Venue for bands c1970

These are bill posters from the ‘Big Apple’ which was in Queens Road in the early 1970s.  As the posters show, the venue attracted big name bands.

Did you go to any of these concerts?  What was the ‘Big Apple’ like?  We would love to hear your memories of the time.

And if you have any photos you would like to share, email and we will publish them for you.

Comments about this page

  • It was very basic inside; you had to sit on cushions on the floor. Went to many concerts here, remember going to the Elton John concert “that never was” the promoters never even booked him. Overall though, it was great.

    By Bob Chessell (30/09/2009)
  • You had to go up a steep staircase to get in; it was like a very large hall, at the back were food stalls and bars at either side of the stage were areas with large cushions in to sit on. The rest of the floor was either standing or sitting though most people sat on the floor to watch a gig. The Big Apple was only open for six months before it was closed because of sound proofing issues. The venue then moved to the old ice rink in Queens Square and was called FOX; that venue too was very short lived.

    By Howard Wade (01/10/2009)
  • I went to see T Rex at the Big Apple and Status Quo were the supporting group. Yes you did have to sit on cushions; it was a bit like an indoor festival.

    By Laine (02/10/2009)
  • I was a regular here in 1970 and 71 – a Canadian kid who loved music and the culture here, and at the Cottage and the King and Queen. Stayed up all night for Stones tickets and sat right up at the front for that show in 1971 at the Big Apple. Saw Curved Air, Yes, Tull and Colliseum here as well. Had a bootleg tape of the Stones’ show that has long since sadly gone missing!

    By Michael McNamara (30/01/2010)
  • I was a regular at Big Apple; saw T Rex, Deep Purple, Strawbs, Free, Mott the Hoople and many others. If my memory is right Status Quo went down so well as T Rex support they were booked to headline the following week. What a great venue it was when the Stones were there – the row of people waiting to buy tickets from Tiger Moth Records the week before the concert stretched half way round Brighton

    By Kevin March (28/02/2010)
  • It had previously been the “Regent Ballroom” and was above the Regent Cinema and as such it had a sprung floor. I attended nearly every concert that was held there. I can recall having to pay about £1.00 to see the Rolling Stones. That was about ¼ of my weekly wage and seemed grossly unfair as I’d seen them in Hyde Park for free.

    By Jester Theclown (25/09/2010)
  • I’ve actually still got two photographs I took at the Stones’ concert in March 1971 at Big Apple, when Mick (Jagger) threw a basket full of daffodils into the audience, which my mate Linda managed to grab… wonder if she still has it! I’d be happy to share the photographs.

    By Diana Lambing (19/12/2010)
  • The Big Apple was a fabulous place. You used to be climbing the flight of stairs for what seemed like hours! I went to see Curved Air there as well as other bands and everybody was dancing on that fantastic sprung floor and the room was just full of cushions being hurled in the air,amazing!

    By Leila Clarke (05/01/2011)
  • I was only 15 years old when I saw the Stones and other bands there – I may be wrong but thought I saw The Who there also? Anyway we used to bunk in by climbing through a tiny window at the back somewhere – I remember the cushions being thrown up and getting stuck in the roof somehow. Great early memories (somewhat vague!). Also used to hang out at The Cottage – happy days.

    By Jo (05/02/2011)
  • The first artist to appear on the opening night was 60s icon “Donovan” who was promoting his new double album “hms donovan”. I too paid my £1 and was given a cushion to sit crossed legged on the floor. I have the original Donovan poster for that concert. Another band I saw there was “The Kinks” and remember Ray Davies asking the audience if they liked his shirt. Great days indeed.

