‘There are places I remember …’

Derby has a lot to be proud of, no matter what the gloomier types say. Firstly, it is a haven for proper beer drinkers with some great pubs; then there’s its heritage, which, for a small city, is being better preserved than most; and there’s music – more especially the memories of Clouds on London Lane.
Progress brings big changes, and all vestiges of a nightclub that was a key element in the lives of those of us in our late 50s, 60s and early 70s – have vanished. Clouds was not just where romantic relationships sparked, where life-changing decisions were made, and a where mistakes were made after drunken nights; it was the centre of a lifestyle.
In those early 1970s I frittered my life away drinking gassy beer, talking too loudly and gazing longingly at beautiful girls in tight trousers, micro shorts and skimpy skirts and dresses. I’ve no idea what the blokes wore: probably the same as me – scruffy shirt and flared trousers. What made the town stand out was its music.
When I ventured into the town for my first proper job I was dragged – not kicking and screaming, more smiling in anticipation – first to The Exeter Arms and thence to The Dolphin. Beer, especially good, real beer like Bass, Worthington or Marston’s was the elixir of life, the cure-all, and the best way of getting much-needed calories into a young body. This was at a time when a news editor had been heard to pronounce: “I don’t care how long my reporters spend in the pub as long as they come out with a good story.”
Next to the office was The Exchange – a quick fling round the lamp post and in through the narrow and stiff double doors for a half decent pint – and then up the road was The Trident with Dennis and Hazel and that particularly awful Breezer lager. My personal ‘home from home’ was the Old Silk Mill, with John Pierrepoint behind the bar and solid with students in front of it. It was music that built the Silk Mill’s custom, and John who played a leading role in promoting it.
Music was even more important as a lifestyle choice than a beer, and arriving in Derby I found that I was sharing office space with people who not just enjoyed music, but for whom it was tantamount to being an obsession. Two or three years ago I’d been mesmerised by Blood Sweat and Tears, then Cream and also Family – and to my absolute delight and amazement there was this middle-aged man, well, he was nearly 40, who not only concurred, but suggested I might like to review a band at the local music club. It was my introduction to Alan Smith, semi-professional jazz drummer, sub-editor and my mentor-to-be.
I was filling massive shoes. That summer I’d read a brilliant interview in Melody Maker with Jimi Hendrix – another idol – that had been penned by Roy Hollingworth. And I was expected to fill the boots that Roy had worn at the Derby Evening Telegraph! Thankfully, Alan was on-hand to guide me, and I was ably supported by Chris Ward. The same month I started work I was introduced to Clouds by Tim Price, who organised events at students at the Technical College on Kedleston Road.
The die had been cast. I was part of the Saturday Page Crew: a page every Saturday given over to music in all its forms. Roy, Alan and Chris had it ticking over, then Roy left for fame in London (and then New York) and I joined. Along the way, over the years, we were augmented by other reviewers like Kevin Palmer, Ray Yeomans and Tony Attwater, but the core was Alan, Chris and me.
There were several venues, but in those early 70s, Clouds was the thread that tied us all together. The club became Cleopatra’s; the manager changed (I wonder where Paul Conway is now?); and the bands brought some phenomenal sounds to the town. Most gave their all, few died on their feet, and for some local groups, Clouds was the pot around which the honey dripped.
There was Charge, then Hardware, who starred at a Cambridge May Ball; Freight; Nu-Frame, with whom I later travelled to the original Cavern in Liverpool just weeks before the bulldozers moved in; Waite; and Expression; and that was just to the end of 1972. But let’s go back to December 4, 1970, when a little-known foursome took the stage at the Technical College – and propelled me into a friendship that would only be interrupted by the band’s rocket-like rise to stardom. It was Slade.
The King’s Hall, the college, The Hippodrome, that disco under the Pennine Hotel, the Flowerpot for mainly folk, and various working men’s clubs (very raunchy stripteases on a Sunday lunchtime, I remember), were good venues, but almost every Thursday and then again most Saturdays it was back to Clouds.
Looking back at my press cuttings, some of the world’s greatest bands graced the stages of Derbyshire venues, but let’s concentrate on Clouds, the epicentre of our musical world. There was Ginger Baker’s Airforce (’filling but stodgy’!), Salamander and Skin Alley; Leon Russell (‘this is the best gig we’ve done on the tour so far’); Genesis; Uriah Heap (‘A hot hairy couple writhed on the seat next to me’!); Status Quo (’going to go a long way’!); Thin Lizzy (’head turning quality’); Barclay James Harvest (‘not as god as their last visit’); Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come (‘hellish costumes to entrance a bewildered audience’). The naivety of my reporting knows no bounds!
Let’s just say that the Babington Lane club hosted some of the greatest names in rock – and quite a few that have been lost to time and vinyl. How about: Teargas, Gin House, High Tide, Steamhammer, Groundhogs, Black Widow, Genesis, Uriah Heap, Blonde on Blonde, Van der Graaf Generator (with Pete Hammill, son of top Derby businessman Maurice, on vocals), Sam Apple Pie, Mick Abraham Band, Stray, Amazing Blondel, Brick House, Wild Turkey, Head, Hands and Feet, National Head Band, Pete Yorke Percussion Band, Killing Floor, Pretty Things, Radha Krishna Temple, Man, UFO, Chicken Shack, Supertramp, Good Habit – and then it closed with, or actually without, Pete Brown and Piblokto, Stackwaddies, Bubastis, Egypt, and Origin at the end of August 1971.
All was not lost. Clouds had gone; welcome to Cleopatra’s. The first gig was Jimmy Ruffin, then came: Paladin, Sunshine, Fruup, Jude, Medicine Head, Supertramp, Stone the Crows, and the year end with Trapeze.
To many people that list of names will wash over or under them; to me – supported thankfully by press cuttings – they bring back a host of wonderful memories. My diaries are full of names for which I no longer have faces.
So what made Clouds so special? Forget objectivity: there’s no definitive answer. Nottingham, the ‘big city’ had a thriving, pulsating jazz scene and many more rock venues than Derby, Leicester had offered up some of the greatest musicians, such as Family, and both cities, plus Loughborough, had exceptional universities with heaving music scenes. But Derby had Clouds. The club was friendly, the regulars knew each other and happily spent their money, and central to its success was an enlightened booking manager – initially Paul Conway in 1970 and ’71 – who managed to persuade musicians on the cusp of stardom to ply their wares to an appreciative and knowledgeable audience.
Looking back at the reviews has re-awakened some of the adventures we got up to. Some we remember, most will be lost at the bottom of a beer glass, and a few have resulted in literary inspiration. Having left the world of newspapers I am now writing novels, all set in Derby in the early 1970s, and each drawing from the people and places I remember – so it’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, and only the guilty will see themselves in these works of fiction. (First Dead Body is available on Amazon, paperback or Kindle, or direct from me.)
Clouds is no longer; The Hippodrome is pretty derelict; and the Crown Club at Spondon is not even a pile of bricks. Never has The Beatles song ‘In My Life’ been so appropriate …

