The Music of Portsmouth in 1965

The year opened with the impressively "relaxed" Ken Colyer but "few people were there to hear it". By contrast, former 'modernist' Graham Bond set a new attendance record at the Rendezvous while the Savoy continued to feature Palais Dancing on Saturday nights. Spinner, celebrating the successes of Manfred Mann and the Brothers Scarlett was sure "things are looking up on the Portsmouth group scene". While the Talismen embarked on the new "All England Beat Contest", the Cherokees and the Brothers Scarlett played the Savoy, Gary Farr & the T-Bones and the Challengers at the Rendezvous, and the Pretty Things and Dave Dee midweek at South Parade Pier but with a poor attendance. The Bipeds played the Cellar Club and the Strangers at Hillside Youth Club, Paulsgrove. Malcolm Price was a regular visitor to local folk clubs and Jack & Margaret King were at the Folkways Club but the main fare locally was rhythm & blues including Tony Colton's Crawdaddies at the Rendezvous and the Mark Leeman Five at Kimbells. San Jacinto Jazzband were one of the few traditional jazz acts now playing regularly. A German promoter auditioned local groups the Memphis Four, the Storms, the Bipeds and the "impressive" Shades of Blue. Paulsgrove's Grove Club announced new activities including a folk club and dances on Sundays with local groups.
Spinner predicted that a folk boom was "on the way" although "not for the hit parade" as Dave Smith and Dick Richardson appeared at the Folkways Club, followed by Martin Winsor and Dorris Henderson (later of Eclection). London's Missing Links headlined the Rendezvous but Spinner preferred their support the Challengers. The Fenmen played the Savoy, and the Sheiks of R&B at the Cellar Club. The Guildhall had been rather quiet until in early March, Adam Faith topped the bill with Sandie Shaw, the Barron Knights and the Paramounts. The big story however was the on-off saga of PJ Proby's appearance. He caused a scandal by splitting his trousers on stage elsewhere, after which promoters began cancelling his bookings. The Guildhall followed suit, resulting in many letters to the newspaper. The concert was re-confirmed on 1 February, cancelled three days later, reinstated on the 11th, cancelled on 15th until the city's Entertainment Committee were advised on the 25th they must go ahead for legal reasons. But Proby never came.
The Moody Blues were a big draw at the Rendezvous on 6 February 1965 but drummer Graeme Edge was poorly and they failed to show, leaving the Sons of Man and Roadrunners to cover, as police with loud hailers dealt with the disappointed crowds. Rhythm & blues fans could see the Mark Leeman Five at Kimbells on the following night while the Brothers Scarlett, Barry & the Strollers, Sherlock & the Saints, the Strangers and the Talismen played local gigs - the latter also enjoying success in a national talent competition, winning through to the final in Wimbledon. The Tea-Pots began playing regularly at the Savoy. Mid-February saw a number of national rhythm & blues acts in the city including Ronnie Jones & the Nightimers, Cops & Robbers and a Thursday night Rendezvous with Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. On 18 February Spinner announced that a "new raving R&B club is to open in Portsmouth next week with the T-Bones as the semi resident group". It was the Birdcage, operating initially from Kimbells Ballroom as one of "several Birdcage clubs in the south coast area". The club intended to play "purist R&B records" between the live sets suggesting a shift from older blues forms towards soul although they promised appearances by Champion Jack Dupree and Muddy Waters (who did not appear). The Birdcage managers (Rikki Farr and Robin Beste) signed the J Crow Combo to their agency, promising "big plans". Spinner suggested there was "no end to the expansion of the ever healthy Portsmouth beat scene".
Four days before the Birdcage opened, the Yardbirds with Eric Clapton and the J Crow Combo were at Kimbells' Sunday club. The imminent release of "For Your Love" would propel them into the charts but also led to Clapton's departure in search of a more 'pure' blues sound. Jimmy Powell returned to the Rendezvous and then on 25 February the T-Bones opened the Birdcage with lead singer Gary Farr serenading his brother, the club's MC Rikki Farr. The T-Bones were also booked for the Rendezvous a couple of weeks later but did not show - the club seemed fated but booked Downliners Sect, Zoot Money and the Mark Leeman Five.
