Mike Hall remembers,
A pop band called The Smoke were scheduled to play at the pier. They had had a hit called ‘My friend Jack’ & so the pier was full of teeny bopper girls waiting to see this top pop group. I was in a group at the time – The Questions, later to be renamed Uncle Herbert – & we were, unusually, not playing that night, so we decided to go down & see this band.
We weren’t expecting to be too impressed by them, but we had nothing better to do anyway. So just before the gig is due to start, an announcement was made that The Smoke were unable to make it, but this band from Nottingham, called The Jaybirds, had stepped in at the last minute to help out. But anyone who wanted to refund their tickets could do so etc etc. So we didn’t mind who was on stage, really – as I said, we had nowhere else to go on a Saturday night. So the other 4 members of the band & I sat in the front row of the pier pavilion to check out this band at close quarters, while this line of hundreds of girls waited at the door to get their money back & go & drown their sorrows elsewhere.
Anyway, this band appeared & plugged in. They had a Hammond organ & a Gibson 335 guitar so that was a good start. Of course, when they started, we were blown away! Probably the best band I’d ever seen (with the possible exception of the Artwoods at the Lido in Prestatyn) with this incredible guitarist who was a great singer too. I turned round to see how the rest of the audience were enjoying it & there was no-one else there! Everyone else apart from my band & I had left!
So we stayed & enjoyed every number, realising that this band were exceptional & we had to keep our eyes on them as they were going to be big at some time in the future.
Lo & behold, later that year they changed their name to Ten Years After, & I caught up with them again when I went to college in London, as I practically lived at the Marquee in Wardour Street. I still have old programmes of those times, & by the end of 1967, TYA were topping the bill at the Marquee on a Friday night, with newer bands like Black Cat Bones (with Paul Kossoff on guitar before he joined Free) opening for them. I also use to hear them at Klook’s Kleek in West Hampstead, & was there when they made their first live LP called Undead.
I remember meeting them soon after their gig at Colwyn Bay, as there was an all-night petrol station & cafe on the outskirts of Chester, where all the bands used to meet up on their way back from gigs, to re-fuel (both their Ford Transits & their stomachs!). I remember us telling them how much we enjoyed the gig & how pleased we all were that The Smoke couldn’t make it!
Of course, within a couple of years they were topping the bill at Woodstock & in the movie of the same name. But not many people know that the Pier Pavilion Colwyn Bay played its own small part on their road to success.