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  THE EVOLUTION OF FRIARS 1969-2014
Bucks County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury
Private Viewing 28th February 2014


Liz Medhurst

liz medhurst

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evolution of friars

For 45 years The Friars, Aylesbury has been a major player in the music scene, putting on an impressive pedigree of Prog and Rock gigs. A major new exhibition has just opened, dedicated to the history of the club and is essential viewing.

Friars is universally acknowledged as having played a role in the careers of many rock acts, almost every big name played in this small market town at some point, and it is well known for being the venue where David Bowie first appeared as Ziggy Stardust.

Incredibly, just before tonight's event, founder David Stopps received a text from the man himself saying: "Memories are everything, apparently. I have only great ones of the fabulous Friars. Have a wonderful night, DB."

Article continues below...

 
 


The Friars is not confined to one building however. Over the years there have been four:

New Friarage Hall June 1969-July 1970 (Phase One)
Borough Assembly Hall April 1971-August 1975 (Phase Two)
Civic Centre Sept 1975-June 2010 (Phase Three)
Waterside Theatre Oct 2010 - present day. (Phase Four)

For a short period Friars put on events in other nearby towns including Watford, Bedford, Dunstable and High Wycombe, with some concerts having coaches laid on from Aylesbury. However it was Friars Aylesbury that presented most shows and had the reputation. The placing of Friars as an entity and not a venue may be of some comfort to Soho's The Intrepid Fox which is having to vacate its second premises in a few weeks.

evolution of friars
Mike Rutherford's guitar

The rooms are chock full of memorabilia, posters and photos from the 45 years of gigs, with stories and trivia to read on the way round. There is also a film featuring members and artists talking about their experiences. It is a fascinating journey through the story of the evolution of the club. The distinctive psychedelic artwork and logo still looks great today, and it's fun to spot which artist designed the posters by looking for their signature motif incorporated into the design.

To see all this gathered together in one place brings home just what an impact Friars made on the Rock scene, and how important its place in history is. Due to the efforts of the founding fathers Robin Pike, Jerry Slater, David Stopps, Terry Harms, Adrian Roach, and writers Pete Frame and Kris Needs, Friars Aylesbury was established as a major venue, equal in stature to the likes of The 100 Club or The Greyhound, Croydon.

evolution of friars
Nick Mason's drums

It is also quite astounding to reflect on the club's longevity in the high risk balls-on-the-line arena of gig promoting, and the personal financial risks that were shouldered – there were never any guarantees of success, the motivation was all about the music.

Friars developed a reputation for putting on bands at the brink of making it big. Black Sabbath played in 1970, three days after the release of their debut album, and were a last minute addition after blues legend Freddie King pulled out. A quick look at the ticket displays shows names including Gillan, UFO, Queen, Hawkwind and Genesis and so many others; a true roll of honour.

Promoter and founder David Stopps had an uncanny knack for recognising talent, and the lists of all of the Friars gigs over the years are very telling as there are very few bands which you won't have heard of, a stellar pedigree.

David said: "In 1980, Genesis came back for a Friars gig. They were much too big for us to ask them, but it was at their request, they wanted to come back to do another one as the earlier gigs were so memorable and part of their history. People queued for three days for tickets, it was like a mini-festival right there in the queue.

"Finally on the Sunday, I came out with my megaphone to speak to the crowd. I told them that the sale was about to start and there was a limit of two each. I then said that at the same time tickets were also on sale for Def Leppard which was the next gig – I was met with jeers and whistles as nobody had heard of them. I think I got the last laugh on that one though!

"Friars works as an entity outside of an attachment to a venue as it is organic. It was and is always about the music fans much more than the business side. The audiences, the atmosphere make it special, people come to hear the best music locally, and that is the basis for its success."

Another major name to be associated with Aylesbury is of course Marillion. The insanely talented, charismatic and inspirational frontman Steve Hogarth (h) was in attendance tonight. Marillion played at the most recent Friars gig, in November 2013, a return after 29 years for the band who played many times in the 80s, but the first for h who has recently celebrated 25 years with the band.

This gig saw the band on absolutely top form, showing exactly why they had won the Band of the Year at 2013's Progressive Music Awards and were nominated in two other categories.

evolution of friars
Steve Hogarth

h recalled: "Incredibly, that gig was the first time I had met David Stopps, although he has legendary status in the area and has become a friend now. I never played a Friars gig with (previous band) The Europeans either, although we would have loved to, so that was my first.

"The Aylesbury gig was incredible in so many ways, and very different from the many previous ones in the town. We had travelled down from Manchester the night before and arrived to find flowers in the dressing room and an exceptionally warm welcome. David is a lovely man, he reminds me a lot of Bob Harris, similar vibe. He has so much love, respect and care for the artists and the music and I went on stage feeling incredibly relaxed and happy, it couldn't have been a better environment.

