Sunday 31 August 2008


I remember when I was aged 9, waking up early one morning at our home in Craigie while the rest of my family were still asleep.
This was just total instinct, no alarm clock needed because I had a special little something running around my mind from the days building up to it.
So I sneaked out my room, tiptoed downstairs to the living room and quietly turned the big radiogram on, as in the one shown above.
It was Saturday 30th September 1967 and time to find out what the first ever record to be played on Radio 1 would be.
Turned out to be one of my favourites back then.
Here below is what I heard...


Being schoolboy age in the 60's lead to my generation having a superb music soundtrack to accompany that particular decade. Not only was there all that superior pop music on radio, but even when arriving home from school, switching the tv on to watch kids programmes had an amazing amount of memorable music on offer too. Whether it be catchy classical tunes on "The adventures of Robinson Crusoe" or the jazzy grooves of "Vision On", none of the music presented for school kids sounded infantile or patronising. 
Here below, is another 60's music genre that sounded great, a touch of experimental electronica from BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. The show is "Bleep & Booster" which was shown on Blue Peter in the late 60's, with nice cartoon artwork by William "Tim" Tymym.
The photo above is my wee brother laughing along with David Jacobs on TV, so it may have been Jukebox Jury that was on at the time.
It's as if he wants to grab a card with "Hit" or "Miss" on it..!!

Thursday 28 August 2008


This is Liz McColgan ( although she was still Liz Lynch at this stage in her career ) and her Team mates being paraded down Reform Street in an open top bus in 1986. This was to celebrate her winning 2 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games that year.

Wednesday 27 August 2008


Target shirts were a familiar sight around Dundee in the mid 70's. "Target" being the brand name. They were first worn in 1973 by skinheads who were kicking around in gangs, and were as popular as Ben Sherman shirts. Shops such as "Robbie's" in the Overgate sold them.
However, it was a rather short-lived fashion in gang circles, because in 1974 the Bay City Rollers had stormed onto the music scene and these tartan shirts became part of the BCR image. Needless to say, the gangs ditched the shirts once teenyboppers started wearing them!

Tuesday 26 August 2008


Owned by Primo Zaccarini, PRIMO'S CAFE in Huntly Square in the 60's, was really a chip shop rather than a sit-in cafe.
The outside door on the right of the shop took you to a curvy grey formica counter that swept along in front of the frying area and lead to a confectionery corner on the left.
The outside door on the left opened into a small ice-cream parlour that was partitioned off from the main shop but you could also get to from a door inside.
In the early 70's the premises was taken over by Nan Howard although it still remained the same chip shop & confectioner set up.

Here below, is a wee slideshow of some of the products that would have been available from the ice-cream parlour in the 60's & 70's.

Photo by DC Thomson.

Monday 25 August 2008


Da  Vinci's in Westport was often viewed as a "posers" pub in the 80's, but I didn't find it too bad at all, it was quite trendy I'd say.
As the name suggests, they were referring to Leonardo da Vinci and so they had an artists palette as part of their logo as well as examples of his artwork on the walls (prints, not originals of course!).
The ground floor had a bar and a small lounge area on a raised floor.
Upstairs was the main attraction though, with it's small dancefloor with DJ's playing regularly. It could get really crowded at times, but there were some great lively nights to be had there.
A lot of revellers often ended up having it as the last pub on their pub crawl before hitting the nearby discos!.
The colour shot above shows the location of Da Vinci's - the double-roofed white building in the corner of the car-park. Pic taken in 1982.
The black & white images were both taken in the upstairs area in 1981.

Photos by DC Thomson.

Saturday 23 August 2008


My brother captured this accident that happened in Arbroath Road near Kingsway circle in February 1972.
A trailer full of ammonia overturned and burst, spilling the contents all over the road.
The powerful odour was so strong, it made it difficult to breathe when the fumes drifted over the Craigie area.
It took place around lunchtime and I recall folk in Craigie having to close their windows.
We school kids used it as an excuse to return to Craigie High School late that afternoon, complete with watery eyes and hankies covering the face.
At least the firemen only had to nip down the road a few yards to attend!
Click the cutting to read the report.


