The CubiKlub (Slack Street, Rochdale)

"The Rolling Stones" were booked to open the club, but from what I remember only a couple of them turned up and did not play but the crowds were so large no one could move any where.

I also saw there - The Maraccas (see pic below), The Peddlars and the Pretty Things and many more whose names are shrouded in mist.

Most weekends there was all nighters from about 7 till 7 or 8 next day with several groups."

Graeme Pilkington  

I remember the night Rod Stewart, filled the pie machine in the Cubiklub with a nice pungentish smelling herb, that he and some members of the group (The Steampacket, featuring Rod Stewart and Marsha Hunt) had purloined from the local herbacious garden in Rochdale park.

I also remember how Llittle Richard made me stop my cadilac car as I was running him across the Pennine Chains to the next venue in Nelson. He wanted to convert me to evangelism, and so pulled me into a river to baptise me.    He left his gold sygnet ring in that cold mountain stream, as an offering to the great mysterious spirit he called God.

I also remember wonderful nights with Millie, then Little Eva - I suppose they turned me on to my favourite chocolate.

And if you' re a musician that played in any of my 5 clubs in the UK please tell Manchesterbeat and as I am writing a truthfull biography of the impact such a life had on me to give me the impetus to continue on this rugged road of KELLYSEYES, which tookme to many places on this planet that few other civilised people went.

I made some films about it and one film I produced and acted in was even nominated for an Oscar and won four Grammy's.

The film, RAONI, was narrated by Marlon Brando.

I continue to teach my learnings as I travel on.

Please Google me and hear my last message from London,

Clive Catacombs Kelly - 28/2/09 

I was offered the dj job by the owner Clive Kelly and accepted because I was into the blues and had quite a good collection of blues records. I was also looking forward to working in the biggest blues club in the north.

Imagine my surprise when all they wanted was motown, soul and the most requested disc was.......THE CLAPPING SONG.....SHIRLEY ELLIS.

I've got loads of memories of the cubi and worked with some great acts - ROD STEWART, ELTON JOHN, SPENCER DAVIS, DONOVAN, JIMMY POWELL, DAVE BERRY, LONG JOHN BALDRY and loads more.

Tony Just

It was a great place to be. My friend Dave Ainsworth and I spent many happy nights there. I remember Clive Kelly giving us a lift across town. We rode sat on the front wings of his big cadillac, holding on to the wing mirrors so we didn't fall off.

I remember:

  • Little Richard spraying the front row with spit as he did his set.
  • Screaming Jay Hawkins in his witch doctor gear.
  • The Drifters played late because their plane was delayed.
  • The Steam Packet,
  • Donovan,
  • The Gaylords who later became Marmalade,
  • Tony Just - top d.j.
  • Flake the bouncer,
  • David John and the Mood,
  • The Scaffold played one night.
  • The Applejacks
  • The Pretty Things 

If the crowd was likely to get lively, Clive Kelly would get a load of us to stand in front of the stage to keep the crowd in order. I could go on forever - it was such a great time. Dave Earnshaw

I remember the Steam Packet. Rod Stewart, Julie Driscol, Long John and the Bian Auger Trinity. What a brilliant group.

Stephen Wolstenholme

Ii remember sunday afternoons in the Cubi - dancing and having a coffee, after saturday nights watching the Pretty Things or Them or even the Undertakers. My friend and I had to be home for 11.00. We had to catch 10.30 from Rochdale to Bury (no 19).

I wished I could have stayed all night

Susan Rothwell

I am sure I saw Ike and Tina Turner there when I was 16 - or did I dream it? Brian Auger Trinity, Julie Driscoll, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart (were they known as Steam Packet?). Remember watching the Kinks and Georgie Fame. Frankenstein's Monsters came one night and the lead singer chased my friend into the toilets. She was terrified!!

All the mods who got to the clubs in Manchester at weekends used to come to the Cubi during the week and we'd copy the latest dance off them. As soon as we learned one, they'd bring another!