"The Waterside venue is fantastic too - the facilities, the stage, the acoustics, the atmosphere, it was a very happy night.

"Afterwards, David presented the band with a glass award on which all of the dates of each member's past Friars appearances were engraved. The rest of the band had all these dates on and mine only had one! It was such a sweet thing to do and a very special memento. It's definitely the love that makes the difference. I hope we can return for more gigs in the future.

"This is a great exhibition and it's a nice surprise to see Pete's (Trewavas) old 1969 bass guitar here, I didn't know he'd loaned it. I'm always falling over it in the studio so I'm glad it's out of the way for a bit."

I also asked h if he had crossed paths with another Aylesbury legend, John Otway, who was also at the viewing.

"Well, The Europeans were John's backing band on the 'All Balls And No Willy Tour' and we were known as The Band Behind The Curtain and we were literally behind a sheet. I was party to a lot of wreckage on that tour but never personally damaged fortunately. I remember one night seeing John take off his shirt and he had the full imprint of his pedals across his back, where he had done a forward roll over his own equipment."

evolution of friars
John Otway stage debris

The wrecking antics of John Otway are resident in this exhibition as John has loaned a suitcase full of smashed up microphones and equipment for the display. He has played 17 Friars gigs in total, and 'Otway – The Movie' was a Phase Four event in July 2013. I caught up with the utterly charming maverick for a chat and to find out his Friars Story:

"Well, Friars made me identify what it was I wanted to do. In the late 60s I was a bit cerebral, a Bob Dylan fan, and there was all of this dance and pop stuff around everywhere else. I was told that if I wanted to get a gig at Friars I would have to be a progressive rock star so that got me thinking about what that could mean.

"I eventually came up with the physical aspect, making up for a lack of talent with shocking antics. Fortunately, by 1977 playing badly and doing shocking antics became the thing to do and I was sorted.

"My life has been an endless run of gigging ever since. I'm never going to stop the antics – I look at the youngsters today, and it's all shoegazing, very static, trying to be cool. I'm never going to stop leaping about all over the place."

evolution of friars
John Otway

"I remember upsetting Lemmy once. We were booked to play on the same bill as Motorhead in West London. Me and Willy were a punk/folk duo at the time and we ended up pulling out of the gig for genuine reasons. That was more of a heavy scene than we were into. Thing is, word got back to Lemmy – wrongly – that it was because I thought they weren't good enough for us. He hasn't spoken to me since... that was 1976... I wonder if he's forgiven me..."

It is abundantly clear that the Friars was indeed a small market town club that punched well above its weight. This exhibition is a wonderful tribute to and celebration of "The Local Music Club That Rocked The World".

The Friars exhibition runs from March 1st to July 5th at the Bucks County Museum. Opening times are:

1st March to 31st March: Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 4pm
1st April to 5th July: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Also on the following Mondays: 7th, 14th, 21st April and 26th May 10am – 5pm
Adults: £4.00
Students/ES40 holders: £2.00 
Under 16's: Free
Exhibition Season Ticket: £15.00

Online:
http://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk/
www.buckscc.gov.uk/museum


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Belgium's post/sludge Metal act Steak Number Eight have announced the dates of their 2015 European tour...

beth hart BETH HART TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM 'BETTER THAN HOME' ON 13th APRIL 2015
Some artists choose to sing the blues and some artists find that they have to live them as well...

asomvel ASOMVEL ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR MARCH 2015
With the new line-up powering the band to bigger heights, Asomvel are heading out on tour...

dr living dead DR. LIVING DEAD! LAUNCH BRAND NEW VIDEO
'TEAMxDEADx' is an example of the quality Thrash Metal displayed on the upcoming third album...

mabel greers toyshop MABEL GREER'S TOYSHOP RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE FOR 'ELECTRIC FUNERAL'
The band which grew into Yes have reunited and will release a new album in March...

paradise lost PARADISE LOST ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM TITLE AND RELEASE DATE
"We have written a very dark, yet melodic album, but this time many songs definitely have a death Metal edge, which is something we haven't done for a long long time ..."

ensiferum ENSIFERUM ADD MORE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
We're really looking forward to the new Ensiferum album, 'One Man Army', here at MetalTalk...

airbourne AIRBOURNE SIGN WITH SPINEFARM RECORDS
"We're pumped up to have signed on the dotted line to the world's toughest and truest hard rock label..."

vader VADER BRING BLITZ! OVER EUROPE TOUR TO THE UK AND IRELAND IN MARCH
"We come together with our dudes from Hate. We can't wait to bring Hellfire to you soon..."

thy art is murder THY ART IS MURDER ANNOUNCE UK SHOWS SUPPORTING EMMURE
Tickets are on sale now for what promises to be the heaviest tour of the year...

