Geoff Docherty

In the second half of 1968, four elements came together and changed the face of live music in the northeast for at least the next four years. This amalgamation would bring enjoyment to thousands upon thousands of music fans and make the northeast a serious contender for the country’s best live music events outside of London. The elements were; a fairly non-descript hotel ballroom based in a seafront establishment at Whitburn, Sunderland called the Bay Hotel; the need for new local venues to host well-known national bands and, thirdly, the emergence of a new ‘underground’ music scene. However, the main ingredient in transforming the northeast music scene was a young man named Geoff Docherty whose ambition, vision and love of rock music made him one of the most celebrated promoters to come out of the area.

Although we had a number of mutual friends and I played regularly at a lot of venues that Geoff Docherty used for his promotions between 1969 and 1972, I didn’t know him back in the sixties. From 1969 onwards I was aware of the appearance of many top bands in Sunderland and Newcastle but until 2002 I had no idea that same person promoted most of these gigs nor did I know the name of that individual. Of course, Geoff Docherty wasn’t the only northeast promoter but I think it’s fair to say that his promotions set the standard in terms of the type of music featured and the quality of the live bands he booked.

I knew the Bay Hotel quite well having played there in a couple of bands during 1967. It was a fairly large venue in a nice location near the sea at South Bents, Whitburn but at the time I didn’t really regard it as a particularly prestigious gig.

The Bay Hotel, Whitburn near Sunderland
The Bay Hotel, Whitburn near Sunderland

Towards the back end of 1968 Geoff Docherty along with many others sensed that a change was about to happen as far as the music played in clubs, colleges dance halls and other live venues was concerned. Since about 1966 the majority of local bands, including my own, had been covering mostly soul, Tamla Motown and Stax classics – predominantly music for dancers. A new progressive music was starting to raise its head and Geoff, who worked at the Bay Hotel as a doorman had a vision of bringing that music to the young people of the northeast.

At the time I used to read Melody Maker from cover to cover so I was aware of the current music trends and what was happening in London and the rest of the country. On a personal level, it was three things in 1968 that triggered my realisation of an impending radical change in live music. A new ‘intelligent’ type of music was on the horizon – music by fresh new bands or by established bands that had undergone a significant metamorphosis. The first of these three things was the release of two bargain sampler albums by Columbia Records – ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On’ and ‘Rock Machine I Love You’. The two albums contained music from artists and bands new to me with songs that were a lot different to other music I’d been listening to. These albums introduced me to acts such as Spirit, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Electric Flag, Laura Nyro, Taj Mahal, Big Brother & The Holding Company and many others. This was the type of music John Peel had been plugging on his radio show “Top Gear” over the past year.

Rock machine comp

Secondly, I was knocked out when I heard Jethro Tull’s ‘Love Story’ and ‘ A Song For Jeffrey’. Wow – a flute being played as a rock instrument – this was certainly different and exciting.

The third thing was the direction being taken by the band – Family. I’d played on the same bill as Family four times since 1966; twice at the Argus Butterfly (Peterlee Folk & Jazz Club) and twice at college dances in Newcastle. Having shared a dressing room with Family several times I was on speaking terms with a couple of the band members so I was particularly interested in the band’s development. In fact it was Family’s sax player, Jim King who taught me to how play two saxophones simultaneously (a la Roland Kirk). For any sax players reading this, Jim’s method involved clamping down the left hand (top) keys on one instrument with elastic bands and fingering that sax with the right hand while simultaneously fingering the left hand (upper) keys of the other sax with the left hand. With practice, you can get some nice sounds. You also have to have a big mouth to accommodate two saxophone mouthpieces! Anyway, over those two years Family had morphed from a rhythm and blues type outfit, through a psychedelic phase in the summer of 1967 and by late 1968 had become what the Melody Maker described as a ‘progressive’ band. Melody Maker used the terms ‘progressive’, ‘heavy/progressive’ or ‘underground’ to describe the ‘new’ tide of music.