Remember someone writing to the Observer saying you couldn't see your hand in front of your face it was so dark - not true. Remember Clive Kelly and his sister.

Susan Clark 

Played with support group The Trackers / Her Union from Todmorden , in the mid sixties. The best night we had was when we supported Screaming Jay Hawkins with Henry, his skull!! 

Ian Godfrey

Played regularly at the Cubi club with a band called Black Cat Bones. Shared the stage with many bands who were to go on to enduring success. Stones, Kinks, Spencer Davies, Rod Stewart, Troggs and many many more. weekend all night jam sessions were awesome. Great place to be, great times.

Mike Parkes

Being 16 and playing guitar in one of the top bands in Blackpool in the early 1960’s was pretty cool, the world was our oyster even though we only made £2 per night each.

Just 30 miles down the road in Preston another band David John & The Mood were also getting tremendous local and national recognition. They not only played their own brand of R&B to packed audiences they also had that icon of rock star trimmings - a van!

They were really far ahead of their time - playing Stones R&B before the Stones and influencing a whole new raft of bands and artists such as The Pretty Things and even David Bowie. Despite being acclaimed as one of the best bands in the UK and recording with the legendary Joe Meek they never quite made the big time.

My band became friends with ‘Miffy’ (David John Smith) the lead singer and also the other members of the Mood and often we would travel to Preston to hang out together.

One hot Friday night in July I caught the train to Preston with the keyboard player from my band to meet up with Miffy and the rest of the guys.

When we got there we found out that we were all going to the Cubiklub in Rochdale to see Clive Kelly and also to watch John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, a band I had never heard off.

We pulled up outside and walked into the Cubiklub.

Kelly was there larger than life and although the club wasn’t licensed Kelly’s office which was on the left hand side as you entered the club entertained a fully stocked bar. It also served as the band dressing room.

The Cubiklub had a strange stage set up. It was almost two different stages separated by a narrow wall.

Mayall was already playing and had taken over the right hand side of the stage with his Hammond organ, box full of harmonicas and a Burns amp stuck on top of the Hammond that served as a PA system and also added a wonderful warm distortion to his harmonica playing.

On the left hand side of the stage there was a bass player, drummer and a skinny guy with a crew cut sat on a small stool playing a blonde Fender Telecaster.

The club was empty with only a few die hards hanging around.

I listened to a couple of songs from Mr.Mayall but as I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics I was a little unsure just what was going on.

It seemed a very strange little outfit, there was Mayall wailing away, the drummer was far too jazzy for my taste the guitarist looked bored and the bass player had a shit sound.

I was losing interest quickly when all of a sudden this skinny guitar player let rip. I was totally in shock…….

Not only was he playing some really cool stuff he was bending his strings to reach notes. I had never seen or heard this kind of playing before, sure we all pushed our standard gauge strings a little, but this guy was bending like they were elastic. My jaw must have dropped at least a foot it was like a religious experience.

I stayed to watch the whole set and followed this guitarist into the office/dressing room like a love struck idiot.

He put the Telecaster into a battered case and I just stood there looking at it as though it was the Holy Grail. Someone shoved a beer in my hand and I finally woke up. ‘ How the f*cking hell do you bend your strings like that’ I asked the skinny one. ‘Oh it’s easy’ he replied ‘Look I’ll show you’

‘I use a banjo third instead of a standard guitar third and you can get some really terrific bends, look’

He then spent the next 30 minutes showing me how to get some great effects, up bending and down bending and allowing me to try on his guitar in-between his tuition. He advised me to buy ‘Clifford Essex’ strings and also where to get them. We then sat and talked guitars for about an hour before a reprise of the guitar lesson.

I thanked him, said that not only would I change my strings, I would also sell my Gretsch and buy a Fender.

