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13 November 2014

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You are in: Bradford and West Yorkshire > Entertainment > Music > Features > Jimi Hendrix 'DEFINITELY' played Ilkley!

Jimi Hendrix 'DEFINITELY' played Ilkley!

A while ago, we asked if the rumours are true that guitar legend Jimi Hendrix once played a gig in, of all places, the genteel spa town of Ilkley. Danny Pollock's been in touch say it really DID happen - and he was the chap that booked him!

Jimi Hendrix and guitar

Hendrix: A guitar legend in Ilkley!

Danny writes:

Yes, Jimi Hendrix definitely played Ilkley. I know that because I booked him through the Zenith Agency that I ran, and I put him on at these venues with my pal Stuart Frais through our joint promotions company S&D Enterprises.

We promoted a number of gigs around the Leeds area in the late 60s. These included Rod Stewart at the Blue Gardenia in Boar Lane, Leeds - Rod was part of The Steam Packet with blues star Long John Baldry - Julie Driscoll and The Brian Auger Trinity. I think the whole package was around £80 or £100. 

Jimi: Electric atmosphere

Jimi: Electric atmosphere

We also put on Joe Cocker at the Blue Gardenia for £18 on a Thursday night - we lost £3 on him and I remember sending him a postal order to his home in Sheffield. I 'phoned him to apologise for the poor attendance and had to call back because he hadn't returned from working on the buses yet!

The Ilkley gig which I promoted with Stuart was part of a short series of local promotions that we put on. These featured The Zoot Money Big Roll Band, The Graham Bond Organisation, and Jimmy James and The Vagabonds at the Troutbeck in Ilkley and David Bowie at the Harrogate Opera House where we paid him £30 as support act for The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band!

Regarding the local Hendrix gigs, I booked him for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday through my agency, Zenith Agency & Management, which also booked many excellent local bands of the day.  After seeing Jimi on Top Of The Pops I booked him for three nights at £50 per night via the Harold Davidson Agency in London. The dates were a few weeks ahead. The first gig was somewhere in the Midlands, Mansfield I think, the Saturday was at the International Club in Chapeltown in Leeds (which may be vying for his poorest reception ever), and the Sunday was at The Troutbeck Hotel in Ilkley.

By the time Jimi was due to play there he'd become the hottest act in the country. One slight problem was that his manager had not returned the signed contract to me...We were quite concerned that it could be a no-show as they could have earned much more than £150 for three nights work by that time. No worries, the atmosphere was electric as Jimi took the stage - but is was over all too soon when the police stopped the show.

"The atmosphere was electric as Jimi took the stage - but is was over all too soon when the police stopped the show..."

Danny Pollock

Stuart and I retreated to the dressing room with Jimi and the band. Then we organised refunds at the door for everyone as Jimi had only performed one or two numbers. There was a little bit of trouble, but nothing major. A small number of dishonest customers somehow managed to return and get two refunds which meant that we were not able to refund everyone on the night. A couple of paintings were damaged on a wall by disappointed customers - and it was reported in the northern edition of the Daily Express as "Riot at Ilkley Hotel". I don't know what that particular reporter was on! 

After the gig and back at the flat we were hanging out with Jimi and the band (now there's a story to dine on). My recollection of Jimi was that he was quiet, polite, friendly, and funny - and he enjoyed a nice cup of tea. Wish I'd had a video camera!

Maybe some of the music fans from that era will also remember some the fabulous local music venues of the day - The Plebians Jazz Club in Halifax, The Little Fat Black Pussy Cat Club in Bradford both operated by Paul Mountain (a guy with great taste for upcoming acts), The Boulevarde in Tadcaster, The Zarf Club York, Pete Stringfellow's King Mojo in Sheffield, The Blues Club at Barnoldswick and many more. Happy days! 

guitar strings

Want to know what other people from West Yorkshire have been telling us about Hendrix's Ilkley gig? Read on!

