1984: Legendary Friars Club is in the spotlight

AFTER a short break of 25 years Friars Aylesbury will once again open its doors, on June 1, for a special concert to mark the 40th anniversary of the legendary Aylesbury club.

When the club closed on December 29, 1984, it had over 87,000 members and was regarded as one of the best clubs of its kind in Britain. American artists such as Jonathan Richman would come over, play Friars Aylesbury and London and then return to the USA.

The first ever Friars Aylesbury concert took place on Monday June 2, 1969, in the New Friarage Hall in Walton Street.

The artists appearing were blues player Mike Cooper and prog rock band Mandrake Paddle Steamer. The second week saw The Pretty Things and Wild Willy Barrett. After a year Friars was thrown out of the New Friarage Hall and went into the wilderness for eight months, with a handful of gigs taking place in Bedford, Watford and Princes Risborough.

In April 1971 Friars returned with a packed gig featuring The Groundhogs at Aylesbury's Borough Assembly Hall, and never looked back. In 1975 Friars moved to the current Civic Centre where it continued to present some of the best bands on the planet for a further nine years.

In keeping with tradition of the first year of Friars Aylesbury this concert will also be on a Monday and will feature three of the bands that played Friars in that first year.

"It's 40 years since we put on the first gig, so we're going to make it as authentic as possible" said David Stopps who promoted all the Friars gigs from 1969-84.

He continued, "The possibility of this concert has been talked about in Buckinghamshire pubs and supermarkets for the past 25 years. Stuart Robb from Jam Central, Mike O'Connor who has created the Friars website (www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk), author and journalist Kris Needs, founding father Robin Pike and former AVDC Civic Centre manager John Braley have all helped me put this together. Kris will be designing the handout and spinning vinyl on the night."

Opening the night on stage at 7.30pm will be The Groundhogs who first played at the New Friarage Hall in 1970. The Groundhogs were a pivotal band for Friars and saved the club on two occasions.

Second, on at 8.30pm, will be Edgar Broughton who was a legend in 1969 and still is. The Broughton band's famous song Out Demons Out will once again ring out in Aylesbury.

Headlining the evening will be The Pretty Things who originally played Friars on June 9, 1969, just after their highly acclaimed album S.F. Sorrow.

It is hoped there will be a special Friars Aylesbury double CD and a two volume book containing all the original Friars newssheets to coincide with this special date.

Tickets will go on sale on Friday April 17, at 2pm. They will be 20 each and will be limited to two per person. In keeping with tradition those without their original Friars membership cards will be obliged to join at a price of 25p, when they arrive on the night. It is expected that even those with their original membership cards may wish to join again, just to get the souvenir of a 2009 membership card.

Tickets will be limited to two per person and ID will be required on the night. Tickets will be available from the Aylesbury Civic Centre Box Office or on-line from ticketweb.co.uk

It is hoped there will be one or two more Friars concerts before the end of 2009 to commemorate the 40th year.

Over its 15 year history Friars presented bands and artists such as Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Genesis, Mott the Hoople, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, Cockney Rebel, Captain Beefheart, The Ramones, The Clash, The Jam, U2, Blondie, Marillion, Howard Jones, The Police and hundreds more.