Rocking the Chateau
by John Combe
Fleetwood Mac, Tom Jones, and John Peel all appeared at The Chateau Impney near Droitwich in the 1960s. Local rock historian John Combe picks out some of the highlights.
Sunday 1 - Monday 2 September 1968
The Bluesology Festival at the Chateau was spoilt by rainy weather.
This two day festival was plagued by heavy showers, but it did not stop a range of top groups appearing.
Hosted by Radio One DJ John Peel, the bands included Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, with new guitarist Danny Kirwan, John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, Geno Washington, Joe Cocker and his Grease Band, The Family, Wynder K. Frogg, The Move and Skip Bifferty.
Friday 27 January 1967
The Beat Scene column, written by Malcolm Nicholl, had now changed its name to On the Inside, and featured an article on an appearance by Jimmy Cliff and The Shakedown Sound, at the Black Horse the previous Thursday.
The article wrote that a dynamic Jimmy Cliff really entertained an unusually lively Kidderminster crowd, with the 'Shakedowns', including local musicians Kevyn Gammond and Sean Jenkins, providing a solid foundation.
Also mentioned was the previous Friday's all-nighter at the Chateau, which featured the Protection Racket from Worcester, and local blues outfit Chicken Shack.
Another great night with a full house.
Friday 24 March 1967
Under the headlines "Friday Night and Saturday Morning", Malcolm Nicholl wrote about an 'all-niter' he had been to the previous Friday.
Chicken Shack play Frank Freeman's (1)
He said early risers in Kidderminster were surprised to see hundreds of sleepy teenagers walking through the town centre on Saturday morning.
They had just returned by coach from an 'all-niter' at the Chateau.
First band on were The Frame, followed by Chicken Shack - a trio at this time - they were praised for their power house Chicago Blues.
Later on another band turned up and played an impromptu set.
The 'all-niter' was turning out to be a real cultural phenomenon.
Friday 8 September 1967
The 'all-niters' started again at the Chateau with the return of Jimmy Cliff and The Shakedowns who went down a storm to a full house.
Friday 3 November 1967
The Drifters appeared at the Chateau in the upstairs ballroom, although they didn't appear on stage until 4am on the Saturday morning.
The Drifters with Johnny Moore
Backed by the London All Stars, they kicked off their set with On Broadway and performed many of their famous hits.
The general consensus was that they put on a great show.
Whether there were any original members of The Drifters on stage nobody really knew, apart from a local man, Michael Townley from Bliss Gate, who reckoned they were an American group called The Invitation, who had been touring the UK.
They were managed by the same person who managed the original Drifters - he even named all the group members.
Thursday 14 December 1967
The 'all-niter' at the Chateau on Saturday/Sunday seemed a much more successful affair.
Wynder K Frogg and his brilliant organ playing and his group kept the packed crowd dancing all through the night.
Wynder enjoyed his set so much he played for another hour in the morning.
Also on the bill was Jimmy Cliff and The Shakedowns - although they went down well enough, a slight waning in popularity was discerned.From the book 'Get Your Kicks on the A456'. ISBN-0-9550482-0-6. Price £12.99.
Martin Gilleland from Hereford has this memory of gigs at the Chateau:
I used to go to Chateau Impney about this time, with a friend who used his father's white Ford Zodiac to get us from Ashchurch near Tewkesbury to the venue. One weekend it had snowed and the car got stuck on the verge. I got out to give a push and got covered in mud from the wheel spin - I was not happy! We saw Ten Years After one evening. We were around 19 years old then, but things have got a bit vague since! We also visited Holt Fleet, and saw, I think, Savoy Brown. A group of us stayed in a girlfriend's house in Ombersley over a weekend while her parents were away, and walked down to the pub to hear the group.
last updated: 23/09/2009 at 16:18