Tamworth Bands - History 1960-1990

DJs & Discos : Barry John

Barry John - June 1981
Barry John - June 1981
Pic courtesy: Barry John

Originally starting out as a mobile disco with the name 'JB Sounds' back in 1970, the youth club at Amington Bandroom was Barry's practice ground. Then in 1971 Barry landed a job as a full-time DJ in the old Birmingham nightclub Rebeccas, at a rate of £3 per night.

During the following three years Barry played in many of the Birmingham clubs (Locarno, Barbarellas, Cedar Club, Opposite Lock) and worked with many artistes; including Freda Payne, Edwin Starr, The Detroit Emeralds and The Drifters. He also worked with many of the then top DJs - Emperor Rosko, Dave Lee Travis, Simon Bates, Paul Burnett, Stuart Henry, Mark Wesley and Les Ross. In 1974 Barry left the club scene in order to concentrate on his mobile disco service which has given a constant stream of work ever since.

Rebeccas payment was £5 per night at the time he left. To put this 'large' sum into context, during the last few months at Rebeccas, Dave Lee Travis was charging the club £500 and Emperor Rosko around £350 for their appearances!

Barry's first paid mobile gig was held at the Moores Arms (now called The Appleby Inn), Appleby Magna for the princely sum of £10!

Many visitors the the Barry John website remember the Friday disco at Amington BandroomThrough the 70s and 80s residencies include:

  • the old Tamworth Football Club (regular Sundays circa '72-on)
  • Tiffany's (long since demolished) Halesowen during 1976
  • The Chequers, Hopwas (alternate Sundays circa unknown)
  • old Polesworth Legion (regular Tuesdays, circa '77)
  • Polesworth WMC (regular Tuesdays and Fridays, circa '78-85)
  • the old George pub - Tamworth (regular Sunday and Monday nights, circa '77-'82)
  • the old Atherstone Football Club (regular Thursdays, circa '78)
  • Atherstone Ex-Servicemens (also Thursdays, circa '78-81)
  • Tamworth Progressive Club (every Tuesday '80-82)

Many visitors the the Barry John website remember the Friday disco at Amington Bandroom, Barry is unable to put a timeframe on this but thinks it started around 1974 and has lost count of the number of people who continue to remind him of it to this day!

Barry John Disco - Setting up at Drayton Manor
Barry John Disco - Setting up at Drayton Manor
Pic courtesy: Barry John

The Early Days...
"The first use of my homemade valve amplifier built into a bedside table with a Decca turntable on top (about 1969/70) at Amington Bandroom (when I was attending the youth club). Amington Youth Club was run by Mr Rootes who lived in June Crescent, the late Mick Glover (of the Herald) also helped out and he coincidentally printed my first business cards. Our local engineer for amplifier repairs etc. was Charlie Thorneycroft of Fazeley who previously had an electronics shop in Tamworth (the carpet shop next to Chicago Rock)".

Emporor Rosko
"Without a doubt one of the greatest influences on my DJ career was Emperor Rosko. In my opinion he ran the top mobile disco in the whole country. He was also a second-to-none radio DJ (and still is) with a superb voice which may have been influenced by (and I only suggest this) the famous American DJ Wolfman Jack".

Rebeccas Nightclub, Birmingham
"Rebeccas was located on Severn Street, Birmingham. I saw the job in the Evening Mail - "DJ required for top Birmingham nightclub" - and I found myself auditioning for DJ in the Cabasa - the clubroom at the top of the building. It was held during the day, with club manager Johnny Fewtrell as judge and jury. I had had only youth club experience really and had no idea what was in store but in any event I got the job at £3/night working 6 evenings a week.

The equipment in the club was all Hocken Sound, which was based on the Pershore Road. The speakers used were good, particularly those in the middle room - The Blue Soul - which were huge. Any problems with the sound system were always treated by Hocken Sound engineers replacing the cartridges - never cured the problem but was all they ever did.

