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Robert Played At JB's in Dudley


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Freddie Mercury wanted another 40 quid so I told him to f*** off!

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham); Oct 10, 2010; STEVE BRADLEY; p. 18

IT was where it all started for so many rock heroes.

Blur had their first paying gig there, Dire Straits earned pounds 50 for a show, and a fledgling group called U2 came over from Ireland to try to establish themselves in front of punters in 1980.

Queen wanted a date there, but asked for too much money. The Sex Pistols hid out at the venue after defying a ban imposed by neighbouring Wolverhampton Council and playing as The Spots.

The Pretenders, UB40, Joy Division, The Police, Bob Geldof's Boomtown Rats and the Manic Street Preachers all gigged there as they climbed the ladder to stardom, and Kidderminster rock god Robert Plant gave some low-key performances.

But now the dark, dingy and utterly rock 'n' roll JB's in Dudley, England's longest running live music venue, is facing closure after 41 years because of spiralling debts, unless administrators drafted in last month can find a buyer.

The club is now in its third building in the town, having been set up at Dudley Town Football Club in 1969 by childhood pals Sam Jukes and Sid Weston.

It moved to King Street 18 months later, arriving at its current premises at the bottom of Castle Hill in 1995.

Sam, now 63, and Sid, 66, both put in pounds 100 to start the venue after Sam, a onetime professional footballer with Walsall, noted that his then team Dudley Town was in a desperate financial situation.

They paid a bill so that the electricity would be switched on again, and named the club after DJ Johnny Bryant, who would run regular nights there.

Soon, live bands were added and the move to King Street was prompted because far more people wanted to get in than the 200-capacity would allow.

There then followed a golden era, which saw Thin Lizzy play in 1971, plus a host of hungry young bands who were desperate to wow the Black Country's music fans, for a small fee - and as standard, a crate of Newcastle Brown ale.

Sid's twin brother John, who worked behind the bar for several years, said there was little evidence of Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott being the hellraiser he would later turn into.

He recalled: "Phil was just down to earth. He came to the bar for a drink and was very friendly."

Anarchistic, foul-mouthed punks the Sex Pistols, with the sarcastic God Save The Queen riding high in the charts, dropped in undercover in 1977 for a drink, after playing an illicit gig in Wolverhampton.

John said: "They had been banned by Wolverhampton Council, as they had by many other councils and had appeared at the Lafayette as The Spots, which stood for Sex Pistols On Tour. The owner of the Lafayette had asked us if we could look after them.

"Johnny Rotten was ever so nice - he asked for half a lager and a packet of crisps - and he said please! They just sat with the punters. One of the customers said Sid Vicious drew his name on the toilet door." Up-and-coming pub rock band Dire Straits, led by the clever compositions and fluent guitar work of former journalist Mark Knopfler, played around the same time as the song Sultans Of Swing was starting to cause a stir.

Sam, whose memory has been affected by the two strokes he suffered earlier this year, said: "It was very low-key - they were pretty much unknown at the time. We got them a support slot for about pounds 50 - that was all they were worth in those days.

"When I was paying Mark Knopfler, I chatted to him and said, 'You've got a halfdecent chance, and I wouldn't mind managing you'. He said to me, 'Sam, we've just signed up with someone else'. That man was Ed Bicknell and with him they became superstars."

Sid, who had a day job as a civil engineer, said: "Dire Straits stood out head and shoulders. They were a little bit different.

"With bands like that it's all about confi-dence, but you could tell they'd got something."

Sam recalled turning Queen down at around the time their first album came out in 1973: "Freddie Mercury phoned up and wanted another 40 quid, and I told him to f*** off.

"I remember saying to him: 'You ain't going nowhere!'" John said the dispute with the band, who were just two years away from crafting the all-time classic Bohemian Rhapsody, had revolved around the four-piece quibbling over how far the dressing room was from the stage.

Sue Jukes, 59, Sam's wife, has routinely prepared delicious chicken or veggie curries for acts appearing at JB's - gratefully received by up-and-coming stars such as Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Annie Lennox of The Tourists and local heroes like The Wonder Stuff and Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

She said: "We remember them all. Blur told us they stopped off at a motorway service station after their gig here, for burger and chips. They hadn't been paid before - this was the first cheque they'd had, and they were keen to spend it!" Spencer Davis, whose band included Steve Winwood, once told the JB's team: "Forget the music - you should open up as a restaurant!" Sid added: "Steve Winwood was a big real ale fan, and when he appeared here a couple of years ago, we sent him up to local pub The Lamp. He came back with a big jug of Bathams!" He said any trouble at the venue was soon nipped in the bud by bouncer Jimmy Fisher, now dead from cancer, who would send outside anyone smoking a joint.

The no-drugs rule was strictly enforced against bands by Jimmy for many years, too.

