Book: Venue Stories
Chapter: Mothers Club in Erdington
Mothers Club in Erdington, a working-class area of Brum, was only open for three years between 1968 and 71 yet made a huge impact on the progressive rock scene. John Peel, who gigged there regularly, once stated that people are ‘amazed to hear that for a few years the best club in Britain was in Erdington’. And on its closure the US ‘Billboard’ had labelled it the ‘best rock venue in the world’.
I was seventeen years old when I first attended. At that stage life was troublesome; two years before, my father had died suddenly. As Coronation Street played on the telly, Dad’s face turned the colour of something forgotten in the fridge. I left school completely screwed up failing exams and running wild.
School hadn’t been going well anyway, the Birmingham educational people were experimenting, the school labelled ‘Technical Grammar’ meaning that the curriculum was shaped by science and engineering type subjects. Little time for creativity, little time for me, just chemical elements, quantum mechanics and straight lines.
The array of bands that came to the club was impressive. Pink Floyd visited four times recording some of their 1969 album Ummagumma there. The Who played three times. I saw Led Zeppelin and a number of Brummie bands, including Black Sabbath, Traffic and The Moody Blues. Mothers also offered the opportunity for local groups to play before the big names performed and at one such occasion a band stopped in the middle of their set and launched into the theme of the TV series Z Cars, thereby announcing the arrival of four plain clothed police. An incident that typified occurrences there.
Mothers gave me hope. It was overcrowded, steaming hot and carried the aroma of Afghan hash and cider. The music and its audience were creative and there was not a straight line to be seen.