When we all got back in the van to travel back to Preston I was on a high and kept telling the guys what a great guitar player Mr. Skinny was and such a really nice guy.

‘Yeah’ said Miffy 'I loved his playing I’d like to see him again -  his name’s……… Eric Clapton'.

I have told the story over and over again and not many believed that at 17 years old I had a one on one guitar lesson from Eric Clapton, now Kelly’s back UK I now have someone who can verify my little tale.

I have played a Fender ever since and I used Clifford Essex strings right up until they eventually invented the light gauge sets. My one-on-one with Eric changed my life.

I fortunately got to tell him and thank him again several years later.

Tony Williams - Ex Stealers Wheel, Jethro Tull - 28/2/09 

I recall the opening night at the Cubi vividly !  The Stones were DEFINATELY there but never played as the place was in absolute chaos. Being a fifteen year old schoolboy at the time - (and beaten up by some of the Rockers outside as me and my mate Colin ran the gauntlet to the No. 24 bus stop to catch the last bus back home to Royton !) - it was a new eyeopening experience and we hung around the back of the club near the (coffee) bar. As the gig waned further into chaos with the Stones obviously not going to appear, out from a small door next to the bar ALL the Stones, only feet away from us, snuck out and left through a fire exit also a the back of the club. 

They were DEFINATELY there !

After that was always there, as a punter or in band. Many as mention appeared at the Cubi - one great night I remember was American blues icon John Lee Hooker backed by Manchester band Black Cat Bones.

Alan Stone - 9/4/11

I was engaged to Clive's then best buddy, Jake, aka Peter Bailey. We had us a blast at the CubiKlub. The then d.j. used to love walking around the club, after hours, in the dark, totally nude & encouraged us to do the same - said it embodied freedom!!

I followed the group"David John & The Mood" all over & wrote a weekly newssheet for the noticeboard.

Once interviewed Dave Berry, at the Jungfrau,Manchester & invited him to a party at the club but we had all forgotten about it the next week! He came & got stoned in the bandroom though & was very nice about it so I gave him my James Dean Story book.


Cammy Butt - 11/5/11

I still remember Maurine (Clive LIL) running us down to the Twisted Wheel every Saturday when the Cubi Klub closed. I had a bit more staying power in those days! I can't remember who the two other girls were who always went with me and Maurine to the Wheel. There's just a small chance they will read this.

Stephen Wolsteholme - 28/10/11

The Cubi Klub was probably the place to be in Rochdale. I remember gigging there with The Travellers. It was always buzzing and cram packed with people. They seemed to always have the best acts at that club. Good Memories.

Dave Brierley - 4/1/13

We used to go regularly to the Cubi Klub - and to some of the all nighters. We were there on the night the Stones did not play, it was chaos, too many people packed in - it would have been outlawed under H&S these days. The music was amazing way ahead of time. We saw many of the mentioned bands above and it was about the music, the atmosphere and the people.

We started going to Manchester when it closed - to the Twisted Wheel, the Jungfrau and to Rails.

I think Steven Wolstenholme may have been in my year at Littleborough Central - not sure and if it was you, you were definately into good music and once brought a DOORS LP to a party and raved about the music - which we then all liked. 

Musically, it was an amazing time to be young, and whilst not santised, there were not as many damaged violent physcos around as today. 

Virginia Shand Ratcliffe - 11/2/13

As "The Pages", (me on lead guitar, Steve Barnes on rhythm, Ronnie Grundy on bass and my cousin Steve Revel on drums) we were booked there as support group for the Drifters.