When in town in the 60's, I used to like to pop into the Albert Museum (as it was called then) before jumping on a #26 bus back home.
The entrance was on the corner of the Museum nearest to Commercial Street.
Some of the exhibits on show were, McIntosh Patrick's famous "Tay bridge from studio" painting, a weird ethnic shrunken head, lots of stuffed animals & birds, dugout canoes, a mock up of 2 old Victorian house interiors, a scale model of the old city centre/Overgate area, crystals & rocks ( with ultra violet light ), and of course, the Tay Whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

Friday 22 August 2008


The Keyhole in North Lindsay Street, opened in the early 80's.
It was owned by ex Ice Hockey player Marshall Key, hence the wordplay related pub name.
The interior was very spacious, with a sunken serving bar in the centre of the floor.
It also later had large screens, as I recall it being packed with Scots fans watching a match one time I was there.

Thursday 21 August 2008


Boy Meets Girl in the Overgate, was Dundee's first go at a "Unisex" boutique in the early/mid 70's - the concept being to sell gents & ladies clothing from the same shop, rather than from separate stores or departments as it had been up to that time. You can see the window display has both male and female garments mixing with each other.
It's a pity it was a rather short-lived store because despite the place selling all the latest up-to-date gear around, it also had the best shopfront logo on town!

Photo by DC Thomson.

Wednesday 20 August 2008


In the 60's, Jeremy the bear was used to advertise "Sugar puffs" on tv, until a few years later when they replaced the real bear with a cartoon one. As a result of Jeremy becoming unemployed, it was kept at Camperdown Zoo, from around 1970.
Jeremy was actually a female, and she died in Dundee in 1990.
Photo by The Scotsman.

Tuesday 19 August 2008


First there was the Rail Bridge, then the Road Bridge and finally this piece of modern sculpture, called "The Bridge". This one was erected around the early 80's in Hunter Street, Blackness/Westport area, and made by artist Ron Martin. It was of course the kind of bridge you would have on a cello or double-bass. You can just make out the 4 notches along the top where the strings would go.

Monday 18 August 2008


Dundee gangs in the 70's came up with a unique way of displaying which housing scheme they came from - by wearing jerseys of different colours.
Most of these high V-neck jersey's were made at the Knitting & Sewing Centre in Victoria Road.
The design consisted of 1 main broad band across the chest and arms, with a pocket on the top left of the chest in inverted colours, and 2 thin bands around the waist, cuffs & collar.
As time went by, customised variants would be seen, such as pockets on the upper arms, initials on the pockets, and anything up to 5 bands around the waist & cuffs.
In addition, most gangs usually wore the colours in their opposite layout, like for example, as well as a blue jersey with black band, they'd have a black jersey with a blue band. A bit like having a home & away strip.
There were also cardigan versions of the concept.
Although this gang knitwear was exclusively Dundee based, the designs were an adaptation of the high V-neck jersey worn by Steve Ellis, singer with 60's band Love Affair, Fred Perry 60's cyclist shirts and American Varsity College cardigans UK Mods wore in the 60's.

The V-neck jersey's above are - TODDY (Douglas), MID (Mid Craigie), HUNS (Kirkton), MOB (Beechwood), SHAMS (Fintry), FLEET (Lochee).
The cardigans are - HUNS (Hilltown), SHAMS (Whitfield), PAK (Ardler), YMB (St Mary's), HULA (Linlathen), SHADE (upper Hilltown).
These examples are just a small selection of who was wearing what back then.
Click on the images to enlarge/download.


Apart from being taken there with my parents in the 60's, the only reason for visiting large department stores on my own at schoolboy age would be for clothes or toys.
In the case of Alex Smith's in Commercial Street, they had quite a decent sports department I recall buying a few items from.

Photo by DC Thomson.

Sunday 17 August 2008


I started using Inter Rail cards in 1980, and this one from 1983 was my 4th and last year of travelling this way. I chose to go to Greece going through the former Yugoslavia (despite lots of advice not to take that route). So the place names on the card are - DUNDEE - LONDON - DOVER - CALAIS - PARIS - NICE - VENTIMIGLIA - MILAN - VENICE - TRIESTE - BELGRADE - BAR (near the Albanian border) - THESSALONIKA - ALEXANDROUPOLIS (near the Turkish border) - ATHENS - KALAMATA - PATRAS, then pretty much the same route back up to VENICE. The trip from VENICE to LONDON was the direct Orient Express route through Switzerland. Then of course, back home to DUNDEE.
Click on the image to enlarge.


It was good to get away from Dundee from time to time. I enjoyed travelling by train, so in the early 80's I pounced on the chance to get an Inter Rail card, which allowed unlimited travel around Europe for 1 month. Dead easy to use. Just write the destination on the card and away you go. No need to queue for tickets.
Unlike nowadays, when most people tend to choose their own holiday dates, back then most folk were stuck with the "Dundee fortnight". On the Friday everybody came off work, it seemed like half the town teemed down to the rail station to depart!

