76. Sabbath, Swarbrick and Status Quo: 1960s Rock and Folk at Bradford University

Update: 1970s list now available!

During the 1960s Bradford University’s Students’ Union played host to a cornucopia of bands, including plenty of rock, folk, blues and jazz groups.  We’ve often been asked if well-known groups played so back in 2004 I asked our then Special Collections Assistant John Brooker to compile a definitive list from Javelin magazine.  Now available online: Music at the University of Bradford Students’ Union 1965-1970.   And here’s a selection of photographs to give you a flavour of the music the Union was offering to students:

Black Sabbath, due to play the Bradford University Union, from Javelin 7 May 1970 p. 1

Black Sabbath, from Javelin 7 May 1970

Black Sabbath, who played in May 1970, a “future super group”.  Already popular in Bradford (apparently very well received when they played St George’s Hall with Blodwyn Pig), the band were tipped by reviewer Ron Yaxley for the top: “See them whilst you can!”.

Status Quo on stage at Bradford University Union, Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Status Quo, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Another super group in the making did not impress “Bryan” at the 1968 Freshers’ Ball:  Status Quo have “so little talent and even less personality.  They were not worth the £175 that Ents paid for them”.

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack at the Bradford University Union Freshers' Ball 1968, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

Stan Webb of Chicken Shack, from Javelin 24 October 1968 p.10

However Bryan was very impressed by legendary blues group Chicken Shack.  At a later concert (in February 1970 – unfortunately couldn’t get the images to reproduce well) Chicken Shack thrilled Terry Carroll: “This just had to be the greatest show seen at Bradford Union for a long time … the ecstatic fans got to their feet and rocked … dance ends with scenes reminiscent of Hair”.

Javelin1968_12DecCarthy cr

Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, from Javelin 12 December 1968

The Union also hosted many folk artists.  Here’s Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, “two of the most original and talented singers on the British folk song scene”, guests at the University’s folk club in December 1968.  They were well received: “During their act there was certainly no need to ask for quiet, as is so often necessary”.

Woman playing banjo-ukulele, described as "member of the Travellers, a Chesterfield folk-singing group" due to play Bradford University Union 1968.

Member of the Travellers (from Chesterfield?) playing a banjo-ukulele

“Get with it with a banjo-uke!”.  This image from 19 October 1967 shows a woman playing a banjo-ukulele.  Her name isn’t given, but she is “one of the Travellers – a folk-singing group from Chesterfield”.   I couldn’t find out anything about this band though there is a well-known Canadian folk group of this name …

Do you remember these or other concerts at the University?  Do let us know!  Interested in gigs after 1970?  We’re hoping to do some research on these soon (expect something about Nirvana, Motorhead and Infest …).

7 responses to “76. Sabbath, Swarbrick and Status Quo: 1960s Rock and Folk at Bradford University

  1. I saw Ten Pole Tudor in 1981, as part of Radio 1 show – Richard Skinner was the DJ (I think) loved the gig I was only 15 at the time.

  2. No mention of Slade who, I understand, played many a Saturday night at Bradford Uni. I’d be pleased if anybody can confirm (or add) any of these dates with some evidence. Ads would be even better?

    16th January 1971*
    4th March 1972*
    28th October 1978*
    7th March 1979 (a Wednesday)
    28th October 1979 (a Sunday)
    11th October 1980*
    7th March 1981*

    • Thanks for getting in touch! We haven’t yet listed the 1970s concerts but given the interest we’ve had in this blog post I think we’ll be doing this very soon. Hopefully we can confirm your dates and maybe add more!

  3. Pingback: STOP PRESS. 76. Into the Seventies: Prog, Punk and More | 100 Objects

  4. Steve Elliott

    I saw The Move, Jeff Beck, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Hollies, Monty Python Cast, PP Arnold, Elton John, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span) Pentangle, The Strawbs, Atomic Rooster, The Casuals, Humphrey Littleton’s Jazz Band, Barbara Dickson and many others between 1967 and 1971

  5. Some of the bands I caught at St George’s Hall in the early 1970s included:
    Chicken Shack with Stan Webb and Christine Perfect on piano, a memorable rocking unit; Duster Bennett, the one-man blues band with his harmonica rack and foot-pedal drum, was a sheer positive force; Keef Hartley Band, who gave a tremendous show with Miller Anderson on guitar; Mogul Thrash, a heavy rocking outfit we didn’t see much in the north–guitarist James Litherland established himself as one of the top characters in the biz that night; Yes came through and brought a huge sound system, very polished and ready for stardom–vocalist Jon Anderson had great chops; Barclay James Harvest, a kind of Yes prog-rock style band that played a lot, gave excellent shows but never seemed to push over the top in the big-scene; Stefan Grossman, the American ragtime bluesy picker gave a fine performance, with I think on same night the American bluesman Larry Johnson who was terrific; Unicorn played too, a gentle pop-rock crew.
    One solid evening I’ll always recall was Mark-Almond Band, with Jon Mark and Johnny Almond, both late of John Mayall’s Turning Point Band-they were outstanding with Danny Richmond, formerly of the Charlie Mingus jazz group, on drums. St George’s had good sound. It needed good architectural reinforcement when American guitar blues giant Johnny Winter brought his band in because they nearly tore the roof of the joint–an unforgettable night. Among the most pretentious acts I can recall seeing was Hawkwind, who seemed intent on trying to be a San Francisco psych outfit, but it just didn’t work; however, English fans loved ’em. One of the early supergroups toured through when John McGlaughlin and Jack Bruce, late of Cream teamed up jazz drummer star Tony Williams, and they in fact may have played as ‘Tony Williams Lifetime’–that can be fact-checked.
    Weirdly, among all the blues and rocker bands, I recall going one evening to attend a classical piano concert by Arthur Rubinstein, and still seeing many of the usual Bradford rock tribe also checking out the gig–it was like that back then; good music was simply good music, so people were willing to listen to check out what we’d heard was good–tuxedos next to blue-beat duds.
    Meanwhile over at the University Hall I can remember some terrific shows there too–The Faces with Rod Stewart gave what’s for me still the defining show by any band I’ve seen. They had the entire place dancing and rocking up a storm; a fabulous outfit, probably the best all-around band I’ve ever seen over the years.
    Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer were both with Vinegar Joe when they played at the University too, as part of one of the touring packages that were still popular back then. I seem to recall that show included Curved Air, with a rocking volinist, Daryl Way, played, and they broke up in ’72, so before then. Stoneground, a U.S. band with Sal Valentino singing, gave decent show that night.
    The university hall also featured Canadian blues-rockers Crowbar, with whom I sat in on harmonica. Mr. Foxx, an electric folksy unit along the lines of Pentangle/Steeleye Span played there as well, but theu sound hadn’t yet gelled.
    Julie Felix, a folksy regular on the David Frost BBC program gave a lovely concert at the Alhambra around this time; it wasn’t so well attended. but she gave it all she had. Her charming tune “Moonlight” was getting play on the radio around that time.
    And in a summertime effort at an outdoor rock event in Keighley, Blonde On Blonde headlined at Cliff Castle, July 5, 1972, a show where I played on the bill with blues guitarist Josh Grundy.
    Somewhere on the cusp of the early ’70s morphing into mid-’70s doldrums, didn’t Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown bring in his Boogie Brothers guitar trio with Stan Webb and Miller Anderson for a stomping bomping boogie ’till the the cows come home night at St. George’s too?
    Okay, here’s little more grist for your mill!

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