The lighting systems in the Blue Soul and Sin Bin were quite sophisticated but by the time I started work there, in 1972, had deteriorated to the bare functionality with most of the strobe and sound actuated aspects defunct.

DJs in the club were Pat Martin, Pete King, Bob King (affectionately now known as Bob The Plumber). Also the late Les Benedict (RIP), Sam T, Pete Allen and Jerry Brooker".

Left to right Ken Wilson, Dave Arnold, Ian Goodwin - top roadies Jan '79
Left to right Ken Wilson, Dave Arnold,
Ian Goodwin - top roadies Jan '79
Pic courtesy: Barry John

Tamworth Football Club Social Club
"After leaving Rebeccas and getting a respectable day job, one of my first DJ residencies was Sunday night at the Tamworth FC Social Club. The contact was made via Guy (can't remember his last name but he was related to the Fretwells) from Bolehall who introduced me to Pete Barry (Barry Smith) the resident DJ. Barry offered me Sunday nights which I was glad to accept - didn't need any gear either because Barry had a great, custom-made Thorneycroft system which was semi-permanently in situ. The legendary top Tamworth soul DJ Delroy James with his amazing collection of soul vinyl also worked there.

Barry John at Tamworth Football Club - October 1973Speakers were suspended from the ceiling, along with tubed spotlights controlled by a sound-to-light unit; this light unit used diodes to control the output which only gave half-wave output resulting in spots that were never very bright - but in those days Thorneycroft electronic light controllers were in their infancy, it would be a couple of years before Thorney' switched to triacs.

The suspended speakers were a bastard to get into position with Ian Goodwin (top roadie) and myself having to stand on a table, itself on top of 2 tables, just to reach the suspension cables. I recall at least one instance where we lost it and the speaker came crashing to the floor.

The club stewards changed a few times during the few years I worked there; Chris Smith, Len Gendle (also a Tamworth FC director), Sammy and Anne Joseph, Alan and Chris Jeffcote, Keith Smith, Bob Simons - to name a few. I also played in the darts team for a short while as - although not a football fan - I was a regular member of the club. Sunday lunchtime back then was never complete without the card school(Nap) consisting of Ian Goodwin, Les Taft, Bob Simons and myself as the regular players. (circa. 1976)

The wooden building was a popular venue for parties and the like, as well as the discos 2 or 3 nights per week. Being a FC supporters club there was a strong membership back in the mid-to-late 70s. The building was rectangular in shape with a pitched roof. At one end of the rectangle was the bar, with the toilets being at the other. The usual club-style tables and chairs were regimentally lined up along each of the long sides of the rectangle.

There were two entrances, near the toilets end and also near the bar. I recall the bar entrance being used most.

The club was finally abandoned and knocked down to make way for the 'egg' ring-road but was utilised right to the end of its life. I performed there many, many times, often as a double disco event with DJ Nij (electric shock) Redfern".

DJ Captain Green
DJ Captain Green

Captain Green did a great impression of Marlon Brando by stuffing beer mats into his mouth to puff out his cheeks, he was a regular DJ at the Tavern in the 1980s.

A very small selection:

Disco Darby Tamworth Assembly Rooms 27/07/74Barry John Sunday Special at Tamworth Football Club

Barry John Disco
Amington Band Room
Admission: 15p

Barry John
The Millbank Promotions Tamworth FC Social Club

Disco Derby
Barry John and Malcolm Taylor

Assembly Rooms

Every Thursday - Barry John Disco - Amington Inn18/08/74
DJ Barry John

Tamworth F.C. Social Club

DJ Barry John

Tamworth F.C. Social Club

30/12/77 - Last Bandroom Disco of ‘77, DJ Barry John, Amington Band Room30/12/77
Last Bandroom Disco of ‘77
DJ Barry John

Amington Band Room

Thanks to: Barry John - www.djbarryjohn.co.uk

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