Introducing Muddy Waters, Hull 1968

Muddy Waters, live on campus 1968

Memories of musical experiences on campus continue to stir alumni memories. In this post, Les Eastham (BA Sociology, 1969) recalls the Jazz ‘N’ Blues Soc, and some of the legendary musicians who played on campus 50 years ago. 

I too have happy memories of Hull University 1966-69, some of which match Ed’s, plus others. (See Ed Bicknell’s post here). I can picture the SU building as he describes it, with the “Buttery” straight ahead as you entered the building (Newcastle Brown Ale was a favourite of mine – couldn’t handle that now) and the East and West Refectories. I also remember a room upstairs where they had occasional discos and folk nights – I’m sure I saw “The Young Tradition” with Peter Bellamy, also the films, especially “Marat/Sade” which made quite an impression. One of my abiding memories of the SU reception was the old chap with a military bearing (possibly not that old) who would make announcements over the PA for you, except he often sounded as if he hadn’t put his teeth in.

I remember Ed’s time as Jazz Club organiser and Chair of Ents, although, even before that, I was aware of him when he sat in with the Victor Brox band during the Freshers’ Week of 1966, when they arrived for their gig minus a drummer. However, the band that stood out for me during those first few days of that autumn term were “The Move”; musically very tight and if I remember correctly, they were so good that they were re-booked to appear again within weeks and turned up in subsequent years – I definitely saw them at the Skyline Ballroom when for a spectacular finish they axed a TV set at the end of the set.

Needler, 1968

Of the artists that Ed mentioned, I also recall seeing Ralph McTell, including a concert at Needler Hall, blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree, on several occasions, and of course, local legend, Michael Chapman. The first event I organised after taking over the running of the Jazz and Blues Society was a concert with guitarist – singer John Renbourn, supported by Michael. For some reason, John didn’t show and Michael did the whole evening on his own. I gave a full refund to the few folks who left before the gig and offered a half refund to those who stayed; the majority declined the refund, as Mike was so good. I met him years later in the 1980s and he said that it was the first time he’d headlined!

20160209_143116 I remember introducing Muddy Waters on stage, with Otis Span on piano and Paul Oscher on harmonica; when I mention this to current blues fans they think I’m joking but I still have the autographed ticket. Another visiting American was Jimmy Witherspoon, who had previously been in a car accident, was in much pain and was walking with the aid of sticks but left them in the wings during his performance; what a trooper – two encores!

20160209_143328Of the bands Ed lists, I recall seeing most of them, having very fond memories of Robert Palmer with local support band “Mandrake” doing a cracking version of Traffic’s “No Face, No Name, No Number”. I didn’t see Hendrix – no idea why or how I missed that gig but I recall other Skyline events, one union ball in particular, where Georgie Fame and band were ready to take over from Ben E King (two stages in the same room) and they played along with him on the last number of his set from the other end of the room – great!

Alan Bown Set at the Skyline

Another Union Ball, 1967 I believe, was headlined by the Alan Bown Set (see the poster – typical graphics for the time. If you look carefully, you can see a famous face). I also remember seeing Cream at the Skyline ballroom when they played on a very low platform and I stood only feet away from Eric Clapton.

Regarding Pink Floyd; I didn’t see them at the Lawns but I have a very clear memory of seeing them in June 1967 at the College of Commerce in Hull (just off Beverley Road) when Syd Barrett was still in the band. The Alan Price Set were playing in the Union building, but I’d heard of Pink Floyd through the International Times “underground” newspaper, which was sold very discretely round the union, and persuaded a few friends to go along (possibly including Pete Rowntree who played guitar with Ed in the university jazz trio / quartet). It was the first time I’d seen a liquid light show, which is why it stands out.

Muddy Waters’ autographed gig ticket

Regarding the Jazz and Blues Society events, I still have a few items archived away, including letters of thanks from pianist Michael Garrick, posters and ticket stubs. Does anyone else remember the poetry and jazz events, which were quite fashionable at the time? I also have a telegram from an agency apologising that blues band “Chicken Shack” were unable to make a booking. I rang them and they offered new artist Duster Bennett instead. He was a fabulous one-man band, singing and playing guitar, harmonica and drums simultaneously; also a lovely chap. Before the concert I took him back to my student house on Cranbrook Avenue and treated him to beans on toast (I might have thrown in a fried egg too). There were some great jazz nights in the union building; the Mike Westbrook band, Don Rendell, Dick Morrissey, Graham Collier and more. We had the cream of the British jazz scene visiting us and along with rock, folk and blues, I discovered a lot of brilliant music during those three years. Of course there was other music, including the Gilbert and Sullivan Society but that’s another story for another day.