Friday 15 August 2008


By the early 70's, Dundee was trying to move away from the traditional old style barbers and get into more modern "hairdressing".
Farquhar's in the High Street was probably the most obvious example, this being the place to go for feather cuts, tints, Bowie cuts and so on.


Robertson's in Victoria Street was the barber's I used to go to in the 60's when I was Primary School age. I remember the barber's used to put a plank of wood across the top of the barber chair's arms for kids to sit on because the youngsters would otherwise be too low down in the chair for barber's to reach.
Styles began with the basic "short back & sides", then progressed to the "neckline" and ended up with just asking for a "trim" as hair got longer towards the end of the 60's.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Thursday 14 August 2008


Angels was Dundee's 2nd city centre church pub. It opened in the mid 80's and was located on the corner of Ward Road & Rattray Street. I remember it had a water feature above the bar and its constant trickling sound seemed to make you want to visit the loo more than usual!
You can see in the photo it had a rather grand entrance area.
There was also another part of it on the Rattray Street side (you can just make out the doorway) - a bar called, Heavens Above, which ironically, was downstairs in the basement!


This building on the corner of Meadowside and Bell Street, was Dundee's first church to be converted into a pub.
Sometime around the early 80's it opened as Cloisters.
The top photo shows the main doorway on Meadowside, which was directly opposite Foreigners.
The middle picture is a shot of the interior, which was taken from the raised floor area where bands sometimes used to play.
I recall seeing Altres play there in the mid 80's - complete with eye-catching slide show!
The pub interior was very spacious, with the bar plonked dead centre and despite how roomy it was, Fridays & Saturdays were still usually choc-a-block.
I remember they sold "venison burgers" and I jokingly commented to the bar staff that they were a bit too dear (deer!).
The third picture was the pub's other doorway situated in Bell Street.
Later around the mid 80's it changed its name to Gabriels, then in its final years became known as the CafĂ© Club Bar, until the place was destroyed by fire in June 1991.
The original building itself now no longer exists.
Viewing it again though after 3 decades, I reckon it could have made a perfect pub for Goths!
Below, is a tiny moment of footage showing how Meadowside looked in 1980 - church left, Foreigners (black frontage) right.
Exterior photos by DC Thomson.
Interior shot by The Bear.

Wednesday 13 August 2008


Back in the early 1970's, before Pre-Faded and Stone-Washed jeans were in circulation, the denim bought then was as stiff as cardboard when new and the shade of denim at it darkest. It would take months of wear and washing to get them worn-in properly.
To speed the process up, a couple of homemade techniques were used.
One was bleaching, although that sometimes just made the denim blotchy.
The other was to use sandpaper.
Smoothing the jeans with sandpaper greatly increased the fade as well as making the denim more comfortable. This then lead to the "Fade" itself becoming the fashion, not the pricey jeans, and the way Dundonians showed off their fade was to rip off the brand labels, revealing the original untouched dark blue denim underneath, thus highlighting the extent of the fade.
In some extreme cases, they totally removed the back pockets!!
The fad was pretty short-lived and eventually FADED out when manufacturers got wise and you could buy such denim ready to wear in the mid 70's.

Tuesday 12 August 2008


This is the cul-de-sac in Kemnay Gardens where many a football game was played as a lad in the 60's. Usually it was 2-touch or shootie-in, depending on how many there were.
Three doors along from me was a house which was an official Guest House connected to Dundee Football Club. This was the 1960's to 1990's period, and out of town players would reside there for a spell until they got their own place.
One such player, in the mid 60's was, George Ryden.
I remember on a few occasions when we were having a kick about in the culdee, George would join in and teach us a few keepy-up skills & tricks. He even managed to do all this fancy footwork wearing winkle-pickers.
I was always half expecting him to burst the ball with those pointed boots of his!

Monday 11 August 2008


Here is one of the original Fat Sam's Swizzle-sticks that we used back in the 80's when cocktails were on the increase in nightclubs.
Not that I needed one for my pints of lager mind you!


