Club Lafayette

Location

thornley st
Wolverhampton
United Kingdom

 

"The creation of the Lafayette was designed to help live music but there came a time when many of the groups began to price themselves out of such clubs and as a result we and most every other venue had to seriously consider replacing groups with resident DJs.

We had some really superb jockeys at the Laf like Barmy Barry, Andy Archer and Evo but none of them could ever replace the sound of a group playing live. At least that’s my point of view."

George Maddocks became the manager of the Lafayette and not surprisingly looks back at those times with genuine affection:

"In the early days I was very worried about the financial outlay we were making and whether it would prove to be a success. It was very much Stan Fielding’s baby. He had always wanted to open a night club in town which offered good live music. I remember some of the original backing came from Dougie Eades who ran the Cleveland Court club."

"My worries proved groundless because after a couple of years the Laf began to pay us back with profit. Being manager at the Laf was quite an experience and one which I would never have missed for the world"

"The opening night was a bit of a hotch-potch with the local bands playing and Barmy Barry performing in his inimitable way but it soon settled down and we had some really great nights at the club. Some of the artists who appeared there were incredible. It was often down to Maurice Jones who was the booker for Astra. He never forgot a contact and managed to negotiate so many superb deals for us. It’s not surprising that his company, MCP, is so successful nowadays."

"Scott Walker was the first big name to appear at the Laf and the sound he made with the Ronnie Scott band behind him was awesome. The thing I most remember about that night was having to pay Maurice King for Scott’s appearance and having to raise the fee out of our own pockets because the door receipts did not cover it. Maurice King was not a man with whom you argued!"

"Some of the bands we had at the Laf really stick out in my memory. There was Eclection who I thought were exceptionally good and always did a great session, Cliff Bennett was there quite often and always put everything into his set. One Sunday night the lead singer of Eclection had a bad throat and the agency asked if we would accept another replacement band. It turned out to be the original Yes. That was some time before they made it really big. Others who stand out are Thin Lizzy, Status Quo, Jethro Tull and of course Led Zeppelin."

"The first time we had Led Zeppelin at the Laf we gave them forty quid for the night. That’s amazing when you consider they were about to become the biggest group on the planet. John Bonham’s sister-in-law worked behind the bar at the Laf and it was on her say-so that we hired them. That first time the queue went all the way around the block. The second time they played at the Laf we paid them a grand and the punters paid a fiver each which was quite unheard of at that time."

http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/articles/InBetweenTimes/Page8d.htm

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