Family
Family

Geoff eloquently described the changing music scene in 1968 in his book ‘A Promoter’s Tale’: –

John Peel
John Peel

“Radical changes were taking place and [John] Peel was fearlessly championing them. It’s difficult to describe what it was like at the time, but it all was incredibly exciting. Matching this new music was a maze of ‘underground’ clubs which sprung up all around Britain in support of it. These were to become important breeding grounds for new groups, and without them, many major names of today might never have developed ………… There was an air of expectancy and excitement as the whole movement gathered pace, and I desparately wanted the Bay to be part of it.”

There is no doubt that the few years from the mid sixties onwards were great times for music fans to experience live bands. In particular to see and hear some of the top national and international acts that were busy making their name during that period. In the mid sixties top bands had heavy touring schedules, sometimes playing seven days a week in clubs, dance halls and colleges so it was relatively easy to catch good bands on a weekly basis at your local venues. It was mainly established chart acts like the Beatles and Stones that played at large venues such as theatres and city halls. Their gigs would often feature five or six acts on the same show.

So in 1965, say, you could see some of the most popular bands in the country performing in small to medium sized clubs to just a few hundred people. I’m talking about bands such as The Who, the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, the Alan Bown Set, Jimmy James & The Vagabonds plus hundreds more. In comparison to today’s top acts, bands back then could afford to charge relatively low and realistic fees for their performances. Travelling costs were low; all the equipment and band members could fit into one van. Band members often carried and set up their own PA and amplifiers so extra personnel such as sound engineers and road managers were not needed.

As the decade wore on, bands started using bigger and more expensive stage amplifiers. Bigger vans and roadies became essential and consequently bands upped their performance fees. Small to medium sized venues found it harder to book the top bands on a regular basis, in particular in the provinces. Those bands were finding that it wasn’t worthwhile financially to travel outside of the London area. By 1968 it was becoming increasingly difficult to catch a well known national or international band in the northeast, at least at affordable prices.

Then in 1969 things got a lot better for north east music fans when Geoff Docherty became a promoter.

After a spell in the Royal Navy and a series of unfulfilling jobs, Geoff Docherty found temporary part-time work 1968 as a doorman at the Bay Hotel, Whitburn, Sunderland. The Bay Hotel had been one of Sunderland’s established dance venues for a number of years. Saturday night dinner dances featuring the music of Ray Chester & his band were a regular feature. Friday nights catered for a younger audience with music being provided by live rock or pop bands.

Bay composite

Bay Hotel Adverts from 1967

Geoff’s ability to effectively deal with troublemakers quickly earned him a full-time job at the Bay. As well as dealing with security, Geoff also began to have a hand in booking bands. In 1968, the management policy was a £50 limit on what could be spent, which restricted the Friday night’s entertainment to one or perhaps two local bands.

Geoff Docherty’s desperation for the Bay Hotel to be part of the changing tide in the music scene led him to taking his first steps to fulfil his ambition. He persuaded the manager of the Bay Hotel to hire out the ballroom on the basis that he (Geoff) would take the risk of losing money should the venture not be successful. After a few initial teething problems with the brewery, Geoff Docherty started running his own nights at the Bay. At first, Geoff and a couple of associates booked the best of the north east local bands; bands like the Junco Partners, Sect, Gas Board and This Years Girl. They then began to bring in relatively unknown bands from further afield such as Manchester and Leeds.

By the end of 1968, Geoff was ready to start booking top tier bands at the Bay. By this time, his two associates had backed out leaving Geoff as the sole promoter. The first nationally known band that he booked on 6th January 1969 was Family. This was a good choice; Family had already built up a solid reputation in the northeast by playing at colleges and universities as well as smaller venues such as the Argus Butterfly (Peterlee Folk & Jazz Club), the Cellar at South Shields and the Club a’Gogo. Their album, “Music In A Dolls House” had been released six months earlier and had reached number 35 in the albums chart. The inaugural night was a great success and earned Geoff a lot of kudos in the Sunderland area. Before the euphoria had worn off, Geoff was already planning his next coupe at the Bay – the appearance of Pink Floyd on 17th February 1969.