"Jimmy, bless him, had seen more courts than Rod Laver. If any of the bands did play up, he would let them know," Sid said.

Former Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant last played at JB's in February in 2009 at the 60th birthday bash of his sound engineer Roy Williams. Tickets costing pounds 20 were selling for pounds 100 at online marketplace eBay. Plant has been a regular visitor over the years, rubbing shoulders with fans who idolise him.

John said: "He's very down-to-earth and he'd just call in for a pint of Mild. He sometimes brought [Led Zeppelin drummer] John Bonham up with him. When we were at Dudley Town FC he used to come up and play darts.

"A lot of times he brought Maureen with him, who was his wife then. He would arrive in an Aston Martin, the same as in the James Bond films, but he was OK - no airs and graces."

Sam and Sid are unhappy at the Per-forming Rights Society's demands for three per cent of the door money, which they claim was what pushed the venue into administration.

The PRS collects cash on behalf of composers and hit JB's with a pounds 4,800 bill.

Sam said: "They sent the bailiffs down, but I still maintain we don't owe them any money.

"If bands come in and play their own stuff, which they mostly do, I don't think we should be liable for PRS payments.

"For all these years we've supported live music, I'd say that 99 per cent of musicians aren't even registered with the PRS. They were the ones that forced us into administration."

Sid, who has known Sam since he was 11, said the venue owed pounds 80,000 to creditors, the rest of the reported pounds 450,000 debt being his and Sam's "own money".

He added: "The first nail in the coffin was the smoking ban, then it was the credit crunch hitting people's available disposable income. People still come out but they don't come out as often, and don't spend as much when they do come out.

"The other thing is cheap booze. People can buy lager for pounds 8 a pack and they can smoke themselves silly at home in front of 40-inch high definition TV, so they're probably choosing that.

"We've had a rich vein of great bands. On a personal level they would do anything for Sam and the club, but they have very little say in things these days - it's the agents. If another venue is offering pounds 500 more they'll go there."

He said Sam was a "terrible delegator" who, despite poor health, regularly stayed at the club until 5am to make sure everything was running smoothly. Sid has suggested several times that Sam should call it a day.

But Sam, who is talking to ex-Deep Purple star Glenn Hughes about a benefit gig, said: "The situation might be where we can actually buy it back off the administrators one day."

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Actually I didn't know video of this had surfaced, great to see!

Sorry if I missed this in the article but , is that Robbie Blunt to the right of Plant in the video ? Sure looks like him if it's not

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Sorry if I missed this in the article but , is that Robbie Blunt to the right of Plant in the video ? Sure looks like him if it's not

Yes it is.

Album a no, but Plant's Honeydrippers to play show


Publication: Entertainment News Wire

Date: Friday, January 12 2007

DETROIT The death of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun in December put the kabosh on a new Honeydrippers album Robert Plant planned to record this year.

Plant tells Billboard.com that he and Ertegun began talking about the project - a follow-up to the platinum 1984 EP "Volume One," which featured Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Nile Rodgers, among others - after Plant was part of a tribute to Ertegun last June at the 40th Annual Montreux Jazz Festival

"We agreed to carry on and create a Honeydrippers thing a little bit later on in 2007," says Plant. "He was suggesting material and stuff like that. I knew he was thrilled with the idea of it, and so was I."

But Plant decided there was no reason to continue the project without Ertegun's involvement. "I would only do it because I wanted the whole rapport with him and his history," Plant says. "I had an idea of doing `Stay Alive' by the Clovers, which is on the flip of `Love Potion No. 9,' and then he could tell me some more stories about Bobby Darrin. That's what would have made it worthwhile."

However, Plant is resurrecting the original lineup of the Honeydrippers - which included guitarist Robbie Blunt, who played on Plant's first three solo albums - for a "one-off" Valentine's Day charity gig in Dudley, England, to raise money to pay for brain cancer treatments for a mutual friend, Jackie Jennings.

Beyond that, the former Led Zeppelin frontman's plate is full with a couple of recording projects. He recently did some writing in Wales with his band, Strange Sensation, but he's also been spending time in the U.S. recording an album with Alison Krauss and T-Bone Burnett.

"It's amazing. It's otherworldly," Plant says of the latter, which also includes guitarist Marc Ribot. "I don't really know how to describe it. I don't think I've heard anything like it before. It's just very unique and very strong and very emotive. You'll be incredibly surprised when you hear it."

Plant would not predict when either project will be released but did say that "it obviously is not gonna be very long. It won't be too far away at all."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great video Steve. Thanks. I remember hearing in an interview with Robert a few years ago, that "Big Hunk O' Love"is his favorite Elvis song. I think it may have been a PBS interview he did with Charlie Rose. Not sure if it was around the time of "Raising Sand" or "Mighty Rearranger", but I'm pretty sure it's one of those.

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