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09-Mar-2020 23:16

Eric Burdon of the Animals was a member of a crowd that used to hang out at the Downbeat.In one interview Burdon described his bunch of friends as “like a motorcycle gang …… they were tough, hard-drinking and listened to American music”.Apart from genuine jazz enthusiasts, these clubs also started attracting a lot of students from Kings College (now Newcastle University).In 1957 steps were taken that would eventually lead to the opening of the Club A’Gogo.During the mid sixties, Newcastle’s Club A’Gogo was one of the top music venues in the North East.The ‘Gogo’ was to Newcastle what the Marquee club was to London._______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ From the mid 50s, Newcastle had enjoyed a very lively jazz scene.The Newcastle Jazz Club in the Royal Arcade, Pilgrim Street was founded in the first half of the 1950s and in 1955 the New Orleans Club opened up at Melbourne Street, Shieldfield.

At the time the Club A’Gogo was running in the 1960s, the floor below was a canteen for Newcastle’s bus crews.That year the man who founded the Gogo, Mike Jeffery, opened his first music venue – the University Jazz Club in the Cordwainers Hall above the Gardeners Arms on Nelson Street, Newcastle.Michael Frank Jeffery was a Londoner who, after a spell in the British army, came north to study at Kings College, Newcastle.There are, of course, many references to the Animals being the resident band at the club in the early sixties.

The Animals also recorded a live album at the Gogo and even wrote a song about the place.In spite of dwindling audiences at the New Orleans and at the Downbeat on jazz nights, there were still plenty of traditional (trad) jazz bands and modern jazz combos doing the rounds in the north east. For instance, in 1961 there were three jazz performers in the top 20 all at the same time – (Dave Brubeck, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk).

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