Mid-March 1965 was local Student Rag Week ('Stweek') with a number of interesting events. "Authentic negro folk singer" and one-man band Jesse Fuller ("San Francisco Bay Blues") was at Clarence Pier supported by Cliff Aungier, Malcolm Price, Royd Rivers and the Levee Breakers. Julie Felix and Ken Colyer also appeared in the festivities and the Savoy hosted the week's final event with the Beatmen and the Wackers (from Wales). 'Art' (Arthur) Ward moved the Clarence Pier modern jazz nights to Club Romantica. The Guildhall did its best to keep up, with Gerry & the Pacemakers then the Motown show in April. They also promised a lively bill featuring the Kinks, Animals and Manfred Mann but that tour was cancelled. Shirley Bassey was due in May with the Ted Heath Band, while the Eric Delaney Big Band visited the Savoy.
The Talismen won their national talent contest, which included coverage in Record Mirror. Spinner suggested they had "staked their claim at national fame". Their set was interestingly varied with covers of Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" and Manfred Mann's "Don't Ask Me What I Say", plus two self-penned songs "Big City" and "Grey Day" then with their singer in "full highland gear" they finished with the comedy song "Donald Where's Your Trousers?" Karl & the Rapiers and Brothers Scarlett were also recording although like the Talismen, this did not lead to national success.
The Klimaks appeared at the Savoy, the Portsmouth-based G Boys (from Gibraltar) and the Sheiks of R&B at the Cellar Club, while Arthur Ward's Band were still playing Clarence Pier every Saturday. Spinner publicised a local search to find talent girls to compete with the boys on the Portsmouth scene. Entries poured in but little came of it and few 'girls' played in local groups in the next few years.
Clarence Pier hosted a number of 'one-off' events including the 'Stweek' gigs and a GEC Apprentices dance in March with Rendezvous favourites Downliners Sect, and the Soul Agents with Rod Stewart. The local support was billed as Mike Devon & the Diplomats who had split three months earlier - in fact it was an entirely different Diplomats, later to become the Rampant. Clarence Pier is just across Southsea Common from Kimbells and that day Rikki Farr and Birdcage partner Robin Beste took that walk, spoke with Rod Stewart and took him back across the common to the club. Their featured act that night was the organ-based Brian Auger Trinity and when Rod arrived he sat in as guest vocalist. Beste and Farr wanted to create a British 'soul review' and when the Crow played support in London to Larry Williams and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson they arranged for Julie Driscoll to duet with Chris Ryder. That particular version came to nothing but the Birdcage was playing a key role in the emergence of the Steam Packet, whose first gig may have been at the club.
In the early months of 1965, the Birdcage opened only on Thursdays, while the Rendezvous continued on Saturdays but the new young audience gradually transferred its allegiance and the Rendezvous audience began to disappear. Kimbells was in a 'hipper' part of town and it felt more like a real club with lower ceilings and stage and a better atmosphere. After the Birdcage opening on 25 February, the club presented favourites from the London scene including Ronnie Jones & the Nightimers, Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band and the Paramounts. American visitors included, Champion Jack Dupree, Goldie & her Gingerbreads, Charlie & Inez Foxx, and Sugar Pie DeSanto. Rendezvous spring guests included Graham Bond, the Clique, the Stormsville Shakers and the Roadrunners, who had added saxophonist Phil Shulman. By contrast, the Savoy reverted frequently to traditional big band dancing in 1965 with fewer top pop acts but they enjoyed some successful events, starting with the Animals in late March, Tom Jones & the Squires one week later, then the Hollies. The Tea-Pots were residents on Sunday evenings while the J Crow Combo appeared regularly at Kimbells on Sundays. "Forgotten men" the Shamrocks returned to the Isle of Wight from six months abroad, the Talismen auditioned at Decca, and the Brothers Scarlett played Hillside Youth Club. The G Boys changed their name to Los Cinco Ricardos and began recording in Latin American style.
The Birdcage and the local mod scene grew, as did the folk scene. By mid-1965 there were about six folk clubs operating in the city including the Folk Barn at the Oasis Club, North End. A number of local performers including Jon Isherwood, Pat Nelson and the Loft Folk Four were working regularly. Isherwood's new Folkhouse Club at the Talbot Hotel, Goldsmith Avenue, enjoyed a "swinging start" and quickly attracted over 400 members - an impressive figure for a room above a public bar. Spinner praised the "excellent guitar playing" of Southsea's Barry Roberts and other artists included blues guitarist Gerry Lockran, American Nadia Cattouse and Red Wilmot, while Isherwood was to support American Julie Felix and the Spinners at the Guildhall in May. Ted Wenham of the Folkways Club welcomed the increase in audiences but feared "commercialisation", wanting to protect "authenticity and quality". Spinner suggested this commercial success was reflected in Donovan's "national standing as a pop folk singer" after his March appearance on Ready, Steady Go! observing that with the "fading" of the Liverpool sound and Dylan's chart success, "solid electric guitars are being exchanged for Spanish acoustic and everyone is going folk - again!" Three months later, Bob Dylan strapped on an electric guitar for a set with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band at the Newport Folk Festival and many guitarists changed again.
