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Saturday April 17th 1971

friars aylesbury phase two - borough assembly hall, market square, aylesbury

groundhogs and john otway inducted into friars hall of fame in 2009

exclusive friars interviews with tony mcphee and john otway

the gig that saved friars aylesbury from extinction


John Otway  Phillip Goodhand-Tait
related friars history (click on date)
Groundhogs Monday June 8th 1970   Saturday November 2nd 1974 Saturday March 20th 1976  Monday June 1st 2009 Friars Bedford Friday 14th August 1970

John Otway and Kris Needs  Saturday July 17th 1971 Thursday December 23rd 1971 Saturday 13th September 1975

Otway and Barrett Saturday June 16th 1973 Monday September 20th 1976  Saturday March 19th 1977  Saturday February 20th 1982

John Otway Saturday March 20th 1976 Tuesday December 6th 1977 Sunday August 13th 1978 Saturday April 28th 1979 Thursday December 27th 1979 Sunday December 28th 1980 Saturday March 5th 1983 Friday June 4th 2010 Friars Bedford Saturday December 18th 1971

Philip Goodhand Tait Saturday October 30th 1971 Friars Watford Thursday May 6th 1971 Friars Bedford Saturday December 18th 1971 Friars Dunstable Wednesday October 30th 1972

Likely setlist: Cherry Red Garden Split Part 1; Groundhogs Blues; Eccentric Man
band line up
Tony McPhee (guitar/vocs) Peter Cruikshank (bass) Ken Pustelnik (drums)
gig poster and flyer (click to enlarge flyer)

what happens when the promoter is let loose with felt pens! :O)



John Otway authorised the Friars Aylesbury website to reproduce this from his book about this very gig!

"Friars, 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.

 Basically, thumping 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."

Phillip Goodhand-Tait:  The 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 "Snow Goose

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

press cuttings
what happened next
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 Akenfieldboth 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 Larry Williams

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

odds and trivia
official web presence
Groundhogs official site  Phillip Goodhand - Tait official site  Stormsville Shakers John Otway official site
sound and vision
Groundhogs - Split Pt 2

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