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

77 thoughts on “‘There are places I remember …’”

  1. Many thanks for the reminders of music events in Derby back in the day. I stumbled upon your site online whilst racking my brains to remember artists I saw at the Magic of Ju-Ju nights at Clouds. As a Press Officer at Rolls-Royce I knew Alan Smith, and of course Chris Ward and Tony Attwater. I spent my college days at Kedleston Road Tech, and as a member of the entertainments committee there, helped organise lots of events, the Slade concerts, Atomic Rooster, the Trippy nights, and so on. My alter ego became involved with folk music, roadie for the Druids and Roaring Jelly, sound man for Ram’sBottom and R.Cajun in their early days.
    Thanks for the memories!
    John Terry

    1. Hi John.
      I’ve just put a ‘review’ of the latest Slade concert on the site!!! Wonderful night back with the lads in Wolverhampton.

      1. Hi Richard !
        Since retiring in August I have been making a effort to archive some hundreds of tape recordings of bands I ‘did’ the sound for around the Midlands in the 70s and 80s.
        I have come across a couple of cassettes which I obviously failed miserably to properly identify the artists, and I was wondering if by any chance you might remember the bands or their line ups.
        The first was Last Detail, approximately 1981, playing Texas Swing, bluegrass and other acoustic material, possibly at a gig where R.Cajun played at Trent Poly.
        The second recording is of Kickin’ Chicken, which I had helpfully labelled as RAOB 26.2.82 ! Once again, R..Cajun in their original acoustic line-up may have been involved, as they often hired the upstairs room of the Buffs in Derby, and I would have been there to provide the PA.
        I know it is a long time ago, but as both recordings have survived the ravages of time, two Atlantic crossings, five house moves and decades of neglect in indifferent storage containers, I just hoped you might remember them ?
        Many thanks, all the best
        Seasons Greetings!

        1. I remember those nights above the Buffs , either Leopoldo Street or the one parallel to it . I bet it was you who got me on to Rockin’Jimmy and the Brothers of the Night. Two albums and they split . A great sound they had from Tulsa I think

          1. Hi Bry, long time.
            Was gonna just say that Leon Russell was I think the best concert I’ve been to. Even better than Jimmy Ruffin smiling at us( rather crazily) as he was shooting up in his dressing room at the Blue Orchid. But saw your name and had to reply.
            Funny. You always think that your life is something which is going to happen tomorrow.
            Had a few drinks with the Telegraph boys at the downstairs bar in Tiffs over the years. Mick Holland used to Dj on Saturday morning and I didn’t tell my mum cos there were girls there.
            I had before reading the article forgotten Paul Conway’s name. How could I. He used to manage the paper shop on Monk Street and of course the Magic OTJJ. Above John Collier ( the window to watch) across from the old M&S .But will always be a fifth former at school. I think he was friendly with the flat earther who ate grass. Malley will remember his name.

  2. Hi Richard I remember those times well great times , great places, great people, I have travelled to many places but no place like derby a town to be proud of.
    I use to play with a band called pugma-ho who Paul Conway use to manage.
    Nice guy, happy memories any idea of what happened to him.

    Chris Camm

    1. Hi Chris, I remember seeing Pugma- Ho many times ( mishearing of pogue mahone ) they had a great singer later in their career, I seem to remember they started out as Gentle Touch and then Gentle before becoming Pugma-Ho . Anyway I remember Paul Conway, and him telling me that that he was leaving Derby to take a job as a barman at the Marquee Club in London. Hope this
      info is useful.
      Cheers Joe

  3. magic of juju at clouds brings back memories. i used to play in Brickhouse. we were managed by paul conway, who used to keep us fairly busy gigging up and down the A38. i should have one of his gig lists tucked away somewhere. We did some gigs at clouds supporting barclay james harvest and thin lizzy and used to travel up there to see other bands.

