Tamworth Bands History : 1973
|January - March||April - June|
|Keith Harris - minus Orville!||The Nashville Teens|
|July - September||October - December|
|The beginnings of the Arts Centre||Assems discos with Kippa|
It’s 1973. In the big wide world Glam Rock is at its peak, Slade, Sweet, Gary Glitter and Wizzard are all in the charts. In Tamworth – Folk Music is ‘in’. ’73 saw three regular folk clubs: Togetherness at Tamworth College, Lord Snooty’s at the Prince of Wales on Tuesday nights and the Unicorn Folk Club at Orton-on-the-Hill on a Sunday night. Although by the end of the year, Lord Snooty’s had become simply the Prince of Wales Folk Club and Togetherness had closed it’s doors.
Big Name Acts
Some big name acts did appear in the town in ’73, although not the well-known ‘pop’ bands we had come to expect. The Krankies, Lennie Bennett, Keith Harris (no mention of Orville!!) and Jasper Carrott all appeared locally. The biggest ‘name’ band to appear were The Nashville Teens who played at the college Rag Week in April.
Discos and DJs
1973 saw the emergence of some very well known names on the local disco circuit. Barry John played a regular Sunday Special at The Mill at Tamworth Football Club and also performed at Amington Band Room. Johnny Slade continued to appear regularly and also had a feature in the now weekly Musicbox column in the Herald.
At last, Kippa appeared as a DJ. The man who has graced this history with his presence from as early as 1964 in his bands The Four XXXXs and The Power and the Glory appeared in his new guise as a DJ. He had first appeared locally in 1972 as D. J. Kip Graham (I think – Ed.), but in ’73 he first of all appeared as “Grahame (Kip) Graham” in January, then in July as Kippa Grahame Graham and then in November as Kippa Grahame (Hairy face).
Musicbox became an almost weekly feature in the Tamworth Herald in 1973, with features on the local music scene as well as reviews of the latest top record releases. We read about The Hy-Kells, Johnny Slade and Kwil.
Also featured in the Herald of 12th January ’73 was the Mum of probably Tamworth’s greatest ‘pop’ export – Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson. Under the headline “A golden disc for a pop star’s mum”. We read: Tamworth housewife, Mrs. Betty Clempson, has received a golden disc from her pop star son, Dave. Dave, known in the pop world as Clem, plays lead guitar in the rock group “Humble Pie”.
There was one news item in the Herald in ’73 which stands head and shoulders above all others in terms of its impact on the local music scene. ’73 saw the beginnings of the conversion of the old Baptist Church on the corner of Church Street and Lower Gungate into Tamworth Arts Centre.
On 21st of September under the headline: “Town’s cultural activities to focus on Arts Centre”, we read: ‘After nearly a decade of tentative enquiries and plan-submissions, all of which have been abandoned, the latest scheme to convert the Baptist Church appears to be receiving approval.’
On 5th October, headed: “Conversion Work for Arts Centre to Begin in January”, we read “Work is to begin in January on the conversion of Tamworth’s old Baptist Chapel into an arts centre for the town. The Borough Council’s Leisure Activities Committee has given approval to a scheme costing £30,000 which will turn the old Baptists Church in Lower Gungate into a theatre and arts centre.”
And on 30th November, “It’s now or never for ‘chapel’ arts centre. Arts Council Faces Up to New £16,000 Scheme”, we read: Tamworth’s Arts Advisory Council will have to foot a bill of between £5,500 and £16,000 to turn the interior of the town’s old Baptist Church into an arts centre and theatre. Councillor Eric Johnson, a member of the Arts Advisory Council, claimed the immediate cost of re-fitting the centre could be reduced to £5,500. “This is a lot more within the reach of the Arts Advisory Council”, he said. “The picture is not black just dark grey” Members agreed that the terms of the scheme should be accepted. “It’s now or never”, said a member. “We will never get another one.”
These would prove to be the foundations for what was to become one of the most significant local venues in the entire history of Tamworth bands.