In early April, the Birdcage had an impressive double bill with the Brian Auger Trinity and Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds and two days later the Moody Blues and Sons of Man were at the Rendezvous. South Parade Pier presented Old Time Dancing but also the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Locarno had a Palais Dance, Herbie Goins & the Nightimers were at the Rendezvous on Saturday night with a Bank Holiday Monday special featuring Downliners Sect and the Stormsville Shakers. The T-Bones were at the Birdcage and the Savoy welcomed back Eden Kane. Local bandleader Jack Hawkins & his Orchestra went to Hammersmith Palais with supporters' coaches.
The re-arranged Manfred Mann tour arrived at the Guildhall with Dave Berry and the Ivy League but the Manfreds, now mixing Dylan's songs, blues and pop, were reportedly disappointed with their local reception. On the Monday evening before Easter 1965, the Tamla Motown tour played its final British date at the Guildhall with the Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and the Miracles as well as guest Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. For Spinner it was "superb" but as at other venues across the country, the overall attendance was "sad", with a "pathetic" first house. There were Motown fans in Portsmouth although they might be already clubbing two or three nights each week. Spinner suggested as much and commented that other recent concert tours including one by Chuck Berry had suffered. In addition, Monday nights are not ideal, nor is the requirement to remain seated for the best dance music. However, the fact is that just over 2000 people did attend and perhaps 6.30 pm was not perfect for this kind of event. The two-house show was nearing the end of its days.
When Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds, Robin Beste approached him about the new soul revue but he chose John Mayall's Bluesbreakers who were at the Rendezvous in late April. Hogsnort Rupert's Good Good Band shared the bill with Mayall's performance a "triumph". Zoot Money's Big Roll Band visited the Birdcage but May was relatively quiet with just three nights, two with the Paramounts (from Southend) and one with the Brian Auger Trinity. The Spencer Davis Group were outstanding at the Rendezvous in May - the day after the Searchers had played the Savoy. The Mark Leeman Five and Graham Bond (a record attendance) were at the Rendezvous and the Birds (with Ronnie Wood) at Kimbells. The Kinks eventually arrived at the Guildhall along with the Yardbirds, followed three weeks later by Donovan and the Pretty Things. However the two concerts raised a number of concerns in the Evening News. The Kinks show was poorly attended and Spinner suggested those fans that did attend "must have been very disappointed with the standard of the show and the noise".
Over consecutive Thursdays, he suggested that the pop package format was doomed which might mean a "rapid decline" for many groups. His research suggested a more promising future for "quality" stars like Andy Williams and Tony Bennett or newer acts with higher production values like the Barron Knights. Other correspondents suggested there was a need for more variety and sophistication and that the amount of coverage on television and radio was discouraging fans from paying for live gigs. One of his colleagues was lukewarm in reviewing the Donovan show describing a "far from capacity" audience, and no encores. He criticised the "great waves of thundering noise" from some acts although Unit 4 plus 2 were exempt while Donovan had a "thin, reedy voice" through a poor PA system. Some readers disagreed and wrote to complain about the negative comments. Locally, there was no sign yet of a record from the Talismen. Spinner received the Paulsgrove school magazine Focus and praised good articles on popular music by Clare Donnelly and Rosalind Marshall.
