It’s 1974, to come this year are the miner’s strike, three-day week and 20% inflation. Power cuts all the time and we were advised to share a bath!! On the national music scene we’d got Suzi Quatro, Alvin Stardust, Gary Glitter and Mud, in Tamworth we’d got Folk music. Folk was very big in Tamworth in ’74. There were now three regular folk clubs: The Prince of Wales, Lower Gungate, The Unicorn, Orton-on-the-Hill and the Wigginton Hotel. And Tamworth must have been doing something right in the world of folk music because local folk singer-guitarist Andrew Dwyer, resident artist at the Unicorn Folk Club, on Sunday, June 16, appeared in the final of the 1974 Melody Maker national folk rock competition at the Round House in London. Andy was competing against 19 other acts from all over the country and he took overall second prize and the award for the Outstanding Solo Performance.
Other local bands that could be seen regularly in and around Tamworth included the ever-present Kwil and The Hy-Kells, Phil Bates was now a solo artist and also performed at the local folk clubs. Venues were limited to the local working men’s clubs and the odd appearance at a Round Table barbecue or hog-roast.
A number of local acts were featured in Musicbox in the Tamworth Herald. Barathea were a group of pupils from Wilnecote High School performing folk music with their teacher. Theseus wrote their own songs and played ‘pop’, they had been formed with members from another local band Ramrod. Later in the year Billy Bates was featured in Musicbox – Billy was in fact Phil Bates (ex-Kwil, Enigma, Source of Power, Teenbeats, Wild Four), we read how he had “a great new single out in the shops, called “Mr. Hand Me Down”. Ian Marklew another local singer-songwriter was also featured in the Herald in June of ’74, he was just set to record his first single.
We’re struggling now! It seems that by 1974 Tamworth had been erased from the rock ‘n’ roll circuit and big name artistes now seemed to by-pass the town. The only name acts to appear locally were The Nashville Teens (again!) who appeared at the Tamworth and District Round Table, Indoor Chicken Barbecue on 6th July. Joe Loss and His Orchestra and Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen appeared at Drayton Manor and Bill Haley and His Comets played at the Twycross Country Club.
DJs and discos continued their rise in popularity with Barry John, Malc Taylor and Mike Bond appearing regularly. Johnny Slade was featured on the front page of the Herald of 22nd February under the sad headline “Disc-Jockey’s £3,000 worth of equipment stolen". Kippa was now appearing regularly at the Assembly Rooms often as Kippa "The Yob with the Gob" Grahame Graham. By the end of the year Susannah's Disco, who had now stopped booking bands, were promoting Northern Soul nights on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Locally, David Black won the bronze medal in the 10,000 metres at the Commonwealth Games and became a fully-fledged local celebrity, appearing, rightly-so, on almost every page of the Tamworth Herald, opening this, presenting that, receiving this award, signing that autograph. The miners strike and three day week of '74 also had a big impact on the town. In July we read more news on progress with the Tamworth Arts Centre under the headline "Conversion to Arts Centre next month?" reading: "Revised estimates put the cost of the work at £40,000 - £6,000 higher than last September’s figure “because of the continuing effects of inflation”. And in November under the headline: "£340 a week to run Arts Centre" we read how "Running costs at Tamworth’s Church Street arts centre could reach £17,000 a year. But annual income is likely to be more than £3,000, councillors have learned." We wait with baited breath for more progress in 1975.