Free
Free

But before the Floyd gig, Geoff had a bit of a setback. A week after Family’s performance at the Bay, an emerging young band called Free was booked to appear. Geoff had made the booking on the recommendation of his guitarist friend, Mick Grabham who had seen the band and thought they were something special. Unfortunately the Free gig on 13th January was a bit of a flop because at that stage not many people had heard of them. However, in spite of the disappointing turnout, Geoff recognized Free’s potential and rebooked them. Over the next couple of years Free became revered in Sunderland, long before they took off nationally, and were idolized whenever they appeared in the area.

As predicted, the Pink Floyd gig was a great success and another feather in Geoff Docherty’s cap. Over the next few months, between February 1969 and July 1969, he booked top class bands at the Bay Hotel on a weekly basis. Some of the bands that appeared were: Black Sabbath, Spooky Tooth, Country Joe & The Fish and Three Dog Night (from USA), The Who, Chicken Shack, Jethro Tull, The Nice and, of course, Geoff’s favourites – Free.

Bay Country Joe ticket

LOCARNO - WHO 1969

Not every gig was a resounding success as far as door takings was concerned, but Geoff was achieving his goal of bringing good live music to Sunderland at a price the average music fan could afford.

In July 1969, Geoff Docherty switched his operation to the Locarno on Newcastle Road, Sunderland. The Locarno Ballroom was a large venue with a capacity of around 3,000. It was similar to the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle and was run by the Mecca Organisation. Geoff named his promotions at the Locarno after Bill Graham’s two famous venues in the States; the Fillmore East and Fillmore West. On certain nights of the week Sunderland’s Locarno became “Fillmore North”.

The interior of the Locarno Ballroom, Sunderland
The interior of the Locarno Ballroom, Sunderland

The first band to appear at the Fillmore North was The Who on 28th July 1969. On 22nd August 1969 Geoff’s first big band at the Bay – Family appeared at Fillmore North. This time Family performed to over 2,000 people instead of the few hundred who had seen them at the Bay Hotel in January of that year.

Geoff’s biggest gig by far up that point happened on 12th September 1969. He’d booked Free plus support from a relatively new band – Mott The Hoople. Since their initial poorly attended gig for Geoff at the Bay on 13th January, Free had been building up a huge following in Sunderland. Strangely, their popularity was still not strong in the rest of the UK at that point in time. The Fillmore North was filled to capacity with hundreds more unable to gain entry. The big Free crowd pleaser at the time (before the release of ‘All Right Now’) was a song called ‘The Hunter’. The entire audience erupted into a frenzy when the band played this song towards the end of their set.

Following this gig, Geoff Docherty promoted every Free appearance bar one in the Sunderland and Newcastle areas until the band finally split in 1972, including two further sell-outs at Fillmore North on 21st November 1969 and 6th February 1970.

According to Geoff in his book “A Promoter’s Tale – Rock At The Sharp End”, his worst ever gig at the Fillmore North (Locarno) was when Ginger Baker’s Airforce appeared on 26th March 1970. The band, which featured a host of well known and respected musicians, had been bigged up by their agent, Roger Forrester. Geoff was confident that the appearance of Airforce in Sunderland would be a real coupe in spite of the fact that a sell-out would be required for him to break even. In the event, Airforce’s performance was a shambles with some of the musicians barely able to play due to the effects of pre-show drug taking. Geoff also met one of the rudest musicians he had ever encountered – none other than Ginger Baker himself.

Geoff Docherty photographed at the Locarno in more recent times. (The building has since been demolished)
Geoff Docherty photographed at the Locarno in more recent times. (The building has since been demolished)

Geoff Docherty started using the Locarno for his promotions in July 1970. From the outset he was never comfortable with the doormen-cum-bouncers provided by the Mecca Organisation. As far as he was concerned their attitude was completely at odds with the way he had conducted himself when he had been the doorman at the Bay Hotel. Matters came to a head at the Locarno on 8th May 1970 when Geoff was promoting Steve Winwood’s Traffic. After a confrontation with the door staff regarding their unreasonable behaviour, Geoff told the management he wasn’t prepared to tolerate Mecca’s employees at any of his future promotions and that as an alternative he would provide his own security.

