Offerton Palace (Offerton, Stockport)

I played here every Thursday night in 1962/63 with the Pete Marsh Trio. Every other night of the week they were the Pete Marsh Duo, I was added on Thursdays because that was 'Dancing Night'. The other two guys were Pete Marsh on organ (the same Pete Marsh that Dave Bowker played with in Beirut?) and Mal Riddell on Drums. 

Mal was the youngest and was a great drummer in spite of only having one leg! He was a good mate of mine who got me the gig in the first place. I heard that he died quite young, I think in South Africa where he'd been playing at Sun City. 

The Palace was a converted cinema and owned by Sid Elgar who also owned the Southern Sporting Club and the Sale Theatre Club. When I first played there the compere was Johnny More a very versatile singer/comedian/impressionist who later appeared on TV on 'Who Do You Do?'. I recently heard that he was now working the cruise ships. He was a really nice guy with a Sinatra style voice. 

Johnny left when the club in Sale burnt down and Kevin Kent the compere from Sale was moved over to Offerton. Kevin had been a member of the 'Keynotes' a vocal group that had been very successful in the 40's and 50's. He was a top class act and technically brilliant. He went on to be vocal MD at ABC television where he had a girl called Elkie Brooks in his singing group. He became Elkie's manager. I last heard of Kevin singing with the Syd Lawrence orchestra, a gig that would suit him right down to the ground. 

Kevin, the ultimate professional, understandably had a very poor opinion of my guitar playing and he made no bones about it. By the time that I finished at Offerton, my skin had considerably increased in thickness. Luckily for me, the Manager of the Palace was a former professional wrestler, Mike Sullivan, who had a broken nose and cauliflower ears which had obviously rendered him tone deaf.

One of the great things about the gig was the cabaret. While I was there we had acts like Gene Vincent (one of my all time heroes), the Springfields with Dusty herself, Nat Gonella (one of my jazz heroes and a personal friend of Satchmo's) and the amazing Wee Willie Harris. Wee Willie was a total loonie (and probably still is) who brought his own band which always included a top jazz drummer.

I was there when the Beatles and the Mersey thing took off. Amazingly, Brian Epstein honoured a pre Beatles success contract that he had with Sid Elgar and put the Beatles in, and later Gerry and the Pacemakers, for peanuts. I don't know how well the Beatles played that night, you couldn't hear them for the screaming. They came and had a pee in the one and only backstage wash basin which was in the bandroom; I should have bottled it, I could have been rich now. Paul McCartney was very complimentary about my brand new Guild guitar, I expect that he still remembers the incident. 

We also had our share of the 'Where Are They Nows?' (who gives a ****?), such as the 'Batchelors', who borrowed Mal's drums for a week and gave him 2/6d (12.5p) at the end of the week by way of rental, and Craig Douglas. 

Craig brought his own pianist with him and on the first evening, Craig, piano player, Pete and Mal were all on stage. Pete was chewing gum. Craig whispers to piano player and piano player indicates to Pete that Craig wants him to take out the gum whereupon Pete slams down organ lid and walks off stage. 

Craig had to do without the organ all week, the moral being you upset the musicians only at your own peril.

Pete Crooks - 23/3/09

Dont forget OFFERTON PALACE which doubled with the Southern. I worked all the clubs with the duo Jason & Gee.

Compere at Offerton Palace - KEVIN KENT - the best.

Dave Garnett - 14/4/12

I remember being booked at "Offerton Palace" on Turncroft Lane Offerton around '65ish. We were a young group consisting of a lead, bass & drums setup, with a vocal harmony sound. Our job was to fill the gap before the main act with the usual get up and dance numbers plus a couple of Four Seasons and Beachboy songs we were trying out.

Imagine our surprise when the "Compere" came rushing on stage halfway through our spot waving his arm's insisting we cease playing immediately as we were doing the main act's program - (Reg Coates Combo), after an exciting exchange of words on stage in which the "Compere" resorted to physical threats allegedly passed on from a spokesperson in the Reg Coates Combo.

As Mr Coates had allegedly a certain reputation in getting his own way, we decided, discretion being the better part etc. - to follow the Compere's suggestion and went home, really quite chuffed because a professional band had obviously considered us a musical threat. Needless to say we refrained from further bookings at the venue, we also made sure we and the "Reg Coates Combo" never appeared on the same bill again. 

D.Rimmer - 27/5/12

I was barman at the Palace 1962 - 1967. Great atmosphere at this friendly club. I have numerous memories and highlights include: One night stands (Thursday) including Beatles, Springfields, Gerry and Pacemakers, Peter and Gordon (inexperience showed),The Honeycombs.

American stars including Johnny Ray, Guy Mitchell (appeared tipsy)

Regular club acts including Syd and Eddie, Freddie Starr, Jimmy Tarbuck, Terry Wayne, Johnnie Goon Tweed, Norman Collier, Vera Day, Joe Ruggles, The Bachelors, Evelyn Doyle, Lynn Perrie, Mr X (Josef Locke?), Vince Hill (later to make an album live at the Palace), Danny Williams, Joan Turner, Neville Taylor, Charlie Williams, Ken Goodwin, Faith Brown, Vince Eager, Jimmy Young, Gerry Dorsey (later Englebert), Migil Five, Karl Denver, Julie Rodgers, Glenda Collins and so many more.

There was a regular weekly BBC tv show called "Club Night", compered by Donald Peers recorded at the Offerton Palace. The Searchers pre-recorded a spot for Top of the Pops singing Needles and Pins.

"An evening with Sabrina" was cancelled due to only a handful of tickets being sold - a huge disappointment.

Big Mike Sullivan was our manager.Sid Elgar the owner.Kevin Kent the compere- the best in Britain for my money.Pete and Malcolm on organ and drums - tremendous musicians.

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent were regular customers. Kevin Kent was Les Dawsons agent at that time.

My personal "moments" include:

  • Celebrating my 21st on Christmas Eve 1963 with Mike Sullivan and Eunice at their home ln Romiley after finishing work with Wee Willie Harris in attendance.
  • Serving the Beatles with Coca Cola in their dressing room prior to them going on stage.
  • Travelling in driver Jack Plants van with the Bachelors taking them to their 3rd gig of the night at the Cromford Club in Manchester.
  • Being personally introduced to Johnny Ray on a Sunday afternoon at the sister club , the Southern Sporting.

I used to put the records on in the warm up period at the start of the evening. I took advantage of this by always playing the latest releases of Billy Fury who was my personal favourite.It was ironic that Billy actually played the Palace shortly after I had moved on.

And the best act I ever saw there? The Springfields with Dusty.

Tony Philbin - 1/4/13

For many years on a Sunday night I would go in the club and sit at the back watching the acts and chatting with Sid Elgar. Sunday was probably the best night because Sid would watch the acts and if he didn't approve he would fire them off.

I asked him one night about which act he thought was the best, he told me that on one occasion weather being so bad only one act turned up and Sid asked him to continue for as long as he could. It was Justin Gee. He did over two and a half hours without repeating himself once. His singing and impersonations were brilliant. It is a shame he died so young. One of the best clubs in the North of England - Happy Days!!

Bill Mellor - 2/9/13


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