Peter Crowther:

Yes. I was there and, boy, were there plenty more fans as well, I don't actually think there were 900 but it just felt like it. I was a teenager in Ilkley at that time and had become a weekend regular with my friends at the Troutbeck that year. There were five or six of us, myself, George Brown, Alan Clay, Stephen Feather, David Martin and David Hanson. George had already discovered Jimi Hendrix, introducing him to the rest of us and when we got to know he had been booked to appear at our local, we were on Cloud 9. We all duly agreed to be there, meeting in the bar first and on into the dance hall to listen to our hero. I thought I would drive up there and arrived to find no space to park and thought, "What is happening? There must be something else on as well." I did eventually park and on "entering" the foyer could not believe how many people were there. It was absolutely packed, but knowing the layout, managed to slip into the saloon bar to link up with my friends to plan our strategy. So packed was the venue that we agreed that it was everyone for themselves, some friends even said, 'Forget it we are staying here you will never get in.' But George was mad keen to try so off we went down a corridor where you were supposed to pay - forget that - so many into so little space meant just shuffle along next to the wall and we were in. Well I say we were in - there must have been 300 to 400 fans in a small dance hall and all I could see was the very top of Hendrix's head. By this time they may well have played something but I had not heard anything recognisable so congratulating myself on at least being there and ready for a great night they hit an opening chord and .....Sorry folks the police are closing this event down, everyone out! I certainly do not remember a riot but hundreds of disappointed fans very not happy. You can use your imagination as to how they left but I will forever remember being at a Hendrix's gig, hearing him play but what it was I will never know.  Happy Times!              

Nadia, Bradford:

I was at the Troutbeck Hotel on the night Jimi Hendrix played along with my best friend Christine and another friend Jackie.  I had never heard of him before then and we were at a loss for somewhere to go that Sunday night so we decided to hitchhike to Ilkley from Keighley as someone had told us there was a band on at the Troutbeck. I remember thinking he was the most ugliest bloke I had ever seen.  The three of us were all mods and Christine was brilliant at sewing and used to make unusual outfits for herself and me.  I remember this particular night Christine was wearing one of her creations a purple cat suit which had bell bottom trousers, low on the midriff, and there were holes cut out in the top and trimmed with silver lurex.  We remember being in the dressing room with Jimi Hendrix when he looked Christine up and down and exclaimed "HEY PURPLE HAZE"  to this day Christine is convinced that the song Purple Haze was inspired about her cat suit! Jackie went off with Jimi and we never saw her again that night.  She never came home with us that's for sure.  Both Christine and I are very surprised at the reports that say there were up to 900 fans at the Troutbeck that night as we remember there being more around 60 "if that".  We remember being evacuated outside because there was some smoke and standing with Jimi and the rest of the band.  When Jimi was playing on stage we remember him playing his guitar at the back of his head and then with his teeth, we had never seen anything like that before.  We do not remember any riots breaking out (with less than 60 people it would be hard to imagine).  I wish now that I should have got his autograph or something!!!


Wanted to go but didn't make it. But good to read about Susan and "The Little Fat Black Pussy Cat" in Bradford. I have not met up with anybody who remembers it. It was a great gig. We had a lot of good music venues at the time as well as a lot of pubs having good live bands. I have fond memories of the Boulavard on the A64. Three Coins, Albion Walk in, The Old Mecca, Star & Garter, Kirkstall etc etc. I could go on for hours. I played in bands myself then.  I am now a DJ working on the original "Radio Caroline"  as well as other small stations. Still enjoying the music & the people!

David, Ilkley:

I remember the gig because the Troutbeck was our trio's resident job at this time. We didn't compete with Jimi though, we played every Saturday night for sedate dinner dances etc. I don't recall much damage being done as a result of the supposed riots; this was possibly a "good story" put about by the Gentlemen of the press. Re. Angie's recollection of Gene Vincent at Keighley, I remember his visit to Yeadon Town Hall (I think) where he appeared on stage dressed from head to foot in white leather including gauntlets whereupon a wag in the audience shouted "WHEER'S YER MOTORBIKE THEN"? Fortunately Gene could not understand broad Yorkshire, either that or he wasn't quite on this planet. However he proceded to play his guitar complete with leather gauntlets which proved to me that he was one of the early 'guitar holders' rather than a player. Speaking of overcrowding at The Troutbeck we played a gig also at Ilkley (Kings Hall) around about the same time where 1200 people were addmitted (maximum 400). This was an annual Christmas time bash organised?? by the Catholic Fathers.

Madeleine, Wyke:

You're correct! Jimi Hendrix definitely played at the Troutbeck. Unfortunately the police stopped the show as it was thought to be a fire hazard. We actually went with the band and the promoters, in fact I had one of Jimi's Polo mints! Wow! There were lots of other top bands played there, and Prince Charles used to say there. It was one of his retreats.

last updated: 03/11/2008 at 16:07
created: 03/11/2008

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