In spite of dwindling audiences at the New Orleans and at the Downbeat on jazz nights, there were still plenty of traditional (trad) jazz bands and modern jazz combos doing the rounds in the north east. For instance, in 1961 there were three jazz performers in the top 20 all at the same time – (Dave Brubeck, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk).
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ In 1962, probably partly from the proceeds of an insurance pay off from a fire at the Marimba, Mike Jeffery opened the Club A’Gogo in collaboration with another local businessman/entrepreneur called Ray Grehan who, at the time was the sales manager for a company named Automaticket.
That year the man who founded the Gogo, Mike Jeffery, opened his first music venue – the University Jazz Club in the Cordwainers Hall above the Gardeners Arms on Nelson Street, Newcastle.
Later on it was the home of Newcastle’s Labour Club.At the time the Club A’Gogo was running in the 1960s, the floor below was a canteen for Newcastle’s bus crews.A few months after the Downbeat opened there were signs that Mike Jeffery intended to move away from jazz and cater more for an increasing number of rhythm and blues fans.In an interview with the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Jeffery suggested that he would be introducing a blues night at the Downbeat featuring an R&B band consisting of guitars, piano and tenor sax.Eric Burdon of the Animals was a member of a crowd that used to hang out at the Downbeat.
In one interview Burdon described his bunch of friends as “like a motorcycle gang …… they were tough, hard-drinking and listened to American music”.The audience it attracted was younger than that of the New Orleans with a mixture of students and non-students.Although there were several large dance halls in the town such as the Oxford Galleries and the Majestic (where the Beatles had their first live appearance in the city), there were only a handful of small, more intimate venues around at that time.Apart from genuine jazz enthusiasts, these clubs also started attracting a lot of students from Kings College (now Newcastle University).In 1957 steps were taken that would eventually lead to the opening of the Club A’Gogo.However, had it not been for Mike Jeffery, there would have been no Club A’Gogo and the careers of many well known musicians may not have turned out the way they did.