horror holocaust CROSSOVER DEATH SUPERGROUP DENIAL FIEND RE-ISSUE 'HORROR HOLOCAUST' ON VINYL AND IN EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ten tales of blood curdling horror that are anvil heavy thrashing death...

wacken EUROPE AND DREAM THEATER ANNOUNCED FOR WACKEN
The sold out legendary German festival announces more details of the mouth-watering bill...

camden rocks CAMDEN ROCKS 2015 ANNOUNCE THE FIRST ACTS
The bands include Trail of Dead, Funeral For a Friend, Heavens Basement, The Dictators, Black Spiders and more...

all that remains ALL THAT REMAINS LAUNCH #thisprobablywontendwell PICTURE COMPETITION
This unique competition marks the release of new studio album 'The Order Of Things' out on Feb 23rd...

titanfest TITANFEST ANNOUNCED FOR MAY IN LONDON - FIRST BANDS REVEALED
Titanfest now sees some of the most respected and time-hardened Metal musicians working side by side with the next generation of the emerging UK Metal scene...

joe lynn turner JOE LYNN TURNER ANNOUNCES UK AND NORTHERN IRELAND DATES THIS SPRING
Legendary rock and roll singer Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Deep Purple fame is pleased to confirm details of his intimate acoustic 'An Evening With...' tour...

wildfire festival EXCLUSIVE: WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES FIFTY BAND LINE-UP
Wildfire is known for bringing the best in Scottish talent to Wiston Lodge, and there is one name everyone at Wildfire HQ agreed should be on the bill...

kiss KISS GET ANIMATED IN COLLABORATION WITH J-POP IDOLS MOMOIRO CLOVER Z!
Just when you thought the Metal world had gone insane enough with Babymetal...

ronnie james dio RONNIE JAMES DIO FIFTH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will include a public memorial service, a celebrity bowling tournament and the inaugural Ride For Ronnie motorcycle ride and BBQ...

walkway WALKWAY RELEASE SINGLE AND VIDEO FOR 'STREETWISE'
The single is the first release from their second studio album. Walkway will support Status Quo in June 2015...

motley crue MOTLEY CRUE REVEAL DATE OF FINAL SHOW AND FINAL TOUR LAST LEG DETAILS: NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO OUT NOW
Motley Crue are also in the process of putting together the ultimate collector's album package...

art of anarchy PRESENTING ART OF ANARCHY FEATURING SCOTT WEILAND, BUMBLEFOOT, JOHN MOYER OF DISTURBED AND JON AND VINCE VOTTA
Poised to become one of the biggest new bands of 2015, Art Of Anarchy is redefining the rock supergroup...

jettblack JETTBLACK RETURN WITH A BRAND NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO
Jettblack get serious in 2015, kicking things off with a headline tour and new single in February...

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS FANS PERFORM PUBLIC SEX ACT LIVE ON STAGE
"This was something definitely different to see at a punk concert..."

evil scarecrow EVIL SCARECROW'S MISSING TRACK FINALLY RELEASED! A MESSAGE FROM DR HELL!
Evil Scarecrow have just released a new, old version of 'Robototron', which they feel is the definitive version of their most popular track...

eddie and the hot rods BREAKING NEWS: ORIGINAL EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS LINE-UP REFORM FOR 40th ANNIVERSARY
This will be the first time all original members have played a full show together for over thirty years...

carthagods CARTHAGODS TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS INCLUDING TIM "RIPPER" OWENS, RON THAL AND MARK JANSEN
"It's been a long time that we look for this occasion to finally satisfy our fans..."

paddy goes to holyhead EXCLUSIVE: PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD ANNOUNCE FINAL CONCERT FOR ST PATRICK'S NIGHT
Sadly it's the end of an era as Paddy Goes To Holyhead have announced that they are to play their final gig...

grateful dead BREAKING NEWS: GRATEFUL DEAD TO RE-UNITE FOR 50th ANNIVERSARY FAREWELL CONCERTS
The reunion, billed "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead", will feature the band's surviving members...

nazareth BREAKING NEWS: VOCALIST LINTON OSBOURNE LEAVES NAZARETH
"I am no longer a member of Nazareth. It didn't work out, for me, or for the band..."

lordi LORDI ANNOUNCE UK DATES FOR TOUR FORCE ONE
Lordi bring 'Scare Force One' to the UK for ten dates in the Spring...

nightwish NIGHTWISH REVEAL TRACKLIST & FORMATS OF 'ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL'
The new studio album, released on 30th March, is available in several tasty formats...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN LEADER STEVE HARRIS' MANSION BACK ON THE MARKET AT KNOCKDOWN PRICE
The mansion boasts its own pub called the Horse and Cart as well as an indoor swimming pool...