  4. Hello Richard,
    It’s good to read your memories of the Derby music scene and especially those about Clouds/Cleo’s club, which also was a regular haunt for us all those years ago.

    Learning of the sad death today of the great Leon Russell, I too remember that phenomenal concert by Leon Russell & his Shelter People, all crammed onto the tiny stage of the London Road club and literally lifting the roof off – an all time great gig.

    What chance of putting together the story of Clouds/Cleo’s – are there people out there who have stories, photos, memorabilia? I do have some!

  5. Hi Richard,
    I was lucky enough to have a job, (though I cannot remember what I was paid – if at all), collecting glasses at Clouds when I was 16 or 17. Simple enough work which occasionally involved helping some of those guys in the bands you list up and down those huge back stairs with their equipment. I particularly remember Amazing Blondel’s haunted harmonium. Then I often got to sit in the green room whilst they downed a pint or three. Being acknowledged by Nick Parfitt or having a long chat with Tony McPhee about his add-a-sound device seemed normal at the time. Though just being in the same room as Peter Hammill instilled reverence even then. I value those times greatly now. I had for a while strings, plectrums, (discarded or dropped by names we all know now but were unheard of then), many posters and such paraphernalia displayed in my bedroom until they were ousted by my parents.
    So thanks for the confirmation that it really happened… sometimes I’ve thought it was my imagination. And John.. would love to hear those tapes if you ever publish!
    Russ Hamer

    1. Thanks for the response Russ. Sorry I’ve not got back to you sooner. I’ve been finalising the third book in the Simon Jardine series.
      Perhaps we could meet up over a pint when I’m in Derby? I’m on Facebook and at Richard@tonyrcox.co.uk

  6. “Magic Of Ju-Ju” began in a club above Jackson’s The Tailors. I’m not sure how many weeks that venue was open, but I’m fairly sure I saw Hawkwind there, and perhaps Van Der Graaf Generator. I knew Paul Conway because we shared cigarettes in the private places at Derby School. After school, Paul managed a newsagents at the lower end of Abbey Street. I worked nearby at Simpson’s the Printers, and I would stop in his place to buy magazines like “Oz” and “Friends” that promoted the underground scene. I was surprised when he got into the music business, but he offered something the community needed. He was a nice guy. Last I heard, a long time ago, he was managing a newsagents in London. I don’t know if Paul did the bookings for the art college dances at Clouds, but those were good nights. Seeing Jethro Tull for the first time was a night to remember!

    1. Hello John.
      The Derby College of Art & Technology (Tech or Art College) was where I saw, and reviewed, some fantastic bands (Slade – December 5, 1970, included). The guy who did the booking for all the bands – and also, I believe, booked for Cleopatra’ – was Tim Price. I was a big fan of Paul Conway’s, but I believe he left under a cloud. Perhaps, as so often happens, the cloud was invented after he’d gone?

    2. Hi John Pepper,
      I remember you very well (I was a few years younger so you may not remember me) Paul Conway was also a good friend. I think you probably remember Andy Dalby from CHARGE and later Arthur Browns Kingdom Come. I am still in touch with John & Rosie Perry who I am sure you remember, and they now live in Australia.
      Regards, Rick Cunningham

      1. Hello Rick.
        I’d love to know what became of Paul Conway. He was a great guy. I went to his ‘leaving do’ at Mario’s in Leicester.
        Cheers, Richard

        1. At last news of what “happened” to Paul Conway.
          My brother in law Andy Binns when traveling through Europe in 1973 had met up with his friend Bev Staley of Derby band “Pug ma ho” in Munich. Bev told him of Paul having moved to London and working in Newsagents WH Smith. He cannot remember where exactly in London.

          1. Thanks Rick. That’s brightened my day. I’m recovering from open yeart5 surgery and the fate of Paul has bugged me for years.

          2. Yes Richard, it had bugged me for years too, funny thing is I thought that I had asked my brother in law previously. It seems I had not. Hope you are recovering ok, take care buddy. Regards, Rick

          3. Thanks Rick. Recovery going well. At least I have a reason for self-isolation etc. I really feel for all those younger, fitter and healthier. Stay well.

          4. I went to school with Peter Conway, Paul’s cousin. If you search Peter Conway, Derby on the web, you will get a linked in contact for him, being related to Paul he should know what happened to Paul.

      2. Hi Rick, I remember Andy Dalby from Charge, playing at the New Penny in Derby. Went to Clouds, the Queens Hall, helped with the refurbishment from Clouds to Cleopatras, wonderful times. We were so lucky to be part of the music.

  7. Hi all
    My uncle was part owner of the Clouds when I was 17. We danced with a small group of girls on-stage on the teenage nights. My cousin Haydn Harris was part-time DJ & his friend Ian Telfor.
    I can remember some of the band’s, mainly in Cleos days I think.
    Haydns brother Chris Harris wrote a good piece about the Clouds a few years ago now, but I can’t find it in telegraph archives. Sadly Chris died a couple of years ago – he was a great campaigner for Derby Arbotretum & Hippodrome.
    I don’t have any memorabilia of the Clouds, but would love it if anyone can copy me posters, advertising etc – anything as a reminder of those great Derby days.

