1960s live music venue

A fairly unremarkable pub

In the 1960s there used to be a fairly unremarkable pub called Jimmy’s in a little back street off Old Steine. It did, however, have a reasonable sized function room upstairs and once a week on Thursday nights it was transformed into arguably Brighton’s best ever live music venue, run by the UOS Blues Society. In the 2 years during which a crowd of us were regulars we saw blues legends Mississippi Fred McDowell and Champion Jack Dupree, stalwarts of the 60s British blues boom such as Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack and Jo-Ann Kelly, and bands in their very early days who went on to become household names like Jethro Tull, Free and Mott the Hoople.

A totally new experience

It is difficult to overstate just what a fantastic time this was. I was 16 when we started going and was still at school. The only previous live music I’d seen was at The Dome or the Top Rank Suite. Jimmy’s was basically just a room above a pub and had a capacity of around 150 or 200 as I recall, compared with The Dome’s 2000 plus seating. Seeing bands in the atmosphere of a small club was a totally new experience.

A closet archivist

I’d love to know more about the history of music at Jimmy’s. I suspect it all finished in spring 1970, or we would have carried on going, but it would be interesting to know how long it had been running prior to May ’68 when we discovered it. I was a bit of a closet archivist at that time and I noted all the live music I went to see, sometimes with notes on the performances, as well as keeping the odd programme and flyer. Now, decades later, it occurs to me that this might be of some historical interest. If you are interested in reading this list, you can download it below.

Do you remember Jimmy’s?

I would love to hear other people’s memories, both of these gigs and the ones I missed. Maybe we can fill in the gaps of who appeared when. Are there any of the organisers or performers out there who can contribute? If you can share any memories of Jimmy’s and the bands and performers who played there, please leave a comment below.



Comments about this page

  • I agree – Jimmy’s was the best live music venue in town by far at that time. We used to go every week and some fond memories include: Mississippi Fred McDowell – he held the audience spellbound. At the end of the evening, the landlord had to turn off the electricity as Fred wouldn’t stop so he carried on acoustic style for a few more numbers anyway. Free – what a fabulous live band. The place was full to the rafters and the music was loud and brilliant. Does anyone remember when some skinheads got in and tried to cause a scene – it all ended amicably in the end. Duster Bennett – what a nice chap, now so sadly missed. A brilliant one man band. Non appearance of Jeff Beck – he pulled out at the last minute so the organisers put on the more folksy Eclection and they were wonderful. I could go on and on – but its somebody else’s turn now.

    By Michael Wade (01/11/2011)
  • I used to go to Jimmy’s but for the Friday (?) disco of blues and Motown, Soul etc. I think it was called Jimmy’s as it was the rear of the St James’ Street bar, The Southern Hotel, an old Edlins pub. It is still there but as an amusement arcade. I was going there in 1968/69.

    By Geoffrey Mead (01/11/2011)
  • Thanks Chris for reminding me of this venue. It was, as you say during this period the best place to see decent known or unknown bands. Most other venues were moving over to DJ’s and recorded music so sadly live performances were on the decline. Among the bands not on your list, I’m fairly sure that was where I first saw ‘The Equals’ and they really brought the house down with their stomping reggae beat. Not sure though if it was ’68 or ’69. Most likely ’69 as they were just getting well known. Maybe someone out there can confirm this. Your comments in your link re. Miller may well be right although I think he may actually live somewhere north of Worthing now. I used to see him back in the 80’s at ‘The Burrell Arms’ in Shoreham as on Wednesday nights they would hold a jam session where anyone could turn up with their instruments and join in. Last time I saw him he was at ‘The Vine’ in Tarring with a few friends on Friday nights but that was maybe 6 years or more ago and he did say he lived locally.

    By Bob. formerly from Brighton. (02/11/2011)
  • FREE’s early gigs at some of these smaller venues in the early days were some of the best days of our lives. Piled in a van with all the equipment and one roadie. “Jimmy’s was a favorite of ours, it being a real music place that had a good sound naturally. Great to be reminded of this. BTW what a cool site this is…

    By Andy Fraser (09/11/2011)
  • Wow. Many thanks for taking the time to add your comments Andy. It is really appreciated and it is great to hear that you enjoyed your gigs there as much as we all did.

    By Chris Dawson (09/11/2011)
  • Wow, its taken me years to find this. Jimmy’s, I did a support gig there for Spider John Korner, I played with a flute/guitar player Roy Pennington, we were a disaster! I have improved somewhat since those happy 1960s years.

    By Dave J (22/05/2013)
  • Is the Roy Pennington above the same person who became a B&H Council member for the Regency Square area? He always looks like someone who would have fitted into a Jethro Tull type combo!