Mecca refused to back down so between 15th May 1970 and 26th June Geoff Docherty reverted back to his first venue, the Bay Hotel. He also promoted some gigs at the Barnes Hotel, Sunderland and the Top Rank Suite – ‘The Rink’ – in Park Lane Sunderland.

In 1970, as well as the Locarno (Fillmore North), Geoff started to promote gigs at Newcastle’s Mayfair Ballroom. Top named bands had been a regular feature at the Mayfair since the mid sixties, mainly arranged by a promoter called Fraser Suffield. Fraser Suffield continued to promote his gigs on different nights to Geoff.

Geoff Docherty’s first Mayfair gig was on 3rd April 1970 featuring Rory Gallagher’s Taste plus Black Sabbath. By June of 1970 most of Geoff’s promotions were being held at the Mayfair and were pulling in big crowds, in particular for some of the top bands – Deep Purple (31st July), Derek & The Dominoes (7th August), Tyranasaurus Rex (28th August) and The Who (4th December). Geoff also booked the popular Jethro Tull at Newcastle City Hall on 27th September 1970.

Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull

Over the next few years, Geoff Docherty continued with his promotions using the best bands around, including the legendary Led Zeppelin. The gigs took place at the Mayfair, Sunderland’s Top Rank Suite, Newcastle City Hall plus several back at the Locarno in Sunderland. Band’s fees had steadily risen since Geoff’s first big promotion in January 1969 but he was still able to set his admission prices at reasonable rates for music fans.

As well as promoting gigs, Geoff Docherty also turned his hand to managing bands. None of his acts turned out to be as famous as two other northeast bands from the sixties and seventies, whose success he hoped to emulate – The Animals and Lindisfarne. The nearest he came to becoming a highly successful band manager was with the South Shields band, Beckett. Beckett was once tipped to become as big as Queen. Although a hit record never came, Beckett had a big following and was very popular on the festival circuit. They also appeared on BBC2’s ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’.

Geoff has written two books about his exploits as a promoter and manager and both are well worth reading if you can get hold of copies.

GD books

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Here’s a list of gigs promoted by Geoff Docherty between 1969 and 1972: –