    1. Hello Tina.
      I’ll ask Anton Rippon about Chris. Plus, on September 27, Roger Smith (formerly Smith East Advertising) is launching a book on the bands who visited Derby in the 50s and 60s. I’ll ask him at the launch that evening.

  8. Hello Richard, long time no see. Zina and I are still in the Derby area and she found your reminiscences. I only came to Derby in 1969/70 and recall some great nights at Clouds, the Tech. College Great Hall and that place with the plastic palm trees on Babbington Lane. In the short time I was at the art college I DJ’d several of the shows that the Students Union put on. Leon Russel was one of the high points, he was magnificent. If only he’d bought his friends along, Delaney and Bonney and Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker Clouds could well have disintegrated that night. Do you remember Roger Ruskin Spear at the college Great Hall? I nearly wet myself. And the night we booked Atomic Rooster AND Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come on the same bill, just weeks after Vince Crane and Carl Palmer split to form Atomic Rooster. There were 2 ex Derby art college lads in Kingdom Come at the time, Andy Dalby and Paul Brown. There was only one very small changing room at that venue, I wondered how they would get on, but there was no blood and they both did good sets. Zina’s birthday was on the same night as the Slade show and I was D.J.ing again and I asked Noddy Holder to sing Happy Birthday for her, and THEY DID.
    So your an author now. Now where did I put that birthday book token………

    1. Oh wow. That’s winding back the clock. I remember those days – and those gigs.
      I’ll email you my address. It would be good to meet up for a chat.
      At the book launch I made contact with John Pierrepont (The Old Silk Mill when it was the hub of rock music).
      I hope you enjoy the books – the best way is to get them through my publisher http://www.fahrenheit-press.com

      I really look forward to meeting up.

    2. Hi John. You okay? Remember those days well. First at the (I think) New Penny above the tailors. Then Clouds/Cleo’s. Great bands, too numerous to mention. Back Door a particular favourite. Anyone remember Smile (Queen pre Freddie M). Groundhogs lots of times. Hawkwind. Slade at the college were great as were Balls (Denny Maine, Trevor Burton) Who I think supported Kingdom Come. Just happened on this site whilst listening to the first Black Widow lp who also played clouds.

      1. Hello Malc.
        It’s my web page. I was a Saturday Page ‘crew’ member from 1970 to about 1976. Now I write crime thrillers under my pen name of Tony R Cox.

        1. It’s a shame there is no mention of a music scene pre 1970 . I remember going to see Faron’s Flamingos in November 1963 . It was at the King’s Hall , QueenStreet Baths, in winter they covered over the pool and had bands. I saw Screaming Lord Sutch , The Mojos ( with Lewis Collins of Professionals fame) the Big Three , Pete Marriott and the Moments Before he formed the Small Faces . Also saw The Move somewhere above a garage on corner of Nightingale Road . Used to go up to the Strutt Arms at Milford where I saw T-Bones , Alan Price Set , Herbie Goins and the Night-timers. Over to theDungeon ,where I saw The Who , Small Faces , Ben E King , The Action as well as Drifters , Mad Lads, Vibrations , Garnet Mimms , Steam Packet with Rod , The Shiowstoppers . As a regulator at Clouds from the opening night I saw many of the above mentioned bands . I used to take an instamatic camera and still have photos of some of the nights there . Somewhere I have one photo of Roy Hollingworth taken in Darley Park . Knew Trev East before he was famous, as he was at school with Little Rog ( Wilkinson )

          1. Thank you Bryan. I was a boarding school boy at Buxton College for the 60s, then Huddersfield Poly for a year before ‘dropping out’ and following my dream. This meant I only arrived in Derby immediately after Roy had left for Melody East. There were quite a few who went on to some level of fame and even fortune. Roy became a good friend until he went to New York and began to believe what people told him – people who wanted him to write good things about them – and listened to John Lennon. We lost touch, sadly. Stay well.

          2. Hi Bry again. Sorry not really into the media bolcks. I was friendly with Bobby Child’s and Dave? . Country & Western fans. Somehow I got dragged into a night the promoter at Clouds was doing at a Tiffs sort of club near the Bull Ring and ended up helping do a light show for The Who. Most memorable thing for me of the night. Zappa’s Chungas Revenge on the PA. Hi there, my name is Bobby Child’s and this is my R&B Show swiftly followed by The Horse.

          3. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

      2. Forgive me using your web site as a public talking shop Richard.
        Would that Malc Shardlow or another Malc. I remember Balls, it was one of their warm up gigs were had in the foyer at the art college, prior to them going on the road. Trouble is Denny Laine got an offer he couldn’t refuse soon after from a bloke called Paul McCartney to join his new band called “Wings”, bad move, Balls was much better.

        1. Good morning John. You may want to have a look at Facebook for these sort of messages. I find that so many of the people of that era use Facebook.
          Ref. Denny Laine and Balls. I remember that gig. Great guy, great musician – but he also rolled the best joint I’ve ever had! Not that I’m allowed to say that. Ha ha.

        2. Hello John
          Fantastic to hear from you. I’ll be 70 next year and, sadly, that last of the ‘famous four’ of Saturday Page reviewers/piss heads. As you see from the web site, I still do a little bit of rocking, but mostly on Facebook and for guys I remember. Feel free to contact me (Richard@tonyrcox.co.uk) and perhaps we can meet up? Give my love to Zina.

