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13 November 2014

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You are in: Derby > Memoryshare > Derby's Great Gigs

The Rolling Stones

Derby's Great Gigs

Derby can seem quite an unhappening place at times and there's no denying that the big names of rock'n'roll don't often tune in, turn on or drop out here. However, this modest city does have a wild past that needs exploring...

Derby had its first taste of fame and glamour in 1933 when a 32-year-old Louis Armstrong, trumpet in hand, strolled into town.

He played at the Central Hall on Albert Street, you might recognise the building now as a travel agents. Who'd have thought that the man, often referred to as the world's greatest jazz musician, played right here?

The town of Derby suffered something of a musical drought post-Louis. It took almost 30 years until the next band of note arrived to play at the Derby Gaumont.

The 60s

Barely three months old, a band known as The Rolling Stones enjoyed their debut gig at London's Marquee Club (minus Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts) and then embarked on a non-stop tour of the country. They played in the club now known as Zanzibar on 11th October 1962.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who

The Who: Daltry & Townsend

The 60s was a glorious decade for music and Derby attracted its fare share of top acts including The Who, Pink Floyd, complete with Syd Barrett, and the Yardbirds.

The 70s

If the 60s provided quality, the 70s undoubtedly gave us quantity. Who could forget the likes of Genesis, with Peter Gabriel, Hawkwind and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown?

Punk arrived in the mid 70s and it didn't pass Derby by. All fired up from their UK tour, one of the last gigs on The Sex Pistols' itinerary was Cleopatra's in Derby.

Amidst a media frenzy the Pistols delighted in creating as much disorder as possible. They inspired the kids and appalled their parents so much that a second gig, planned for December of the same year, was called off after the band played a trick on the local politicians of the time.

Derby councillors were left for two hours at the King's Hall venue on Saturday 4th December. Johnny Rotten and co had promised a preview matinee gig for local dignitaries and the press.

The controversial band had no intention of showing up. The councillors waited in front of a stage, empty but for a lonesome guitar with only its amp for company. Enraged, the councillors stamped their feet and said that the show would not go on.

The Jam, 1980

The Jam on TOTP, 1980

Not every band that visited Derby was quite so controversial, The Jam, The Clash, The Stranglers and The Cure all managed to exhibit their dramatics on stage rather than on the front page.

The 80s

The 80s were a mish-mash of musical styles, there was certainly something to suit everyone's taste.

Human League, Toyah and Gary Numan brought with them a new brand of pop inspired by the New Romantic movement in London and a more electronic sound that originated in Germany. For those who fancied something a little darker there were the likes of Bauhaus, The Fall and Joy Division.

Ian Curtis, singer in Joy Division, committed suicide only days after their gig at Derby's Ajanta club.

Other bands that made a Derby appearance included The Stranglers, U2 and The Smiths. If you preferred your music direct from the other end of the melodious spectrum there were the delights of Slade, Shakin' Stevens and Bonnie Tyler.

Primal Scream were one of the last bands to play in the 80s. Somewhere between their psychadelic rock and dance phase, they were supported by local band White Town at the Dial.

The 90s

Although Derby struggled to produce any modern day heroes of its own, the city did attract a glut of singers and musicians who, although not stadium-fillers at the time, were 'Definitely Maybe' due to be.

The action centred around the Dial and the Wherehouse.

Oasis Pic: Andrew Macpherson


Teenage Fanclub, Ash, Radiohead, Oasis and Pulp went head-to-head with acts that played at the Assembly Rooms. Petula Clark, Take That and Roy Wood were aimed at a completely different audience though.

Oasis played Derby twice in one year. Both gigs were at the former Wherehouse on Friargate. Their first gig, in November 1993, was as the support act for BMX Bandits. The crowd liked them so much that they came back just six months later as the main headliners.

Dates to remember

A few highlights to stimulate your memory banks:

Louis Armstrong - 1933 - Derby Central Hall
The Rolling Stones - October 1962 - Derby Gaumont
The Yardbirds - November 1965 - Derby Gaumont
The Who - April 1966 - Derby Gaumont
The Who - September 1966 - Odeon
Pink Floyd -June 1967 - Hippodrome
Slade, White Rabbit and Judas Priest - September 1971 - Derbyshire Yeoman
Genesis - November 1971 - King's Hall
Van de Graaf Generator - November 1971 - King's Hall
Crazy World of Arthur Brown - June 1972 - Cleopatra's
Hawkwind -January 1973 - King's Hall
Chris Spedding - January 1974 - Cleopatra's
Dr Feelgood - October 1975 - Cleopatra's
The Sex Pistols - October 1976 - Cleopatra's
The Sex Pistols (BANNED) - December 1976 - King's Hall
The Jam - November 1977 - King's Hall
The Clash - December 1977 - King's Hall 
AC/DC - December 1977 - King's Hall
The Clash - November 1978 - King's Hall
Peter Gabriel - August 1978 - Assembly Rooms
The Cure - July 1979 - Ajanta
The Undertones - October 1979 - King's Hall
The Damned - May 1980 - Assembly Rooms
Human League - May 1980 - Assembly Rooms
The Tourists - September 1980 - Assembly Rooms
Madness - December 1980 - Assembly Rooms
Slade - February 1981 - Assembly Rooms 
Siouxsie and the Banshees - February 1981 - Assembly Rooms
Stiff Little Fingers - May 1981 - Assembly Rooms
Toyah May - 1981 - Assembly rooms
Shakin Stevens - May 1981 - Assembly Rooms
Bad Manners - July 1981 - Assembly Rooms
Joe Jackson's Jumping Jive - August 1981 - Assembly Rooms
The Pretenders - September 1981 - Assembly Rooms 
Adam and the Ants - December 1981 - King's Hall
Thin Lizzy - December 1981 - Assembly Rooms
The Human League - December 1981 - Assembly Rooms
The Stranglers - February 1982 - Assembly Rooms
Boom Town Rats - April 1982 - Assembly Rooms
Marillion - May 1982 -Tiffany's
Altered Images - May 1982 - Assembly Rooms
Squeeze - June 1982 - Assembly Rooms
Simple Minds - December 1982 - Assembly Rooms
Mari Wilson - March 1983 - Assembly Rooms
U2 - March 1983 - Assembly Rooms
Soft Cell - March 1983 - Assembly Rooms
Gary Numan - October 1983 - Assembly Rooms
10CC - October 1983 - Assembly Rooms
The Smiths - December 1983 - Assembly Rooms
OMD - March 1984 - Assembly Rooms
Take That - November 1992 - Assembly Rooms
Tom Robinson - February 1993 - Wherehouse
Chumbawamba - March 1993 - Wherehouse
Oasis  - May 1994 - Wherehouse

last updated: 30/06/2009 at 13:06
created: 16/09/2008

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