'My journey to a Free-Festival' .To be fair, it took another 12 months for Friars to finally rinse away the hippy hangover - but by then I had become a  regular,  and each punk band that appeared confirmed the fact that anyone could, or even should, be in a band.

My group, The Disco Students were actually formed at Friars Club. Drummer Graham Hocking - once of Friars regulars Orthi and The Robins  - and I had the name, the look and some songs - yet no musicians. At the Magazine gig in December 1978 , as we plotted and planned we were approached by a guitarist and a bass player - by the end of the evening, we had a band. The Disco Students were/are a contrary project.  At that time there was an Aylesbury 'scene'  of some substance - yet we saw ourselves as 'outsiders' . We would play all over the country, often with established artists such as The Psychedelic Furs, Generation X and The Poison Girls. Even after having three records released and being regularly played on the John Peel show, we had not played in our home town, let alone Friars.And being the tortured artists we were, that suited us fine. 

Despite us not wooing the local audiences, David Stopps was very supportive - mentioning us in the legendary Friars flyers, and always ready to hear our tales of adventure from far away fields. I recall David phoning me on a couple of occasions offering the DS dates at Friars - yet the timing just didn't feel right. Eventually we were offered a slot on the bill with Pauline Murray and John Cooper-Clarke - and in October 1980 we played at Friars. By then we had released three records which included 8 tracks.  Perverse to the end we played all new material - two songs having been written only the previous week. I couldn't have said it then - for I was far too precious - but playing that gig at Friars was for me, a very proud moment. I imagined the 14 year old me scrutinising those early Friars posters, and I do believe he would have approved.

As a postscript , I met John Cooper-Clarke last year.  I asked him if he remembered playing Friars." I've only been to Aylesbury once" he said  "To play Friars". He then listed the line -up, " Pauline Murray, Me and The Disco Students"." Great little club" he added.

He was right, too.

Phil Simmons, writing in 2008:

Phil has said if anyone who wants to get in touch with him, they can by emailing simmonses@vodafoneemail.co.uk

It’s a bit unfair to characterise Friars as merely the continuation of Aylesbury Grammar School by other means, as Simon Cheetham does (hi, Simon !), but I know what he means. There were a lot of us there. From the moment I started my questionable education at that fine establishment in 1970 I was aware that “You going to Friars on Saturday ?” was one of those questions, like a Freemason’s enquiry about being ‘on the square’, which were designed to establish whether you belonged to a particular self-selected in-group or not. Me, I desperately wanted to be able to say yes.

It took three years for my parents to be convinced, however, by which time David Bowie, Genesis, Roxy Music and Mott the Hoople had come and gone, this period nostalgically assumed by longer-standing Friars members (greybeards of 16,17,18…) to be the zenith of the little club’s aspirations. Interesting, isn’t it, how the Golden Age is always the one you just missed ? Anyhow, I think the first gig I attended was the triple-header by Jack the Lad (half of Lindisfarne, if I remember rightly), Peter Hammill, and the splendidly-named Zox & the Radar Boys (Phil-Collins-from-Genesis’s pre-Brand X jazz-rock fusion outfit.) 

Peter Hammill was the standout of the night. I already knew his startling voice from Van der Graaf Generator records, but these were no preparation for its emotional onslaught in the tiny Borough Assembly Hall.  Alone with a piano (and for a couple of numbers an acoustic guitar) PH transfixed me, that extraordinary sound swooping operatically from bass growl to dogwhistle scream, songs much obsessed with death, depression and loss (hell, I was 14), and a presence more intense than just about any performer I’ve seen since. He must have closed with “In The End” (what else ?), a number from his second solo album, which would then have been newly-released and which I bought immediately – almost certainly from Earth Records.  I’ve been a fan ever since, have seen him and several incarnations of VdGG on numerous occasions, and once even met him at a party, when, shamefully, I was so drunk and awestruck I could think of nothing sensible to say. He was good enough to send me a signed, limited edition copy (No 2) of his book of lyrics and stories, “Killers Angels Refugees”, though.

After that epiphany, I had to keep going back (and frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot else to do in Aylesbury, or for that matter in England, on a Saturday night in those days.)  For a few years there wasn’t really anything as good, though I suspect I may be making this judgement with hindsight. It was the era of Prog Rock’s first mutant flowering, and a number of bands roughly equated with that genre lurch uneasily to mind, including Fruuupp (is that the right number of u’s & p’s ?), a quartet of hairy, rough-arsed Irishmen incongruously intoning paeans to fair ladies, goblins and elves. Also, Gryphon, even hairier, who played wildly incomprehensible epics on a mixture of rock’n’roll and medieval instruments. I lately discovered that with the coming of the Age of Punk they shaved their barnets, shed their shawms and nakers (look it up !), and began calling themselves The Banned. They weren’t very good at that, either.

At some point the focus shifts to the new Civic Centre, an altogether more salubrious venue than the BAH, though I will of course have been subject to Golden Age-ism myself by then. There I recall a storming gig by Ian Hunter (formerly with Mott the Hoople), the late Mick Ronson playing lead guitar in his band; also, a gang of psychedelic country-rock misfits called Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen, who charmed a baffled audience with a strange cocktail of bluegrass, Tex-Mex, blues, rockabilly, and for all I know the soft-shoe shuffle as well. I saw Queen when they were on the verge of breaking through, although I have to confess I thought they sounded very ordinary, an opinion I’ve never really had cause to change despite Freddie’s undoubted charisma and chutzpah.  Captain Beefheart told me and Mick Rowlinson to fuck off, largely because we had the temerity to point out that one of his PA stacks was feeding back.  I walked out of a Can gig after twenty minutes because (a) it was so damned hot, and (b) you couldn’t breathe without choking on someone else’s smoke – cigarette and otherwise – or, worse, patchouli oil.

Then there was Punk. I still remember in minute detail the buildup to the Ramones’ first appearance at Friars, and the manic energy and sense of release they brought to a sweaty, leaping crowd (before the term ‘moshpit’ was ever coined), which I suspect converted a lot of sceptics to what was then lazily and hubristically being termed the ‘New Wave’. Talking Heads were pretty good too – as support ! 

Like they used to say about the 60s, maaan, if you remember them you weren’t really there, and my late 70s were the same sort of thing. I moved away from Aylesbury in late ’77, but would coincide returns for family visits with particularly attractive Friars nights.  There was a fabulous gig by The Clash – then, as now, my favourite band ever – at around the time of their “Give Em Enough Rope” album, which set the gold standard for live rocknroll, Strummer passion, Jones energy, Simonon cool, etc etc.

The Flamin’ Groovies played the day after my 19th birthday, and I plainly enjoyed myself so much my mother found me asleep the following morning stark naked on her living-room floor. ..   After a Magazine gig some drunk casuals tried to give me a kicking in the Market Square, till my girlfriend saw them off with her shoe. Me, I was laughing so much I didn’t feel a thing.  Ahhh, happy days.

Checking my chronology against this site’s flyers gallery I hit upon a mystery. I’m  certain  U2 played as support to Rory Gallagher in 1980, because I knew them at the time through a college friend and was, yes, On The Guest List. The only RG gig listed shows someone called ‘Rage’ as support, so I’m assuming Bono & da Boiz (and they were just boys then) were a last-minute addition or replacement. Whatever, after their set I took Bono – or, er, ‘Paul’ as he was known then – to the Green Man for a drink. He had lager & lime. My kid brother, who was with us, has dined out on this story ever since.

(webmaster - yes, U2 did play this gig)

The last Friars event I attended was The Clash at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, efficient enough as music but somehow lacking the soul and directness of their earlier live performances. After that, I spent most of the next three years abroad, and when I returned, Friars was no more.

As for Friars people, I last saw Robin Pike (who was also my Tutor at school) in 1986 in, I think, the Saracen’s Head. I saw Kris Needs in the late 90s in the Millwright’s, tho’ he’d gone by the time I realised who he was (hope your leg’s better, Kris.) I haven’t seen Dave Stopps for longer than I care to remember.

Going back over this ground has made me realise there are loads more Friars-related folk I’ve not seen for decades. Where are you, Colin, Stewart, Cheryl, Maggie, Sonya ? Or indeed anyone else who remembers, however hazily.

Gerald McGarry, Friars fan from the Bedford days, writing in 2008:

Great to see news of the best music club ever, I never got to visit Aylesbury itself but joined Friars when it opened at the Addison Centre in Kempston near Bedford round about 69/70. I think it lasted there about 2 years.

What great nights, Free with Paul Kossoff the whole place rocked, Mott The Hopple, superb band, Genesis, Gabriel knocking hell out of a bass drum, he even turned up for one gig with a broken leg, Van der Graaf Generator-what were they about couldn't make them out but still enjoyed the vibes, so many bands even for such a short time there.