Mon 06/01/1969 Family Bay Hotel
Mon 13/01/1969 Free Bay Hotel
Mon 20/01/1969 Harmony Grass Bay Hotel
Mon 27/01/1969 Keef Hartley Bay Hotel
Mon 03/02/1969 Pretty Things Bay Hotel
Fri 07/02/1969 The Web Bay Hotel
Mon 10/02/1969 Dr K’s Blues Band Bay Hotel
Mon 17/02/1969 Pink Floyd Bay Hotel
Fri 21/02/1969 Ferris Wheel Bay Hotel
Sat 22/02/1969 Circus Bay Hotel
Mon 24/02/1969 Aynsley Dunbar Bay Hotel
Mon 28/02/1969 Writing On The Wall Bay Hotel
Sat 01/03/1969 Episode Six Bay Hotel
Mon 03/03/1969 John Peel & Black Sabbath Bay Hotel
Sat 08/03/1969 McKenna Mendelson Mainline Bay Hotel
Mon 10/03/1969 John Peel & Spirit Of St Morgan Bay Hotel
Mon 17/03/1969 Spooky Tooth Bay Hotel
Sat 22/03/1969 Leviathan Bay Hotel
Mon 24/03/1969 Country Joe & The Fish Bay Hotel
Fri 28/03/1969 Cliff Bennet & The Rebel Rousers Bay Hotel
Mon 31/03/1969 Idle Race Bay Hotel
Thu 03/04/1969 Bakerloo Blues Line Bay Hotel
Mon 07/04/1969 Bakerloo Blues Line Bay Hotel
Fri 11/04/1969 Plastic Penny Bay Hotel
Mon 14/04/1969 Terry Reid’s Fantasia Bay Hotel
Sat 19/04/1969 Hard Meat Bay Hotel
Mon 21/04/1969 John Peel & Liverpool Scene Bay Hotel
Sat 26/04/1969 Eyes Of Blue Bay Hotel
Mon 28/04/1969 The Who Bay Hotel
Mon 05/05/1969 Keef Hartley Bay Hotel
Mon 12/05/1969 Chicken Shack Bay Hotel
Mon 19/05/1969 Breakthru Bay Hotel
Mon 26/05/1969 Savoy Brown & This Year’s Girl Bay Hotel
Fri 06/06/1969 Spirit Of John Morgan Bay Hotel
Mon 09/06/1969 Three Dog Night Bay Hotel
Fri 13/06/1969 Jethro Tull Bay Hotel
Mon 16/06/1969 The Nice Bay Hotel
Mon 23/06/1969 Aynsley Dunbar Bay Hotel
Fri 27/06/1969 T Rex & Free Bay Hotel
Mon 30/06/1969 Yes Bay Hotel
Mon 07/07/1969 Chicken Shack Bay Hotel
Fri 11/07/1969 Writing On The Wall Bay Hotel
Mon 14/07/1969 Colosseum Bay Hotel
Fri 18/07/1969 Marsha Hunt & White Trash Bay Hotel
Mon 21/07/1969 Family Bay Hotel
Fri 25/07/1969 Third Ear Band Bay Hotel
Mon 28/07/1969 The Who Locarno
Wed 13/08/1969 Bonzo Dog Band & King Crimson Locarno
Fri 22/08/1969 Family & Grail Locarno
Fri 29/08/1969 Liverpool Scene & Junco Partners Locarno
Fri 05/09/1969 Soft Machine Locarno
Fri 12/09/1969 Free & Mott The Hoople Locarno
Fri 19/09/1969 Atomic Rooster & Poet Locarno
Fri 26/09/1969 Chicken Shack & Pricipal Edwards Locarno
Fri 03/10/1969 Renaissance & Blossom Toes Locarno
Mon 06/10/1969 Pretty Things Locarno
Fri 10/10/1969 Fat Mattress & Big Fingers Locarno
Mon 13/10/1969 Pete Brown’s Piblokto Locarno
Fri 17/10/1969 Family & Man Locarno
Mon 20/10/1969 Writing On The Wall Locarno
Fri 24/10/1969 Pink Floyd & John Peel Locarno
Mon 27/10/1969 Roy Harper Locarno
Fri 31/10/1969 Savoy Brown & Barclay James Harvest Locarno
Mon 03/11/1969 Principal Edwards Magic Theatre Locarno
Fri 07/11/1969 Edgar Broughton & Zoot Money Locarno
Fri 14/11/1969 Christine Perfect Band Locarno
Fri 21/11/1969 Free & Quintessence Locarno
Fri 28/11/1969 Tyrannosaurus Rex & John Peel Locarno
Mon 01/12/1969 Hard Meat Locarno
Mon 08/12/1969 Gypsy Locarno
Mon 15/12/1969 Rare Bird Locarno
Mon 22/12/1969 Gypsy Locarno
Mon 01/01/1970 Edgar Broughton & Principal Edwards Locarno
Fri 09/01/1970 Manfred Mann & Principal Edwards Locarno
Mon 12/01/1970 Jo-Anne Kelly with John Dummer’s Blues Band Locarno
Fri 16/01/1970 Quintessence Locarno
Mon 19/01/1970 Stone The Crows Locarno
Fri 23/01/1970 Family Locarno
Fri 30/01/1970 Ten Years After & Junco Partners Locarno
Fri 06/02/1970 Free & Griffin Locarno
Mon 09/02/1970 Jan Dukes De Grey Locarno
Fri 13/02/1970 Blodwyn Pig & John Peel Locarno
Fri 20/02/1970 Colosseum & Bronco Locarno
Mon 23/02/1970 Siren Locarno
Fri 27/02/1970 Chicken Shack & Colosseum Locarno
Fri 06/03/1970 Edgar Broughton & Juice Locarno
Mon 09/03/1970 Third Ear Band & Genesis Locarno
Fri 13/03/1970 David Bowie & Principal Edwards Locarno
Mon 16/03/1970 Chicken Shack Locarno
Fri 20/03/1970 Blodwyn Pig & Writing On The Wall Locarno
Thu 26/03/1970 Ginger Baker’s Airforce Locarno
Mon 30/03/1970 Clouds Locarno
Fri 03/04/1970 Taste & Black Sabbath Locarno
Fri 10/04/1970 Edgar Broughton & Juice Locarno
Fri 17/04/1970 Groundhogs & Grisby And Dyke Locarno