The folk world was now "all action" and "moving towards the long-forecast boom". Americans Bill Clifton and Tom Paxton were at Folkways in Arundel Street and the latter's "Last Thing On My Mind" became a local favourite. Many people were turned away from a Nadia Cattouse sell-out performance at John Isherwood's Folkhouse Club (Talbot Hotel) and while the appearance of Julie Felix and the Settlers at the Guildhall was less well attended it was an "artistic triumph". Future cult folk singer Vashti Bunyan was mentioned in Spinner's column while the Bottle in the Wall Club in Hampshire Terrace was the latest to open a folk club, starting with Frank Hurlock and Barry Roberts. The newspaper's letters page carried a letter from 'AHB' commenting on "young folk groups' pseudo sophistication", their obsession with American songs and failure to research "the songs which our own fighters for freedom have sung". Strangely, the example he gave was the song "Suvla Bay" about the Australian Army in Gallipoli. Local folk singer Pat Nelson replied that many of the American songs had their "roots in our heritage" while they also sang British and Irish songs. AHB countered that while one of the benefits of the CND movement had been the folk "revival" he regretted the left-wing bias "and a preponderance of revolutionary songs". The Folkhouse announced further visits from Alex Campbell, Nadia Cattouse and Carolyn Hester and the traditional English Folk Dance and Song Society presented a very interesting American bill at the Guildhall with the gospel/ragtime/blues of Reverend Gary Davis, Native American singer Buffy Sainte Marie ("the Universal Soldier") and folk-blues veteran Josh White, one of the first singers to have recorded "House of the Rising Sun".
June opened with pianist Mrs Mills and "the Pirates of Penzance" on South Parade Pier. The Rendezvous offered Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band, the Herd and Tony Knight's Chessmen. Heinz & the Wild Ones were at the Savoy and Spinner praised the Birdcage performance by the Brian Auger Trinity. The J Crow Combo re-formed as the Crow and moved to London by where they played the major clubs including a "sensational Flamingo debut". Sadly, the experience was not happy - John Crow left to rejoin Mick Snowden in the Klimaks and organist Rufus Stone departed leaving the (new) Williams brothers with Chris Ryder and Graham Hunt. On the local rhythm & blues scene, competition increased between the two major clubs. The Rendezvous installed new décor and lighting while the Birdcage cut its prices to 4/- (20p). The recent success of the Rendezvous had been built largely on the first wave of British blues and rhythm & blues acts with the Birdcage favouring more contemporary soul sounds. A key night for the Birdcage came on Thursday 17 June 1965 with the first Portsmouth appearance of Jimmy James & the Vagabonds. This was one of a number of Birdcage events in the summer of 1965 that defined the future of the club and sealed the fate of the Rendezvous. Spinner described the "electric pitch" of the atmosphere when Jimmy James & the Vagabonds played there. Two days later, 1000 fans filled Kimbells as the Moody Blues were the first Saturday night act for the Birdcage. Apparently a dress featuring five holes caused an even bigger stir than the band and drummer Graeme Edge told Spinner "the girls down here are terrific". No details were added.
On Thursday 24 June the new Steam Packet were at the Birdcage while the Rendezvous joined battle with a Thursday night featuring the Clique, undercutting the Birdcage at just 3/- (15p). Mark Leeman whose group had recently been regular visitors to the city was killed in a car crash. The Savoy had been pursuing a relatively traditional weekend path during this exciting summer for the rhythm & blues, soul and folk scenes but now that venue joined in on Monday nights, starting with Georgie Fame followed by bookings for Goldie & the Gingerbreads, the Four Pennies, the Yardbirds, Unit 4 plus 2 and the Moody Blues. The venture began slowly with regular visitor Georgie Fame attracting a small audience. Amidst all this excitement, there was generally less news about local groups although they were still playing smaller clubs and youth clubs around the city and region - the Klimaks were described as "very busy". The Southern Classics departed for a lengthy period in Europe while fellow Gosport group the Brothers Scarlett played regularly at Thorngate.
In an attempt to keep the Rendezvous alive, Ernie Sears switched to Fridays starting with Downliners Sect and the Challengers. Elsewhere the Chris Barber Band appeared on South Parade Pier, Arthur Ward continued his weekly appearances at Clarence Pier, the Crystal Palace (Fratton) and the Unity Hall featured Old Time Dancing, Jack Hawkins Band was at the Locarno and Don Bridger's band at the Savoy.
The King's Theatre presented music hall show Thanks for the Memories, while the Guildhall had the BBC Concert Orchestra in a Light Programme radio broadcast of Friday Night is Seaside Night. Bill Clifton played the Folkhouse while banjoist Derroll Adams caused a stir at the Loft with words that were "a little strong". Again, no details were offered. Adams became a pal of Donovan and the latter wrote and recorded a song about Adams on his album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden (1967).
