John Otway authorised the
Friars Aylesbury website to reproduce this from his book about this very
a local music club, had been running for about a year in a small
ex-servicemen's club. It ran on a Monday night, and had a considerable
amount of groups playing there who would be famous later. Among these were
Genesis, Free and Mott The Hoople.
Dave Stopps promoted the
venue, and rather than simply be a promoter, he ran the place as a genuine
club. He did this with such style that it became The Place To Be. Otway,
Potter and France certainly went there, and Kris Needs as we mentioned did
the psychedelic artwork for the club's newsletter and posters. Before
Otway could persuade Dave Stopps to let him play at the club though, the
ex-sevicemen themselves decided that they had had enough of hippies and
closed the club down.
It took Dave Stopps a while
to find another venue, and by the time he had, Hobble on the Cobbles had
been and gone. Dave had been the recipient of a Sounds review with the
note "How about a gig at Friars?" attached.
Friars' new venue was the
Borough Assembly Hall in Aylesbury, a much larger place that held about
500 people. Dave was lucky with the first show he booked there. The act he
put on was The Groundhogs, and the day before they were due to play, they
were on Top Of The Pops, as their single Cherry Red had just entered the
charts. Dave had taken the gamble and put John and Kris on to do a short
set before the hit act.
Because of the hit record,
and being the first night of the club for a while, the place was packed.
John looked out on those people that they were about to play to, and said
to Kris, "I want to see a sea of bopping heads,"and then repeated it over
and over again. Because he would need amplification for a show of this
size, Otway had built an electric pick-up for his guitar, so it could be
plugged into an amplifier. It was a bit of a Heath Robinson affair, but it
seemed to work Okay. That is until he tried it out on stage in front of
500 people. "Now, that was embarrassing," he says. "The Friars audience
were known for being warm and giving acts encouragement, so Dave announced
me, and there was all this applause. I hammered the guitar to start the
show and no sound came out. But I got it going in the end." What Otway
is failing to tell us here is what "got it going" really meant.
the front of the guitar with his fist somehow connected two wires inside
the instrument, and it worked for a few seconds before needing to be
thumped again. As the set went on, the harder and harder he had to thump
it. Unfortunately, the guitar was attached to John's trousers, and each
time he took a swipe at the guitar his trousers came down a little. Those
cognisant with the Otway line in underwear can imagine the effect of all
this on the audience, and why he got so much applause when Kris' bongo
solo came around and he had the chance to cover them up again.
By the time Kris' scream
happened, the audience were well won over, and the show turned out to be
one of Otway's most successful so far."
first time I played Aylesbury, it was for Friars Earth at the Assembly
Hall, Market Square on the 17th April 1971. I was sharing the bill with a
group called "The Groundhogs". For me, it was a noteworthy gig because I'd
only just gathered together some one-the-road, back-up musicians (Andy
Lattimer played guitar, Doug Ferguson bass and Andy Ward drums). Andy
Latimer was a particularly good guitarist and the trio eventually left me
to form their own band,
"Camel" and had great success with their album
Well on the night of
the 17th April we hadn't been playing together for long and we all went
for a drink in the nearby pub before the performance. You would have
thought we'd had more to drink than necessary if you'd seen us coming out
of the pub, because I tripped and fell flat! When we got on stage, all
nerves disappeared and I was surprised to find an enthusiastic crowd of
1500 people! Maybe it was because there were so many, that Friars Earth
were able to pay us our massive fee of £10, cash on the night!'
See the Faces 1971 Friars Watford gig for more
of Philip's recollections
Groundhogs have been going since 1963 and Tony McPhee's Groundhogs still gig as at 2010 and
were the first band to play Friars in 25 years on June 1st 2009.
Phillp Goodhand - Tait is
still going strong. In his 40 year career he
has penned songs for
Roger Daltrey, Gene Pitney, Dennis Waterman, Mary O’Hara and many
others. He also wrote the film scores for
Universal Soldier and
Akenfield – both now cult
classics. Over the years he has worked and toured with
Elton John, Lou Reed, Thin Lizzy, 10cc, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Deep
Purple, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and rock’n’roll legend
Otway and Needs are Aylesbury legends. Otway is still touring and Kris is a well known
journalist and DJ and in fact DJ'ed all the 2009-11 Friars gigs