Fri 24/04/1970 Roy Harper & Humble Pie Locarno
Mon 27/04/1970 Steam Hammer Locarno
Fri 01/05/1970 Keef Hartley & Black Widow Locarno
Thu 07/05/1970 Colosseum & Man Mayfair
Fri 08/05/1970 Traffic & If Locarno
Wed 13/05/1970 Ten Years After City Hall
Fri 15/05/1970 Procol Harum Bay Hotel
Fri 22/05/1970 Radha Krishna Temple Barnes Hotel
Mon 25/05/1970 Gypsy Bay Hotel
Fri 29/05/1970 Tyrannosaurus Rex & Man Bay Hotel
Fri 05/06/1970 Groundhogs Bay Hotel
Fri 12/06/1970 Family Bay Hotel
Fri 12/06/1970 Edgar Broughton & Quintessence Mayfair
Mon 15/06/1970 Quatermass Bay Hotel
Fri 19/06/1970 Savoy Brown & Yellow Bay Hotel
Mon 05/06/1970 Principal Edwards Magic Theatre Bay Hotel
Fri 26/06/1970 Free & Kevin Ayres Top Rank Suite
Fri 26/06/1970 Rare Bird & Hard Meat Mayfair
Fri 10/07/1970 Chicken Shack & Matthews Southern Comfort Mayfair
Thu 23/07/1970 Atomic Rooster & Van Der Graaf Generator Mayfair
Fri 31/07/1970 Deep Purple & Daddy Long Legs Mayfair
Fri 07/08/1970 Derek & The Dominoes Mayfair
Fri 21/08/1970 Quintessence & Mott The Hoople Mayfair
Fri 28/08/1970 Tyrannosaurus Rex & Principal Edwards Mayfair
Fri 11/09/1970 Blodwyn Pig Mayfair
Sun 27/09/1970 Jethro Tull City Hall
Fri 16/10/1970 Free & Deep Purple Top Rank Suite
Thu 22/10/1970 Keef Harley & Strawbs Mayfair
Thu 19/11/1970 Chicken Shack & Yellow Mayfair
Thu 26/11/1970 Curved Air Mayfair
Mon 14/12/1970 The Who Mayfair
Fri 01/01/1971 Groundhogs & Quintessence Mayfair
Fri 15/01/1971 Chicken Shack & Third Ear Band Mayfair
Mon 18/01/1971 Black Sabbath & Curved Air City Hall
Sun 14/02/1971 Free & Amazing Blondell Empire Theatre
Thu 18/02/1971 Tyrannosaurus Rex & If Mayfair
Fri 05/03/1971 Fairport Convention & Stud Top Rank Suite
Thu 18/03/1971 Led Zeppelin Mayfair
Fri 26/03/1971 Mott The Hoople & John Peel Mayfair
Fri 02/04/1971 Quintessence & Stray Top Rank Suite
Thu 08/04/1971 Skid Row & Hardin & York Mayfair
Thu 15/04/1971 Groundhogs & Chicken Shack City Hall
Fri 30/04/1971 Quintessence & Stone The Crows Mayfair
Fri 07/05/1971 The Who Top Rank Suite
Fri 14/05/1971 Buddy Miles Express & Kevin Ayres Mayfair
Fri 21/05/1971 Stud & Hardin And Yorke Mayfair
Fri 28/05/1971 Rod Stewart And The Faces Mayfair
Fri 18/06/1971 Curved Air & Mick Abrahams Band Mayfair
Thu 24/06/1971 Deep Purple & Quiver Mecca Bullring
Fri 25/06/1971 Deep Purple & Quiver Mayfair
Fri 09/07/1971 Groundhogs & Head Hands And Feet Mayfair
Fri 30/07/1971 Rory Gallagher & The James Gang Mayfair
Fri 06/08/1971 Curved Air & Medicine Head Mayfair
Fri 13/08/1971 Mott The Hoople & Gin House Mayfair
Fri 27/08/1971 Rod Stewart And The Faces Mayfair
Fri 10/09/1971 Cat Stevens City Hall
Thu 16/09/1971 Ten Years After & Supertramp City Hall
Fri 17/09/1971 Curved Air Mayfair
Sat 16/10/1971 Yes & Jonathan Swift City Hall
Thu 21/10/1971 Steeleye Span City Hall
Fri 22/10/1971 Quintessence Mayfair
Thu 11/11/1971 Led Zeppelin City Hall
Fri 12/11/1971 Led Zeppelin Locarno
Thu 18/11/1971 Edgar Broughton Mayfair
Wed 01/12/1971 Groundhogs & Egg City Hall
Fri 07/01/1972 Rory Gallagher & Nazareth Mayfair
Fri 21/01/1972 Procol Harum & Amazing Blondell City Hall
Tue 01/02/1972 Free & Junkyard Angel City Hall
Sat 05/02/1972 Black Sabbath & Wild Turkey City Hall
Sun 13/02/1972 Free & Vinegar Joe Top Rank Suite
Sun 20/02/1972 Argent & Beggars Opera Top Rank Suite
Mon 21/02/1972 Free City Hall
Mon 21/02/1972 Jethro Tull & Tir Na Nog Top Rank Suite
Sun 05/03/1972 Rod Stewart And The Faces Top Rank Suite
Tue 07/03/1972 Jethro Tull & Tir Na Nog City Hall
Fri 12/05/1972 Head Hands And Feet & Vinegar Joe Mayfair
Thu 08/06/1972 Lindisfarne & Capability Brown Top Rank Suite
Thu 22/06/1972 Family & Audience Mayfair
Fri 07/07/1972 Stray & Third Ear Band Mayfair
Fri 15/09/1972 Free & Smith Perkins And Smith Mayfair
Mon 25/09/1972 UFO & Beckett City Hall
Wed 11/10/1972 Free & Beckett Locarno
Fri 20/10/1972 Free & Beckett Mayfair
Thu 26/10/1972 Steeleye Span City Hall
Fri 27/10/1972 Beggars Opera Top Rank Suite
Fri 10/11/1972 Fairport Convention Top Rank Suite
Sat 11/11/1972 Roxy Music & East Of Eden City Hall
Wed 22/11/1972 Santana City Hall