Evening News advertisements for the Birdcage and Rendezvous included sparring between the two organisations as Ernie Sears announced "Rikki's Rendezvous to Birdcage taxi service suspended!" The Rolling Stones returned to the city, headlining a tour with the Walker Brothers, the Steam Packet, Elkie Brooks and Tommy Quickly at the Guildhall, while swinging sixties movie The Knack opened locally.
Jimmy James & the Vagabonds returned in July as part of a four-day Birdcage "Festival" which featured the Shevells on Thursday, Ronnie Jones on Friday, and the Who with support act the Crow on Sunday - a major event attended by 1000 fans in Southsea's Savoy Ballroom. Spinner reported, "for sheer noise and visual excitement" the Who were a "difficult act to beat" but added musically "it was not of a very high standard". Another important Birdcage event four days later was the first booking for the Action, who would be one of the club's most popular groups. Many of the early acts returned to the club regularly plus newcomers like Herbie Goins (who had taken over the Nightimers), Alex Harvey, the In Crowd and the Untamed from Bognor. The club began opening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through the summer of 1965 with entrance generally around 5/- (25p) adding to the difficulties for Ernie Sears at the Rendezvous. For the first time, Spinner reported problems with the acoustics at the cavernous Oddfellows Hall, home of the Rendezvous, describing it as "too large" for Brian Auger's sound and suggesting that the Sons of Man were "too loud". He reported "competition at Portsmouth's clubs and dance halls hotting up" and predicted "an explosion soon" on the local scene.
The Jazzmen's column celebrated a major folk concert at the Oddfellows Hall presented by Jon Isherwood with other local artists Barry Roberts, Pat Nelson and the Loft Folk Four supporting American Carolyn Hester.
The Herd appeared at the Rendezvous which then closed for a couple of weeks but promised a fifth birthday celebration with Manfred Mann. Chris Farlowe returned to the Birdcage but the Yardbirds failed to arrive on 17 July and a spokesman for the group admitted to the Daily Mirror "they should have done the date. They are sorry now". A couple of weeks later they did play the Savoy with the Klimaks to a large audience while the Birdcage offered American duo Charlie & Inez Foxx, the T- Bones and the Moody Blues on three successive days. The Crow and Klimaks played Kimbells.
July 1965 ended with Van Morrison and Them at the Savoy, followed by the newly named Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich featuring a comedy routine. The Shamrocks returned from Europe and played Kimbells. The Jazzmen offered a more mellow view of the current scene suggesting that it had brought "an amazing regeneration to jazz - that is if blues and rhythm & blues are to be regarded as jazz". However, all was not positive. They admitted that British groups were able to capture the music's "excitement" but lacked "any sensitive feeling for it". For some reason they were particularly unimpressed by covers of Slim Harpo's "King Bee" and suggested "too much interest in John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins and Jimmy Reed" who were guilty of being "somewhat liberal with their effects on the electric guitar". They stated their preference for Mississippi John Hurt, like Leadbelly as much a folk singer as a straight bluesman, and Blind Lemon Jefferson whose death in the 1920s had precluded him from experimenting much with amplification. This was their epilogue. A week later Spinner announced that after more than two years of their column, "the Jazzmen are no more".
August opened with Karl & the Rapiers auditioning for Pye Records and making a Light Programme broadcast. Again, a local group's choice of material was varied with rhythm & blues covers of "Louie Louie" and "Slow Down" alongside Jonathan King's "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" and the Shadows' instrumental "Nivram". Manfred Mann were at the Rendezvous to celebrate its impressive fifth birthday. It had been born with 'trad' in a church hall in Ashburton Road with "steaming walls and beatniks by the dozen". The Birdcage advert advised against attendance, pointing out that paying 8/- would "be foolish", while Herbie ("Mr Flamingo") Goins and the Nightimers were "only 4/-". On the same night the Star Inn advertised folk music for "drunks and intellectuals" as the battle for audiences grew. Malcolm Price returned to the Folkhouse at the Talbot, the Vagabonds and In Crowd played the Birdcage, Graham Bond and the Soul Society were at the Rendezvous and Billy Cotton's Band were at the King's Theatre. "Family entertainer" Acker Bilk was at South Parade Pier, BBC DJ Alan Freeman presented "Spin-a-Disc" at the Savoy, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band appeared there, and a week later the Animals. Spinner described the local Roadrunners as "greatly improved" while the Soul Society had made a "debut of some impact" and the Klimaks played London's Marquee Club.