PS I also remember stacking up the chairs and sweeping the floor at the end of the night, not bad for a long haired degenerate!

Julie Faux, Friars fan, former local lady, now of Bicester, writing in 2008:

Ah I found your website via a work colleague, after discussing where we were brought up and realising in our youth we both went to Friars.....well much laughing and reminiscing and visits down memory lane obviously Friars obviously left a huge impression on us both, the atmosphere the amazing bands and the freedom typical of the 70's! Discussing the bands we had seen, boys we had met and loved and the general great feel of the 70's top bands for me Ronnie Wood, Andy Fairweather Low, Cockney Rebel, Blondie, Boomtown Rats, Dr Feelgood, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Sailor....obviously far too many great nights to mention. In fact I never remember having a bad night at Friars.  I started going at about 14 ((1973), I know the age was actually 16) and probably saw my last gig at about 18 so I definitely feel I had the golden years except I didn't get to see Mott or Bowie (what a tragedy).  I went to my first and only gig in the Borough Assembly Hall then it moved to the Civic Centre although slightly lacking in the same atmosphere the crowd made up for that definitely.  It was amazing that Dave Stopps managed to get so many fantastic bands to that small (much bigger now) market town, and how blessed we were to live in Aylesbury and have that on our doorstep.  Saw John Otway many times, often in the Derby Arms in the Churchyard, believe its now a house.  Dark Lantern where everyone met up before Friars was a must and the excitement of that Saturday night used to start pretty early in the week.  Thought I'd share my feelings of the good old days of the 70's. Interesting to see Kris Needs name on the website definitely a blast from the past

David Hurst, Friars fan, now in Devon and freelance health writer writing in 2008:

The website is brilliant! Been looking for something like it for years. Well done to all involved and thank you!

Must say I only just knew Friars for the last few years. Back then in about 1980 I was amazed to hear that one of our teachers was involved (I was a Grammar boy, that teacher the school nicknamed Mervin for some reason and I'm sure Mr Pike will know of the nickname and the reason!) with this cool music club. I went to my first gig there aged 14/15: Killing Joke – still my favourite band after all these years, get them back! Supported by UK Decay, and what a first gig! What I know is that it was a defining moment in my life. When KJ came on stage I wondered why everyone was spraying their cans of beer at them. Can't remember if you could buy cans in there, but I know some sneaked them in. I was stood a bit to the left side of the stage (as facing it) to start with and it was only after a minute I realised it was gob! I seemed to remember KJ went off stage for a while as it got too much. Thing is, singer and then keyboardist too, Jaz, used to come to the front of the stage and do this "come and have a go" sort of provocative thing with his hands and face (saw them in 2005 and he still does!) and the punks took that as a pogo and gob more moment. By the time most of the gob reached the stage Jaz was back from the front and behind his keyboard. So guitarists Geordie and Youth (think so, might have been the late big Paul) got most of it. Punx, eh?! It was a weird realisation I had then, that in life everything is not as it seemed.

Also saw The Beat there, remember it for a kick-off with the Bedford Skins during a song; Altered Images (yes, I had a crush too…): Gary Glitter (great gig, but now oh dear) and a few others. Got some ticket stubs somewhere. One thing I think made Friars so great was that closeness to the stage. If you didn't mind get your stomach and chest crushed you could actually rest your arms on it if I recall. Also remember during the mad pogoing sessions that if you fell over, as often happened, a sea of arms from vicious looking punks and some skins would reach out to haul you back up as quickly as possible. Every time I went to Friars I came out with my clothes completely soaked in sweat. Recall the puff of steam in the air when the gigs ended and everyone came outside. Would love to see some pics, hundreds of them, on the website. One scene I've been looking for for ages is that of the market square packed with punks before some of the gigs – a sea of studded leather jackets and multi-colours of spiked hair and mohicans. Only pics I've seen from those days are on the UK Decay website, I think posted by (as I remember) Bonzi, who was to my young mind Aylesbury "top" punk. Also remember Steve Denton from Risboro' where I lived, Robin from there too, and Dez from Aylesbury.

Went to loads of gigs there in the end and have to admit got let in a fair few of them round the back as they had some Grammar sixth-formers keeping an eye on those doors. My brother Mark's three years older than me and went to most of the classic Friars gigs from the punk/new wave era including The Clash, the Jam and Pretenders. He summed it up for me when he said: "We just didn't know just how brilliant and legendary it was at the time. Long live Friars! And Hanx again!

Mary Payne, director of Radio London writing in 2008:

Many congratulations on the launch of the Friars site. I know very well how much work goes into running a website, as ours is nine years old this month and we have somehow managed to produce over 1500 pages. It was supposed to be a hobby! There are only my husband Chris and me running it - often it's just me - and sometimes we doubt our sanity!

Chris and I didn't move to Aylesbury till 1978; before that, we lived in Wycombe. Our friends Jenny and Pete already lived in the town and were huge music fans. We first came to Friars on their recommendation, to see Otway and Barrett, and have been fans ever since. In fact we (and Jenny) are part of Otway's 'choir' on the second hit. 

David Stopps was a member of the Knees Club, something I ran during 1966, when I was still at school. (It's easiest to go to our site and read about the Knees Club, rather than me attempting to explain it.) Every so often I see David around the town and stop for a chat. We're both vegetarians, so I sometimes get asked for cookery tips! 

In the late Seventies, I worked with Sue Greenwood (I can't recall her maiden name) at Image Arts of England, the greetings card company. Sue was one of the design artists and I was the versewriter. She was a great friend of David Stopps and a regular at Friars.

(NB - Sue Greenwood was Sue Wyatt and her letter to the Bucks Herald questioning why Friars got shut down in 1970 is on the main Phase One page - Ed)

Friars was such a great club and you never saw any aggressive behaviour. I recall having to queue in my lunch hour for tickets for The Police and that the demand was so great that the number allowed per person was restricted. It was a great gig, although the main thing I remember about it was Sting being exceptionally foul-mouthed!

Must go now, but I wish you every success with the site. It's already plugged on our current 'Happenings' page, so next week I'll rewrite it to let people know that you've gone live http://www.radiolondon.co.uk

Ted Scott, Friars fan writing in 2008

I have some wonderful memories of attending gigs at the Addison Centre in Kempston along with other ‘heads’ of my acquaintance. I strongly remember seeing one gig, and my memory is very poor, early onset of dementia, where the light show was tremendous all oil wheels and psychedelic lighting. Remember the highlights being East of Eden who then sold out and charted with ‘Jig a Jig’.

We were pretty unforgiving in those days towards bands who sold out!!! Halcyon Days. The reason for writing is, I do remember seeing the very wonderful Ten Years After with Alvin Lee electrifying on lead guitar. I’m certain though that the support that night were ‘Wishbone Ash’. The gig was at the Dunstable Civic Hall. I remember the place being ‘packed to the rafters’.

Thanks for some wonderful memories. Keep up the good work.

Alan Timms, Friars fan writing in 2008

I just found this website from Facebook. I have lived in Australia for the last 17 years - but my formative years (also some of the best times of my life) were spent in Aylesbury ... or more particular at Friars most Saturday nights from about 1973 onwards.

I saw Bowie at Oxford New Theatre in 72 (I think) which awakened me to Rock music ... blew my mind actually! But I think the real catalyst was seeing the New York Dolls on the Old Grey Whistle Test in November 73 ... that changed my life forever! It was the most exciting thing I had ever seen! I decided that rock'n'roll was the life I wanted to live! I discovered Friars Club in my home town Aylesbury ... it was the highlight of my youth! So many exciting bands and amazing nights!

Sitting on the floor for Tangerine Dream, dancing my arse off to the Flamin' Groovies, UFO, Widowmaker, Motorhead, Queen, Tom Petty, Ramones, Iggy & Bowie, Mick Ronson & Ian Hunter, Mott, etc ... but it really took off for me the night the Stranglers came to town. It was (I believe) the first real punk gig at Friars, all the London punks (mostly all the bands at the time) were there to see The Stranglers ... it was incredible! The next 18 months ('76 & '77) were the best and most exciting of my life! Dave Stopps brought most of the punk/new wave acts to Friars - Blondie, Clash, Damned, Sham 69, Ramones etc.

I used to hang out with Kris Needs, Colin Keinch, Brick and the Surguy brothers in the Green Man pub (we also used to go to gigs around the home counties) my old car always broke down on road trips. Had some wicked nights in London with Kris too (I drove, he got me into the gigs and after parties back stage). Another bit of useless information is that Budget was also my Mum's bridesmaid

It is only when you look back years later that you realise how lucky we were having Friars in Aylesbury! I live in Adelaide now a much bigger city ... but there is nothing  club-wise that even comes close to what we had back in the '70's in Adelaide! Just looking back at the list of artists that played Friars ... Dave Stopps was a true visionary ... respect Dave!