    By Graham Knight (04/09/2011)
  • What a great venue this was, but what a shame it only lasted four months. Here are my memories of the bands we saw there: 11 December 1970 – Pink Floyd. They played from 10:45 to 1:00. Set included ‘Atom Heart Mother’, ‘Fat Old Sun’, ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene’, ‘Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun’, and ‘Saucer Full of Secrets’, with ‘Astronomy Domine’ for an encore. 02 January 1971 – Curved Air. They were excellent and did three encores, all of which sounded like their showcase ‘Vivaldi’. 16 January 1971 – Edgar Broughton Band. Somebody said they were going to play for 45 minutes but they went on for around 2 hours. Songs included ‘Freedom’, ’Psychopath’, ‘Dropout Boogie’, and of course ‘Out Demons Out’. 23 January 1971 – Mott the Hoople. They finished with ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ then did ‘You Keep a-Knocking’ as an encore. 13 February 1971 – Johnny Winter. One of the best gigs at Big Apple as far as I was concerned. If you want to hear what they were like then have a listen to ‘Johnny Winter And….Live’, which was out around that time. They did many songs from that album including ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ as well as the classic ‘Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo’. 20 February 1971 – Fairport Convention. They did several encores with everybody dancing. This must have been while Richard Thompson was still with them but I didn’t appreciate his genius until much later in life. 22 February 1971 – Free. They were great as always and the set included ‘The Highway Song’, ‘Ride on Pony’, ‘The Stealer’, ‘Be My Friend’, ‘Mr Big’, ‘Alright Now’, Heavy Load’, ‘I’m a Mover’ and ‘The Hunter’. 27 February 1971 – Deep Purple. The place was absolutely packed and it was one of the best nights at Big Apple. Richie Blackmore smashed up his guitar at the end, but not the one he had been playing all evening – presumably a cheaper one. 18 March 1971 – Emerson Lake and Palmer. Amongst other songs they did ‘Take a Pebble’, ‘The Barbarian’, ‘Knife Edge’, ‘Rondo’, and ‘Tarkus’. 27 March 1971 – Colosseum. The last ever concert at Big Apple, and a fitting end. Colosseum were really on form and this was regarded as the definitive band line-up, including ‘Clem’ Clempson on guitar and Chris Farlowe on vocals and, of course, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Jon Hiseman. Not only that but the whole thing was recorded and features on their album ‘Colosseum Live’, released later that year.

    By Chris Dawson (22/11/2011)
  • I was only 16 or 17, early in my hippy career, and saw several bands at the Big Apple. I remember the sprung floor and narrow winding entrance stairs. Johnny Winter was great, he had Mick Ronson also playing guitar who shortly after joined Bowie for Ziggy Stardust. And just next door was the seriously hip Virgin record shop. Both remembered with fondness.

    By Peter Wolledge (03/03/2012)
  • Yes a great place. I was 15/16 and saw all of the above bands except Donovan and Floyd. After a few visits, got a job there collecting and washing glasses in the bar. We had wire supermarket baskets and collected empties. Fantastic, got paid 75p to see all those great bands. The Stones were the best – nobody went to the bar so as not to lose their place on the floor so I got to see the whole show instead of washing up! I remember Johnny Winters’ gear arrived a bit late so all us staff had to help unload it in and out of the lift and I ended up carrying his guitar across the hall – it weighed a ton. Great memories.

    By Howard Johnston (05/04/2012)
  • If my memory serves me well, then I remember seeing Atomic Rooster and Chicken Shack (but I think Stan Webb never turned up). If I am wrong, then blame the funny cigs!

    By Ian Jupp (04/05/2012)
  • I remember seeing Atomic Rooster there – that or we must have been smoking the same cigs. Wasn’t it a window in the cinema toilets that we climbed through to get into the Apple for free? I too remember The Cottage – didn’t they serve up spaghetti bol and garlic bread? Always to sit up stairs – did it have a downstairs? Does it still exist. Happy days indeed.

    By Mary Oakes (10/05/2012)
  • Hi Mary, for The Cottage, see here although I think the name has changed. 

