April UK Clubland

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The covers band market in the clubs was once massive and many agencies held sole representation to dozens of top live attractions back in the day. Some were showbands, while others focussed on creating an image and a brand. So many of the Clubland bands of yesteryear are now lost in time and memory, but it should never be forgotten that so many others packed the largest of clubs to capacity on any night of the week. This is where many entertainers who went on to solo singing success learned their trade. Mark Ritchie lists ten of his favourites and here they are!

DRAGONFLY- Imagine a toyshop after dark. The shop is closed and the toys come to life then play and sing. The clubs were packed wherever they appeared and the memories linger on.
RADIATION- Putting visuals together on a stage was a speciality of this Sheffield based club band, who attained massive success. The band latched onto the big northern band anthems of the time and covered them superbly.
THE GENTS- Simply the biggest draw of any bands during the 1980’s. This four-piece attraction were only an ace away from cracking chart stardom, after releasing a great debut album, Waiting to Be Seen. Their high-energy live gigs were truly special.
ZOOT AND THE FROOT- Frontman Dave Christie put together a band comprising various musicians who made a big sound and were also fronted by two wonderful female singers in Brenda Noel and Julie Fox.
BITTER SUITE- Thought of as the greatest of all the rock covers bands, this band did some serious business back in the day. Frontman Barry Marshall is a top talent and true music lovers amongst the club crowds just loved them!
HELEN DAY & WILDE AFFAIR- The ravishingly gorgeous Helen now lives in Australia, but back in the big club band days she was a rea force of nature. Helen’s powerhouse vocals and terrific band members were augmented by a cheeky and bawdy line in innuendo- loaded patter, which was hilarious.
THE WHALES- Club-fillers during the 60’s and into the 70’s, this great band had the customers queuing around the block to catch their gigs. Their drummer was Barry Santana who became one of the leading solo singer/drummers in Clubland history.
COBWEB AKA CAPTAIN JACK AKA CELLMATES- Perhaps a surprise inclusion here, as this was not one of the big-name bands of the late 70’s and 80’s. Going through their history, these Leeds lads kept reinventing themselves, from including a robotic dancer at one stage to making use of the great bassline in their wild and wacky cover of Stray Cats Strut.
O’HARA’S PLAYBOYS- John O’Hara was a great band front man, who was successful in the late cabaret club and function scene, as well as proving to be a great Clubland draw. The musicians (Playboys) came and went, but the popularity of the acts name ensured full-house signs everywhere.
NITE SKOOL- A great live band who loved to play soft rock and covered everything from falsetto harmony music to ELO. Whilst playing the Jeff Lynne track Mr Blue Sky, the lads even used to huge gong-type instrument to bookend their rendition.
We continue to look for area correspondents who could collate and send us information across the national club scene. If you have a Clubland related story to tell, please e-mail all your Clubland information to

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