        3. Hi John, I was there as well, think the line up was Trevor Burton, Denny Laine, Steve Gibbons and Mike Kellie, short but good gig, strange for a potential supergroup.
          Cheers Joe

      3. Hello Malc, Yes I did work at Penny’s then went on to work at the Hippo, the top floor of a Hotel I think in Macklin street, I became longtime friends with the doorman, John Caldwell, it’s been many years since then and we lost touch somewhere along the way. I was lucky to work in a lot of places in and around Derby, The first was at the Top Rank Bowling alley with one deck haha! though you could not exactly call it Disco! then I moved onto the Locarno in Babington lane and was later Joined by Laws Wilson! such a long time ago, I’d forgotten all this until reply to you!

        1. Hello John.
          You mention Loz Wilson. I lost touch with him in the 70s (moved to Nottm Post and then married). I believe he died. Can you fill me in any more?

          1. Hi Richard,
            In some ways they were strange times, I remember one Friday evening working at Clouds, There was a guy Called ‘Mick Mead’
            bit of a hard man, even the bouncers were wary of him, anyway on this particular Friday night it was his birthday, he got hold of Bugle from somewhere and was running up and down the Dancefloor blowing it, I remember hearing one of the bouncers saying to Pete ‘Do you want us to stop him’ he replied ‘No he’s all right for now it’s his birthday!
            I later read in the Telegraph that, (he was working on a nearby building site)I believe the next morning, they were Piling, the Pile hammer got stuck Tragically some he managed to get his head in the way as he freed it off and died instantly of his crush injuries. Later looking back at it, It was as if he was saying goodbye to everyone that ‘night of the Bugle’
            I also worked at the Blue Orchid at Draycott and ran a number of my own Dicso’s one favourite I remember was at the Park hotel, Chaddesden. I lost a few friends in those years, Chris Jones from Nottingham was one he used to travel all over with his girlfriend to our Discos, one night he’d turn up in Market Harborough the next in Kenilworth, well on a particular Friday night he left Clouds, all I know was that he overtook a car on the old railway bridge on Havey road (now gone) and hit another car head on, all were killed, why I never knew why as he always seemed such a sensible guy! There were other tragedies but I will leave them.
            There were, of course, many girls that I knew, but I think after all these years it’s only polite to leave them nameless and in my fond memories. You can always look at my facebook page, there is a lot more stuff on there from the past!

      4. I remember Smile at the New Penny, I and some friends went for coffee with them at the Baccassio Derby’s only Coffee Bar open late. Wow those were the days.

      5. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

  9. 1967, I was 15……a group of us heard about a “club” at Woodlands school, Allestree. We decided to give it a try ( not knowing exactly what sort of club it was ) after
    being invited by a girl we met on a bike ride. Friday night arrived and off we went………..on getting there, the queue snaked out of the grounds, 4 a breast for a good 50 to 60 yards or more. Downstairs was for taking a break and havng a coke……..upstairs
    a low ceiling room, DJ and all the gear in a corner, belting out music we’d never heard before, soul R&b etc………..nothing
    like UK pop of the time. It was like arriving on a different planet……………great stuff…………….worth being stopped by two burly park wardens with big dogs and the summons that followed…………”for taking our bikes in the Park”…………our short-cut. After that, not all, but a lot of UK music didn’t do much for me.

    1. Wow. That’s going back before my time. I was at school in Buxton. Joined the Derby Tel in 1970 and was a Saturday Page ‘crew’ member until about 1976. I left for the Nottingham E. Post then a career in PR.
      I now write crime thrillers under the pen name Tony R Cox. Derby (and Cleos) are central to them all.
      Cheers, Richard

  10. I remember Clouds from even before those days, Alan Smith wrote a nice article about me when I worked there as DJ in 1967-69, Along with, Bobby Childs, Dave Wymark and Jonnie Jinks. The original club was a Discotheque, one of the first, people used to come from all over the country to sample the ‘magic’ that was ‘clouds’. It was above Man Eggertons a Rolls Royce dealership and used to be the Regal Ballroom back in the Fifties. The design came from The Art college and owned by Cymbal Entertainments who had offices opposite. Originally the Club was Managed by Jim Milton and the original DJ was Trevor East, now with Sky Sports. After Jim Jeff Skerritt came along and then Peter Martin who changed it into Cleopatra’s. Peter and I went on to work together after Clouds for about another 10 years. Peters still working hard even though he’s in his 80’s loving every bit of it, though now into Ballroom dance promotions. I have many memories of Clouds, mostly good though some were memorable for other reasons. It’s a shame the many photos and films that were shot of Club nights and appearing bands can no longer be accessed.
    I wonder where all the ex-staff are now? If still around?

    1. Hello John.
      Great to hear from you. I vaguely remember Peter from Cleos, but my ‘role’ – apart from trying to drink the bar dry – was very much as a music reporter, therefore I just dropped in and out. I now write about the place under my pen name of Tony R Cox.
      Do you know whatever happened to Paul Conway? He disappeared and there was a rumour that it was under somewhat of a cloud.
      Cheers, Richard

    2. Hi John, Do you recall seeing PP Arnold play Clouds, bank holiday Monday at the end of May ’67? Was that during your time DJing there? The First Cut Is The Deepest was climbing the charts and her live band were The Nice (before they got Brian in on drums and landed a record deal).