In mid-August 1965, the Byrds, despite topping the British charts, managed to sell only 250 tickets for a Guildhall concert. The Birdcage date at Kimbells on Friday 20th was cancelled and the night after, the T-Bones were the last act to play the Birdcage in Osborne Road. On the same night, Alan Price's new jazz-influenced band played the Rendezvous but the attendance was poor. The following week the usual Rendezvous advert appeared in the newspaper but rather different in content and tone. Ernie Sears listed recent attendances of Manfred Mann (376), Graham Bond (221) and Alan Price (80) and commented that this reflected "on those who failed to appreciate the best". The advert acknowledged the intensity of local competition with clubs "going small or closing", adding "Pardon us therefore while we overhaul and re-shape our future - see you soon - hang on to those cards".
Some people did, but the Rendezvous that had featured some of the finest jazz, blues and rhythm & blues for five years was gone forever. In the 1980s, when the Hornpipe Arts Centre occupied the site, its cinema was named the Rendezvous as a direct tribute to that important club, but its musical days were over although there was a backlash in the pages of the Evening News. Two disappointed fans, R Martin and G Dedman suggested that the Alan Price Group were better than the T-Bones and that the audience preferred the latter simply because the Birdcage was the "IN place at the moment". This attracted responses including one from 'Brady' of Cosham criticising the "chill atmosphere" at the Rendezvous and another from Myles Strong supporting "something new" and praising the running of the Birdcage by someone "alive". Eric Milne, organist of the Roadrunners described the poor acoustics at the Rendezvous and described the new Birdcage as "more intimate".
So the Rendezvous was finished by the emergence of the Birdcage - not merely a club offering good contemporary music but with its finger firmly on the pulse of everything 'hip' in the mid-1960s. And while the Rendezvous disappeared, the Birdcage had an important announcement of its own. The club had been given notice to quit by Kimbells but Tony Harris of London's Flamingo Club had contacts who found them premises in Cumberland Buildings, Eastney at the former Court School of Dancing. Farr and Beste checked with Pete Boardman and other Birdcage regulars before moving away from Southsea, then signed the contract promising rhythm & blues in a "revolutionary club, the likes of which has not been seen outside London". It opened on Thursday 26 August with eight adverts in the newspaper and an impressive bill of the Steam Packet plus the Action - all for 5/-. Jimmy James & the Vagabonds followed on Friday, Ronnie Jones & the Blue Jays on Bank Holiday Saturday and Eastney's own Roadrunners on Sunday (3/-).
As the autumn of 1965 approached, the Who played a Sunday at the Savoy, while Steam Packet played another Savoy Monday night, although their experiment with top contemporary names was not destined to last. Meanwhile the rhythm & blues Sunday nights at Kimbells were suspended while the club was re-decorated. On the local scene, Eastleigh's Big T Show were creating a good impression as they and the Klimaks shifted towards the newly fashionable 'pop art' and the Roadrunners played at Southsea Community Centre in St Paul's Square. The Birdcage now established in Eastney became the central focus of mod life in Portsmouth although Commercial Road was a meeting point on Saturday afternoons.
The Birdcage ran from February 1965 to the Summer of Love in 1967, but its great 'mod' period was from the July 1965 'festival' weekend that climaxed with the Who, until the spring of the following year. In that period, the Birdcage opened three of four nights most weeks including every weekend. Sometimes it would present a touring American act like Wilson Pickett, or Major Lance justifying an additional Tuesday opening. An interesting visitor in September 1965 was Lou Johnson whose records "Always Something There to Remind Me" and "Message to Martha" had been covered as British hits by Sandie Shaw and Adam Faith. Johnson's 'smooth', melodic soul was not that well received at the Birdcage and he suggested, "British kids (were) not ready for soul".
Force Four who had developed a Beach Boys harmony sound were in the recording studios. Martin Carthy was a significant attraction at the Folkhouse in Portsmouth while there were rumours of a Portsmouth Folk Festival. Meanwhile, the Loft Folk Four were managing the club above the Star in Lake Road and impressing audiences with their "lusty humour". The Lost City Ramblers with Mike, another of the Seeger family, came from the USA to play the next Oddfellows concert with fellow countryman Paul Simon and the Country Strings.