    By Peter Groves (10/05/2012)
  • Saw loads of gigs there. Johnny Winter And was the best, (with Rick Derringer, NOT Mick Ronson). I saw the Stones supported by the groundhogs on 10th March 1971. The previous Saturday I saw Jethro Tull perform “Aqualung” at The Dome. The following Saturday I saw “Yes” perform “time and a word” at The Big Apple. Status Quo supported many acts. Other artists that I saw included Patto, Leon Russell, Edgar Broughton, Curved Air, Warm Dust, Donovan (opening night), In all, too many to remember. Beyond belief to think that The Stones and The Pink Floyd played in such a small auditorium.

    By Brian (13/06/2012)
  • Yes, I too went to the Big Apple most weeks and saw some brilliant bands. I went to the Elton John concert that never was – I think Mark Almond played instead, but not 100% sure – and saw Queen supporting Mott the Hoople: was a brilliant venue.

    By Terry Aldridge (09/07/2012)
  • Replying to everything above, I’ll keep it as brief as I can. Cushions – if you were one of the first 200 you got one – a good reason to get there early. It was traditional to have a cushion fight at the end of the night, nothing to do with the quality of the band. The stairs: The top of the stairs ticket booth had UV lights in case you were trying to bunk in. Sadly, the toilet window was after that. Elton John was booked to play but ‘had flu’ and only cancelled that afternoon-that’s why he was sued, and they won. Volume:  was limited before 10.30 because of the cinema downstairs. The sprung floor bouncing (especially if Status Quo were supporting) affected the sound in the cinema downstairs. Donovan – the act was mainly from Barabajagal and his new album ‘Open Road’. HMS Donovan was over a year later and as far as I know was not featured. Might be thinking of his Dome gig later on. Mott The Hoople, Jan 1971 – their first main stage appearance– they finished with a second version of Thunderbuck Ram. I still have the recording. Queen never played the Big Apple, far too early. It was the Marc/Almond Band you’re thinking of – a magnificent jazzy 2-piece that played support at the Apple. Chicken Shack definitely had Stan Webb – he did his classic wander through the crowd with the long lead. Ginger Baker and Airforce– one of the worst attended yet greatest gigs at The Apple. If only people remembered. Johnny Winter – definitely featured the very young Rick Derringer. Should you wish to discuss or just natter –

    By Dirigible Dave (09/11/2012)
  • Chris Dawson mentions the Floyd concert on Friday 11th December 1970 starting at 10.45 pm tlll 1.0am. However, my memory (now that of a pensioner) of my one & only visit to the Big Apple and the first time seeing Floyd has them playing for most of the night; I do remember the sun was rising on my journey back up the A23 on my way back home to north west Kent. Earlier we had queued on the concrete steps and 8, 9 and 10 o’clock came and went but finally Floyd arrived. The band came up the stairs thanking us for our patience, telling us their lorry had broken down coming back from France I think, but they would put a show on and it just might go on a bit. Another hour went by but finally we went in to a large ballroom; I think the stage was to the left, it was full to the ceiling of their sound system; we got cushions and crashed out on the floor. I’m not sure of the set list but Ummagumma was showcased, I remember the fly getting chased and whacked through the quad system. Pretty sure we heard Meddle and Atom and, I’m told, an early version of Dark Side. I think they had a break and I’m guessing some left thinking the gig was over but it wasn’t. I didn’t know the venue was short lived but strangely, years later, I saw, for the first time, Australian PF during a Dark Side tour at the Lomax in Stoke-upon-Trent; a couple of months later, not having been opened for a year, it closed because of planning irregularities.

    By Keith Martin (24/03/2013)
  • The support act for Pink Floyd on 11th December 1970 was Roger Hubbard who is still going strong and playing regularly around Kent and Sussex. He is well worth seeing, especially with his band Buick 6.

    By Chris Dawson (21/05/2013)
  • I remember Sonja Kristina of Curved Air getting hit in the face by a cushion and a Tuesday night cheapie with Storyteller and Ginhouse. It’s a shame they had to close. They could never get away with knocking down a listed building these days. The owner moved up the road to the Sports centre but it all fail apart. He also ran a club in Croyden. I was told it was the Elton John gig that brought on the clubs demise because of the excessive volume.