Fat Sams opened in December 1983 and very quickly became a favourite with local clubbers.
One of the main reasons for this was because many of the best night's in Dundee in the 80's were the ones under the "Dance Factory" banner.
Dance Factory organisers had been putting on gigs in town since 1982, but they never settled on a specific venue for these events. Sometimes it was Teazers, other times it was the Marryat Hall and they even tried the Barracuda a couple of times, but when Fat Sams cropped up on the scene, this then became their venue of choice.
Dance Factory promoted the "alternative" music scene. Some of the acts I can remember catching here in the 80's were - Frank Chickens, Bhundu Boys, Shriekback, Jonathan Richman, X-Mal Deutschland, Divine, The Higsons, John Peel, The Associates, A Certain Ratio, Bo Diddley, Jesse Rae, Paul Haig, plus a whole heap of others who's names now escape me!!
The above photos, which were taken around the mid/late 80's, give you an idea as to how the exterior & interior looked back then, as does the video clip below, also from the same era - with Billy MacKenzie your host.

Sunday 10 August 2008


Around 1970, another Amusement Arcade was proving popular in Dundee - this one was in the Wellgate, and on 2 levels.
The ground floor of #34 (on the corner of Baltic Street) had all the slot machines & games, and upstairs there was a mini dodgems track.
I remember it had the first ever primitive computer screen game, it was called PONG and based on table tennis (ping pong).
Spent quite a few bob at the arcade there Saturday mornings - Pong in particular.

Photo by DC Thomson.


Probably most of Dundee's kids paid a visit to the Amusement Arcade in Shore Terrace in the 60's. It had the usual kind of stuff, slot machines, rides & shooting games, but the one I liked best was "Torpedo". You looked through a submarine periscope to view ships passing on the horizon. You then had to calculate when to fire the torpedo to hit the ships. It did take 2 or 3 seconds to travel through the water, so it was a bit hit and miss. The path of the torpedo lit up and when you did make contact, the whole consul flashed on & off along with the sound of the explosion. No computer screens then, these were in 3D depth.
Photo by DC Thomson.Tints by GG.

Saturday 9 August 2008


Back in summer 1970, there was a Pop Festival took place up in Fraserburgh.
Actually, it was a "battle of bands" contest, rather than a festival concert.
It was open to any group from the North East area and it attracted 13 bands.
Most were from up north but Dundee band The Jynx answered the call.
Heats ran for 5 nights until it was whittled down to 4 finalists - in which The Jynx won, and the £100 cheque was on it's way back down to Dundee!
The Jynx line-up was: Eddie Quinn, Dave Paterson, Fred Houston & Bob Carson.
The band were a rock outfit, in a Deep Purple kinda style, and seemed to play more often out of town than locally, but they did gig at places like Dundee University, the Palais and Camperdown Park.
The article above was published in July 1970.

Friday 8 August 2008


Here are two of my Students Union ticket stubs that have survived the passage of time.
The promoters for these Dundee gigs were AIRLIE PLACE ENTERTAINMENTS - organised by Stuart Clumpas.
Peter Gabriel appeared there on 27 Feb 1980 and he began the show by making a surprise appearance at the hall's main door where the students enter, then made his way through the audience shining a hand held spotlight on the crowd as he advanced up to the stage.
The support act was Random Hold.
The Mike Oldfield gig took place on 13 Apr 1980 and I remember one local newspaper report describing the shows acoustics with the comment - "The sound was so good, it was just like listening to a giant hi-fi in your living room!"


The Dundee University Student's Union in Airlie Place ( top picture ) put on a variety of interesting gigs during the 70's & 80's.
My first venture there was in 1976 to catch National Health play.
An example of some of the other acts I can recall seeing there were, Peter Gabriel, APB, Mike Oldfield, Misty in Roots, Bow Wow Wow, etc.
Plucking out one of the gigs I've attended to accompany the piece, I have chosen the 801 concert which took place in November 1977.
801 were a short-lived act created by Phil Manzanera & Eno when Roxy Music had a temporary break in the mid 70's.
They were quite an experimental, arty kind of band, using lots of electronic gadgets to achieve a compelling array of sounds.
I still have the original music press tour advert for the gig which I've included above.

Thursday 7 August 2008


It wasn't until around 1973 that Craigie High School introduced "Houses".
They were all named after Scottish "Firth's".
I was in Pentland, but the team to beat were Moray, who dominated years 73/74.
We had enamel badges made too, as above.