pete way EXCLUSIVE: ALL PARTIES IN BATTLE BETWEEN FIN MUIR AND PETE WAY OF WAYSTED GIVE A RESPONSE
"I can confirm that this appalling defamation is completely without foundation..."

death angel DEATH ANGEL ANNOUNCE UK HEADLINE SHOW AND DATES WITH QUEENSRYCHE AND ARMORED SAINT
Los Angeles Heavy Metal legends Armored Saint will join both acts for a special London show at the Electric Ballroom...

udo dirkschneider U.D.O. TO PLAY ENGLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DONKEY'S YEARS
Germany's favourite rock god Udo Dirkschneider has announced three exclusive shows for the UK...

california breed CALIFORNIA BREED HAS GONE THE WAY OF BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
After a great first album, the departure of a superstar drummer, and very little touring, California Breed is extinct...

kamelot KAMELOT SIGNS TO NAPALM RECORDS; NEW ALBUM AND TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED
In support of this highly anticipated release, Kamelot will hit the road for select UK shows, followed by a massive North America Tour...

the gentle storm ARJEN LUCASSEN AND ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN'S NEW BAND THE GENTLE STORM REVEAL TOUR DATES AND ALBUM DETAILS
"We'll perform some Ayreon classics together and premiere a couple of songs that will be on our upcoming album..."

jimmy page JIMMY PAGE IN FIGHT WITH ROBBIE WILLIAMS OVER HOUSE RENOVATION
The pair are neighbours and have fallen out over Williams' plans to revamp his multi-million pound mansion...

hard rock hell SAXON ANNOUNCED FOR HARD ROCK HELL 9 WITH ROCK GODDESS, PIG IRON AND MORE
Hard Rock Hell, aptly titled 'House of Horrors', are pleased to welcome Heavy Metal Titans Saxon back into their realm...

dark funeral DARK FUNERAL TO RELEASE 7INCH & DIGITAL SINGLE 'NAIL THEM TO THE CROSS' IN FEBRUARY
The single is available as a hand-numbered 7inch limited edition of which 500 copies are on black vinyl and 500 on blue vinyl...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ TO RELEASE BRAND NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM ON MARCH 9th VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
Santa Cruz will also play five UK dates as main support to Amaranthe...

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG TO HEADLINE GARAGE DAYZ RE-VISITED ALL DAYER IN LONDON
A mouth watering bill not only from bands that were a huge influence to bands like Metallica and Megadeth....

truffle TRUFFLE TO PLAY SPECIAL SOUTH COAST GIG WITH SIEGE, TOLEDO STEEL AND KODIAK JACK
Tickets are priced at only $7.50 for a night that promises to be full of faces from the area past and present....

ensiferum ENSIFERUM UNLEASH TWO NEW VIDEOS ON EVE OF LAUNCH ON NEW ALBUM
Today Ensiferum unveils the official new video for 'One Man Army''s title track as well as an in-depth "making of" clip...

autograph AUTOGRAPH RELEASE FIRST NEW SONG IN OVER 25 YEARS
Simply put, a reunion was both inevitable and essential...

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT ANNOUNCES NEW SOLO STUDIO ALBUM 'WOLFLIGHT' OUT ON 30th MARCH
The ten tracks take the listener through a journey in space and time looking at the different faces of the endless fight for freedom...

adrian smith IRON MAIDEN'S ADRIAN SMITH ROCKS UP IN CHISWICK WITH DOOGIE WHITE, ANDY BARNETT AND DAVE 'BUCKET' COLWELL
MetalTalk's first Gig Of The Week for 2015 turned up two major surprises as a great night was had by all...

sabaton SABATON ANNOUNCE "SABATON OPEN AIR" WITH POWERWOLF AND CIVIL WAR
Tickets are on sale now for this special event in Germany in July...

pig iron PIG IRON ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE FOR FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM
'Sermons From The Church Of Blues Restitution' will be released worldwide via OYR on 2nd March and will be preceded by a high value four track EP...

sonata arctica SONATA ARCTICA ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE LONDON SHOW FOR 'ECLIPTICA OVER EUROPE TOUR 2015'
"On these shows we'll perform 'Ecliptica' in its entirety as well as assorted hits from our catalog..."

skalmold SKALMOLD UNVEIL NEW SPRING TOUR DATES WITH ELUVEITIE AND WIND ROSE
For those who didn't catch the Viking/Pagan Metallers live on tour, here's another chance...

tony iommi BLACK SABBATH LEGEND TONY IOMMI TELLS ALL ABOUT HIS CANCER BATTLE
"In the good old days there was cocaine everywhere. This time we had tea and coffee and health drinks..."

def con one DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCE CRUSHING HEADS TOUR
British Metallers Def Con One can be seen across the UK in 2015...

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