New book looks at Northampton music scene of the 1960s-70s

Ian Hunter, of Mott The Hoople (left) with music author-Derrick Thompson 'Have Guitars Will Travel Vol 2
Ian Hunter, of Mott The Hoople (left) with music author-Derrick Thompson 'Have Guitars Will Travel Vol 2

A RETIRED IT manager has published his fourth book, which looks back at the music scene in Northampton in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Have Guitars Will Travel, Volume 2 focuses on the variety of local groups who performed in such venues as The Black Lion, The Racehorse and The Racecourse Pavilion among dozens of other pubs, clubs, church and village halls, and Working Men’s Clubs.

It has taken Derrick Thompson 12 months to research and write, having contacted more than 150 of the local musicians from those days.

He said: “It takes a lot of running around to get the information. Many of the people are now in their 60s and 70s, but if you get hold of one of them, they often have contacts for others.

“I’ve had fantastic support from them, relived their memories with them, and collated more 600 photos and cuttings, almost half of which are in the book.”

Mr Thompson, 66, was a former pupil at Vernon Terrace Primary School and Northampton Grammar School. He worked at British Timken, in Duston, for 37 years, but when the plant closed, he moved to Nottingham, where he now lives.

“When you’re retired you have to find something to do. I always enjoyed writing and my two favourite things were football and music,” he said.

In 2008 he wrote a book about the Cobblers’ only season in Division One, and followed that with two music books, co-written with fellow Northamptonian Bill Martin.

But his latest book is a solo effort, fuelled by his love of the local music scene in his teens.

Among the groups he spoke to and featured were August Bank Holiday, Phoenix, Shylock, JJ Bender & the SOS, Left Hand Drive, Scenery, The Jets, The Russians, Windlord, and early Bauhaus.

The book also includes many famous artists – such as Bob Marley, Free, Black Sabbath, The Bee Gees, AC/DC, The Damned – who appeared in the Northampton area.

These big-name acts were supported by local groups at such venues as The Fantasia, the County Cricket Club, The Drill Hall, The Maple Ballroom and Shades.

“People don’t realise some of these people came to Northampton. Bob Marley was here three times,” he added.

There are plenty of nostalgic memories in the book about Shades, The Sunnyside, The Fantasia, The Nags Head at Wollaston, The George at Wilby, and includes the Beck Sound recording studios at Wellingborough. He added: “When you are in your teens and 20s, you visit all the clubs. It was a great scene.”

Have Guitars Will Travel Vol 2 is on sale at Waterstones in Abington Street and at Spiral Archive in St Michaels Road, Northampton, priced at £19.95. It will shortly be available on Ebay and Amazon.