A History of Jazz in Newcastle by John Pearce.
Newcastle in the flapper era was like any other large city. The cloche hat, the Oxford bags, the Charleston, were rampant, and all were symptoms of a country attempting to throw off the mantle of wartime austerity and gloom. When the Original Dixieland Jazz Band appeared in London in 1921, they were a symbol of the Gay Twenties. The O.D.J.B. travelled North for a month's stay at the Oxford Galleries, and so jazz came to Newcastle. The year 1934 is important in Newcastle's jazz history. Dick Kelly and a friend, students at King's College, persuaded the management of the Oxford Galleries to let them hire a room. Thus was founded the Newcastle Rhythm Club, official number 57. After the war, the N.R.C. took up the reins again in premises in Ridley Place. The N.R.C. had several meeting places., the Bridge End Hotel; the Roma Cafe, in the Bigg Market (1949), where Stan Wilde and his Wildcats were resident; and the Crow's Nest Hotel (1952). Stan Wilde's band split up, and the Panama Jazzmen were formed by pianist Norman Rudd. He recruited Stan Martin (clarinet) and Ronnie MacLean (trombone) from the Wildcats, and added Joe McMullen (cornet) and Teddy Hutchinson (drums). At the same time, Hughie Aitchison formed his Benecia Jazz Band, which later became the Cellarmen. Early 1954 saw the opening of two new jazz clubs, the Alexandra, in Heaton, with the Clem Avery Jazzmen in residence, and the Pelican Club, in the News Theatre. In 1954, the N.R.C. moved first into King's Restaurant, in Northumberland Street, then to the Mahogany Hall, in the Royal Arcade. where it also changed its name to the Newcastle Jazz Club. The featured bands were the Panama, the Cellarmen, and the Clem Avery Jazzmen. When Clem left the band, it was taken over by the banjoist John Young, who, at the same time, assumed the name "Mighty Joe." It was about this time that King's College made its mark on the Newcastle jazz scene. In 1955, some good modern jazz was being played by a college group which included Don Armstrong (clarinet and tenor) and the Carr brothers, Mike and Ian (of whom more later). The next year saw the formation of the Quaysiders by clarinetist Peter Smailes; in 1957, the College Kings were launched by P e t e r McLoughlin (clarinet) and in 1958, Bill Croft formed his Blue Star Jazzmen. Later, the Wednesday night was opened by the Clem Avery Jazzmen, and eventually a third night, Thursday, was taken up by the College Kings. The College Kings evolved into the Commodore Jazzmen, led by myself (trumpet), with John Crone at the piano. In early 1955, banjoist Peter Deuchar formed the Vieux Carre Jazzmen, with Peter Gascoigne (trumpet), John Saxelby (clarinet), and Jim Stewart (drums). They were resident at the Club Martinique, also in the Royal Arcade. After about 18 months, the club moved to premises in St. James Street, and eventually to Melbourne Street, where it was renamed the New Orleans Club, with the Vieux Carre Jazzmen resident on Fridays and Sundays. The Mighty Joe Young Jazzmen, who later changed from New Orleans to Mainstream, started a Saturday night residency at the club. Gradually, every night of the week was taken up by different bands. For once, the vagaries of Services' postings benefited jazz. In 1959, L.A.C. Malcolm Cecil was posted to the North-East, where he met Mike Carr. With Mike Jeffrey and two associates, they opened the Downbeat Jazz Club, where the now famous EmCee 5 first played. Early 1960 found the River City Jazzmen playing Saturday nights at the Downbeat. This band included Jack "Dad" Potts (trumpet) and Ray Shenton (tuba). Later that year, Bill Croft's Blue Star Jazzmen, with John Walters (trumpet) and Jeff Robinson (drums), began the Thursday night session, changing later to Friday night, to share the bill with the Kansas City 5, with Eric Burdon. John Pearce circa 1960.