Tim Whitfield, Friars fan, now in the US, writing in 2008

I first knew Dave in 1964 when we started at High Wycombe College of Technology and Art (as it was then) and worked a couple of summers together at Molins in Saunderton and New Holland in Aylesbury.  We kept in touch and I attended a number of shows at Friars - Edgar Broughton, Free, Van de Graaf Generator, Principal Edwards, Atomic Rooster etc.  I remember helping Vincent Crane load his van one night.  

I live in the States now but this has triggered some good memories

Phil Davies, Friars fan, writing in 2008

I've just discovered the fab Friars website having read about it in this month's edition of Mojo magazine (December 2008)
It brought boundless memories flooding back of some of the best live music I have ever experienced in what had to be the best and most friendly of venues - even when it moved to the Civic Centre.
Dave Stopps was a true enthusiast who's tremendous work in attracting massive names to a relatively small venue while taking huge gamble in giving a stage to many at the time unknown acts has largely gone unrecognized.
I was a trainee news reporter on the Thame Gazette - sister paper to the Bucks Advertiser at the time - in the late 70s when Friars was at its prime and Dave generously got me on the guest list to write reviews of bands appearing at Friars.
There are a number of gigs I will never forget such as Dire Straits supporting Talking Heads, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, dodging the gob at the Ramones, and The Clash.
Friars became a Saturday institution for me and many others will live on as an unforgettable opportunity to get up close and personal with my musical heros of the time.
Well done on keeping the legacy alive!

Pete Dainton, Friars fan, writing in 2008

Wow-what a website-its bought back many happy memories. I'v still got my membership card-dated19/01/80-number 39713. Going through gig listings-i think that Toyah played more than once at Friars:-but i might be wrong. I remember seeing A Flock of Seagulls and they were sooooo loud. I have to look my programmes out-always put flyers and ticket stubb inside. A few years ago-there was a cafe in Winslow that had all flyers stuck all over the windows-place is now closed.

Keep up the good work.

     Nik Gibson, Friars fan, London, writing in 2009

I have a lot of very good memories of Friars Aylesbury and often comes up in my thoughts…

My first visit to Friars was to see the Groundhogs at the BAH, I think it was in 1975 – but I am not sure of that…. Though I became a regular visitor until late 1977 when I was force to move against my will.

I saw so many bands I cannot remember how many I got to see including the memorable UFO gig. I remember at the end of the year a questionnaire was handed out to the audience goers, many questions were on the form but one question stuck in my mind – Who would you like to see back next year – the result was virtually unanimous…. UFO.

I was there when the Civic Centre opened and Friars moved there.

Tangerine Dream (who I saw again last year at the Forum, London) still is firmly in my memory as a wonderful evening. Other acts I recall were the likes of Motorhead, Uriah Heep, Camel, Roy Harper, and a whole host of others…

I was there the night Sonja Kristina had her famous G string plucked by her adoring fans (including me) and I recently met her only a couple of weeks ago where I apologised for my misbehaviour (slap my wrist with a limp lettuce leaf). Friars also gave me the opportunity to meet many of the rock stars who attended Friars as performers after the gigs.

The last performers I got to see at Friars were The British Lions – the remnants of Mott the Hoople and Medicine Head, a gig which was sold long before I got there but had been invited to by band to see them, much to the annoyance of Dave Stopps – hehehe! Somewhere in Plymouth there is a box containing all the flyers and the Roxette magazines (including the famous Photo) from when I started to go Friars until the time I left. Included in that collection are a lot of the posters but sadly not a full collection.

One other memory I have related to Friars was at the Reading festival in 1976 when I managed to persuade my sister to embroider a folded sheet with the word Friars written on it, many bands who came on the stage were pointing out the flag amongst the hundreds of other flags in the audience, but sadly on the Sunday night the flag was stolen, which was a bit annoying…

Well there you have it – part of my Friars experiences

And some new stuff from Nik including this great picture.

It is the flag that my sister spent hours on making proudly being exhibited by myself and a friend, Pat.

With all the flags that were flying out there it was really the only one that a lot of the bands on the stage acknowledged.

That's me on the left! The only thing I would like to add is if anyone still has it can I have it back!
 

 

     Nigel Broom, Friars fan, writing in 2009

I just found out about the 40th anniversary gig by chance on the Rough Trade home page. For me the best days were all the punk/new wave gigs and playing cricket all night in the cattle market on a Saturday waiting for the Police tickets to go on sale on the Sunday for the low key world tour warm up gig. We were all issued with  raffle tickets that were our place in the queue so we didn't have to stay in a line all night.

I used to live in Thame but am now in Suffolk and can't make the gig on the 1st June as I'm up at 4.00 am for work.

It's a pity Dave Stopps went off to manage Howard Jones instead of keeping Friars going

(Webmaster's note......that's NOT why Friars closed!!)

I would like to see Stiff Little Fingers/ Buzzcocks and of course John Otway.

Another memory is Bowie playing  keyboards for Iggy Pop and no one knew until he took the sombrero off at the end.

Cheers for now

Adrian Chant, Friars fan, writing in 2009

As I was idly looking through the Oxford Times weekend section this morning I did a double take on that once very familiar FRIARS typeface and couldn't believe I was reading an ad for a Friars Aylesbury gig after all this time!!  Which of course led me to the website which I've spent the last very enjoyable hour having my memory rekindled of great times in the 70s.  I remember some while back searching for anything on the web about Friars - nothing - and now you have this tremendous website; a real achievement. The years of Friars gigs from 1971 - 73 were so formative in expanding out of all reason my love of music of that time and I feel privileged to have seen so many great bands in what was then for me a new world of live music in the wonderful Friars atmosphere. I'm sure my hearing still bears the scars of a particular Mott the Hoople gig!! 

     Anna McCurdy, Friars fan, now in the US, writing in 2009

I have so many memories of Friars – all of them good.I now live in the States and am a good deal older (hopefully wiser!) but I remember each and every concert I attended.Sadly, as I am so out of touch, I never knew Friars had stopped (for 25 years!).  Good for Mr. Stopps that is back on the map.

You guys ROCK and always will.  THANK YOU for making my formative years that much better!!

     Mick Lee, Friars fan, writing in 2009

I first got the Friars 'bug' in the late 60's and soon had a job on the doors. "Any trouble you can't deal with, then call Timmy and he'll come and sort it out" was the instruction from Dave Stopps.... there was very little because the club was so well run.

My lasting memories are many and varied, including fantastic gigs with the likes of String Driven Thing Free Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel to name but a few (then finishing the evenings off having a beer with most bands upstairs once all the doors were locked. 

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single minute of every gig I had the pleasure to be at, both in Aylesbury and in Dunstable. Some still stood out though, David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars & Genesis, both of which were not just gigs but pure theatre.

I remember discussing upcoming gigs in 'Earth Records' and discovering that Dave had booked a band with multiple violinists in it's line-up. I should have known better than to question Dave's sanity (...'this is a rock club, not the bloody Albert Hall'....) I thought. But he knew what he was doing and what jig-a-jigging we did that night to East of Eden. I never questioned Dave's judgement anymore, just enjoyed every surprise he served up.

I am working close to Aylesbury until 7.30pm on June 1st but have got my ticket and will join you all asap to wind back the years.

Looking forward to hopefully renewing some acquaintances.

     Bill Bell, Friars fan, writing in 2009

Great web site – really enjoyed going through the phases and history.  I was a member from around 1978-81, used to have a job setting up the stage and pushing back the seating etc + stewarding on the nights.  I think that the first ever gig I went to was probably Kevin Ayres or Curved Air – but not sure. But also remember U2, the Police, Ian Dury, Ramones etc.  I knew Robin Pike from the Grammar school and Friars and Pete Frame from the local scene (too many bands to remember!). 

Spotted the anniversary gig and have got tickets.

     Stephen Ives, Friars fan, writing in 2009

Yahoooooo !!!! I have just found this site via Jonathan Kelly's web site.  I saw him perform with David Bowie many years ago at Friars. (I think). You'll have to excuse me, as the old memory cells aren't what they used to be, as I'm the wrong side of 55 now.I think my friend and I were among the first members of the Friars Club.  My membership number was around 120.  I can't remember who the first band I saw was, but I have seen a fair few there. Groundhogs, Edgar Broughton, Pretty Things, Ten Years After, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, also Genesis at Princes Risborough British Legion Hall (My home town).  And the list could go on, if I could remember them.I will say that one of the best acts I saw was Jonathan Kelly, I could not fault the man.  He is brilliant.I'm not sure if Friars brought the German band, Amun Duul to Aylesbury (yes, they did - Ed), but they were a huge disappointment for me.  Loud yes, distorted sound definitely.  Me and my mates left after half an hour.Friars was/is a great place to hear great music, and it was a huge breath of fresh air to be in great company to hear the great music and have a 'leap'.I have only just had a quick browse through the site, and I'm looking forward to scouring it.