    By Mark (11/02/2014)
  • I think, if I remember correctly, that Elton John failed to turn up at The Big Apple, and was sued!

    By Peter Groves (12/02/2014)
  • In the wake of Johnny Winter’s death, I’m reliving some of his early gigs.  After seeing him at Watford Town Hall, 26 January 1971, I persuaded a pen pal (a Renaissance fan – remember them?) to come and get me in his minivan and drive from London to Brighton to see Johnny.  At the time, there was a postal strike, so I wrote to the pal on huge pieces of drawing paper, packaged them up and sent the parcel to him by rail.  We ended up camping overnight in the minivan.  Johnny was the only being on my horizon then, and now, some 43 years later, he is again.  I remember the Big Apple only vaguely.  Does anyone have any photos of that gig to post?

    By Barb Jones (20/07/2014)
  • If I’m correct the Fox Club only lasted about a week. It was cramped and totally unsuited to rock music. The opening night was Edgar Broughton and I had severe cramp due to being squeezed up against a mean looking Hell’s Angel, and was frightened of upsetting him. I have still got my membership and a flyer – Uriah Heep, Caravan and Rory Gallagher were due there. Anyone remember Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come and May Blitz at the Richmond? He had ‘Arthur Brown’s bet mobile’ written on his van!

    By John (06/12/2014)
  • i worked at Big Apple in Brighton behind the bar and although I saw many bands my favourite performance was Pink Floyd playing Atom Heart Mother. There were no seats but no one seemed to care to have the bands in Brighton at the time was just such an experience.During the performances we sold nothing behind the bar Watneys Sussex Bitter and Liebfraumilch were nearly all the booze we sold, so we behind the bar had a great view of all the acts and met them all at the end of the evening when we were clearing up and the bands were packing up. Big  Apple in Brighton was the best lesson I had as a 19 year old in the music of these same bands today. Now at 62 I can remember Big Apple as if it was yesterday – all those stairs!

    By Steve Bowen (23/12/2014)
  • I only saw Curved Air, Free and Emerson Lake and Palmer (RIP Emerson and Lake) but it was a brilliant venue with cushions to sit on and who could forget the UMA Lights… Fantastic and a greatly missed venue!

    By Phil Burton (12/12/2016)
  • I remember seeing so many top bands almost on a daily basis! Could you afford that now? We managed as we would normally bunk in via the cinema, sometimes taking in the film on the way! The last leg was a long staircase up to the venue patrolled by an easily-bribed security bloke. I particularly remember when War played, only when we got in we found that Eric Burdon was not there with them . The management were very good and gave refunds to disappointed fans; so we did a few laps, bunking in, then claiming the refund -or is that a legend? I also queued all night for Stones tickets: down Sip Street I seem to remember. Peter Groves, I think we knew each other. Did you live in Hangleton and you had a brother called… er, Groves? Sorry, can’t remember his Christian name. If you are he, you would remember maybe Tony Oliver, Hilary and Rachel Heath, Colin and Brian Ellis among others I remember the Cottage, particularly a tall guy called Neville who nearly blew himself up playing with some kind of home-made bomb/firework in the Cottage. Give us a shout if you can Peter –

    By Nick Poole (07/01/2017)
  • My memory  of the big Apple was the night we saw Deep Purple, it was packed with people, very hot and the sound was throbbing. The bass was so loud and the sprung floor made the vibration go through my whole body. It was an amazing concert and I can clearly remember that I was wearing a purple tie-dye top, white flares and a purple suede fringed waistcoat. Sadly due to the heat, crowd and excitement I passed out and missed the end of the show! The next thing I remember was finding myself outside in the street after my friends carried me out. Fab times though, and such a shame that it closed down.

