David Stopps column: What is Aylesbury Famous For?

David Stopps has written a column celebrating Aylesbury's rich music history.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:12 am
Cliff Richard at the Granada

David writes:

What is Aylesbury famous for?

Well there’s the famous Aylesbury Ducks which are a large white variety and were found widely in the Aylesbury area in the 18 th and 19 th centuries.

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Other than that there were the famous court cases of The Great Train Robbery in 1964 and of Keith Richard in 1973.

There was also a fairly spectacular train crash in Aylesbury in 1904 in Aylesbury Station and of course there was that famous football match where Bobby Robson’s England Squad, (which included Gary Lineker) came to Aylesbury to play our very own Aylesbury United in their Buckingham Road Stadium as a pre-1988 Euro warm-up.

The score was 7-0 to England but we nearly scored.

But there’s one thing that’s made Aylesbury stand out from other towns in the 20 th century and that was its music.

From the late fifties to the current day some of the most famous names in music have played in Aylesbury.

In the sixties there were regular gigs in The Grosvenor (later to be renamed theBorough Assembly Hall) in Aylesbury Market Square, The Town Hall which backed on the arches at the bottom of the Market Square and the Granada Cinema in the High Street which would host many national package tours.

There were also many gigs at smaller venues like Walton Parish Hall and the Social Club.

In the late fifties and early sixties the Aylesbury Jazz Club presented jazz legends such as Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and The Temperance Seven at The Grosvenor,

and later The Who, The Hollies, The Animals, Them (with Van Morrison), John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, Lee Dorsey, Arlo Guthrie, The Yardbirds, John Mayall, The Move, The Small Faces, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Long John Baldry (with Rod Stewart) The Barron Knights, Johnny Kid & The Pirates and many more.

The promoters for most of these shows were Ron and Nanda Lesley and local promoter Eddie Friday.

The Granada hosted many famous names including Lonnie Donegan, Cliff Richard & The Drifters (later The Shadows) in 1959 and The Rolling Stones supported by The Ronettes, Marty Wilde and Heinz in January 1964. Brian Jones got lost in the fog that night and didn’t play.

The Stones made the only appearance they ever made as a four-piece….and they did two shows in one night.

The Granada also presented Adam Faith, Billy Fury, Manfred Mann, The Hollies, Gene Vincent and many more.

The sixties were a fantastic time to be living in this great town.

In 1969, Robin Pike, Adrian Roach, Jerry Slater, John Fowler and Terry Harms and myself started Friars Aylesbury at the New Friarage Hall in Walton Street. We were in the right place at

the right time in that magic period of post 1967 music eurphoria.

We presented Free, The Pretty Things, King Crimson, Genesis, Black Sabbath, Mott The Hoople and many more every Monday night from June1969 to July 1970. Then came the Friars

Borough Assembly Hall period from 1971 to 1975 which included the famous David Bowie gigs.

If you want to find out more about music in Aylesbury pre-Friars have a look at the Aylesbury Music Town website which has been wonderfully put together by Stephen Daglish and for the Friars Aylesbury period from 1969 to the present day check out Mike O’Connor’s incredible website Aylesbury Friars which is used as a world music resource by music journalists across the globe.