My deepest thanks to all concerned for this site, and may it grow and prosper.  And thanks for stirring the old grey matter, by God it needs it.

     Gerry Saunders , Friars fan, writing in 2009

I was there on the first night - At the end Mike Cooper was asked to nominate a ticket number for a signed album of his. He first said 100 (no answer from those present ) so he then said 50 - wow that was me. Typically I later lent the Album to a mate at Wycombe College and never saw it again.

Other memories - to many gigs to mention - Gypsy were the loudest - more than 50 stacks - I couldn't tell if my A35 had started ( as I lived in Wycombe then). Favourites were Groundhogs and Free and who could forget every signpost being splattered with "Out-Demons-Out" ( I have the plastic single still).

One other thing for Dave Stopps - Does he recall organising Procol Harem at the Wycombe music festival? My Dad at the time was on the Arts Festival committee - he asked if I had any contacts for the more modern stuff. Dave came up to my house in Booker  to meet with my dad and the rest is history - Alexis Korner in the front row watching.

I shall see you all at the Maxwell on June 1st -  can't wait- 'Garden' is a must for the Groundhogs

      Rik Moore , Friars fan, writing in 2008

Two quite vivid memories to share which often run through my mind;

1. A Toyah soundcheck, I can't recall the date but it must have been in 1981 I think, anyway we had helped the roadies build a sort of scaffold tower at the back of stage centre for her to appear on at some point, but during the rehearsal she climbed up and promptly slipped off and fell to the stage floor! I think she was carted off to Stoke Mandeville hospital for a check-up - can't be sure. Anyway, total credit to her as thegig went on that nite with her bruised and bashed - and she was superb.

2. The Clash gig at Stoke Mandeville sports hall. A strange venue. About 2pm whilst having finished building up the stage/sound system with the Clash people, Dave Stopps asked me if I had a car. Well at the time I had a massive 12 yr old green volvo (nice!) and so I was promptly given the job oftaking Strummer and Co down to Market Square for a few drinks and a couple of hours in Aylesbury prior to the gig that evening. Its still my claimto fame!
 

     Stewart Walker , Friars fan, writing in 2009

I went to my first gig there on April 17th 1971 - a very fresh faced 14 year-old. No idea how we got in as the age limit was 18. I remember sitting on the steps to the door which were at the end of a passage way running from the Market Square. My first band were The Groundhogs, I clearly recall a group fans, also sitting on the steps, singing “Cherry Red” in high-pitched voices just like Tony McPhee. I recently saw the Groundhogs at Shepherds Bush; my memories have fared better than the band I’m afraid to say. We were very lucky to go that night and from that moment on live music has played a huge part in my life. The Friars experience was fantastic; of our friends it was only me and Darcy that went, no-one else we knew did; it was our place and we just loved it. It was hugely important to us.
 
We saw; some great bands, some many will never heard of and some that will have been forgotten. Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Bowie. My favourite – Genesis of course but I also remember the crazy World of Arthur Brown and this huge rubber brain creeping across the floor to the stage! It blew our minds! Hawkwind with Stacia dancing – wow! David Bowie and particularly the guitar of Mick Ronson. Quintessence – fantastic! So many memories.

     Helen Doran , Friars fan, writing in 2009

My first memories of Friars was watching Motorhead, the whole place was alive and buzzing with excitement and I wanted more! All my spare time was taken up with babysitting and doing a paper round just so I could rush down to Earth records (which became Oven Ready Records if my memory is correct) to buy a ticket, didn’t matter who was playing, it was about the music/atmosphere. Two of my uncles use to travel from London most Saturdays and the occasional weekday just to visit Friars. Another friend who was stationed at RAF Halton used to walk to Aylesbury to attend a gig then walk back again. Such was the appeal of Friars you just had to be there.

Another thing which made Friars so cool was you got to meet the groups, either at the bar or they would stay behind after a gig to meet the fans and sign their posters or membership cards. I remember having a drink at the bar with Stuart Neale from Kajagoogoo, John Otway asking me out for a drink and Fish throwing me over his shoulder because I was drinking his pint, everyone was friends. My best memory was seeing U2, I didn’t have a ticket but I knew a guy who was on the door of Civic and he let me in. I saw U2 live and met Bono all it cost me was my bag of chips. Who can forget queuing in the cattle market just to get a ticket for the Police…happy days.

To this date I’ve never found a music venue which can match Friars, Friars was Friars….unique.

      Martin Purslow , Friars fan, writing in 2009

My favourite gig(s) was Iggy and the Stooges with David Bowie - just got within 5 feet of the great man and Iggy's version of Raw Power blew me away..what a gig - with the Vibrators supporting too! Then there was the Ramones first gig- wild down the front  - i use to have a poster of the crowd with me somewhere in the throng. Blondie - who could ever forget her singing In the flesh - still gives me goosebumps even now - The Stranglers in 76 - my second taste of punk (never looked back) - down in the sewer....

The Jam - wasn't there a Matinee in the afternoon for the kids?..what an inspired idea...So many gigs - such a variety

Christmas parties were the most fun - Sassafras/ The Enid to name a couple - i'll never forget the conger for the Enid through both bars and back...Otway - so many times - Legend

Jack the lad supported by Split Enz - excellent UFO - got back stage - my ears hurt for that one - as they did for Motorhead/Hawkwind!!

      Peter Donne , Friars fan, and now head of Rough Trade, writing in 2009

The first Friars gig I went to was Blodwyn Pig in August 1974, just turned 15, but looking all of 12 years old, I have no idea how I got in... I don't recall watching the band at all and this was often the pattern. You had to be there every week, whether you liked the band(s) playing or not. It was THE place to be and so it remained for me for another 3 or 4 years until I went to college in London in 1977. Even then, I would invariably return most weekends to attend, irrespective of who was playing.

I lasted a year at the LSE and then, while working in Aylesbury during the summer holidays of 1978, was informally "offered" the job of manager at Earth Records by the then incumbent, Stephen Atkins (who was moving on to the glamorous world of being an EMI sales rep.). Of course I had to be interviewed and met David and duly got the job, which also included managing the junior security (Grammar School boys) at Friars gigs and cleaning the silkscreens that had been used to print Budget's iconic Friars posters the week before (a horrible job!).

I worked for David throughout most of that year, until I left to work for Rough Trade in, I think May 1979 (where I've been ever since). 

Those 8 or 9 months were some of the most important and enjoyable times of my life. Of course it was a hugely exciting time for the music world, as the punk revolution of the preceding years took full effect.  Friars was once again at the forefront, putting on the cream of the New Wave and Post Punk artists and also promoting some great Reggae gigs in the following few years - Steel Pulse, an amazing couple of Dennis Brown gigs, Toots, Gregory Isaacs... Most importantly championing many of the local groups that burgeoned as a result of the DIY ethic that had become the zeitgeist.

During this time, I particularly remember the Sham 69 gig of January 1979, a very tense affair because of their, or rather their fans, reputation. It was made all the more exciting because it was to be filmed for LWT (weirdly my uncle was also producing the programme!). 

In the end it all went off very calmly and once again Friars' peaceful (did someone say hippy?) ideals paid off in spades. But how many great gigs in those months? The Clash (plus The Slits), SLF,  The Lurkers, 999, Motorhead, The Buzzcocks....The Enid?

I can also vividly remember the excitement of receiving the first shipments of Rough Trade distributed records  at Earth, during my tenure there. The Gang of Four and Human League singles on Fast Records, sometimes a few precious Jamaican 7" Pre's and of course the first Stiff Little Fingers album. Parcels arrived at Aylesbury Station via Red Star, where I had to pick the packages up on the way home on a Friday night and then remember coming in to work on Saturday morning with the eager cognescenti waiting at the door for me to open up, invariably a bit late after a heavy Friday night in the Wellhead in Wendover.

I also remember being lent a white label of the first PIL album by a friend who worked at CBS and rather injudiciously (sorry Pete) playing (or lending) it to Kris Needs in the shop one Saturday. As a result he reviewed it for Zig Zag and I think achieved a world scoop! My mate didn't like Kris much and I don't recall how I covered my tracks with him.