By the autumn of 1965 the Birdcage had 5000 members. The Crow had split but guitarist John Williams brought his promising new band to the club although Bo Diddley failed to arrive in October. Plans were in place for the Who and the Vagabonds to appear at the official opening but without explanation the Who were replaced by the Walker Brothers. Otherwise from Thursday to Sunday each week, the club presented all the popular British club acts, led by regular visits from the Action and Jimmy James & the Vagabonds. In addition to those artists already mentioned, the club featured the Drifters, Arthur Alexander, the Small Faces, Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames, the Spencer Davis Group, Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Graham Bond, David Bowie & the Lower Third, the Stormsville Shakers, the Clique, the Birds, the VIPs and others.
The third week of October was eventful, with a broad spread of entertainment across the city. Wednesday saw a special football night at the Savoy as part of Jimmy Dickinson's Testimonial plus an Over-21s dance at the Locarno. There was a modest advertisement for a Folkhouse appearance at the Talbot Hotel for Paul Simon, who was paid just £15. Friday saw Billy Fury and the Gamblers at the Savoy and Brothers Scarlett at Southsea's Brook Club. On Saturday, Los Cincos played the Bottle in the Wall, the Classics at Clarence Pier, South Parade Pier had Old Time Sequence Dancing with Fred and Winnie Noakes, while the Birdcage featured Chris Farlowe & the Thunderbirds just ahead of its official opening on Thursday 21 October 1965.
The opening night was scheduled to feature regulars the Action and the Vagabonds plus "Top of the Pops" DJ Jimmy Saville and the Walker Brothers (with the Quotations) at a charge of 10/- for members and 2/6d extra otherwise. Around 1,000 attended and the event was covered by a number of local and national newspapers including the soul-oriented Record Mirror which ran photographs alongside their main story that the Walker Brothers failed to appear. They had attracted a more pop-oriented audience but it is doubtful whether the mods were much bothered since their favourite acts played for longer. The story brought attention to the club and the photographs showed Rikki Farr and right-hand man Robin Beste. Spinner reported that the 'stars' "were not missed by the buoyant crowd" - the Vagabonds' act "defies description" and the Action were "equally good (if) less raving". To compensate Birdcage fans, the following gig with American Ben E King was half price. Spinner described him as "superb" and reported Pete Townshend in the audience. An RAF group Hedgehoppers Anonymous including Mick Tinsley from Portsmouth enjoyed a brief spell as one-hit-wonders. Ex-Crow drummer Graham Hunt joined St Louis Checks who were at Thorngate in late October when the Zombies visited the Savoy.
Kimbells went folk on Sundays with the Settlers and the Folkhouse advertised a major concert but Carolyn Hester failed to (re) appear. A very special occasion was the visit of legendary American Doc Watson who gave a superb display but the appearance of the Irish McPeake Family at Kimbells was poorly attended. During December there were folk club gigs for Jon Isherwood, Derek Sergeant, Gerry Lockran, Ian McCann, Diz Disley, the (shrinking) Loft Folk Three and Pat Nelson. Kenny Ball appeared at the King's Theatre in early December. There was still little jazz locally.
Ricky's was renamed the Marina Casino. The Birdcage remained lively as Christmas 1965 approached and the folk scene was healthy but elsewhere the clubs and ballrooms were quiet. In November, the newspaper reported a "shock increase in cocaine and heroin addiction" plus a "back swing" in pop towards "less sophistication, more beat, more guitars and more noise". Their examples included the Who, the Action and Chris Andrews who had a local business in Arundel Street. Spinner added that rhythm & blues "has been filling the clubs, leaving the neglected ballrooms to suffer". There was also a premature suggestion that the Beatles were "subsiding into general acceptance". The Who were at the Birdcage a week before Christmas but the club had a "disappointing crowd" to watch a "disappointing" Major Lance on a Tuesday evening. Spinner reported that albums were now out-selling singles, although he had "reservations" about the Beatles new release Rubber Soul. Despite concerns about Guildhall audiences, Gene Pitney, Lulu & the Luvvers, Peter & Gordon and the Rockin' Berries sold out their Guildhall date in November and in the following month at the same venue, Manfred Mann revealed their new sound augmented by saxophone and trumpet. It was not an entirely happy event with serious disagreements with the management and the group added their complaints about the house PA system to previous comments. Paul Jones described the sound as 'a load of rubbish' and Spinner revealed that Gene Pitney and the Yardbirds felt much the same.
The Southern Classics returned from Sweden only to split up with their rhythm section joining Simon Dupree & the Big Sound and Ian Duck going to the Soul Agents.

NOTE: This is an edited version of Dave Allen's research. The full version can be found at Mick Cooper's website