      1. Hi, Nigel Yes, I do remember I still have a signed copy of that single, Funny how so many people think its a ‘Rod Stewart’ song, had a few arguments about that! Talking of Rod S. He actually appeared at Clouds with his then band ‘the shotgun express’
        In those days there were so many great singers/bands on there, Jimmy Ruffin, Edwin Star. Ike & Tina, Long John Baldry and Geno Washington to mention a few, Someone somewhere must have the many 8mm and16mm movies that were filmed up there, not to mention the hundreds of 35mm slides that were constantly on rotate, in the Bar area.
        A great place in the early days!

      2. Hi Nigel Young,
        I am sure that PP Arnold made The First Cut Is The Deepest with the Small Faces and not The Nice.

        1. Hello Tony,
          Good to hear from you,
          Yes I do remember and yes I was there that night, I had not joined Clouds at that time but was working elsewhere, Great night as I remember. Her first band was the Blue Jays, Ronnie Jones’s old backing band which included Roger Dean (Bluesbreakers) followed by the NIce, led by Kieth Emerson from the VIPs.
          I still have the 45′

    3. Hi John-wasn’t it Johnnie back in the day!?-glad to see you are still out and about?-We had some good nights at Clouds and Cleos-and a few good nights when we weren’t djing-I seem to remember!Iwent back with my pal Carl Dene and we did the Clouds re-union night at the Derby Assembly Rooms circa 2004-i think-it wasn’t our fault that they burnt it down though.
      There were over 1,000 there that night-the Fantastics,were top of the bill,Poor old Pete he would have loved that many at Clouds!Heard Pete on WM a few months ago -he still sounded fine !

      1. Hi Dave,
        Yes, it has been a very long time, but of course, before this super media, people did not have the means to get or keep in touch.
        Yes we had some good times and yes it was Johnnie, I do have a facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/johnniemaxwell
        I thought you lost in the aeons of time, haha, but glad to hear from you. Yes Peter M is still going coming up to 83 and still promoting but he’s back into his (first love) ballroom dancing, he’s even been on strictly C D. Not for me though. Did you say he was on WM? sorry, don’t know that! Look me up and we can chat some more! Tc John.

    4. Hi John, my mother in law worked there as bar staff at clouds i believe, her name was June Bennett back in the day, not sure on the years she worked there though

  11. Well, I really can’t say why I did not look this up years ago! Such brilliant memories for me. I was a regular at Clouds/Cleos, above, Mann Egerton showroom. Must echo thoughts of others that Leon Russell stands out. I remember going to town the day after that gig and buying the album in the Co-op record department and having to walk home because I had spent bfh. One gig I went to which I see no mention of was Skid Row, who had a young guitarist called Gary Moore. Phenomenal. Cheers Roy.

    1. Hi Roy.
      That was February 19,1972. I’ll have to check if I did a report for the Telegraph’s Saturday Page. I’ll report back. Cheers and thanks for your comment.

    2. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

  12. hi Richard. I remember the Skid Row gig. Gary Moore was pretty incredible even back then.I recently found some letters from Paul Conway with lists of gigs he had procured for us back then with Brickhouse. after a couple of name changes and personnel changes we became Ricky Cool and the Icebergs.

    1. That’s fantastic. I had loads of time for Paul. I’ve used his character (in part, obviously) in a couple of books. Did I cover your band when I was on the Telegraph?

    2. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

  13. Wow there are some memories here! I was around 17 when I got into the rock music scene around 1969 and remember Paul Conway and Tim Price very well. I lived on the corner of Woods Lane and Stockbrooke street. Paul at that time was working in a newsagents about 50 yards away and was running the Magic of JU JU nights above a tailors in St Peter’s street. Tim lived in a house literally yards away from Paul. Tim used to shop at our corner shop and offlicence and I remember feeding Tim and his fellow students cats when they were away and he allowed me to access his record collection which was impressive!
    The Trippy gigs were always good and I remember going to the Tech College to Atomic Rooster but I didn’t have a ticket and the doors were locked. As peered through the glass Tim saw more and prompted the bouncers let me in. I felt very priveleged!
    The Clouds rock nights were fabulous and I saw some impressive acts. I was there for the fabulous Leon Russell gig and remember Gary Moore sitting behind Skidrow’s drum kit using the pedals and playing anything from classical to rock while the band were drinking at the bar. Amazing for a 17 year old lad like myself.
    The only “misses” at clouds were the no shows of Peter Green after he left FM. Billed to play with a band called Noir – they appeared he didn’t! And David Bowie who had just made Hunky Dory. He cancelled and UFO filled the spot. UFO were so loud I remember we had step in the foyer to here ourselves!
    Thanks for bringing back so many memories!

    1. Cheers Steve,
      You ‘lived’ through some great times. I had the immense pleasure of reporting on them. Paul and Tim were definitely the ‘good guys’.
      Maybe there’s an apostrophe missing. Not many students ate cats. Ha. ha.
      I hope you’re well.