I continued to be a regular at Friars after leaving  to work at Rough Trade, despite being spoiled for choice for great gigs in London. I rarely missed a weekend for another 2 or 3 years. Friars remained unsurpassed as a venue to see any band playing and continued to put on the cream of the crop. Who, that attended, will ever forget The Clash gig at Stoke Mandeville? I think my last great memory was The Kinks concert in December 1982, a rare Friday gig, then driving back to West London early on the Saturday morning, to work at Rough Trade, horribly hung-over and with a 6 month old child!

God, it was so exciting to be a part of all this. I was 20 years old and the world stretched in front of me and Friars and Earth Records and all the people associated were a huge part of what started a lifetime involved in music. I cannot thank them enough for that.

Throughout the 10 or so years I attended concerts at Friars there were so many great gigs (and great memories), it's hard to write something brief that isn't just a list. As well as the highlights mentioned above, I have to mention The Jam, who's series of concerts in between 77 and 80 were legendary and I didn't miss one! For me perhaps the most important, were the three Ronnie Lane gigs of the mid 70's. In particular the two at the BAH. They were highly enjoyable at the time of course, but  in retrospect I think these gigs were more influential to me musically than almost any others at Friars or anywhere else for that matter. RIP Plonk!

When you look at all the people from the Aylesbury area who have gone on to work in the British and indeed world music industry, I don't think you can exaggerate the importance of what David and his team created in those brief 15 years (was that all it was?). Even people who were too young to go to Friars, have been and continue to be influenced by it's heritage and legacy.

Happy Birthday.

      Alan Oakley, Friars fan, and now in Sydney, Australia, writing in 2009

Just discovered the site and some great memories came flooding back.

I was a young, very raw journalist writing for the Leighton Buzzard Observer back in the early 70s. One of the great joys was the weekly call to Friars to preview what was coming up – always amazing – you never knew who/what Friars would discover next. You had to turn up just in case you missed the next big thing.

At the risk of embarrassment, I’ll have to dig out some of my reviews (if I can find them). I know they would have included Cockney Rebel, Be Bop Deluxe, Can, Gong, Sutherland Bros.

I’m now a journalist living in Sydney. Best of luck with the site. A great initiative. I loved the place.

     Gary Price, Friars fan,  writing in 2009

Great website.

My mate was at the Mott the Hoople School party (December 1969). I still remember the Hunter Ronson gig as one of the best ones (around 2000-3000) I've been to. Yeah. The people and vision MADE IT happen. Proud to have been part of it.

   Joe McCallion, Friars fan, writing in 2009:

Would be great to return to see the groups as I worked front door and side stage and backstage. I remember refusing to let The Police drummer in because he did not have his backstage pass! We let him in in the end because Dave Stopps came looking for him I didn't know who he (Stewart Copeland) was, but they thanked us afterwards said it was the best security they ever had.

Mike Honour, Friars fan, writing in 2009:

Goodness me...just came across the site...I was born in Aylesbury. I was there at the very beginning...Earth Records, Dark Lantern, Dave Stopps, Nicky Menday and much much more......left the area in 1972 and never came back.

One of my great memories was the first time Focus played...sooooo loud for those days....and also the twirling poncho of Caleb Quale from Hookfoot and David Bowie......ah well.....

Chris Gibbons, Friars fan, now in Bermuda, writing in 2009:

I'll be honest, I nearly cried with joy when I stumbled upon the Friars website this week. Like so many other people, Friars was a huge part of my teenage years and early 20s and it has been wonderful to read through the site - it brought back so many happy memories. 

I can't remember exactly when I started to go to Friars but I'm guessing it would have been late 72 as I certainly recall seeing Focus, Stackridge and Brinsley Schwartz early on. From then on I was a Friars regular and my bedroom wall was plastered with Budget's posters. A gang of us mainly Challoner's boys and girls used to catch the British Rail train up from Amersham on a Saturday night, hip-sized bottles of vodka secreted about the body (or in the folds of my RAF greatcoat on a winter's night!). I distinctly remember gathering in the Lantern or the Grapes (I think?) and then the bizz of excitement as you'd queue up in the alleyway into the Borough Assembly Hall. Some of the Chesham/Amersham Friars crowd then, all dolled up in their Wembley market best, would have been:  Paul Hook, Russell Crockett, Teeth Burrell, Steve Stonhill, Gary Newton, Mark Goddard, Tony Curran, Debbie Saunders, Susan Rivett, Gill Ross, Jenny Neame, Teresa Seale and loads more lost to advancing years.

Friars was my first experience of real live music and the list of great gigs and bands is endless - Sailor of course, the legendary John Otway and Wild Willy, Sutherland Brothers, Queen, Hunter Ronson Band, Ronnie Lane, Mott, Andy Fairweather Low, Jam, Clash and, my all-time favourite, Cockney Rebel's first appearance in January 1974. They were virtually unknown then and I remember a week or so before the gig Steve Harley had mouthed off about how bands like them were going to give Bowie a kick up the arse - sacrilege to any Friars-going fan of course. So a lot of us went just to give Harley a hard time but were just blown away by how brilliant and different they were back then. We ended the night singing Sebastian and for the next couple of years, I followed them all over the place - a couple more times at Friars, Dunstable (at the late, lamented California Ballroom), Croydon, Hammersmith Odeon, and so on. Next to Bowie and The Faces, they were my favourite band from that pre-punk period. 

The website reminded me of a few I'd forgotten - Jonathan (Twice Around The Houses) Kelly, Sassafras, Ducks Deluxe, String Driven Thing, Home and Silverhead to name a few. Will have to go rummaging on Spotify or iTunes and see if they really are worth remembering these days! 

I missed a lot of gigs when I went to college in 75-76 but when I came back to Bucks as a reporter on the Bucks Examiner, I had regular contact with Dave Stopps as I briefly wrote a music column On The Rocks with all the youthful arrogance and pretentiousness you'd expect from a 20-year-old (anyone remember The Bees, Chesham's finest for five minutes?). And yes, I remember you well, Phil Davies on the Advertiser! He later came out for a vacation in Bermuda (where I moved to in 82) and we spent a very drunken day trying to watch Live Aid and attend a wedding at the same time!

One thing I miss out here in Bermuda is the live music but then I don't think anything would match the times we had in and around London in the 70s. Gigs were great value for money (remember at 90p, a Friars early 70s gig was cheaper than a 2.50 album - how times have changed) and there was a real connection between the bands and the fans back then. My musical tastes remain as eclectic as ever - largely in part, I think, because the mercurial Dave Stopps, managed to attract so many amazing bands. In those days it was hard to hear and track down good new music and thank God we had Friars to expose us to so much fantastic music. I will never, ever forget it. 

Thanks again for the site. Keep up the good work - hopefully I'll catch a gig next time I'm home.

Penny Powell (nee Flower), now in Cornwall, writing in 2009:

Friars brings back many memories to me. The many groups I watched too numerous to name here. As a teacher now my students who are interested in good music are impressed with the list of bands that I witnessed. Friars to me was a real family affair. Both of my parents were very involved with Friars not only at the Civic Centre but also at The Borough Assembly Hall. My mother used to run the box office and my father was the technical manager of both venues, a job which sometimes caused some irritation with the musicians and their technicians. I was involved from the age of 14 collecting the glasses for the bars and later on working behind the bars providing the liquid nourishment for all those attending the gigs. Meeting people like Phil Collins, Gary Numan, Bob Geldof and Ian Dury where very special moments for me. I missed out on the last couple of years of Friars, but the memories will live on forever.

Robert Dunbar, Friars fan, writing in 2009:

Good to see Friars back. I used to work on the door and front stage for many a year and to see myself and Sid working the Genesis crew at the cattle market brought back many happy memories. I will try to get along to the next gig. I still have a signed poster of the Genesis concert and a signed David Bowie poster. Talk about rolling back the years! There seems to be an omission on the sight I recall going to The Aylesbury College to see Fleetwood Mac with Dave Stopps and had the impression he had organised it. But I could be mistaken it was along time ago.

Robert (Always known as Bob ) Dunbar

(Webmaster's note......David has advised that Fleetwood Mac's only Aylesbury gig was at Friars, although he did act as agent for a few gigs that did happen at the college)

Andy Walker, Friars fan, writing in 2009:

Great to hear of the Heroes award going to Eddie and the boyz. This was positively the first band I saw live at school when they played Aylesbury Grammar School in 75/76?

