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King Bee Rhythm And Blues Club


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King Bee Rhythm And Blues Club on

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Lee writes.....

Well here we go kicking off The King Bee's 3rd year with a very special guest DJ.

Last month saw one of the scenes young guns Jonny Monk gracing the decks, March see's a man that has been on the scene since the early 60's. Growing up in Sheffield he was there when the legendary King Mojo first opened it's doors and started collecting records then.

He later moved to Manchester and has been a stalwart of that other great northern club The Twisted Wheel. His record collection (10's of thousands) and knowledge of American black music is unsurpassable, and he's one of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

He rarely DJ's these days but The Hideaway club tempted him to grace their decks last week and in the spirit of The Wheel and The Mojo it's Sheffields turn in March. It's an honour to have the one and only John Marriott spinning some tunes for us.

In King Bee tradition the man himself tells us about his musical journey...

“Lee asked be to do a little bio so here goes:

Child of the 50’s, I was blessed with having parents who were both record buyers and also us not having a TV till we moved from Neepsend in Sheffield when I was 8, my earliest musical memories being things such as “Ballad of Davy Crockett”, “She wore Red feathers” etc as well as their favourites, Crosby, Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald etc. We listened nightly to Radio Luxembourg also, a habit I carried through the 60’s. Found I loved live acts too with earliest reminiscences being Laurie London and Ronnie Hilton at Sheffield Lyceum pantomimes.

The 60’s found me at grammar school and buying records myself alongside building Airfix kits. Even then my tastes strongly veered to US music, the last years of R&R as well as pop. Saw the Beatles in ‘64 at the City Hall but was totally knocked out by the support act Mary Wells. Few months later was seeing the legendary UK Motown tour at the same venue. By then I was obsessed with soul and R&B and as well as pouring over Record Mirror for new releases (along with listening to the afore mentioned Radio Luxembourg with programmes such as the London American Hour etc) I was frequenting junk and second hand shops including the legendary Violet Mays in Sheffield (her original shop — never quite the same when she relocated to the Moor).

Local beat and R&B clubs — Esquire, Mojo etc provided more music to search for and buy along with seeing live acts — Soul Sisters, Inez and Charlie Foxx, Lou Johnson, Donnie Elbert etc etc as well as Small Faces, Who, Zoot Money, Yardbirds etc. Together with my partner in crime the “legendary” and even slightly younger than me Tony Morgan (he’ll going mad that I’ve not mentioned him till now) went over to Manchester in March ’67 to see the famous Stax Volt tour with Otis, Booker T and MGs etc and an act I’ve always used as a benchmark for an exciting live act Sam and Dave.

Never really took to the changing music scene come psychedelia (although did see Hendrix both at the Mojo and sneaking in for free! at the City Hall). In fact I went the other way and (as well as acquiring more 50s R&R and R&B} whilst buying some US 45’s from Jim Barry in London (fanatical Gary US Bonds whose his house was named Bondsville) in ’67, got into doo wop and vocal group music in a big way. I’d already had UK releases like the Cadillacs, Solitaires, Clovers, 5 Satins etc etc but now started sourcing and buying similar things from the US — an incredibly hard thing to do at the time. That was a few years before the mass importing of US 45’s to the UK partly when warehouses over there started clearing out stock in a big way and partly to feed the fledging Northern scene.

Mentioning the emerging Northern scene, I visited most of the famous clubs that I won’t bore you with here and this habit has carried on to this day. I had left Sheffield for the brighter lights of Manchester in ’74 and met there all the usual characters in the soul collecting scene as well as starting to deal in records myself from ‘77 up to the early 2000’s.

Live acts have remained a big part of my musical life and have been lucky enough to see a great many of my heroes over the last 50 years, famous as well as obscure around Europe as well as extensively in the US (visiting some crazy places along the way). For example the Joe Tex Revue (with Herman Hitson on guitar) in a tiny club in New Orleans belonging to Senator Jones who showed us around introducing us to Johnny Adams and Bobby Powell in the audience. And this the day after seeing Lee Dorsey, Alvin Robinson, Dixie Cups, Fats and Tommy Ridgley.

I had started occasionally contributing to soul and R&B mags and fanzines starting with Collectors Soul in ’68 but whilst enjoying it found it hard to jungle with work pressures around 2002.

Never really bothered becoming a dj preferring just to collect and although I have been involved in a basically Northern show on local radio (The Right Track Soul Show currently broadcasting on Salford Community Radio 7-10 Sunday night) for 10 years now, my club dj spots are a rare occurrence.

Visited the King Bee 3 times last year and its quickly become my favourite venue along the Hideaway in Manchester — fantastic atmosphere which does evoke those 60’s club memories to me far more than any Northern club has.

Lee wanted me to send him a picture and I’ve enclosed one from a few years ago outside the Sue Records building in New York during its demolition — thought it appropriate as an example of my devotion to this great music”.

Saturday 14th March 2015 - 8.30pm to 01.30am (plus) - £4 on the door.

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