    By Geoffrey Mead (23/05/2013)
  • Wow Chris! This is great to read about all the groups that appeared at this fabulous little venue. I was born in 1957 so I was a little young to have known about it but at the time I was beginning to love the sort of music that ‘Jimmy’s’ attracted so if I’d have known, I would most definitely have hung around outside to see if I could hear the groups. I did exactly this when the Rolling Stones played the Big Apple, no hope of getting in at my age (at the time) so I settled for the next best thing! I am a huge fan of ‘Free’ and saw them in 1972 at the Dome but what you saw must have been brilliant, one of the greatest blues/rock bands in their early stages. Have you seen the page I contributed about the gigs I saw at the Dome in ’72? it’s on this link http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__11327.aspx Is the building that housed ‘Jimmy’s’ still there Chris? I’d love to go and see where all this happened.

    By Paul Clarkson (24/05/2013)
  • The building is there at the NE corner of Steine St opposite the pub [which used to be the Queen’s Head…?] with some rather ornate decoration.

    By Geoffrey Mead (26/05/2013)
  • Chris: Thanks for a lovely little resource. Where would all this history be without such dedication! I’ve put together an answer to most of your questions and added a few other memories and clarifications; which altogether is a bit long for here. If you’d like to e-mail me, I’ll copy it to you. Cheers!

    By dirigibledave (01/06/2013)
  • I spent many fabulous evenings with friends in Jimmy’s bar on the UOS blues nights. I especially remember one night sitting right in front of Champion Jack Dupree and his piano, what an entertainer, what an evening!

    By Graham Dawson (12/05/2014)
  • Well !! I was a helper at Brighton Blues Club at Jimmys and my flat mate John R was the one who started it all. We were at Sussex Univ 67-70. To start , John just booked the function room at Jimmy’s and got some posters printed and the whole thing just took off. There was no stage so I had to carry 3 or 4 pallet sized stage boxes, in my Ford Anglia van, from the uni and set them up at Jimmy’s every Thursday!!  We left in 1970 so the club stopped. We had a poster with a blues guitar motif.

    By Dal Birk (22/08/2015)
  • I’ve some great memories of Jimmy’s. I certainly remember seeing Stefan Grossman and Dr. K’s Blues Band in addition to all the other acts already mentioned. I’ve got some posters somewhere so I will look them out and add some dates. As far as I remember, the gigs were organised by the University of Sussex Blues Society.

    By Ian Page (06/03/2016)
  • I used to go to Jimmy’s during 1969-70 when I was 15/16. Oddly enough only one of the bands I remember seeing (Caravan) was in the list and none mentioned in the comments above, so, here’s what I remember: Liverpool Scene – Liverpool band containing Percy Jones on bass before he joined Brand X and Adrian Henri on vocals/poetry. Henri was a huge man and seeing him writhing on the floor during a particularly exhiliaring poetry ready was quite something .  Caravan – some delay at the beginning as their singer, Pye Hastings, had been electrocuted on stage only a few days earlier and was alarmed to find Jimmys had only two pin plugs. A wire was run down the stairs and attached to the plumbing to ground their amplifiers. High Tide – a great performance and very loud, but when the crowd demanded more they looked embarassed as they had no more material, so they repeated the first track off their first album. Traffic – the first gig of their reformation tour having just released ‘John Barleycorn’ – the place was absolutely packed and I think someone passed out in the heat and crush. I remember Steve Winwood changing the lyrics on one song to “and I’m feeling… pretty p*ssed off” . East of Eden – great set with a considerable amount of improvisation and swapping instruments – seeing the two front men wander through the audience, both swapping phrases with each other on saxophones was an eye-opener for me. Van Der Graaf Generator – fantastic set playing all of their second album, only just released and a selection from their first. I do have a date for this 21/05/1970. (http://www.vandergraafgenerator.co.uk/pawnhearts/vdgg_brighton210570_listing.jpg). I met my wife in August 1970 and we never went there together so it must have closed by then.

    By Alan Terrill (08/11/2016)
  • Like Alan, I remember Jimmy’s from the same period and saw pretty much the same line up of bands. I seem to recall there were safety concerns during the Traffic gig because of the overcrowding (and that there was supposed to be a limit on the number of people allowed in). Those were the days.

    By Graeme Talboys (09/11/2016)
  • Wow, I have also just found this! I was at UOS ’67-70 and was at most of the gigs. I remember the hole in the wall ‘bar’. Met some of the fellow Jimmyers at the UOS reunion in ’97. Wonderful.

    By Richard Hipkiss (03/01/2017)
  • I think Jimmy’s must have been a popular pub/function venue long before the ’60s. I remember my father talking fondly about it as popular during (presumably) the ’30s.

    By Geoffrey Stoner (04/01/2017)
  • I saw Jethro Tull, and Chicken Shack and Duster Bennett at Jimmy’s in 1968. I remember being underage and nervous about being found out. Fond memories and thanks for the page.

    By Alastair Hannaford (27/10/2017)
  • I have good memories of evenings at Jimmys, watching great performers. I was talking about it at lunchtime but nobody knew of it, they arrived in Brighton too late. I’m pleased to see it’s not forgotten!

