Let’s restore Aylesbury to its former glory and make it a music town once more!
That is the rallying cry from Friars boss David Stopps, who has exclusively shared his manifesto for music greatness with The Bucks Herald.
Aside from the ongoing campaign to create a statue artwork in memory of David Bowie’s contribution to Aylesbury, club founder and music mogul Mr Stopps says his plan will generate millions in revenue for the town.
The plan includes creating brass stars or plaques in the pavements to mark where great gigs of yesteryear took place, plaques at old music venues, a 500 to 1,000-capacity music venue, encouraging exisiting live music, and creating a special local government role of ‘night mayor’ who would champion the town’s entertainment scene.
He said: “If we can achieve most or all of these things, Aylesbury can get back to where it was in the 1970s and 80s.
“I went to see the band Coasts at the Oxford 02 Academy this month which was a fantastic sold-out gig.
“After the first song the band said ‘last time we played Oxford it was in a pub with 20 people, this time we’ve sold out a venue with 500 people.
“‘Thanks for your support.’
“That’s what a vibrant music scene looks like. Aylesbury’s music scene used to be light years ahead of Oxford. We have to get back there.”
David Stopps has big plans for Aylesbury, and music is at their heart.
The boss of the now-legendary Friars club, which brought the likes of David Bowie, Genesis, The Ramones and The Clash to Aylesbury, says it is high time the town took advantage of its musical heritage.
Mr Stopps was widely publicised earlier in the year when he announced a campaign to put up a work of art to remember David Bowie, following the music icon’s death in January.
Bowie debuted classic albums Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust at Friars, and was also instrumental in bringing new acts to town, including Iggy Pop who was joined by the Thin White Duke on stage when he played in the 1970s.
Mr Stopps said: “The statue would be the focal point and would draw people into town from all over the world. The estimated income to the town from this would be £4million to £10million per year.
“The statue would be beautifully lit and would have a 24-hour webcam so that it can be seen by people at any time live anywhere in the world.
“We have a petition with over 2,000 signatures and emails from people all over the world saying that they would visit Aylesbury if it was built.”
But the plan doesn’t stop there. Mr Stopps wants Aylesbury to capitalise on its heritage even more, by creating plaques at the sites of old music venues, and ‘walk of fame’ stars with the names of all the classic acts who have played in town, including Van Morrison, The Jam, Cliff Richard, U2 and Fleetwood Mac.
Another big plan is to find a venue to convert into a 500 to 1,000 capacity music space, which would attract touring bands from the UK and internationally, as well as home-grown talent.
He said: “This could be a multi-use venue like the Civic Centre was, which could also be used for collectors fairs, weddings, local drama, bingo and other forms of entertainment.
“The venue could be run like the highly successful 02 Academy in Oxford for music events.
“The Waterside is a fantastic asset to the town and we love using it, but the problem is availability. Because the venue is designed for week-long shows, very few dates are available for independent promoters like us to stage shows.
“Friars is currently putting on around five shows a year. We would like to do 15 but the dates just aren’t available. Brighton for example has 15 venues with a capacity of 300 to 1,000, all of which have music events several times a week. Aylesbury currently has none.”
Mr Stopps also called for a new local government role to be created to help revitalise the local scene and encourage all that is going on in the area.
The role would also involve encouraging existing work from the likes of Second Earth Records, The Aylesbury Alternative Music Society and the Aylesbury Sound and Vision fanzine, and live music venues such as Shoot Pool, The Limelight and The White Swan.
Mr Stopps said: “The town mayor would cover things from 3am to 6pm, and the ‘night mayor’ would supervise everything from 6pm until 3am.
“Most of us know that Aylesbury has a remarkable music history, but what about its musical future?”
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