Thursday, 19 February 2009

THE PALAIS - SOUTH TAY STREET


Although the Palais goes way back to around the 1930's, it's only from the 60's onwards that need be mentioned here.
The main Palais man in the 60's was owner/promoter, Andy Lothian. He was the guy who brought all the best 60's pop acts to Dundee - both the Caird Hall and more specifically to this feature, the Palais "Top Ten Club" on Sunday nights.
Acts like Manfred Mann, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, Dave Clark 5, Lulu and so on, all performed here throughout the 60's.
In the video interview below, Andy tells of the time when The Kinks visited – and the group ended up in hospital!
As well as being a promoter, editor of “The Scottish Beat” music paper and having his own jazz band, Andy Lothian also ran ALP Records, a local record label for local bands, including The Vikings, The Poor Souls, The Hi-Fi's, etc. The letter "A" in the ALP logo was designed to look like a mountain (the Alps!!).
By the time the 70's arrived, more emphasis was being placed on the "DISCO" aspect and bands were often seen as an additional attraction rather than being the main attraction.
The ad above is typical of the kind that were published in the local papers in the early 70's, with the one here dated Friday 14 Jan 1972.
I didn't start going to the Palais until 1974 when they used to have an under 18 disco on Sunday evenings, so I missed out on all these well known 60's acts I was familiar with as a schoolboy.
The Palais then closed down for a while in the mid 70's after a change of ownership and re-opened around 1976/77 as Samantha’s - a disco and live venue.
Samantha’s stint then ended around late '78 / early '79 when it was transformed into another disco called Bloomers.
Bloomers, like Samantha's, also used to put on bands, more often than not acts that were part of the punk / new wave scene.
There was also a pub called the Stage Door Bar at the back of the Palais in Marketgait that was in biz the same time as Samantha’s & Bloomers and this had access at the back of the pub that took you directly into the discos which saved you going all the way around to the main entrance in South Tay Street.
Bloomers, however, turned out to be the final incarnation of the Palais, as it's short-lived run ended in 1980 when the place was destroyed by fire.

 

16 comments:

  1. .Hi GG.

    The Palais was my first paying gig as a DJ. It started as a result of going there with some friends on the October Fast weekend of 1972 and I was well impressed with the band, who at that time, were the Wichita Showband, comprising Kevin Geogehan (vocals and sax - now runs TayPrint), Tony Hoey (vocals and trumpet - still active on the Dundee scene), "Gilly" (Vocals and lead gutar), Ronny Kinnoch (bass and vocals) and Clark Robertson (drums and vocals).

    The guy I was with, Charlie, was on friendly terms with the band and asked, at my request, if I could come in the following week to record them. This was arranged.

    The following week, I recorded the first hour of their set, then they asked to hear some of it, which I did, through their PA. The guy who played the records got pee'd off and disappeared so I was left on stage when the band went for their break and had to play the sounds.

    I was back again the following night to record and, this time, came prepared with a playlist on tape. Andy Lothian liked what I did and I ended up deejaying until April 1974.

    Andy had told the band in early '74 that he was going to retire and sell the Palais, to give them the chance to get another residency - which they did, starting in April '74 at the Salutation Hotel in Perth.

    Andy was selling the Palais to Murdie Wallace so that he could, effectively, move the JM into the Palais while the JM building was refurbished into the Barracuda, latterly the Coconut Grove. The sale date, if I remember correctly, was the end of May so Andy, to fill the last six weeks of the Palais' existence, booked "Bullfrog", Paul Clancy's band, and Richard's Disco for the remaining six weeks or so. Paul was Dundee singer Dennis Clancy's son and, the last I heard, he was in charge of music at Morgan Academy. The Richard's Disco DJ (can't remember his name) was apt to wear an Afghan coat, had long blonde hair, was rumoured to be French and used to drive around Dundee in a Triumph Spitfire.

    Pete the Camera (see Bowlin' Alley thread) and I ended up driving through to the Sallie on a Saturday night and, occasionally, roadied for the band, which was fine, coz it meant we could partake of a few cocktails as Kevin drove the van!

    Murdie ran the Palais for a while until the Barracuda was ready for opening, then closed it down for conversion into "Samantha's".

    The Bowlin' Alley students put on a couple of gigs in Samantha's that I DJ'd at; one was definitely Ultravox (I still have my "Systems of Romance" t-shirt!); the other, I think, was Simple Minds. I believe Sandy Martin was the regular Samantha's DJ at that time.

    Speaking of Alp Records - the bands' dressing room in the Palais was downstairs, under the bar that was behind the bandstand, where the entrance to the Stagedoor Bar was.

