The king Mojo Club
King Mojo - 1965
Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band kicked of the New Year in style.
February saw visits from The Soul Agents with Rod Stewart, The Stormsville Shakers and Herman's Hermits.
Then in early 1965 as Peter Stringfellow tried to keep ahead of his rivals and enhance the unique atmosphere of The King Mojo Club he had the club decor changed from the dark murals of African warriors with the addition of some large wall murals based on American superhero comic book and pop art styles.
This was the period when Pop Art started to explode on the Mod scene and groups like the Who and Small Faces emerged sporting clothing bearing roundels, often seen emblazoned on a Mod's Parka, or Union Jacks, seen on the side panels of many scooters.
Wall Murals, posters, produced by Collin Duffield and newspaper adverts showing acts booked to appear at the Mojo, were to become synonymous with the club.
Many of the Mojo's wall murals in 1965 were the product of the talents of Dave Senior. Who could have known back then that the posters would one day be valuable collectors items.
Wall art by Dave Senior
On March 7th the Mojo hosted The Pretty Things.
Phil May of the Pretty Things:
"We arrived one night at the Mojo to find about150 people standing outside. Peter had refused to let them in because they were wearing jeans. I told Peter we wouldn’t play unless he let them in, but he was adamant about it. We went across the road to the pub to discuss it and he finally relented after an hour when he realised we were serious about not playing".
From Sheffield History Forum:
"I think it was some time in 1965 when we went along to the Mojo to see The Pretty Things. The Doorman refused us entry as a couple of my mates had 'longish hair' (a bit ironic considering the length of vocalist Phil Mays hair), the Doorman explained, The Mojo has a ban on long hair to keep out a bad element. We pointed the mates with 'longish hair' in the direction of the pub just down Barnsley Road, the rest of us had a fab time at The Mojo!! dancing along to Tommy Tuckers High-Heel Sneakers comes to mind".
The following weekend The Birds (with Ronnie Wood) made the first of five appearances in 1965.
Best Mojo gig I can remember was the Birds [not the US Byrds] which was Ronnie Wood's first recording band. At one point they got the guitars feeding back then propped em up and walked off for a drink/smoke, came back and carried on with the number.
In the East Midlands, the Mojo was one of very few clubs, like the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and The Dungeon in Nottingham, where good music could be heard, seen and danced to and in the early 60s many soul records, even Motown, could only usually be obtained through import or ‘off the shelf’ in London.
Good soul music was always at the core of the Mojo music with a little Blue Beat and Ska, together with any suitable pop music from bands like The Who, Yardbirds, Small Faces and Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds.
The main ingredients that made the Mojo so special and atmospheric to so many, was it's magical mix of great music, great people and a great place. Along with the music went the clothes and art of the fast changing 60s era.
"With the advent of mod groups like the Who and Small Faces, hair styles changed becoming slighty shorter and lot's of back combing going on. I think this was when the Mojo's own fashion styles started to take off and went that bit further than mod styles of the times. Things just went wild at the Mojo with fashions changing every week."
The MOJO was a MOD stronghold as the kids that went there were totally fashions conscious. Full length leather coats (male and female), were discussed, as was the size the vent at the back of your pin stripe suit from John Colliers, or Hepworth’s Tailors.
All-nighters began in 1965 on a Saturday night with a one pound entrance fee and the sessions started at midnight. Soon, a regular crowd began to go, with people from Sheffield and nearby cities and towns like York, Hull, Nottingham, Rotherham, Worksop and Chesterfield turning up.
The meeting point was the Favorita Coffee Bar, in the centre of town. At 11pm everybody went to the Mojo and began to queue in order to ensure they were let in.
It could be guaranteed that in Sheffield When an all-nighter was taking place, half of the teenage population would be on sleep overs in order to outwit their parent's ban on Mojo all-nighters.
People would head home after an all-nighter to find
themselves locked out and have to wait in drafty outside loos until the door was finally unlocked.
Grooving on the pop art decorated Mojo dance floor
Some of the records that caused an impact at the all-nighters were things like:-
'Getting Mighty Crowded'' - Betty Everett;
'Shake and Finger pop' - Junior Walker & The All Stars;
'At The Club' - The Drifters;
'I Can't Help Myself' - The Four Tops;
'You've Been Cheatin' - The Impressions;
'Billy's Bag' - Billy Preston
'In the Midnight Hour' - Wilson Pickett;
'The 'In' Crowd' - Dobie Gray;
'Agent Double-O-Soul' - Edwin Starr;
'The Duck' - Jakie Lee;
'It's the Same Old Song' - The Four Tops;
'Tight Rope' - Inez & Charlie Foxx;
'Watermelon Man' – Willie Mitchell;
'Roadrunner' – Jr Walker & the All Stars;
plus the singles of the time from UK artists.
The Artistics' 'I’m gonna miss you' was always the last song played: it meant the end of every all-nighter.
It wasn't long before Peter was trying to always get an American soul artist for the Saturday all-nighter. However, British R&B bands like John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and The Stormsville Shakers also played Mojo all-nighters, Apr 17th and Apr 24th, Nov 13th respectively .
"It was the all-nighters we became famous for. These big American stars would come over because they could play three gigs in different places through the night. We started with R&B: English bands like Georgie Fame, Zoot Money and John Mayall; Geno Washington and his Ram Jam Band."
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers played two sessions at the Mojo on 19 April 1965, 7:30pm to 11pm and the all-night Session, 11:30pm to 6am. The band line up was: John Mayall - Organ / Harmonica / Vocals, Eric Clapton - Guitar, John McVie - Bass, Hughie Flint - Drums.
Other bands on the bill were: Tony Knight's Chessmen, Rod Stewart & The Soul Agents, The Blues Herd and The Sheffields.
(Courtosy of Where's Eric - Eric Clapton Tour 1965)
"It was essential for bands to play in the better known clubs in the north in order to get recognition and consolidate their following. To name a few, there was The Twisted Wheel in Manchester, The Boathouse in Nottingham, Club a Go-Go in Newcastle and the Mojo in Sheffield, where Peter Stringfellow was DJ. The concept of having someone to play records in a club until the band came on was then entirely new, and he was one of the original DJs, playing really good sounds".
From Sheffield History Forum:
"I lived in Barnsley. I went to the Mojo Club three times. One occasion I hold out as probably the best musical experience of my life. It was John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton on lead. This was an all-nighter. Clapton was my God at that time and I knelt in front of the stage at his feet. After the live music, my abiding memory is that every other record that was played was Shirley Ellis's 'Clapping Song'. The atmosphere was magical."
Also in mid April a man destined to be a Mojo favourite, Geno Washington joined The Ram Jam Band.
Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band (Gage, Kingham, Beadle, Wright, Roberts and Prestige) became a well respected and highly acclaimed live band, putting on energetic performances that enthralled Sheffield's Mojo crowd and their infectious tunes consistently filled dancefloors and venues throughout the UK.
"Geno Washington and his Ram Jam Band - he was the biggest draw of them all, yet he never had a hit record."
1st of 3 appearances by The Who in 1965
On Sunday it was time for British R & B or soul bands, opening from 8pm until 11pm. Sunday was a day in which clubs could get a cheaper rate from bands in those days, as they would very often be travelling from a Saturday gig to a Monday gig. So they were sort of fill ins for a bit of extra readies!
Sometimes, Peter and Geoff could not afford the money a great artist demanded, like Wilson Pickett, so they asked him to sing at 2am, after he had sung at a bigger club earlier the same evening. The artist always charged them less for doing so.
Many of these acts would play the three big clubs in the North of England at the time, the Mojo, Twisted Wheel and Dungeon, sometimes on the same night.
1965 was the year The Who - the band that defined Mod in the Sixties - came to the forefront. It was also the year they would play three times at legendary northern Mod club, The King Mojo, firstly in May (as pictured) and again in August and November.
The August gig almost became a disaster after Peter Townsend received an electric shock on stage, but it obviously wasn't enough to put The Who off! Their first chart hit, 'Can't Explain' had been released in January, and their first album 'My Generation' would be released in December.
The Mojo was now firmly established as one of the venues for Mod music, and it wasn't uncommon for Mod bands to travel distances just to play there. The three times The Who played were no exception.
"I saw the Who at the Mojo. Trouble is I can’t remember which gig! I do remember as in those days they played LOUD and hard! Certainly louder that you would get away with playing in a small club nowadays. If you didn’t have buzz in your ear for a day or so afterwards you felt cheated!"
At the May gig, as advertised on the poster, the band were supported by a local Sheffield group called 'The Lizards', who had formerly been known as 'Dean Marshall and The Deputies'. They had been part of the Thank Your Lucky Stars show under this name in 1963.
"According to Barry Marshall of the Lizards who were The Who's support group. He said the roadies let them use The Who's gear as it was such a small stage, which they then proceeded to blow up! 'It was one of those things'!
Peter Stringfellow had told the Lizards they had to do a 45-minute set but they barely knew enough material and one of those was the Who's 'I Can’t Explain'! This was the only hit The Who had at this time. (Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere had only just been released days earlier on the 21 May) They told Peter Townsend their problem, who said 'F***n' hell, I'm sick of it already, you do it!' So, they played it and The Who didn’t, and afterwards they all went for a drink together at The Gate!"
"You couldn’t make it up could you!"
By the time of the Who's third Mojo gig, 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere' was a smash hit and the youth anthem 'My Generation' had just been released".
Sunday June 6th saw a great night when The Hollies appeared at the Mojo. They were already an established group and played to a packed house at the Mojo the weekend after their single 'I'm Alive' became No.1. Peter and Geoff did themselves proud that day
with an admission of five shillings!
There was a couple of memorable incidents that night: one when a lass sent a painting of Tony Hicks down to the stage? It was passed over everyone's' heads like they used to send little kids down to the front on football terraces. The second was when a girl fainted at the front of the stage and Allan Clarke, in mid number, jumped down and helped her up!
They weren't too big not to do that.
The place was so influential in the north, that a new dance performed at the Mojo would have spread out to clubs in surrounding cities and towns and beyond within days.
Dancing on the Mojo Stage viewed from the small side stage
The key fact that differentiated the Mojo play list from other clubs of the time was where Stringfellow got the material he played. Peter Stringfellow bought and played the UK releases which he got from Sheffield record shops (mainly Wilson Pecks) every Thursday.
The Mojo's Peter Stringfellow who was simply the finest "live" disc jockey I have seen. His personality and knowledge of what music teenagers wanted to hear was uncanny. He set up his turntables next to the small stage that bands would appear on so he could spin records and then walks out to introduce the groups.
The US imports came from Peter's forrays to London as one of the hosts on RSG and Mike Ward who was getting them from US radio stations and bringing them to Peter. So the exclusive at the time plays for example like Billy Butler's, 'Right Track and Boston Monkey'; Alvin Cash's 'She shot me through the grease'; Stevie Wonder's, 'Love A Go Go' and one of the Mojo anthems Billy Stewarts' 'Exodus' were all provided by unsung hero Mike.
Not all of the music Stringfellow played was from singles, some of the most popular Mojo dance tracks were from LPs.
"I used to DJ my own music at the Mojo and I got a reputation for playing music that no-one had heard before, early Motown and soul music on obscure labels like Oracle".
The same went for all the new records that Peter Stringfellow would spin. If a new track was played on import at an all-nighter, club DJ's across the North would be chasing a copy by the Tuesday.
On September 1965 at Pond Street Bus Station, Sheffield, 40 Mojo club members wait for a coach to take them to the studios of ITV’s Ready Steady Go in London.
Peter Stringfellow had gone down on the Thursday for the show’s rehersals.
Then on Friday Geoff Stringfellow came down with the coach load of Mojo mods. They were going to take part in a Ready Steady Go dance contest composed entirely of Mojo couples.
For weeks Peter had been telling them that in smartness and fashion they equal, if not outshine, any teenagers, anywhere in the country.
Four couples took part in the contest:-
David Growns and Hillary Wills,
Dave Senior and Susan Duffield,
Ken James and Barbara Hill
and the winners,
Warwick Bower and Kathleen Davenport.
The Mojo Crowd off to ABC Studios at Wembley for that night`s live edition of READY STEADY GO.
"When I saw then come into the studio they took my breath away. I know how smart they dress, but this was fantastic, the girls dresses were marvellous".
David Growns and Hillary Wills dancing at RSG
Peter decided to take the Mojo dancers to the London Scene Club after RSG. Local mods didn’t like them being there, so they left before a fight started.
Sunday Sep 12th saw the return again of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to the King Mojo.
Then after performing 'My Generation' on Friday 5th of November's Ready Steady Go the Who, on Sunday 7th, are on the Mojo Stage for their third performance of 1965. It is another great night and the Mojo dance floor is again solid with young mods who dance, sing, clap and call for more as in the packed, atmosphere of the Mojo, the perspiration runs down their bodies soaking their clothes, down the Mojo walls and even drips from the ceiling.
The following weekend has the Stormsville Shakers playing the Saturday all-nighter and the following evening the great Wilson Pickett, backed by Bluesology treats the Mojo crowd to a great evening's entertainment.
David Growns on the Nov 14th Willson Pickett (backed by Bluesology) gig:
"I remember having to help this shy guy called Reg carry his battered piano up thru` the club to the stage . Changed bands and his name to Elton and did alright."
Mods on the Mojo Dance Floor
The Christmas Eve special starred Herbie Goins & The Nightimers supported by Tony Night’s Chessmen.
For this event transport was a must. With The Mojo being situated outside the city centre it was not easy to get to, or from, by public transport at the best of times, but at 2am on Christmas Day it would mean a walk of approximately 2 miles just to get to the main bus station or train station in the city centre only to find that there was nothing running.
New Years Eve sees Long John Baldrey's Steampacket at the King Mojo. Formed in 1965 by Long John Baldry after the break-up of his previous group the Hoochie Coochie Men it included Rod Stewart who had been with Baldry in the Hoochie Coochie Men, vocalist Julie Driscoll, organist Brian Auger, Mick Fleetwood, Vic Briggs, Richard Brown, Peter Green and Mickey Waller.
Steampacket was notable mainly for the fact that so many of its members already were, or subsequently became, famous as individual musicians. Often called the first 'Super Group'.
Other notable acts to appear at the Mojo in 1965; The Mersetbeats, Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers, Graham Bond Organisation with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Dick Heckstall-Smith and the American all-girl group Goldie and The Gingerbreads.
"Goldie and The Gingerbreads in 1965 - first time I had seen an all-girl group playing instruments. They looked so cool to me particularly Goldie herself beating a tambourine"