(c) Les Eastham, 2016

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10 thoughts on “Introducing Muddy Waters, Hull 1968

  1. Great memories Les.
    What was amazing in retrospect was that at the time one did not realise one was watching an amazing bit of musical history……well at least I didn’t. One just went along and paid ones 5 shillings and took it as quite normal entertainment and the musicians themselves were so accessible and often stayed over in student accommodation, as they had nothing booked and some had even turned up on public transport.
    I remember Ralph McTell staying in my room in Needler after a concert and we sat up most of the night chatting and drinking coffee, with that disgusting Marvel (milk substitute) that always floated on the top, however much one stirred it. What a host! He certainly didn’t get beans on toast and a fried egg like you gave Duster Bennett …well beyond my culinary capabilities. He played a new song on his guitar that he was working on ….’Streets Of London’ and we all said that it was great, which surprised him, as he wasn’t sure how it would go down!!
    Incidentally I see you on the back row and see I am on the front sandwiched between Ed Bicknell and Theo Hoppen, the now eminent history lecturer who resided at Needler. Amazing that it was the era that we all were wearing ties, which were part of the required dress code for dinner.
    Also love the poster for the Charity Dance …..very 60’s but who were the Malc Haigh group mentioned at the bottom?……I don’t remember the Malc Haigh that was president of Needler being a musician.


    1. Wow! Amazing coincidence when our old repository of information ( the brain ) links with IT communications (Hull Alumni Association). Last week I weirdly dreamt of an impromptu visit to The Candlelight Club in Scarborough with Les and some of the lads ( John Hall, Nick Holmes and Pete Rowntree…not sure about Barry Bright ?) from our Cranbrook Ave . Student House. I think this was over the late May /Whitsun bank holiday weekend of 1969 and frighteningly near to finals . Exactly 51 years ago! I mentioned this to John who remembers the event where we had some trouble to get in and missed the last train back to Hull enabling us to benefit from the nocturnal delights of a park bench in Peasholm Park .

      Can anyone remember and who was the group that night ? Georgie Fame possibly .

      Anyhow great to discover this Alumni Group and I read with great interest yours and others like Ed B’s notes . Les and Springs not sure that I have seen you since Anthea and I married in Warley, Essex on 28th August 1971.

      I’m indebted to you Springs for providing a bed in your house in ? Chadwell Heath if I remember, the night before which of course was after my stag do starting at the Moby
      Dick .

      We are still together after an itinerant life courtesy of the PHARMA Industry but now living in Barnes.

      I’d love to hear from anyone who remembers me . I’m on

      They were good days and lots of great memories. It’s amazing that so much could happen in 3 years . Not like when we’re in our 70s.

      Best wishes and hope to hear from you. Does anybody have Pete’s email ? I lost touch a long time ago when he and Jo moved to Oxford with BMC or whoever they called themselves then.

      Btw Springs , did you ever come across Morley Williams at Ford ? He was an old friend from Mill Hill I lost touch with and remembered him when we had a 50th anniversary a few years ago .


      Richard (Dick) Ardams


  2. Can I ask about the source of the photograph of Muddy Waters? I think I took it. I was a photographer for “Torchlight” at the time and the picture was also published in the “Hull Daily Mail”, for which I was paid 14/9.
    Don’t worry, I’m not pursuing a copyright claim – that, presumably, belongs to Torchlight, who also had my negatives. All the copies I had of the photograph were inadvertently destroyed, so if there exists somewhere a decent copy of it, I’d like to get one.


    1. Thanks David – we’ll try and track this down for you. I suspect that it may have come from a back issue of Torchlight, all of which are available in Hull History Centre, but I will check with Hullfire re the negatives


      1. Thanks very much. I’ll be amazed if the original negatives still exist – it’s nearly 50 years since I took the picture – but a good quality scan of the Torchlight picture would be nice.


  3. Hi Les. Fabulous piece. Only just seen it, sorry for the belated comments below.

    We forget how great these artists were at the time and how privileged we were to experience them for half a crown (including a pint!). I agree about the Move. They were outstanding, Roy Wood and Carl Wayne, later Jeff Lynne, then became ELO etc.

    Have just realised why I remember so vividly, I was with you at Cream and Pink Floyd! And I was playing guitar in the Malc Haig Group mentioned in the poster. Malc was a great jazz pianist, couldn’t believe it when he failed to appear in our second year 1967, he had been killed in a car crash.

    You mention Chicken Shack. They were another great outfit of the time, I saw them at the College of Commerce I think just before singer Christine Perfect ran off with John McVie and became Fleetwood Mac. Apart from a couple of notable exceptions, we’ve just mentioned the greatest musical influences of the last 50 years, all in a few words. Wow.


    1. Pete good to read this and reconnect. I just posted something after John connected me to this group via his recent contact with Les . Please let me have your email.

      Hope you and Jo well.



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