      1. Paul Conway was at Derby School same time as me and Tony Holland and Rich Green , both great musicians , he then worked for Barry and Sheila Osborne at the newsagents

      2. Sorry about the typo’s Richard! Your article and the whole thread got my brain whirling – so many memories! What led me to the article was a google search to try and find a reference to confirm the Graham Bond Experience had played at Clouds. I then thought it may have been Graham Parker I saw but my efforts drew a blank. I am pretty convinced it was Parker. I remember sitting against a wall in the club when Graham hurried past me to get to the bar and accidently trod on my hand. I took this an appropriate time get another beer and watched Graham order a triple vodka and lime and knock it back before the barman turned away! This was Rock N’ Roll I thought!

        1. Cheers Steve. I don’t remember – or have notes on – Graham Parker, but the Graham Bond Organisation were a seminal experience when I was at college and then to see them at Clouds was brilliant. His suicide on the London underground was my first real understanding of what clinical depression was. I simply couldn’t get my head around such a talented musician throwing it all away. Rock On. The music never dies.

          1. It was definitely Graham Bond I saw at Clouds the confusion with Graham Parker was sparked by a reference I saw about him recently, hence my search for clarification by searching for Clouds Night Club. Yes, Graham’s demise was very tragic.

    2. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

    1. Hello Jan.
      That must have been fantastic. Right in the middle of his ‘flamingo stance’ days. In ’68 I was still at boarding school in Buxton. I didn’t ‘arrive’ in Derby until ’70, where I joined the Saturday Page Crew at the Telegraph of Alan Smith and Chris Ward – and ‘replaced’ the great Roy Hollingworth. Sadly all three have gone, but you’re still around and that’s brilliant. Let’s keep rocking.

  14. Hi Richard, I came across your site whilst looking at information on 1970’s music, pubs and clubs in Derby. I was a student in the 70’s and a regular at the Silk Mill, Dolphin, Seven Stars and Cleos. Did John’s P’s mum have the licence for the Silk Mill at some point? I seem to remember John, his brother Rob (?) and an older lady we knew as Mrs P., so presumed it was their mother. My own mum still lives in Derby so I’m often back there. Sadly, the juke box in the corner at the Dolphin is no longer there, where we played Lola and House of the Rising Sun every Saturday night! Precious and lovely memories of treasured times. I read earlier of your surgery so sending best wishes and hope you’re now recovered!

    1. Hello Petra. They were phenomenal days.
      I remember John P. ‘running’ the Old Silk Mill and the phenomenal nights at Cleos and the Kings Hall. His mum just seemed to be somewhere in the background, ‘off stage’.
      2020 was two major ops and complications, but you can’t keep an old, ugly brute down, and I’m raring to get back to Derby and some of the best pubs in the world.
      Stay safe and well.

  15. My brother David posted earlier in the thread and has been in touch with Richard.

    As he mentioned, we were regulars at Clouds/Cleo’s/Magic of JuJu Thursday nights in the early 70s.

    Yes, Skid Row played regularly, with young Gary Moore having a solo spot to do ‘Crossroads’ and others as bassist Brendan & drummer Noel had a drink (or two).

    We saw The Groundhogs regularly, Van der Graaf were always amazing (and also did the ‘6/- Tour’ with Genesis, at The King’s Hall (!) as ‘Trespass’ became a hit album. Genesis did play Clouds when ‘Foxtrot’ came out, on the cusp of their USA tour – we knew they would soon be playing big venues!

    We remember most of the bands mentioned; there was also Keef Hartley, and Atomic Rooster, at Kedleston.

    I remember the there were record dealers sometimes at Clouds and I’d occasionally invest in a new LP (Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ being one!) and nurse it through the gig to get it home safely.

    Also recall a gig that wasn’t spectacular but remembered for its’ mediocrity! Trower, Bunker, Dewar & Miller appeared, and didn’t impress…it was (of course) Robin Trower, Jim Dewar (Stone The Crows), Clive Bunker (ex-Tull drummer), Frankie Miller (later seen with the great Full House)…they bombed, and we mistakenly thought they were only a support act!

    I did get one of Bunker’s drumsticks, though, which he’d flung into the politely-seated audience (probably in disgust at the tepid response!)

    Wish there were a book of the recollections!

    1. Thanks for all your recollections. I am an huge rock gig collector and I know GENESIS played in Derby 4 times in all:
      3 December 1970 Derby – Clouds
      3 November 1971 Derby – King’s Hall (with VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR)
      11 May 1972 Derby – Cleopatra’s Club
      16 April 1980 Derby – Assembly Hall
      Anyone of you attend some of these shows ? Any recollections is welcome !
      Did you know also if English rock bands FREE (internationally famous for their hit “All Right Now” of 1970) and GENTLE GIANT (progressive rock) played in Derby – Clouds ? Thanks again for all !

      1. Hello Allesandro,
        I was reporting on bands during the early 70s. My records show:
        18/12/70 – Hatton Community Centre, Derbyshire, where I met the band and did a full review
        18/2/71 – Clouds (no record of a review)
        15/6/71 – Cambridge University May Ball – they came to the wrong venue, but we still managed a couple of bottles of champagne and a natter. Audience (same record label) came later. They were booked at our ‘college’.
        3/11/71 – as you say, with Van Der Graaf Generator.
        Gentle Giant
        21/3/74 – Kings Hall with String Driven Thing.
        I’ll need to check through my cuttings, which are incomplete.
        Good to hear from you.