I remember we had to do an extra set as they were late and we got reserved front row seats They were brilliant and had their own guitarist and when a guy from the local paper tried to photograph them, they all seamlessly went onto 2 mikes and huddled together so he could get them into shot He gave the thumbs up and pressed the flash and nothing happened, so he turned the camera round (screw in flashbulbs) and looked to tighten the bulb up . As soon as he did , the flash went off, blinding him and he fell off the edge of the stage

The Drifters all fell about laughing and later, I had a chat with Johnny Moore (what a REALLY nice guy)

Ted Johnton  - 24/2/13

Thanks guys for all the groups mentioned, the people' the memories - all near enough forgotten by me. My biggest memory was of a girl called Pat (can't remember her surname!), she was a blond with a huge beehive hairdo reminiscent of the Ronettes. She was so street-wise, so cool, but took me under her wing several times and I always wonder what happened to her.I'll look out more regularly for other memories from you all! I do have lots of memories of the Wheel, Jungfrau and Jigsaw and also CIS. I often tell people I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Co-Op! Does anyone remember the incredible Stax Tour too ('65?) with Otis, Booked T' Steve Cropper, Sharon Tandy, Eddie Floyd?

Thanks again. X

Vanessa - 25/3/13

By the time the CubiKlub opened we'd all gone to university, college etc. I wandered down on that opening night, long hair and cuban heels, although I couldn't believe for one minute that the Stones would actually appear. The crowds milling around made me think what a backwater Rochdale was. An appearance by a group could bring the place to a standstill. Pathetic!

Later one of my ex-school friends claimed to have blagged his way into the dressing rooms and said that there were two Rolling Stones there, but the others were advised to stay away, or had simply decided the crowds were impossible.

First time I saw the Kinks was there. Also remember Georgie Fame. The rest elude me. Was David John and The Mood, sort of resident?
I now go to opera and the ballet as well as rock gigs. A year or so at The RDS, queueing for Bruce, after The Hyde Park and IoW gigs, a Dutch woman said, Wow! I'll tell my son I met someone who saw The Beatles. I thought,how strange 100,000s must have seen The Beatles. Then it dawned on me, they may have - but you won't find them queueing the night before for a Bruce show anymore.

FTR also seen The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Clash and Roy Orbison among many, many others. Last band I saw was Muse. And yes, of course I was on the bar at the front!

Paul St.Claire-Johnson - 8/6/13

The Cubiklub was in Slack Street, Rochdale, Lancashire and opened on Thursday, April 16 1964 with The Rolling Stones, David John and the Mood and The St. Louis Checks.
The St. Louis Checks (formed in 1965 in Portsmouth, Hampshire) had a line-up of Chris West on lead vocals (b. 1946), Nick Nicholson on lead guitar (b. 1946), Eric Merryiwood on organ (b. 1945), Mark Hunter on bass (b. 1947) and Alan Willing on drums (b. 1947).
It was also known as The Cubi Klub and was Rochdale's own cavern. It was billed as The North's biggest R & B Club and was open seven nights a week. It was opposite the bus station.
The clubs' managers were Clifford Kelly and Paddy Jones. 
The opening night concert on Thursday, April 16, 1964 with The Rolling Stones was cancelled in the end after trouble broke out among the 1,500 kids trying to get into the gig. Queues were forming outside Slack Street for hours before the show and over 800 were eventually packed inside waiting for the band to show. Two of The Stones had arrived, but the others were delayed in travelling from Knutsford, Lancashire after their car had a puncture. There were riots outside and eggs were thrown, four people were arrested and a metal object narrowly missed a policeman. 
The atmosphere inside the club was also restless as people surged forward in anticipation of the event. The clubs' managers Kelly and Jones asked them to move back for fear of people getting crushed but to no avail. Twenty people fainted and one 13-year-old girl had to be taken to Rochdale Infirmary after she fainted. In the end considering the problems inside and outside the club The Stones travelling to the club were advised to go to Manchester and the other two were smuggled out and joined their colleagues later. Clifford Kelly said the band were willing to make an appearance, but in view of the trouble at Wembley Arena a few weeks beforehand when 8,000 people manhandled The Stones he advised them not to appear.
John Lee Hooker appeared here backed by Manchester band The Black Cat Bones. 
John H. Warburg - August 2022)
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