    The band let me use it when they were on stage and there were two historically interesting piles of "rubbish" at the back of the dressing room: the first was a pile of "242" magazines, the house magazine of the pirate station Radio Scotland. I still have a copy of this which I liberated from the room... the other was a large pile of unsold singles on the Alp label from around 1966/67. I was just at that age when the name of the band meant nothing to me so I didn't help myself to any of the records.
    Pity.
    The value of one of those singles in mint condition was listed in the 2004 Record Collector Guide as £20 and there must have been around 50 - 100 in the pile!

    It was "Bad News Feeling" by The Vikings, members of which went on to form Average White Band.

    Here's what it says at:-

    http://www.nme.com/artists/vikings

    " Biography

    Formed in Perth, Scotland in 1964, the core of the Vikings revolved around Alan Gorrie (bass, vocals), Roy Fleming (guitar) and Dougie Wightman (guitar). Other early members were ousted in 1965 and were replaced by Drew Larg (vocals) and two ex-members of Dundee act the Syndicate, Mike Fraser (keyboards) and Donnie Coutts (drums). The realigned Vikings specialized in soul music and they became one of Central Scotland's most popular live attractions. In 1966 they were signed to Alp Records, owned by local impresario, Andy Lothian. For their sole single the Vikings recorded "Bad News Feeling", a Paul Simon composition. Its pop-styled arrangement was at odds with the group's musical preferences and following a brief foray in London, the Vikings broke up. Fraser joined another expatriate act, the Senate, before becoming a respected session musician in Italy, working with, among others, Ennio Morricone. Gorrie formed several groups, before finding international fame in the Average White Band."

    (Some other well known Dundee names there.)

    BW.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about Graham Duncan any 'photos then & now?

      Delete
  2. By the way...
    the video above features Andy Lothian Jnr; it was his dad who was still running the Palais up till 1974. The Andy Lothian (Snr) Orchestra was still the featured entertainment in the Palais up until Wichita started. I remember seeing the Andy Lothian Ork in the Palais around 1970/71.

    Andy Junior ran an entertainments agency with the office in Exchange Street in the late 60's/early 70's.

    BW.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't remember the Palais but I remember it as Samanthas & Bloomers, The Stage Door Bar too. I must admit Sandy Martin was one of the DJ's in Dundee that I used to admire and look up to. If Sandy was at a DJ audition for a job you had no chance.

    Sandy went on to work in the Brunel Rooms in Swindon also the local ILR radio station of the time some time after that. These days Sandy Martin can be found working at BBC Radio Wiltshire
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2005/10/27/sandy_martin_feature.shtml

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank Brian, what a great memory you have! Your description of the events of the sixties brought back memories! I was reflecting on some of the other 'greats' who came to Scotland tot our the environs during the sixties. My late night travelling with the groups and incessant listening to Radio Luxembourg to identify what was likely to be a top ten hit resulted in some great appearances on Sunday nights at the Top Ten Club, and occasionally the Caird Hall. Some of the names I remember are David Bowie, The Beatles; Stones; Freddie and the Dreamers; the Cream; David Bowie; Manfred Mann; Gerry Marsden; Rolf Harris; Craig Douglas; Vince Eager; Peter and Gordon; Peter Starsted; Eden Kane; Long John Baldry (who passed on recently) the Searchers; the New Seekers; Unit Four Plus Two; The Tremolos; ....and I realise that I have forgotten more than I have ever remembered!

    Regarding the Andy Lothians;

    Andy Lothian - the original - My father the maestro of the violin; was born in 1910 and died at the age of 84. He came to the Dundee Palais in South Tay St.on a six month contract in 1938 with his touring band, stayed for almost 40 years, and ended up owning the ballroom - to this day, as far as I am aware, he remains Britain's longest serving resident big-bandleader; and the dancing Dundonians of the 40's 50's, and 60's, star entertainer.

    Andy Lothian - the second - me - the one on the film - A war baby - formed the East Coast Jazz band in 1958 who won the Scottish Jazz Band championship in 1960 at the St. Andrews Halls Glasgow much to the delight of Dundee entrepreneur Watt Nicoll! Became the 'impresario' and pop promoter in 1962 as Brian recalls. Married Sheila who was the vocalist on our Grampian TV 'Teenbeat 'series in 1963. Six children of the marriage have produced 16 grandchildren so far. Brought the aforementioned Kevin Geoghegan and his band the Emeralds to Scotland. Kevin married Cathy, my PA at the time, and they both are Tayprint, and we have remained close friends throughout. With oldest son Andy (the third) own Insights Global,

    Andy Lothian - the third - CEO of Insights Global, a local learning and development company employing 200 staff in ten countries in providing solutions for organisations worldwide, and with a new headquarters being built at Explorer Rd. West Kingsway. A proficient guitarist himself, Andy is married to Jane and have four children. He holds a commercial pilot's license and enjoys golf.