Craigie High School's uniform didn't appear on the scene until many months after the school opened it's doors in 1970.
It was actually a team of teachers from CHS Art Dept who helped design it.
We got to see the school badge artwork develop as "work in progress" during its design stage.
I remember head art teacher, Mr Higgins, explaining that the school badge image consisted of the Law Monument to represent Dundee's highest point, the River Tay, representing Dundee's lowest level and both connected by an abstract "Tree Of Knowledge".
There were also 2 different shades of green used for the blazer - a dark version which was the more deluxe option, and which tended to be worn by kids who used a briefcase rather than a schoolbag.
The example above was the economic version, and although it was a more lurid green, it was the most common.
The uniform wasn't compulsory back then and I reckon less than half of the pupils chose to wear it.
The clash of colours was interpreted light-heartedly by pupils at the time as Green for Catholics and Orange for Protestants.
Back then it was a mixed religion school and we all got on fine.
Then they built St Saviours in Whitfield and so triggered an exodus of Catholics.
Religion not being part of any learning process!

Wednesday 6 August 2008


One of the most popular fads of the 60's, were Clackers. They took Dundee, and the rest of UK by storm. There was probably no street or playground where you couldn't hear the CLACK,CLACK,CLACK blasting out back then. The noise annoyed adults so much that they invented a story about them being dangerous and banned them.
Here, below, is some outlawed footage of the treacherous toy in action!!

Tuesday 5 August 2008


For those who indulged in pub crawls along the length of Perth Road in the 80's, you may remember McGonagall's, roughly the halfway marker.
The pub was really 2 in 1 because downstairs in the basement was "Sammy Cahn's", who funnily enough was another wordsmith, but from across the water...and I don't mean Fife!
Photo by DC Thomson.

Monday 4 August 2008

ROKOTTO ON TV - 1970's

In 1977, Cathie McCabe's record shop organised a bus to go up to Aberdeen - and I was invited along.
The event was Dundee based funky disco band, Rokotto, perform in concert at Grampian Studios.
Joan McCabe and the band members were also on the bus along with us punters.
I remember the studio had a scaffolding gantry at the side of the stage, which is where I chose to watch the show from, but most of the studio audience were at the front of the stage dancing along to the band.
The TV series was called "The Entertainers" and showcased a different act every week. Rokotto played for over an hour in Aberdeen but each episode was edited down to 30 minutes.
The show was broadcast on 17 June 1977.
I got in touch with Grampian quite recently to see if they had this episode in their vaults but unfortunately, although some of the acts on The Entertainers were kept, the one with Rokotto on has since been wiped.
Also, as well as appearances on Top Of The Pops in the 70's, Rokotto were featured on another BBC show in 1979 called "Roadshow Disco".
This was actually recorded in Dundee - Kirkton Community Centre in fact!
So if anybody out there has a copy of these shows, feel free to get in touch.
Vocalist, Lorna Bannon, went on to sing with Shakatak, Simple Minds, plus a few other acts after Rokotto.
Anyway, for those who are not familiar with Rokotto's sound or would like a reminder, here is a track & slideshow to tune into.


Cathie McCabe's in the Murraygate wasn't exactly the coolest record shop in Dundee in the 70's, but I did find myself shopping there on a regular basis - not so much for vinyl, but for concert tickets.
Cathie was an agent and could get you tickets for any gig in Scotland.
I ended up going to dozens of gigs in Glasgow & Edinburgh, sometimes as many as 3 a week. She would also run buses when a concert was particularly popular. Many of the acts I saw never played in Dundee, for example - Bob Marley, Herbie Hancock, Roxy Music, Weather Report, Gary Numan, Rainbow, Brand X, Tangerine Dream, The Cure, Black Sabbath, The Eagles, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Bad Company, Camel, Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Spyro Gyra, Devo, Uriah Heep, Undertones, Robin Trower and plenty others - so travelling out of town was the only way to catch them in action.
The advert is a typical example of the kind of event McCabe's were involved in. It's for the Loch Lomond Rock Festival in May 1979. I was at a couple of outdoor festivals in '79 but for some reason, I didn't go to this one, despite it being a decent line-up.
Anyway, one strange record I do recall buying from this shop in 1977 - strange in that, it was a totally unexpected find to see this piece of vinyl in amongst the mundane chart pop stuff - a 7 inch single by Planet Gong and called "Opium For The People", a rather unusual punky effort from the space rockers!! Goodness knows how that ended up in her shop - maybe a rep dropped it in the racks without her knowing!!
Underneath the ad is a reminder of the shop carrier bag. The reason why there is a piano on it is because Cathie herself used to perform as a pianist back in the 50's & 60's and so collected all sorts of piano related memorabilia.
Some of you may recall that they also had a wee kiosk outside their Murraygate shop - this was where they sold scratch cards! A little sideline they had going!

The picture was taken in June 1978.
Photo by DC Thomson.