A HISTORY OF ROCK IN BUCKS
NOT many people can say they have received a text message from David Bowie, and even fewer can say they played an influential role in the history of rock. But for the promoter of a Bucks club this is just the start of a fascinating musical retrospective.
WHEN it comes to rock music, market towns in the home counties are probably not most people’s first point of call.
But it may come as a surprise to some to learn that Bucks has a unique musical history, in part down to its location roughly halfway between Birmingham and London.
As promoter of the Friars Club since 1969, a music club based in Aylesbury, David Stopps has seen legendary bands and artists perform here over the past 46 years.
Along with being the first place David Bowie performed his famous Ziggy Stardust persona, other bands to have taken the stage under his guidance include Genesis, The Jam, The Clash, The Ramones, Howard Jones, Marillion, Toyah Wilcox, The Velvet Underground and Roxy Music. Mr Stopps said: “The club was international because bands would come over from America, play the Friars then London and then go back.
“It was Bowie who really put us on the map because he debuted Ziggy Stardust live for the first time at the Friars.
“It was incredible. It really did become the place to play.”
ThThe The FFriarsi Friars ClClubb Club hhas has hhad had d three venues since the start.
Phase One saw gigs put on at the New Friarage Hall, a 400 capacity venue on Walton Street which ran until July 6 1970.
Shut down briefly for a period of nine months, it reopened at a bigger, 800 capacity venue on April 17 1971 at the Borough Assembly Hall on Market Square, and continued to be there until September 1975, when the night was moved to Maxwell Hall, a 1,250 person venue on Market Square.
This ran until 1985 when Marillion and John Otway played the Friars’ last ever concert, until it again reopened, this time 25 years later at the same venue in 2009.
Mr Stopps said: “It was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a really great time.”
He added: “The great thing about Friars is the atmosphere. It very much came back in 2009 and since then we have put on Paul Weller and The Specials, which sold out in a day. We also put the Buzzcocks on.”
“I’ve got so many amazing stories. The best was a particular interesting one where Ray Davies asked me to build a catwalk into the hall from the stage.”
“The punk era was certainly extreme though.”
And although there were no cars in swimming pools or televisions thrown out of windows, Mr Stopps did recall the stars letting loose backstage.
He said: “There was always a party backstage after every gig.
“We never had a dressing room smashed up, apart from Steeleye Span, but they were a folk group, none of the rock and rollers did,” he remembered with a laugh.
SEEING DOUBLE: County Musuem exhibition curator David Erskine and David Stopps with Mike Rutherford's guitar
CULTURE CLASH: Iconic band The Clash on stage at the Friars Club
NEW YORK’S FINIEST: The Ramones performing at the Friars Club, Aylesbury
THIS IS CROWD
CONTROL: David Bowie performing at the Friars Club
FABULOUS FRIARS: David Bowie performing at the club and, left, at tweet from the star to David Stopps