17 thoughts on “Geoff Docherty

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    I remember Geoff from the Bay, and I attended some of his concerts.I recently bought his book “A Promoter’s Tale”. He could have been a millionaire but that was never his aim. I wish him well in the future.

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    What a great article.
    Back in the day I attended many of geoff’s GIGS and he made a huge contribution to the NE music scene. He will be forever associated with Free and rightly so. what a great band they were!

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    The two rock machine albums got me into music and although i wore them out i shall treasure their memory forever. Without Geoff’s selfless input i would never have seen my favourite bands (and pulled more than my fair share of foxy chicks) at the best venue ever in the north east – the late lamented newcastle mayfair. thanks mate, you were responsible for my musical education!

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    I had both Rock Machine albums back then too. Recently I acquired both vinyl albums as my originals were long gone.
    I saw Free at the Locarno (Fillmore) in 1970 when they recorded the “live” album. We all owe Geoff a huge debt.

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    Brilliant stuff – I didn’t know Geoff Docherty was behind all these great gigs. I often wondered why Free were so big in the N.E. compared with elsewhere. Incidentally Paul Rodgers lives up the road from where I now live in Vancouver in the suburb of White Rock … now there’s a name to conjure with 😉
    I think the Island Records samplers like Nice Enough to Eat, You Can All Join In and Bumpers also were a gateway into the emerging music of the day!