I remember the head asking for volunteers to help set the hall for the school disco and as usual no one but no one put their hands up. The head then picked a few "volunteers" and thankfully I was one of them.....then we found out it was a band whom none of us had heard of. Then we met them, had a few beers in the van, acted as roadies and had a whale of a time....a great introduction to live music and never looked back since

Dave Filby, Friars fan, writing in 2009:

Hi Mike, brilliant web site. Still finding my way round and basking in the memories. Went to see Genesis in 1972(March) for my 'debut' and went many, many more times until punk reared its head reducing my attendance to heavy rock and especially the prog bands still ploughing a lone furrow. Got loads of hand-outs still and the odd press cutting. I'll take some time soon and see if I have anything that you haven't already used.

Steve Cole, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

What a truly excellent web site.  Many congratulations.  It has brought back some very happy memories of train journeys on cold trains in my WWII great coat to get to Aylesbury sometime in the early 70's, sitting on the floor at Friars Aylesbury seeing some of my many heroes at the time (Genesis, on 3 occasions, Greenslade etc.).  I still have my original membership card with the stipulation that I had to be 16 years old.  Someone has written underneath that I wasn't!  Guess I was 15 or thereabouts.  My membership number was 9638. 

David Bird, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

What Just happened onto your website and the memories flooded back. The deafening Pink Fairies at Walton Road and the cavernous Grosvenor, later the Borough Assembly Hall, with David Bowie and Mick Ronson doing an acoustic Major Tom. All mixed in with memories of the oil and water projections on the walls and ceiling and pints in the notorious 'Dark Lantern'.

Once I was asked if I was prepared to invest £100 in an up and coming supergroup, 'John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett', I went to school with Willy's older brother Jimmy. As a kid, some mornings on the way to Quarrendon School I can remember seeing Lol Coxhill walking home down the Bicester Road coming home from jamming at Ronnie Scott's Club.

I left Aylesbury in 73 and have lived in Edinburgh ever since. Believe or not, musician friends up here have heard of the legend of Aylesbury Friars

Steve Upstone, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

My first Friars gig was at BAH between Christmas and the New Year in 1973 where String Driven Thing were supported by Kilburn and the High Roads (featuring Ian Dury) which I attended with my cousin Rob (Lehmann) who used to do the Friars posters around Wendover. I attended Friars several times between then and late 75 (when I went to Sussex Uni for four years) where I remember bands like Stackridge , Greenslade, Camel, Tangerine Dream and Andy Fairweather Low (I seem to remember that AFL’s drummer, Dave Mattacks, did a streak at their first gig at the new Maxwell Hall). The last gig I saw at Friars was the late great John Martyn in the early eighties.

I remember the pokey little bar at the left hand side of the stage at BAH- it used to take ages to get served

Other memories include taking the last train back to my hometown of Amersham (I have since become an “economic migrant” and now live in Aylesbury) where there were all sorts of funny herbal smells floating around and people wearing kaftans and greatcoats. There used to be a gang of us from Chesham High School as well as the weekend students who stacked shelves at Sainsbury’s in Chesham (I saw Chris Gibbon’s name appear on another post – he worked with me at Sainsbury’s)

I thought Friars was a magical place – I actually preferred the BAH to the Maxwell Hall as I always thought that the MH was a bit like an airport lounge but I think the acoustics of the BAH were pretty crap so not much fun for the bands.

I really enjoyed the Groundhogs/Edgar Broughton/Pretty Things gig last year – I hope Tony McPhee is doing OK after his health problems. Any chance of getting Mott the Hoople in 2010?

Paul Lennon, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

I was one of those spotty Grammar School boys in the 70’s who, with the help of Robin Pike were introduced to music and in particular live music which in my case was Friars. My first gig was the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver gig on Saturday 12th July 1975 quickly followed by Be Bop De Luxe and Andy Fairweather Low, so I just caught the back end of Phase 2. I was 14 at the time and was mesmerised by the live music I was watching every week. Little did I know at the time how important it would be in determining my life choices thereafter.

Through Robin I met David Stopps and Pete Donne and soon started working at Friars wearing one of those shirts and attended almost every show until I left Aylesbury in the September of 1979 to go to University.

As Pete mentioned in his “Memories” I was one of those youths who hung around Earth Records bothering him while he tried to work. I remember listening to “Inflammable Material” for the very first time standing in Earth Records.

I was fortunate to get the job of unloading the band’s gear in the afternoon before the gig and load up the lorry at the end of the night for which I was paid quite well for a 16 year old. One of the benefits of hanging around loading the gear was that I could help myself to what was left of the band’s Rider which in some cases (no names) wasn’t much! During the show itself I worked on the side door for the few hours it was open then front stage for the main act. I remember standing in front of Joey Ramone (I can see myself on Geoff Tyrell’s photo) but my fondest memory was standing in front of Bowie on keys when he played with Iggy Pop. My favourite gig has to be the Clash on the London Calling tour. I remember shouting at Strummer (rather unprofessionally as I was front stage security!) “play Death or Glory”…(still one of my fav Clash tracks) and when they started playing it Strummer looked at me and put his thumbs up. Great memories.

On a lighter note I had some of my early romantic encounters on the balcony at Friars, memories which are best left suppressed! When I left college I stumbled through a few jobs in London including various stints working in central London Our Price Records stores. Since my late twenties I have been a solicitor in the music business and my clients now include Kasabian, the Enemy, Babyshambles, the Mystery Jets, Reverend and The Makers and the Big Pink. Since my experience at Friars I felt I had to work with music but it took me a while to work out how that would happen. If it wasn’t for Friars I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. I love my job and I love working with musical and creative people. I still go to gigs all the time but now it tends to be the Monarch in Camden or the Lexington.

Andrew Eggleton, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

I attended Friars from 1975 to 1980. My first Gig ever was Sutherland Brothers and Quiver which was amazing. My favorite week ever was with Ronnie Lane and Commander Cody and the lost Planet Airmen. Ronnie Lane was amazing they walked in through the crowd as they had just come from the Pub and played a great set with his wife dancing. Another great night was Procol Harem it was the first date with a girlfriend and they were again amazing.

Also the Tangerine Dream gig was out of this world.

Originally I was from Buckingham now Living in Portland Oregon we have great clubs here with very similar venues. I also remember one nigh there was a picture taken of members of the club. We all were sat down I wonder if there is a picture of that any where. If any one should be top of the polls it Should be Dave Stopps that guy was the best he always dressed in white.

Malcolm Graham, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

Hi - just been browsing you website after visiting my sister in Risborough last week.
She lives on The Icknield Way which prompted me to search the net because......
I was one of FARMS early bass players and FARM was managed by Dave Stopps who lived in Hillside, Icknield Way if memory serves me well (didn't Dylan use that line?).
The website brought back some great memories - FARM was at that time, late 1969 early 1970, Mick Barnard, Chopper Tyson, Bill Stallwood, Dave Janes, me and the amazing Paul Hammond on drums. Rehearsals in Bledlow Village Hall having travelled to Risboro' by bus from High Wycombe, a few interesting gigs booked by Mr.Stopps including Cliveden House, and supporting Deep Purple at Lancaster University are the main memories before settling down and getting married in June 1970 (and we are still together!).
The other big benefit of being in the band was getting into Friars FOC to see everyone from King Crimson through loads of other great bands.
I also remember a superb friendly atmosphere with bands and audience all joining in the spirit of having a peaceful good time - a big thank you to all of you and please pass my best wishes to Dave Stopps (if he remembers me).

Kindest regards and keep the good work,

Malcolm Graham,
playing bass again after all these years and not living too far from Jerry Slater in NE Essex.

Steve Sherburn, Friars fan, writing in 2010:

Hi  guys I just saw FRIARS mentioned on the South Today news, god dormant memories, traveled from Wendover, still at the John Colet school, band on that night MOTT THE HOOPLE, it was a brilliant night and I think they were on several times later. Remember Peter Gabriel, there where many more and as a teenager what a fantastic venue, it was school talk and I was getting bollocked for having my hair to long. One thing I do remember was having double shorts, and hangovers to go with them, but that's part of growing up as was the progressive music as was served by you guys. As I have written this email more memories come back.

This is just a big thank you, as I am back in Oxford now a visit to the venue is possible.

 Steve Beswick, Friars fan, writing in 2011:

Hi  Frequent attendee in 1977-80 – in no order whatsoever:

Buzzcocks, Clash- several times, Adverts, Banshees- Robert Smith replaced what’s his name from Magazine on the guitar, Magazine – I think, Cure, Otway (of course- my most seen act as it goes- now reconciled with Wild Willy), Jam (second most seen) (ken liver sausage?), RAMONES – Xmas ’77 best gig ever ever ever, Blockheads, Talking Heads, Blondie, Motorhead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers supported by someone called the Boomtown Rats – first gig ever - £1.75 I think and a pint of bitter was about 30p, Penetration- very underrated IMHO- Freemoney excellent, Talking Heads- my mate was chinned in the bus station after the gig, SLF- now I have the glasses and Jake Burns doesn’t, 999 (I think), XTC, Stiff Tour – who remembers Larry Wallis now? (I’m a police car), Elvis Costello, Wilco Johnson’s ‘solid senders’, I confess to Ian Hunter’s overnight angels – enough said, Also confess to U2 and Altered Images – U2 are just dismal aren’t they?

