Drokiweeny, Mr Smiths
It would be interesting to know why they were apologising for Pink Floyd - they didn't turn up? Were the wrong sort of band?
Cabaret all week, with pop nights (later a Hippy club) on Sundays.
"Mr Smiths was split into 2 parts. It later became a Hippy Club on a Sunday night.
As you entered you had a room with a stage, saw Curved Air & Atomic Rooster there. Then you went through a small tunnel into a room with a podium in the middle where they used to have a DJ."
Drokiweeny was part of Mr Smiths around 1967/68. There was the main cabaret room, a large disco they called the Drokiweeny and a room called the Bus Bar where you could have a quite drink.
They may of course have had "turns" on in that room after I stopped going.
My mother was manager of Mr Smiths Club when the Drokiweeny, the discotheque part opened. The club was owned by an agent called Paddy McKiernan.
The Sunday night 'alternative' night was called the Electric Circus and featured all sorts of bands - I even saw Keith Moon from the Who in there, not performing but chatting up the cloakroom girl.
People were wandering round selling electric yo-yos and underground magazines - 'the Mole'?
Can't remember exactly which year but the resident band in Mr Smiths was called 'Campus' which featured Dave Tomlinson (St Louis Union) on the keyboards.
The Drokiweeny was the brain child of a guy called Frank Booth who was part of the Paddy Mckiernan empire which owned Mr Smiths club which the Droki was part of.
Booth approached John (J.J.) Denson (Hammond organ) and myself (drums) in the summer of 1966 to form a three piece band with a sax player of our choice to play on the central revolving stage in the Droki six night a week, playing soul, R&B and jazz orientated instrumentals.
John and I were at the time working with Wayne Fontana in the post Mindbenders period, but the offer of playing some jazz and being able to get home every night was, or seemed like a better option.
We got a guy called Alan King from London on tenor who I'd worked with four years previously in Germany.
We called ourselves "Crocus bowl" (don't ask!) and started there on the opening of the Drokiweeny in September '66.
It was part of the deal that we wore luminous satin tops and trousers to show up under the U.V. lights.(nice?). Alan's girlfriend Jean was the D.J. who played soul records in between our sets. It was ok for a while, but going round and round at one rev a minute looking like a bloody Christmas tree starts to wear a bit thin, so when Mike Cotton came in and offered me the drum chair in his band I jumped at the chance and left Manchester and went to London for four years.
The other two guys were fed up too so they also left and as far as I know they never had a resident band in the Droki again.
Musically it was very good as Alan was very jazzy and John is one of the best hammond players I've ever met, Jimmy Smith and all that.
Anyway, I hope this has filled in a few gaps about the Drokiweeny.
Bernie Byrnes (sometimes misspelled Burns) - 18/8/09
I worked in Mr Smiths from late 1969-1971 as a potlad collectting glasses.
There were about 7 off us - we were just 18 yrs old.
It was a great time. A couple of the DJs that I can remember are Kane Newman plus a younger kid than us, his name was Martin Ellis. He was just 17 but I can remember the manager Mell and his hopo Ian Spinks let him have a 1hr spot Fri-Sat nites but the guy was great.. all he played was soul music.
He became a good friend and went on to dj at the Torch in Stoke then later at Wigan Casino.
If you remember the Drokiweeny was a big record that went round and round where the dj sat.
I loved it there will talk about it at a later date.
Soulman - 24/2/10
I worked in the Drokiweeny in 1970 when a student at Manchester uni. Remember Kane Newman and the pot boys who used to party at our flat in Fallowfield.
Whatever happened to Goldilocks and Suzy Creamcheese who were dancers on the revolving empodium?
I still have a picture taken on that stage....would love to hear from anyone of that time ... happy days.
Christine Stephenson - 4/5/10
I remember The Sunday night sessions at Mr Smith's titled 'Electric Circus' (circa 1969-1970) part of the proceeds went to support the undergound magazine 'Grass Eye' and was part promoted by the brother of a girl friend. The premier band who played on a number of ocassions were Van Der Graaf, also Greasy Bear and Nazareth were also around.
Tony - 29/5/10
The comment about Pink Floyd. I was at the Drokiweeny playing drums with The Motives the night when the Floyd were booked to perform. We opened the evening along with Dave Lee Travis Radio Caroline dj. But Floyd never turned up! About 1967 - 1968
Peter Chetham - 20/7/10
While working at Mr Smith's as assistant to Bill McLeish plans were put together to open the 'Droki'.
It tooks it's idea and style from the Witchdoctor clubs that the company had opened around the country.The revolving stage was a bit of a challenge in those days especially as we were to have a band and DJ playing as it went round !!
Very successful to start with and I can't believe I had bigger billing than DLT.
Tony Powell (Big Red Powell) - 18/8/10
I was the first DJ (more of a Go Go dancer) when the Drokiweeny opened - the Jean mentioned previously by Bernie Byrnes. I remember the photo session we did before the club opened. Me in a hipster mini skirt draped across the top of a piano.
That's when I first met Alan King, the tenor saxophonist in the group, who I later married. For the club I wore a very small silvery top, bare midriff & a tiny mini with silver shoes & had to play records & dance on the slowly revolving stage!
I later went to work at the Picadilly Club before going back in the Rag Trade - which was my real job.
Jean King (nee Readman) - 21/9/10
I worked as a DJ at the Droki in the mid late 60's along with my pal (Jumpin) Joe Makin. (See picture). We had previously worked together at the Jungfrau on Cathedral Street.
We pretty much split the week between us then worked together on Friday and Saturday nights. Some nights I worked for Mr.Smiths taking the cabaret acts to the sister club in Hanley. Joe and I both had "proper" day jobs, me as a car salesman and Joe as a "glass technician" and then he bought a newsagents. We got our records from Gary Laine at Spin Inn on Cross Street and I got a few from friends in the US before release here. My speciality was Motown and Atlantic ans Stax soul music and Joe did the British and other stuff. It was a great social scene outside the club and many of the boys would meet up an Sundays at the Woo Sang restaurant in Chinatown for long boozy lunches.
There was so much going on in Manchester at that time that I cant remember much of it so I must have been there !!
Eric Stanton - 6/3/11
I was lucky enough to do some dj work at the Drok whilst Big Julie was strutting her stuff in the main lounge. One thing I gotta say is I was so proud to bring Sister's Love The bigger you love the harder you fall into the UK charts from pushing it every night in Mr Smiths. lol. Great nights never be forgotten.
Stevie b - 28/11/11
Does anyone recall the real names of Kane Newman and Suzy Creamcheese or have any 'photos?
Mike B - 28/9/12
I'm Paddy McKiernan's grandson. I just stumbled across this site, it's great! I'm a professional musician now although hadn't even started playing by the time Paddy passed away when I would have been about thirteen, I'm thirty five now.
Does anyone out there have any photos of Mr Smiths or Paddy? I'm really keen to see what it was like. Occasionally I bump into musicians who knew my grandad but they're few and far between as a lot of them would have to be on their 80s and 90s now.
I'd be really keen to get in touch with anyone who worked with Paddy. All the best,
Oliver McKiernan - 10/1/13