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    That night Geoff booked Free at the Bay Hotel when hardly anybody turned up; the reason was the advert in the Sunderland Echo just said ‘Tonight Free.’ Well, Wednesday nights were always ‘free’ so when I read it I though, ‘No, it can’t be FREE!’ So I didn’t go. Next day at work I was gobsmacked to hear that indeed, Free were there! I made sure I was at the Locarno when they played there.
    Well done Geoff!

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    I was at the Zeppelin gig and many others, and they were all great nights, especially the Zeppelin one that goes down as the best gig I’ve been to. Also Geoff was ever so generous, as he would always say yes if you wanted a loan of a certain album he would oblige no problem. He also gave me a few singles, yes a generous bloke.

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    I used to work part-time, weekends only as an “independent” taxi owner-driver for the “Sunderland Taxi Association” which was located literally a stone’s throw from the Locarno on Newcastle Road. Just down the road in the direction of the town centre was the “office” and people would walk the 200 yards down the hill to grab a cab.
    We used to pay the Association a small fee to use their offices and facilities.
    At the time – as best I recall about 1971-1972 I had a panel-beating business in South Shields but for hard cash, I did the taxi thing on Friday and Saturday evenings, through to the wee hours, ferrying party animals around the town.
    I had bought a 1965 Morris Oxford cheap and fixed it up to look good and be reliable.
    We were very, very busy at around closing time when there was a well known act playing.
    Apart from the few fare dodgers who jumped out and ran like the wind as we reached their destination it all worked out fine.
    One night I ended up taking the group Status Quo back to their hotel. Friendly bunch of guys, but they were so whacked out, exhausted after their gig, they were not very talkative. I remember that night as being exceptionally busy though with the Locarno being packed out.

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    Surely the best night of all was the Free T.Rex gig, T.Rex had broken down on the way to the gig, giving us a lot more Free. T.Rex arrived very late, Mark sat on the floor crossed legged, guitar in hand, and began weaving his magic. A WONDERFUL NIGHT.

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    There’s description of that particular T.Rex/Free gig on the page about Free, Paul. Here’s the link. You’re very lucky to have been there.

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    All of this takes me back too so many happy years. In my youth. I was there every Friday night and have seen so many bands before they became famous and it was all because of Geoff Docherty.
    What a brilliant article.
    Ian

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    Mister Stardust to us all – best wishes to you Geoff

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    Hi, brilliant article. My friend’s brother had seen Family on The Bay which led to us listening to his Family Entertainment album. I am currently writing a memoir about the music of Family and would love to include a picture of The Bay Hotel because it was instrumental in me getting to like the band. I was wondering if I could use this picture of The Bay, I’m not sure who I have to get permission from? Thanks.

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    This is a great article. Thank you. In 1971, a friend of mine (Dave Stronge) and I started, and ran, a pretty successful contemporary folk club in the upstairs bar at the Bay Hotel. I met Geoff Docherty a few times. Great bloke. I was 17 (going on 18) at the time. People would just come along and play. We even booked Lindisfarne once. Dave and I also performed a few times. It got pretty busy on a good night. Those were the days. Nothing like them will ever happen again.

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    Had some great nights in the Bay Hotel great sound happy nights on the beech after the gigs, mid week was also great
    Geoff had a great talent for booking of the band and went further onto the Locarno later
    Lots of happy days

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    I knew Geoff back in the day after his promotions. He was a wise guy and a total gentleman. Geoff always had a great story to tell and he was fascinating to listen to and great company. My friends and I were younger so we didn’t get to experience the Bay Hotel nights (but before anyone says anything we were way into our late 20s when we met Geoff) but we heard all about them from Geoff. We all lived very local to the Bay Hotel, all of us coming from Seaburn but unfortunately we were too young to experience this. I don’t think Geoff got the credit he should have with the bands he promoted, maybe because he was such a sincere, honest guy. I hope Geoff is doing well. He is simply one of the good guys.

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