I owe you a lot really - little did I realise at the time that seeing all of these bands would be an investment in being maybe not a cool dad but at least not a completely uncool one.

Really, really great days that I look back on with a lot of fondness- glad to hear you have reopened. Growing up in the Aylesbury area (I’m from Tring – now Preston Lancs) would have been as dull as a very dull thing without ‘The new wave’ and Friars.

 Timothy Toni, Friars fan, writing in 2011:

Just discovered your Friars site. I went to the first three gigs at the Kempston Friars (Bedford) I can help you with some of the support acts. Although very sadly the years are against me as to which headliners they supported. I can tell you for sure that Dando Shaft, King Crimson & Brinsley Schwarz played I've an idea King Crimson may have supported East Of Eden.

Mostly because I remember the shows as being Free, King Crimson and Mott The Hoople in that order.Hard to believe now that King Crimson was support. Although they had only just released In the Court Of The Crimson King, I still have memories of 21st Schizoid Man - false or otherwise - as the heaviest thing I've ever heard except perhaps Edgar Broughton but then again I was young and impressionable. I still cite the Free gig as among the best I've ever seen, worth noting though I was a 13-year old sneak-in with my 14-year old freak mentor, Mouldy Marty. I had the posters for all three shows 'til I left the UK in '71.  Sad how some stuff slips away. Never made it to Aylesbury sadly. Too young. Now I've found you I'll be back.  Time for a beer and a listen to side one of Tons Of Sobs

 Glenda Lake, Friars fan, writing in 2011:

I grew up in Stoke Mandeville and went to Aylesbury High. We would come to Aylesbury every Saturday night.  We caught the train into town and (hopefully, the last one back, although sometimes we had to walk!)At first there was only Discville, Hazell’s Club and the grotty old Social Club down by the canal.

Then came Friars!!
I remember seeing Sailor, Bowie, Genesis, Jonathon Kelly, Capability Brown, Joan Armatrading, Cockney Rebel, String Driven Thing, Stackridge (didn't they have a drummer who played with sticks of rhubarb?), Queen, Osibisa, Sassafras, Otway and Barrett (of course).  Also Vinegar Joe with a very raunchy Elkie Brooks dressed as an Indian squaw.

We would start of in the Lantern, Grapes or the Bell Hotel and then join the queue down the tunnel!

Friends I remember from those days (1971- 1975) are Derek Baker, Paul Kendall, Graham Dibble, Warren Harry, Chris France, Jeff Potter, John Otway, Carole lake, Carole Lane, Elaine Wells.

We also used to drink in a little pub down by the church which no longer exists – The Derby Arms, I think.  Also, The Duck on Bedgrove.

I remember Raban’s Rock, Hobble on the Cobbles and a very vague memory of a group of us going to the BA one Sunday afternoon in the mid seventies to appear in a promotion video for John (Otway) which had something to do with Pete Townsend.  Does this make any sense to anyone else?

I remember loons, cord jackets, cheesecloth shirts and desert boots.  Didn’t Peter Gabriel fall off the stage one night? (Webmaster's note......yes he did in 1971) Also used to alternate with The California at Dunstable.

I am attaching a photo from The Bucks Herald showing Warren Harry, Graham Dibble, Paul Kendall and Paddy Burns circa 1973.

Great memories.  Thanks for the site.

 Susie Vieira, Friars fan, writing in 2011 paying tribute to recently departed Brick

I was so pleased to see the site has remembered Brick who passed away recently.  He was such a lovely man with his heart in exactly the right place.

I first met him when I was about 15 and he was a little older at a Civic Centre over 18s disco.  He was a Northern Soul Boy then with a blazer, a Northern Soul badge sewn onto the breast pocket and loafer shoes with leather soles for Northern Soul dancing!  Going to all nighters sounded amazing and I used to wonder if he would take me to one if I asked him but I never did because I knew my Mum and Dad would never let me go  -  I was so jealous.

As any regulars at Friars in the late 70s will know he moved on into Punk.  I was still at school then but he was working and could afford to go up to London to buy proper punk clothes like his fake leopard skin trousers which felt velvety when you touched them - again  I was so jealous.  I can remember asking him "Can you walk alright in bondage trousers?".  I bumped into him in town one Saturday and he was just about to go up to "Hairset" above Earth Records to have his hair dyed.  My Mum and Dad would never have let me dye my hair like that and I went with him to his appointment to see how they did it!  He came out with some bright yellow and some black hair on that occasion but there were other colours on other occasions.  He looked like this all the time of course.  My walk to school used to take me past Hazells printers where he worked and I saw him moving stuff outside the building once in complete punk regalia unlike me who only had enough vaguely punky clothes to dress up for gigs  -  once more, so jealous. 

He then journeyed through the Mod revival which didn't really appeal to me but which would of course have had the Soul music connection for Brick.  At the core of all this image changing was his love of the music, all sorts of music.  I heard a song on a juke box once that I liked and he told me it was called "White Rabbit" by a 60s group called Jefferson Airplane - it was great having an older friend (slightly older) who knew this stuff.

I lived away from Aylesbury for a few years in the early 80s but when I returned our friendship picked up where it had left off.  Funnily I got a job at Hazells and we went to the Christmas do together as neither of us had a partner.  At this time I asked him to record his favourite Northern Soul records onto tape for me.  I have three C-90s jammed packed with fabulous music which I would never have had access to (due to lack of knowledge and money) but for my friend Brick.  I have always loved them but now I will treasure them.

There was a time when he considered moving out of his parents' home and getting a place with friends.  I said it was a great idea but he eventually decided against it because he had a disabled brother and he thought he ought to stay at home and help his parents care for him.

Then one day he came over to me in Butlers Wine Bar (the old Green Man) as there was someone he wanted to introduce me to.  It was Jeanette and it was obvious that he was thrilled to have met someone special.  Jeanette turned out to be THE someone special and together they brought a lovely daughter into the world.  At last year's Buzzcocks gig, Jeanette and Brick were telling me (and everybody else probably) what a good girl they had and how proud they were of her.  I am so pleased he experienced the joy of his own loving family - he deserved it.

I feel blessed to have known Brick.

 David Page, Friars fan, writing in 2012:

Great website that brought back some great memories for me. With my mates I went to quite a few Friars gigs in the early 1970’s, mostly at the Borough Assembly Hall, I still have my original Friars membership card somewhere safe (so safe that I probably couldn’t find it!). I live in Chesham and that has always been a good centre for going to gigs, we are about equi-distant from Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Hemel Hempstead so could have our pick of the gigs. At the time there were also some interesting venues in London, such as Implosion at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm or Midnight Court at the Lyceum. 

All this meant that I probably didn’t go to as many Friars gigs as I should have done, when I look at the gig listing on the site I kick myself for not have going to more. Anyway, I enjoyed all those I went to and have some really great memories. We always used to get Aylesbury early and have a couple of beers in the Dark Lantern before the gig

My first Friars experience however was the Pink Floyd gig at Dunstable Civic Hall in 1969. I really can’t remember much about it but it was around the time Umma Gumma was released. 

My only Phase 1 gig was the Argent show at the new Friarage Hall in 1970. That really does stick in my mind. I always took an interest in Argent as Rod Argent and his bandmates in The Zombies all hailed from St. Albans where I grew up. Indeed, the late Paul Atkinson lived at the end of our road. When Rod formed Argent I bought the first album on release and saw quite a few of the early gigs. Bob Henrit’s drum solo – The Fakir? – was always a highlight for me. Then of course there was Dance in the Smoke and Schoolgirl. 

Phase 2 at the Borough Assembly Halls, the best venue in my opinion – I’m pretty confident I saw the following acts at Friars during this Phase – The Groundhogs, Southern Comfort, Fleetwood Mac, Mott The Hoople, Caravan, David Bowie, Man, The Pretty Things, Blodwyn Pig and Chapman Whitney’s Streetwalkers. 

