7 Club heaven for Shropshire's 1960s popsters
What a month November 1965 was for Shropshire's mods – so let's talk about their generation.
Two new nightspots for Shrewsbury's youngsters opened within a few days of each other. First, on Wednesday, November 10, the 7 Club opened with a big crowd of around 500 going along to see The Moody Blues, only to be disappointed because the band had pulled out because lead singer Denny Laine had laryngitis.
A few days later, on Monday, November 15, around 550 teenagers flocked to a new club for mods at Castle Gates, where the sounds of The Who blasted out from the stereo speakers of the discotheque. It had been planned that rhythm and blues star John Lee Hooker would open the club, but a few days beforehand it was announced that he had had his work permit withdrawn.
The Who were at the time at number four in the local top 20, supplied by Wildings' record store in Shrewsbury, with My Generation. Top of the Shropshire pops, according to Wildings, were The Seekers with The Carnival Is Over.
Live music came from The Pretty Things and The Tick-Its. The club director was Dave Stock who said the opening had been a great success.
"The kids were knocked out by it," he declared.
There must have been some link between the new club and a club in Plymouth, as he went on to tell the Shrewsbury Chronicle: "I was particularly impressed by the clothes some of the kids wear. I know a lot of the girls had spent all week preparing their clothes and the kids who came down here from Plymouth for the opening night remarked on how 'with it' the clothes were."
The Shrewsbury youngsters were apparently less impressed by the name given to the new club – the Top Twenty Club – which was described as "corny," and a competition was being launched to choose a new name, with the prize being a week's free holiday for two in Devon.
Across town the 7 Club was in an old furniture repository at the foot of Wyle Cop which had been converted to a "plush venue" at a cost of £8,000. It featured "Cavern-type" archways – echoing Liverpool's famous Cavern Club – and lighting effects "for a real night club atmosphere."
Behind the venture was 26-year-old Tony Connerty. On the opening night The Size Six from Birmingham deputised for The Moody Blues and other groups on the bill in the early days were The Phantones, The Missing Links, Terry and The Golden Stones, and The Fourmost.
It was not all pop, with Monday nights set aside as folk nights, with Pete Sayers booked for the first folk spot.
The 7 Club – incidentally, that's how it was written in the contemporary Shrewsbury Chronicle, although some locals remember it as the Severn Club – was to host some big names both of the day, and of the future, one of them being a young David Bowie who appeared there in December 1966 with his band called The Buzz.