    Andy Lothian - the fourth - a star in the making, just started his education. Watch this space!


    Andi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim Brown You were 3-4 years ahead of me at Lawside. Andy Tully was in my class, was in the East Coast Jazzmen, poss after your time. Is "Shelia" Shelia Mitchell of Staffa Place in the pre-fabs? Knew her and her brother Bob. All the best!

      Delete
  5. Many thanks for the lowdown on the Lothian clan, Andi. Good to get the details from those who were involved in it.
    Don't know if you are ever tempted to don the entrepreneur hat these days, but if you ever get a wee surge, here's an idea. How about releasing all the ALP material, a-sides & b-sides, together as a compilation cd. Not only would it please a lot of collectors, it could be a nice little earner too!!
    Anyway, appreciate you getting in touch. Cheers GG

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have the old wall map from the Palais that was apparently saved after the fire. This story would fit as it's got a bit of water damage. It's identifiable as it's got the "you are here" at the Palais site. I bought in a second hand shop in Alyth. It details all the old cinemas, dancehalls and theatres. It's a really interesting piece of Dundee history.
    I remember it well as Samanthas in the late seventies mis-spending my youth playing pool.

    ReplyDelete
  7. With regards the comments on the Vikings and the song Bad News Feeling, was this song not recorded by the Honors. I was a classmate of Martin Larg from Blackshades who was Drew Largs younger brother, and I remember when the record came out I was sure it was Drew Larg and the Honors who released it.

    Anyway the Top Ten was the business in the mid sixties when the likes of the Troggs, Kinks, Searchers, Tommy Quickly and my favorite band back then Tony Rivers and the Castaways-what a band they were. I am sure there are many like me who adored the group who were our answer to the Beach Boys.

    Remember walking round the dance floor endlessly looking for a bird, unfortunately I was never really successful back then.

    After we got a bit "old" for the Top Ten, it was immediately up the road to the JM on a Saturday night, this again was the business. Live band at that time and can remember the balcony there where I spent most of my time looking down watching all the fights that used to take place late Saturday. Can always remember leaving the Pillars hoping we would get past the owner (cant remember his name) who was always on the door making sure only "sober" guys got in. Wnat a laugh it was.

    Jim L

    ReplyDelete
  8. .
    Hi Jimian.

    Maybe The Honors recorded it as well but The Vikings definitely recorded it for Andy Lothian's Alp label.
    You can hear it and see the label at:-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElzYZEbADKk

    8=)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Im sad to report that Sandy Martin died last week following a short illness. Only 53 years old he had become a huge celebrity in Wiltshire working for the BBC and in particular his adopted home of Swindon. He will be much missed by all that had come into contact with him

    ReplyDelete
  10. Does anyone remember my uncle John Dillon who was resident singer at the palais for a time..early 60's maybe, I'm not quite sure....

    Maureen Hart

    ReplyDelete
  11. John Dillon was the resident vocalist in th J.M. from about 1958 to 1969 when he moved to the Hong Kong for a while and then to the Invercarse Hotel with the Eastcoast Jazzmen when he retired at the same time as " old blue eyes ". Young Murdy asked him to come out of retirement a few years after that but he declined. Sadly he passed away at the turn of the century. Anyone who remembers the " Tuffty Club " at the J.M. danced to Jack (as he was known ) and he was even the D.J. at the twist comps.in the '60's. He performed in the late '50's on STV's One o'clock gang and recorded a record about the same time.
    Hope this helps

    ReplyDelete
  12. What year was the Palais finally demolished?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi anonymous.

    It wasn't really demolished, as such. Everything between the back of the Tay Street tenement and Marketgait - the main dancefloor area - was destroyed by fire (Fire Brigade suspected arson) on the evening of Wednesday, 20th February, 1980.

    ReplyDelete
  14. In the late fifties, we used to frequent the JM Saturday night for dancing and the Palais Sunday for 'walking the floor'. Walking the floor was as you describe, except there was no dancing - none. This was due, as we understood, to a bylaw that forbid dancing on Sundays. But we were glad to have a place to go, and of the gossip and the glass of orange squash. Ah! Dundee in the fifties! Happy days!

    ReplyDelete