        1. Thanks for you reply ! Just to let you know an update as GENESIS gig planned 3 December 1970 Derby – Clouds was cancelled. Are you able to confirm a GENESIS gig 18 February 1971 Derby – Clouds ? Thanks again ! Both GENESIS gigs you saw in Derby 18 February 1971 and 15 June 1971 Cambridge University are new to me ! Any additional information about these are shows are welcome ! Did you know also if English rock band FREE (internationally famous for their hit “All Right Now” of 1970) ever played in Derby between 1968 and 1972 ? Seems no, I know only ANDY FRASER band played in Derby – King’s Hall 27 November 1975 ! Thanks again for your replies !

        2. Thanks again for your time and kindly attention too all my queries. Really much appreciate. Well about English Progressive Rock Band GENTLE GIANT I know played also 15 December 1975 Derby – King’s Hall. Another gig planned in Derby – King’s Hall 29 April 1976 was cancelled.

  16. From Nick Ball, once VP Derby Tech Students’ Union for 2 years ’69 to ’71.
    I think I am a bit late to this discussion.
    Perhaps you would like to know how we got Leon Russell for the Clouds venue?
    Time Price was the Ents. guy. But he overspent his budget and had to go back to the College Students’ Exec Committee for more funds. I was asked to oversee his choices so we did not run at a loss. No more obscure art college bands!
    I knew next to nothing about popular music so my instructions to Tim were, ‘book only bands that I have heard of’. At that time we had just had our first booking of Slade who were brilliant for £60. Tim booked them for 3 more appearances at £100. each. By the second visit Slade had a No 1 in the Charts and another on its way up. Good value!
    Then ‘Slades’ management, Hemdale, who had offices opposite the Hilton Hotel at Hyde Park said they needed to re-negotiate the Slade Contract.
    The Musicians’ Contract, the yellow form, was a very formal and enforceable contract, this is where the bands added their famous’ riders’ to the contract. Slades’ was just a couple of crates of Newcastle Brown!
    But Hemdale could change the contract by mutual agreement. I went down to London with a girl from the Art College Pottery Dept. who needed to get a studio pot to BBC Dr Who set at the TV centre. We waited in Hemdale reception filling in the Financial Times crossword that we had been specifically asked not to touch.
    The deal we came to was that we would release Slade from the contracts for a selection of other bands/acts that would be completely paid for by Hemdale. The names I remember were Champion Jack Dupree. (An elderly US Blues Piano player who was playing with Alexis Corner at the time), Ravi Shankar and his daughter who played in the Art College Foyer whilst we sat on the stairs Very, very beautiful Indian Music. Leon Russell and several other bands.
    On Leon Russell’s contract was the request for a grand piano tuned to Concert Pitch. I went down to the music shop in Irongate to book the piano but they said it would need tuning by their blind piano tuner who lived in Leicester on the day. He would need a lift to and from from the Clouds.
    Many of you will remember that Clouds was above Mann Eggerton, the Rolls Royce dealer almost at The Spot on London Road. Access was by very steep stairs at the side of the venue. I got the College Rugby Club to lift the piano up the stairs and take it down again after the event. Meanwhile I was driving to Leicester and back with the piano tuner in my old MG.
    The venue was rammed by the time Leon arrived on stage. Wearing black with a cape and Cuban heels he jumped up on the open piano and stomped across the keys which became the intro. to ‘Roll Over Beethoven.’ It is hard to find words that do justice to the performance and his reception; it was completely brilliant. This was the first time I had seen lighters used as a form of appreciation by the crowd. (Why concert pitch?)
    Other memorable moments at the Clouds? The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. ‘I am the God of Hellfire’. His roadie appearing at my shoulder saying I needed to open the window to let Arthur in. He was at the top of a cherry-picker outside the window with his hair (metal crown) on fire!
    Ginger Baker’s Airforce, promoted by Tim Price with a black and white card ticket for the students to colour in. (Someone really ought to produce a retrospective of all the Trippy 1, 2 3, posters that Tim produced for the dances at that time. They completely encapsulated the psychedelic art style of the moment. And Ginger Baker came with his mate, Eric Clapton! (For no charge!)
    Other bands I remember either at the College Great Hall or at the Mecca on Babington Lane: Curved Air, (Who had the first label printed on to the vinyl surface.) Jigsaw, Atomic Kitten, That guy from Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band, Roger …. with his kinetic robots. The Alan Price set who was almost No 1 at the time with ‘Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear’. (I heard afterwards that Derby girls followed Alan down to Leicester Forest East to ???) And many others.
    I should also like to acknowledge, Malcolm who ran the light show for all the gigs. Roger Scruton, a photography student, who took fabulous photographs, particularly of Leon Russell. I think I still have B&W of it in my loft. John Cooper, SU president at the time who ran the bar. Nuscia his beautiful girlfriend, Eric and Chris Dosser plus many many others who all helped to create marvellous memorable occasions.
    Nicholas Ball
    17th Jan 2022

    1. Sorry for my curiosity but among bands you saw in those days between 1969 and 1971 perhaps you were lucky to witness gigs of BLACK SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, EAST OF EDEN, FREE, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, YES ? Any additional information is welcome such exact gig date (day, month, year) and place (city, hall). Well if you saved also vintage memorabilia such ticket stubs or advert or newspapers preview/review would be great ! Thanks in advance for all your memories

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