Incidentally there is one item regarding Southern Comfort I wanted to bring to your attention. On The Friars website you have taken a lot of time putting as much information on all the gigs as possible including band line ups, etc. Are you really sure that Ian Matthews was in the Southern Comfort line up that played in 1971? I don’t think he was – when Ian Matthews was in the band they toured and recorded under the banner of ‘Matthews Southern Comfort’, when he left the band the rest of the guys (including the late Gordon Huntley on pedal-steel) soldiered on using the ‘Southern Comfort’ banner. That is how they were billed for the Friars gig and I remember buying their first album ‘Frog City’ on the strength of that gig. Ian Matthews released his first solo album after leaving the band in 1971. Perhaps David Stopps can clear that up. Furthermore, you may be interested to know that after Southern Comfort totally fizzled out one of its members joined one of the biggest rock acts of the 1960’s for recording and touring purposes. I talk of course of Mark Griffiths who joined The Shadows on bass guitar, whilst still carrying on with all his session work. Not a lot of people know that.

The David Bowie show I went to in 1972 was probably my favourite Friars, Aylesbury gig. History in the making – I thought that at the time and of course have been proved right. Unfortunately, until Issue 179 of the Uncut magazine I didn’t realize David played at Friars twice in 1972 so now I’m not sure which one I was at!  

There are only two gigs I’m really sure I attended from the Phase 3 gigs held at the Civic Centre, those being Ian Gillan and Ian Hunter’s Overnight Angels. Ian Hunter always puts on a good show and the concert in 1977 was no exception. Incidentally (Cindy) I went to see the reformed Mott the Hoople at the Hammersmith Apollo a couple of years ago and they were fan-bloody-tastic! It was just my luck that I had already booked a holiday when I heard about the Pretty Things / Groundhogs / Edgar Broughton band gig in 2009 – I bet that was brilliant to. I heard the Pretties performed Baron Saturday from S.F.Sorrow – how cool was that? 

Phase 4 – I’ve seen no Friars gigs at the Waterside venue as yet but keep a look on the theatres website for something ‘interesting’, I’ve already been to see Richard Thompson and Show of Hands at the venue and am sure that I will make it to a Friars gig there someday. That's it, please keep me posted.

Mick Fagg, Friars fan, writing in 2012:

I remember fantastic times at Friars from 1976 to 1982 when I saw some great bands. I was a mod from Dr Challoners in Amersham.... converted when I saw The Jam for the first time in 1976 at Friars....but loved all live music. Stand out gigs were The Ramones, Ian Dury, Radio Stars, Dennis Brown, SLF, Secret Affair and I remember getting into my Morris Minor & 4 or 5 other people jammed in for the half hour ride to Aylesbury to see some band or other, one time I towed a friend all the way back because his motorbike had broken down and it taking over two hours...I got a thank you from him but I was grounded from seeing my girlfriend at the time because I failed to get her home at the appointed hour. I remember catching Ian Dury's sweaty towel & the idiot next to me biting my arm till I let go, getting Bruce Foxton's plectrum at the Setting Sons gig and endless queueing at the bar. I found your website because my brother in law was looking at it & spotted me in the audience at the free Otway concert. I'm the one giving the thumbs up!

Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

Brenda Lane, Friars fan, writing in 2012:

Back in 1974, Friars at the BAH was the cool place to be for the aspirational teenage wannabe (I think you were actually supposed to be 16 to be a member but no-one could wait that long). Its dark and seedy atmosphere, heady with the pungent pong of joss sticks, was a galaxy away from the rural Bucks village hall disco I and countless others traded up from. It was a sad day when Friars moved to the Civic Centre – I can see why it had to happen, but the CC was just too squeaky clean and soulless

I must have gone to most of the gigs up until I left Aylesbury High School after A-levels in 1978. Reading the posts on here I recognise all those bands I forgot I saw! I can’t even begin to list all the ones I do remember – all the punk groups for sure, but things that stick out are Ronnie Lane’s Travelling Show (when his wife did the can-can), the Boomtown Rats (with Bob Geldof running around the balcony wailing I don’t like Mondays), The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel sticking his tongue out at me (a true honour) when I had hitched a lift on some random guy’s shoulders, and the awesome Flamin’ Groovies (who I later hung around with when they were based in London for a while).

Oh yeah - Dave Stopps - “the Great White God” in his white cheesecloth shirt and white jeans, doing his far-out on-stage welcomes and Kris Needs (who I came across somewhere in London a few years on – he had just found out he was Dave Edmunds’ cousin or something).

Some other Friars/Owlsbree-related fragments which pop up: The Bunch of Grapes, the Dark Lantern and the Queens’ Head,  Earth Records (small but perfectly proportioned) – I remember Peter Donne (he was in the year above me at school), John Otway – he played at our sixth form dance in front of our head teacher, who had briefly infiltrated to spy on the proceedings, mouth turning downwards in disapproval as John crooned “I can see you making luurrve, down the road…”, The Aylesbury Roxette (was there one edition with a wilting spire on the front? and one with a Santa hat on the spire?) and Magenta Devine hot on the scene with her purple bob, telling us where in Aylesbury you could buy underwear to match ;) Andrew Guttridge’s fledgling ‘zine – something to do with beans?? what happened to that? And I recall bunking off school one afternoon when we found out Mick Jagger/Keith Richard were appearing in the Crown Court so we sat and rubber-necked in the public gallery.

I went to the Friars’ gigs in the Queensway Hall, Dunstable, too – I was passing through a few years ago and was surprisingly anguished to round the corner of the library and find they had pulled it down and built an ASDA in its place - gahh! I think they have pulled the Aylesbury Civic Centre down now as well – I even feel a bit nostalgic about that. I remember when there was a farmers’ market there and cow sh*t all over the place.

I still had my Friars membership card up until the early 90’s plus quite a few old tickets; I only threw them out when a house move clear-out got a bit overenthusiastic.

Where are you all now, Friars dudes?  Please tell me you are not all middle-aged and boring! Friars, I miss you, but there’s no going back – that was yoof, and fab it was.

Dear Friars, thank you, because I an proud to say you were, for a very few years, a long time ago, a huge part of my life J

p.s. Bad Moon Rising: that always makes me get up and dance, no matter how *meh* I’m feeling – I remember why, now.

Carsten Schaefer, Friars fan in Wolnzach, Germany writing in 2013

 From mid-1981 to mid-1982 - I was in my early 20s - this German boy lived in Milton Keynes where he'd got a job as a teacher at the then Leon Comprehensive School for one year through his German university.

During this time, I went to see several concerts by great favourites of mine, such as Todd Rundgren and Judie Tzuke in London - and I even got to see the legendary Queen gig at the Milton Keynes Bowl, which has since been released on CD and DVD.

However, the greatest gig I ever witnessed was King Crimson at Friars Aylesbury on October 7th, 1981 - right after the release of their "Discipline" album. I had always liked KC, but had never been a huge fan. But when I listened to "Discipline", I was completely blown away.

This was highly progressive and innovative music...stark, to the point, clear and powerful - not to mention the incredible line-up of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford!

So when I read about this gig, I just had to go. I do remember having to take out a membership for Friars (I still have my membership pass) - and paying a ridiculously low ticket price. I'd heard wonderous stories about Friars as the place where all the greats would do warm-up gigs before major tours...artists like David Bowie, Genesis, Phil Collins, etc.

The place was packed. But due to its small size, you could see and hear everything exceptionally well - which was just as well, because on this album (and in concert) a great sound was of utmost importance.

The gig was amazing...so amazing in fact that I've been trying to find every recording possible from around this time.

There was not much of a light show. But that wasn't necessary, because you just had to watch all the players doing amazing things. Fripp and Belew and their "duelling guitars", Belew acting like a maniac upfront, Levin stoically quiet, but playing an amazing bass (and of course, the then completely new "stick"), and Bruford playing anything he could get his hands on providing a perfect beat.

When the show was over, everybody was completely shocked and in awe.

Some people were so overwhelmed that they wanted to shake Robert Fripp's hand, who didn't respond, because...well, we know he's not your regular rock star, now, is he?

To this day, this gig is one of my all-time favourites, which I'll treasure for eternity. And the accompanying album "Discipline" is still the most progressive and innovative in KC's career.

Thanks, Friars, for the wonderful memories!

Dafydd Powell, Friars fan, writing in 2013:

Great Just seen the website. What memories.I went to AGS and knew Robin Pike well ( He was my chemistry teacher). It was my Saturday job working originally in 1977 started by  assisting on the night but  between 1978 and 1980 I  was unloading and loading lorries from Saturday Morning  until 3am on Sunday mornings ( Hired Muscle) and did ‘front stage security’ many times.  Remember Genesis well in 1980 – masses of equipment !!!!! – Also, Dave Stopps would always thank us all at the end of the gigs. I still live locally.

Well done to people who have revived the club

 

privacy policy  legal and t&c  contact 

© copyright 2007-2017 mike o'connor/www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk.

All rights reserved and no part of this website may be reproduced without written permission - please see terms and conditions for details. All photos copyright mike o'connor except where specifically stated and used with permission.