    By Maz Hopwood (09/02/2017)
  • If I recall rightly the move from Big Apple to the Fox Club lasted a really short time. The first gig was Edgar Broughton and I was sandwiched between a bunch of bikers (mad dogs of Sussex) and couldn’t move. The Broughtons of course played ‘out demons out’ and got everyone clapping along. I know Rory Gallagher, Caravan and Uriah Heep were listed, but I think the club closed before then. A shame that the Apple closed, it would of still been in use now I’m sure.

    By John Harris (03/02/2018)
  • I remember going to The Big Apple to see Emerson Lake and Palmer – I was really into the band, having already bought the LPs ‘Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack’, (The Nice), ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ (King Crimson) and Atomic Rooster’s first album, (which I guess shows some consistency 🙂 ). A group of us went, not realising that there was a cinema below and that bands couldn’t start playing before the film had finished! I remember people seated on the floor – there were also long, low school gym benches. We were about 15 (living in Lewes) and someone’s dad had agreed to pick us up at a fixed time and give us a lift home, so couldn’t stay for the whole concert which was really annoying. I’d downed a whole (large) bottle of Merrydown Apple Wine immediately before the band came on and was ‘flying’ – Greg Lake was slightly pissed. Remember seeing them start with ‘The Barbarian’, moving into ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ (during which Keith Emerson walked out into the audience with the ribbon controller from the Moog – there was a pic of that in Melody Maker at the time) followed by ‘Tarkus.’ I think they also played ‘Tank’ – we left (extremely reluctantly) just as ‘Emo’ started sweeping the grand piano’s strings for ‘Take a Pebble.’ Sooo pissed not to have been able to see the whole concert.

    By Jonathan (22/05/2019)
  • I remember seeing Johnny Winters at the Big Apple in the early 70s with a mate, we would have been about 14 or 15 and it was the first gig I ever went to. I remember queuing up the stairs to get in then a mad dash across the sprung floor to grab some cushions. The ceiling was wrought iron lattice and everybody was trying to throw cushions up and wedge them in the gaps.

    By Paul Gumbrell (25/09/2019)
  • Yep, cool place. The Who definitely did a gig there around Tommy time and I think were supported by Quiver (the Sutherland Brothers ex-backing band). Not bad but preferred gig later at Assembly Halls, Worthing following Woodstock and day before Who’s next release. Of course, best value was 10 shillings in ’67 at Dome to see Who, Cream, Christian St Peters and Mindbenders. Did anyone else go to concert where MAN (Welsh band) played. They let off air war horn and hence I’m now with hearing aids. Yep, good times when you could see heroes in sensible small venues, not on screens.

    By Phil Chibeba (25/06/2020)
  • I lived in Burgess Hill and loved trekking down to Brighton and the Big Apple… Saw T-Rex with Status Quo as support (we were blown away by how good they were).. Went to the non-existent Elton John concert but when he was a no-show we just headed home.. Queued from 6am for Stones tickets and finally got them about 12.30. Great concert but way too many people!! I remember thinking that even if I passed out I wouldn’t fall down because we were all crammed together.

    By Bev Castle-Barnes (14/11/2020)
  • That’s a blast from the past! I too remember the stairs that seemed to go on and on and the sprung ballroom floor. I saw Yes, Colisseum, Tull and I think Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I didn’t realise it was only open for such a short time.

    By Janine King (01/03/2021)
  • It’s amazing, I’m now 70 and I saw Floyd for the 2nd time at the Apple – as I remember we spent the first half of the night in the King And Queen on the Steine, picked up some whacky backy and headed to the Apple where as `I recall it we used to leave in the early hours of the morning. What wonderful memories, chicken Shack, YES where I met Jon Anderson at the bar and had a drink with him – he grew up across the street from us in Norfolk Street, Accrington. What good times they were. And the beautiful Lindsay who I left behind for another life. Brighton in the 70’s it was the centre of our world.

    By Arnie Lord (13/11/2021)

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