    By Trish Adams (11/03/2018)
  • I have fond memories of ‘Jimmys’ in the early 70s.  Among the bands I saw were ‘Arthur Browns Kingdom Come’, ‘Gnidrolog’  (bought their albums at the time),  ’Brewers Droop’  (I’ve since learned that Mark Knopfler was the guitarist)  and ‘Home’ whose guitarist (Laurie Wisefield I think) went on to play with ‘Wishbone Ash’ and ‘Tina Turner’.  Happy daze.

    By Stuart Ralston (18/09/2018)
  • I went to Jimmy’s twice. Jethro Tull couldn’t get in because it was full. Misissippi Fred McDowell was singing and playing his amplified guitar – absolutely amazing, just like his first album on Arhoolie. I remember Roger Hubbard was sat at the front. Roger is still making music – check out his website.

    By Nick Burdett (22/09/2018)
  • I only went to Jimmy’s once, to see Free when I was 16 or 17. The sound was incredibly good, loud but really clear. Free sounded like no other band, with the way the bass, guitar and drums blended, a real one-off. It was a brilliant evening burnt into my memory.
    I would have loved to have seen some of the other bands mentioned in these comments, especially Eclection whose Top Gear live sessions were better than their records.

    By Jon Wood (09/06/2019)
  • Free started in 1966, they were a band at my youth club in Edgware, where Paul Kossoff grew up.
    Like many of the other commentators I also was UOS (1968-71) and was a regular at Jimmy’s. I recall seeing Fleetwood Mac there when they were still a blues band.

    By Phillip Nissen (10/02/2020)
  • Yes, I saw Mississippi Fred McDowell at Jimmy’s and he was superb. Another great bluesman I saw there around the same time was the great Juke Boy Bonner. Bobby Parker, famous for his Watch Your Step, was another bluesman who performed there, but unfortunately I did not attend that gig.

    By Nick Heath (17/06/2020)
  • Anyone remember Jellybread? Seemed to me that whenever I went to a gig at the university, they were the support. I later learnt they were students there. Decades later, the bass player became CEO of my town’s council, and during emails and subsequent conversations, I learnt that he set up the Blues Society.
    Sadly, I was so low on cash, I never went to it, missing out on so many greats.

    By Steve (09/07/2020)
  • Amazing. When my family (Edlins) owned the Southern it was always known as Jimmy’s and had a large posh restaurant on the ground floor Steine St entrance. Edlins was sold about 1967. The only music at their pubs was jazz at the King and Queen, tho I saw an ad in Melody Maker for Tubby Hayes at the Gloucester (now North Laine). I saw Pink Floyd at Sussex Uni in 1968 which used up the student union funds so no big bands there after that. I was student in London 1968 to 72 so missed all the Jimmy’s music events.

    By Simon Edlin (23/11/2020)
  • I remember seeing Duster Bennet at Jimmy’s in December ’68, and also around that time The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. Both great gigs in a fantastic venue. A lot more fun than The Dome, though I did see Georgie Fame, Free and Family on stage at The Dome around that time. Cherished Brighton memories 🙂

    By Jonathan Reed (10/01/2021)
  • Yes, I remember when Jimmys was invaded by skinheads. The Groundhogs, I believe, were playing, I remember a chair sailing over my head and crashing through the bass drum. I dont know what happened next, I was out the door in a flash, skinheads and hippies didnt mix well ! I was at Sussex Uni between 1967 and 1970 and shared flats with Dal Birk who posted earlier and with John R. Lost touch with both of them and with Terry S who also shared with us.

    By Clive Perkins (18/03/2021)
  • Dear All, I am an Italian fan of FREE and I have seen a discrepancy about FREE gigs played in Birghton – Jimmy’s during early 1970. According to Chris Dawson flyer above of early 1970 FREE played Brighton Jimmy’s 26 February 1970 anyway on your document above “Performers At Jimmy’s” FREE gig is listed and commented on 4 March 1970 as follows: 04 March 1970 – FREE. They played a straight 90 minute set without a break, including “I’m a Mover”, “Woman”, “Mr Big”, “Walk in my Shadow”, “Fire & Water”. Finished with a storming version of “The Hunter” but no encores due to broken bass drum. So my question for you: FREE played both 26 February 1970 and again 4 March 1970 or only once ? When exactly in 1970 ? Thanks to all and again my sincere compliments for your fabulous website !

    By Alessandro (28/06/2021)
  • My elder sister had her wedding reception at Jimmy’s. This was just after Easter 1967. A friend of my father, Kazic Kostuch, was a chef there!

    By Richard J. Szypulski (30/08/2021)
  • I remember Jimmys in the 1940’s, after the war. I was a boarder at Brighton College and my mother took me out to lunch at Jimmy’s every Wednesday. It was a smart restaurant then, not a disco. On my birthday a waiter called Donald gave me a book, The Coral Island. What memories!

    By David Cartwright (11/10/2021)
  • I went a lot in 69/70 – great place and very convenient as was holed up in not so great guesthouse in Kemptown , Madeira Place. Remember a lot of blues bands mentioned above. Seem to recall Roy Harper made an appearance but he never got beyond the first number due to an “incapacity” but perhaps it’s my mind that was foggy. Philip.

    By Philip (15/10/2021)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *