King Mojo - 1967
1967 got into full swing at the all-nighter featuring The Spellbinders and Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band.
The Spellbinders, Robert Shives, James Wright, Ben Grant, McArthur Munford, and Elouise Pennington, were a harmonizing bunch from New Jersey, a slick mixed male/female quintet, whose harmonies undoubtedly inspired their name.
Zoot Money who had already played the New Year’s Eve session take to the Mojo stage again and their original song ‘Big Time Operator’ is always well received at the Mojo and when he launches into this, the audience joins in. The band’s playlist contains many versions of American R&B; his best is a copy of ‘It Should’ve Been Me’ (Ray Charles) and ‘Please Stop The Wedding’ (Lou Johnson) and being a great organist Zoot treats the Mojo crowd to the inevitable Jimmy Smith tracks.
As the Mojo faithful depart it is a Sunday which is all to the good, New Year’s Day is not yet a bank holiday
and it is a freezing cold New Year’s Day with a light snow falling and for many, there is a long journey home.
Many upon leaving the all-nighter are pencilling next weekend in their diaries:- an all-nighter described in the advert as starring the sensational dancing and showmanship act direct from New York USA, Alvin Cash and The Crawlers. Their discs, Twine Time, Philly Freeze and the Boogaloo were very opular with the Mojo crowd.
Followed on Sunday with the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Sunday 8th January is a night that many of the Mojo faithful will never forget with the appearance of Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix came to Britain in September 1966, put ‘The Experience’ together, and started touring in December. On Wednesday 4th, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ reached six in the UK charts.
“We paid £50 for Hendrix - there's an advert in The Sheffield Star archives which says, 'Roaring into 1967 with the well-known weirdo trio Jimi Hendrix' Experience.”
The previous night they had played the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, a disastrous event which had culminated in a drugs bust by Manchester Police. During the fracas, bassist Noel Redding was allegedly hung on a peg by officers and was rumoured to have broken a couple of ribs. (The officers in question were later sacked over this).
The night starts as most Mojo nights do, with 400 plus Mods (Mojo capacity 250), packing the dance floor and dancing to the cool Mojo soul sounds that are the club’s trademark.
Then rumours fly round the club that there is a drugs raid. The police in Sheffield at that time didn’t quite know what to do when they received a tip-off from Manchester, so they sent in the fire brigade to check upon things!
One fireman offensively and aggressively asked Jimi where the drugs were. Hendrix calmly replied, 'No drugs here, man'. The fire brigade searched and couldn't find anything. Stringfellow insisted they apologised to Jimi. 'Hey, cool man,' Hendrix replied, lighting up a very large joint.
The session went ahead and the Jimi Hendrix Experience played to an audience of 416. The set included their new unrecorded song, 'Purple Haze' and 'Wild Thing' which they merge into 'God Save The Queen'. Jimi also played something he called his version of the Blitz. It had wailing sirens and explosions all generated by his guitar and amps. He did what became is trademark things, like playing behind his back, playing with his teeth, attacking the amps with his guitar, and bouncing the guitar on the stage.
Sheffield Forum Member:
“Saw JH at the Mojo, can remember him messing with mic stands before getting changed for the gig.
Only song I can really remember him playing though is Wild Thing, the start of which left me with a dropped jaw”
The accounts Peter’s mum made out for the night
For many of the soul loving Mojo crowd this was weird and not at all to their taste with some heading to the local pub to drown their sorrows.
By the end of the set many realise that they have just witnessed a musical icon in the making. What an ‘Experience’!
“The gig is something that will stay with me forever – a night of rock history. Of course we have to thank Peter Stringfellow as he was very forward-looking and booked Jimi Hendrix to play at the Mojo Club.”
And what was the fee for this troublesome gig? A mere £50, shared between the band.
The following Saturday's all-nighter hosted the return of The Soul Sisters from New York for the third time in two years to the Mojo.
Sunday 15th saw The Attack back at the Mojo,
This was followed on the 21st by a Georgie Fame and his 10 piece band's double session. Georgie played the evening session from 7.30 to 11.00 followed by the all-nighter from 11.15 to 7.30.
Georgie Fame was always popular at the Mojo and his first number one hit back in ’64,‘Yeh Yeh’, was played at the Mojo until the grooves wore out. He performs copies of great soul recordings like; ‘Sitting In the Park’, ‘Ride Your Pony’, ‘Sunny’, ‘My Girl’, and ‘Sweet Thing’ to mention just a few, with lots of Ska and Blue Beat thrown in for good measure.
The Fenmen played the following day Sunday 22nd,
Saturday 4th February sees the legendary Ben E. King grace the Mojo stage. It is a great night, a typical Mojo Soul night as the Mojo crowd dance the hours away.
January 1967 All-nighters
Peter and his dog Fune
The Mojo crowd are still all Mods; however, it has become noticeable that some changes in the dress style are taking place with the latest Regency style gear, stand-up collar with wide lapels on a frock coat, with buttons, bows and frills on the shirt. Things have always been wild at the Mojo with fashions changing every week and as usual, Peter Stringfellow is at the leading edge.
As Stringfellow takes to the stage following Ben E. King’s performance we notice he is now sporting a historical military jacket similar to the one Hendrix had worm in January. These appear to be becoming the latest ‘must have’ fashion accessory, especially in the music world.
February 5th saw Sonny Childes and the TNT grace the Mojo stage.
This was followed on February 11th by the Billy Stewart all-nighter and on the Sunday with the Move and The Amboy Dukes Big Band
"The Move had a line of television sets onstage with a large axe next to a figure of Hitler. When they started to play Night of Fear, one of the band picked up the axe and put it straight through a television screen. I was near the front and as it exploded I was covered in particles of TV screen silvering. They smashed about four TVs and set about this dummy thing which I think was supposed to be Hitler. At the end of the show the floor in front of the stage was covered in silver coating, glass and smashed TV sets".
February sees the return to the Mojo of Edwin Starr on the 11th and The Action on the 19th.
Inez and Charlie Foxx were billed for the next all-nighter.
On a snowy Saturday 28th the all-nighter starts like many before as Peter spins the disks that get the crowd up on the dance floor. But a short while into the session Peter announces that Inez nd Charlie Foxx have been delayed and may not even arrive and the night may be a record only session. Many get their money back and leave. For those who had come a long way on public transport they had no choice but to stay.
Then a little later Peter informs the 50+ who were left that Inez and Carlie Foxx had arrived. When the band finally take to the stage and because of the small number of people left in the hall, Inez and Charlie come down onto the dance floor and perform among the crowd, many sit in a semi- circle watching the show. What started as a bit of a let-down ends in an amazing show, one the crowd really appreciate as Inez and Charlie Foxx make every effort to impress and perform an extended set for as a thank you for waiting.
It was around this time that rumours started to circulate among the Mojo faithful that the club was in trouble. The Police and the Council had started calling Burngreave a 'Residential area' and they also trawled local people who lived near the club ( the ones who didn't go there of course) who were happy to officially complain about everything from noise, drugs, clubbers wearing underwear in the street, contraceptives left in their gardens and even one guy who was a budgie breeder and said his birds couldn't breed because of all the club noise!
Ad for the last all-nighter
In order to try and relieve some of the complaints the Stringfellows decided to stop the all-nighters with the last all-nighter planed for
Saturday 15th April with Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band.
Meanwhile during March Amboy Dukes Big Band, Ronnie Jones and The Blue Jays and The Creation entertained the Mojo crowd.
Any session with Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band at the King Mojo is guaranteed to be a great session and the last all-nighter was expected to be no exception.
Peter couldn't have booked a better act for the last all-nighter. Gino, who had been christened by the Mojo crowd 'Mr Mojo Washington' is a big favourite at Mod venues nationwide where Mods accept his versions of the music they love even though it is not the original artists singing.
Unfortunately, the all-nighter was dogged by problems. Firstly with the microphones and for 25 minutes the Ram Jam Band played without Gino. He then came on and did a short set and quickly disappeared.
Peter came on to apologise, saying that, due to doctor's orders and a heavy schedule next day, Gino and the band would not be able to play any longer.
The price was quickly dropped to half and the Mojo faithful stayed to enjoy their last all-nighter. With the all-nighter now in full swing Peter announced a dance contest.
The contest took several rounds of dancing, in which the best dancers were selected by the watching crowd cheering or booing for them as Peter Stringfellow pointed a spotlight on them.
Then the finalists would have two minutes to do their stuff up on the stage.
When the winner was announced the floor in front of the stage was cleared and the winners would do a two minute dance of honour – those two minutes were as close as any Mojo Mod could come to stardom – you were made for life.
Finally, when Stringfellow plays "I’m Gonna Miss You’ by the Artistics to close this final all-nighter as he has for all the ones that have gone before, the saying 'not a dry eye in the house' would have aptly described the Mojo faithful as they left their hallowed halls.
However as a parting shot Peter invited the Mojo faithful to join him at new all-dayers on Sundays from 2:00am to 12:00 midnight.
In early May the Mojo had been fighting for its life at a local council hearing, which rejected the club’s application for an alcohol licence. Is this the beginning of the end? The club had plenty of support, local social workers spoke up for it and it even counted Sheffield’s Lord Mayor as a visitor.
However, the motley crew of ‘regulars’ that showed up to give their support did not help the hearing. The King Mojo’s council argued that it would be beneficial to keep such ‘oddballs’ in one place. The strategy failed spectacularly. Worse is to come with the arrival of the new 1967 Private Places of Entertainment (Licensing) Act – the Government’s strategy to regulate clubs that, up until that point, had slipped under the radar because they did not serve alcohol.
May 7th sees the arrival of Pink Floyd at the King Mojo to play a Love-in 'Happening' - a rare all day event, charging only 5 shillings admission.
“I was there at the Pink Floyd Love in gig at the Mojo club. Its a bit hard remembering a set list though! I know Peter and Geoff booked them on the strength of their unusual single 'See Emily Play'. Of course when they played at the Mojo nothing else they played resembled that single at all! As far as I can remember they were doing their spacey long numbers tinged with rock guitar. 'Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun' , 'Interstellar Overdrive' etc. They also had an amazing light show as well. They went down very well. Really can’t remember who else was on the bill – don’t think there was anybody.”
Poster by Colin Duffield
Three days after Pink Floyd played the Mojo the 1967 Private Places of Entertainment (Licensing) Act received royal assent. This rang the death knell of King Mojo and other clubs like it across the country. Peter and Geoff would continue the fight with "Save The Mojo" events at Sheffield City Hall.
Scott McKenzie's 'San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ is released on 13th May. Accompanying it is a film clip used to promote the Monterey Pop Festival starting on 16th June.
“Watching the news at home in Sheffield one afternoon, I saw footage of San Francisco, where there were kids jumping around - some naked, some wearing kaftans - with flowers in their hair. I just thought it was fantastic and brilliant and immediately decided to transform King Mojo from a soul and pop art venue to a hub of the Flower Power movement. I gathered students from the university and we went to town redecorating, making it all psychedelic and magical.
As the resident DJ, I went out and bought a kaftan, got a perm and stuffed roses in my hair - a somewhat confused choice of flower! It was the most popular club in the city. I renamed it the Beautiful King Mojo to fit our new-found theme, and its change in direction quickly affected the tastes of the city's population.”
1967 Membership Card
The mural artists were Sue Barfield, Julie Shrivastava, Alanaha Hatfield and Paul Norton.
Mojo Main Stage by Sue, Julie and Alanaha
Medusa Mural by Sue Julie and Alanah
Sometime earlier in the year for the heck of it I had done a pencil drawing of Peter and given it to him for his birthday I think. When he decided to get the club repainted in a combination of Psychedelic and lndian mysticism he asked me to help. I said I wasn’t really sure as I had never painted a mural before. He was quite insistent! “You’re artistic, you can do it man”! He literally talked me into it and I found it a lot easier that I had first thought. It led to me to paint murals in two more of his clubs along with a host of other local clubs, as well as paintings in peoples houses, restaurants and even at C&A Modes in Sheffield where I worked at the time.
Handbag Bar entrance by Paul Norton
Mural artist Paul Norton in front of a mural painted by Sue, Julie and Alanah
On 21st of May Ozzie Layne's Red Hot Band played the Mojo. Followed on the 28th by The Web.
Procul Harum graced the Mojo stage on the 2nd June. 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', their debut single was released on 12 May. The single reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June six days after they appeared at King Mojo.
From a news artcle in the Sheffield Star:
“With flower music booming all over the place, Sheffield Mojo Club has been leading the way in the past few weeks with a regular 'Love-In' on Friday evenings. Wearing flowers in their hair are Susan McWatt, Roger Howe and Jill Saxilby. It's an idea based on theme of Scott McKenzie's hit disc San Francisco (Be sure o wear some flowers in your hair).”
"The club was repainted with flower designs and some members started wearing kaftans and beads. Generally, this was regarded as a bit of fun. The whole scene did not change completely but records with the ‘Peace and Love’ theme began to infiltrate the playlist. The club became a curious mixture of modernist soul fans and those who freaked out. The dance floor could be full of foot slides, spins, ‘Boogaloo’ and ‘Funky Broadway’, then almost in an instant, ‘Let’s Go To San Francisco’ would come on, and the hippie element would lift up their arms and sway around".
On Friday 16th June, on America’s west coast at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California, the first large-scale pop and rock music festival, the brainchild of John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, kicks off, as large numbers of fledgling hippies head to San Francisco to hear their favourite bands.
The media coverage of the Monterey Pop Festival facilitates the ‘Summer of Love’. In the UK all we see is the odd newsreel clip on Sunday afternoon and of course the film clip that accompanies Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Francisco’.
On 18th June Soul Trinity made an appearance at the Mojo
In addition to all the normal activities of a soul club, the Mojo always went further. Peter allowed local acts to record tracks at the club for inclusion on the Sheffield University charity rag record, sold mostly locally for a week or two in a particular year.
On June 29th the likes of Joe Cocker & local black act the Pityful Souls, plus Tangerine Ayr Band and The Delroy Good Good featured on the Rag EP.
The Mojo may have changed its decor, but it has not lost its atmosphere or magic, it is still the king of all Soul Clubs and the faithful still arrive from all over the UK.
The first weekend in July has two Mojo crowd favourites return to the club.
On the Saturday the Alan Bown Set, who's music has evolved from jazz and blues through soul and rhythm & blues to where it is now. Mixing it with psychedelia and progressive rock has enabled the band to maintain their popularity around the clubs.
Then Sunday sees the welcome return of Edwin Starr to the Mojo.
Procul Harum return on the 7th July, with Jimmy Powell on the 23rd.
At the August 20th all-nighter Cream grace the Mojo stage playing two 45 minute sets.
Alan Bown Set at the Mojo
"I can hardly believe it, it is too good to be true. The money we pay them will seem like nothing to them, but to us it is a giant amount".
The Fabulous Temptations, one of America's top soul groups was booked to appear at the Mojo on the 5th of September. What a triumph for Peter who was willing to pay out his largest sum yet to any artist that had appeared at the club. He estimates that the Temptations command around £3,000 a night in America.
As far as Peter knows the Sunday all-dayer booked at the Mojo will be one of only three shows the group are playing in the UK. Until virtually the last moment everyone believed the original Temptations would be appearing at the Mojo and then the rumours began. Peter phoned their London agency, who told him the group were no where near the UK and not likely to be so in the near future.
Peter decided to tell the Mojo crowd as he had charged them £1 entrance fee. He told them the group had come all the way from America to play for them and to give them a chance. After the first few numbers the crowd realised how good they were and by the end of the night, would not let them off stage. They had to return for four encores.
"If anyone could distinguish them from the real group it was difficult to say, and judging by the applause, no one could".
The group were in fact 'The Velours' from New Jersey and musically were very good. They decided to stay in this country and at Peters suggestion they changed their name and became The Fantastics Peter was so impressed he tried to arrange a recording contract for them.
Poster by Colin Duffield
In September the Mojo welcomed Tomorrow on the 10th.
Amen Corner play an all-day rave on the 17th.
Then on September 23rd the King Mojo has the 'Original Drifters' on stage. The Original Drifters had been formed in 1958 by Bill Pinkney when he left the original Drifters, but there appears to be more than one set of Drifters around at the moment.
The following was another all-dayer with Garnet Mimms.
It was now clear that the police would not support a new license for the club. Then things looked beyond bleak for King Mojo when a local drug dealer stated he’d sold pep pills at the club’s all-nighters its reputation was in tatters and it was curtains.
Though the club was said to be well run it was still dogged by on going noise issues and deemed to be lacking sufficient sound proofing. Even though the all-nighters had finished local residents had now petitioned against the Sunday afternoon sessions at King Mojo. One neighbour said he regularly found his 20 month old daughter stood up in her cot dancing to the sounds of the club (should have made her a member).
It was featured in the local papers, radio and TV, and even in the national music press, and the club got a lot of support.
“Sadly there was a bit of drugs around, (and I mean a bit) mainly speed, and they werent bought into the club by the Sheffield crowd, but I don't think anyone was ever caught holding inside or outside the club either. The 'underwear' was the fashionable empire line style chiffon dresses worn by some of the girls, the contraceptive thing we reckon was just made up. Anyway the main reason folks went to the club for was to dance - the sex hopefully came later.”
On the last day of September Jimmy Cliffe and The Shakedown Sound appears at the Mojo and it had an incredible atmosphere. This was followed on Sunday October 1st with a double bill with Eric Burdon & The Animals, plus The Nice.
Eric Burdon on Stage
Eric Burdon & the Animals (not long back from the USA - had an American lighting manager and incredible light show). The back of the stage has a white sheet over it for their light show projections.
The Nice on Stage
The Nice's Keith Emmerson stuck a great knife in the keyboard of his Hammond Organ.
The next week it was time for the last live show at the Mojo: an all-dayer with Stevie Wonder. This time, lots of young people were able to go and that spoiled the atmosphere a bit.
In 1965, the Motown Revue toured the UK for the first time. Martha and the Vandellas toured along with The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. However, the crowds never turned out for the Motown acts. Mary Wilson of the Supremes described the tour as ‘a big disappointment’.
However, a year later, when the Motown Revue toured again, the crowds went crazy. Motown had arrived in Britain.
During this year’s tour, Peter Stringfellow has managed to get Stevie Wonder with the Motown Revue Orchestra for £200. This probably explains the two-pound entrance fee, the most ever charged for a Mojo session.
“This was our first all-dayer and it was strange going to the club in the middle of the day. We were used to evenings and all-nighters, this was more like a youth club, but we are all a buzz with excitement at the prospect of seeing and hearing one of Motown’s top stars. We alight the bus outside the Toll Bar on Burngreave road around half an hour before opening and the queue is already out into the car park.”
Poster by Colin Duffield
Even though he is only seventeen years of age Little Stevie Wonder, as they bill him, is already a star.
"I had got there earlier in the day and was up in Peters flat along with others when Stevie arrived. So I was aware of the fact that Peters wife Coral was having a bath when Peter let Stevie use the toilet at the same time because he was desperate. Peter told coral to be quiet so Stevie of course didn’t know she was there. Later downstairs in the office I along with many others had a bit of a chat with Stevie as best we could. What a nice guy. He was really looking forward to getting on stage, and said he could feel the good vibes already.”
“I remember the night that Stevie Wonder played the Mojo. Three of us stood down at the back by the dressing rooms talking to him for 10 minutes before he went on stage. His minders took him up to the stage and 'walked' him round the edge so he'd know how big it was.”
On another note many people still can’t figure how Stevie and that whole orchestra fitted on the Mojo stage!
His set contains many tracks from his ‘Uptight’ album', Peter Stringfellow's favourite 'Love a Go Go’, ‘Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby’, ‘Ain’t That Asking for Trouble’, ‘I Want My Baby Back’, ‘Pretty Little Angel’ and ‘Music Talk’, interspersed with his first ever hit, ‘Fingertips’ and of course 'Uptight',
When the band plays the intro to 'Blowin’ in the Wind’ an all-time Mojo favourite, silence descends on the crowd as Stevie launches into the opening verse; gradually spreading from the back of the club is the sound of people singing.
“I used to go to the all-nighters and all-dayers, I remember Pete used to love the track ‘Love A Go Go’ by Stevie Wonder, but we used to sing ‘Love A Mojo’. A great memory was seeing Stevie Wonder there. I was right in front of the stage and touched him as his manager helped him on the stage.”
Hull Mods outside Stevie Wonder All-dayer
During the gig I was stood about two rows back from the stage right in front of Stevie. When the intro to Blowin’ in the Wind started, I think because it was a club favourite some singing started at the back of the club and gradually spread through the whole place. The look on Stevie’s face was awesome. His face then cracked a real big smile and his head moved from side to side as we sang. He then signalled the band to keep playing and as we kept singing he started playing his harmonica to our vocals. So emotional I nearly cried.
As the Mojo Mods left the Stevie Wonder all-dayer many would not have known that this would be the last live show at the club.
Tuesday 10th Oct was the last night at the Mojo and a sad affair for many of the faithful who turned up for this record only session.
Peter on stage at the last night of the King Mojo Club
Dancers on stage at the last night of the King Mojo Club
As the saying goes, "There was hardly a dry eye in the house" when Peter Stringfellow played 'I'm Gonna Miss You' by the Artistics the last track to ever be played at the King Mojo, it was the end of an era, but the birth of a legend.
"Something I remembered about the last club night, Besides being crowded, hot sweaty and emotional was that Peter, Geoff and Paul were selling off all sorts of Mojo related items that weren’t nailed down! Items from the office, and the coffee bar, old posters and notices and some left over Mojo merchandise like black and white men's shoes."
Shortly after the closure Peter and Geoff arranged an interview with Granada TV to be filmed as a news interview session for the Yorkshire local TV news.
It was shot one afternoon at the Mojo late October or early November, and Peter asked some of the regulars to come up to dance and be interviewed on camera.
They did an interview with Peter, then sat the Mojo regulars down in a line on one of the clubs benches and asked each a question or two while filming in closeup. They then filmed everyone dancing together, possibly to 'Toytown' by the Alan Bown Set.
This was before Peter's court appeal to the Mojo closure later in November. Spirits were quite high as the closure hadn’t really sunk in at the time, and everyone thought it would open again. But of course it never did.
Peter in TV interview
Peter dancing on stage at the TV interview
Dancing at the Granada TV interview
The Stringfellows also put on some 'Save The Mojo' gigs at the City Hall Ballroom and at Leeds to raise funds for an appeal in court, but to no avail.
Before its closure the next booked all dayer at the Mojo was to be Jnr Walker and the All stars on 25th Oct 1967. It of course couldn’t happen at the club so Peter got the gig changed to the Sheffield City Hall. Before the gig Jnr Walker presented Peter with a best local DJ award from the Top Star Pop newspaper produced by The Sheffield Star.
The silly thing was that it wasn’t that long before Peter and Geoff applied for, and got, another club licence. This time for the Down Broadway in the centre of Sheffield on the High Street. A Bistro during the day and a club at night. It was OK, even good at times, but it wasn't the Mojo. I don't think anywhere else could ever have been a replacement.
Although the Mojo was gone Peter was doing DJ stints at other places like the Dungeon and Lemon Jefferson in Rotherham. He opened one more club in Sheffield, the Penthouse, before leaving his native Sheffield for fame and fortune in the bright lights of London, but he never lost sight of his roots and the legend that he created.
“I think, looking back, those days were the pinnacle for me. You would get these big American stars playing on small stages in little clubs like the Mojo and the Dungeon. It didn’t get better than that".
“Artistes cut records today and you never see them in little nightclubs".