Memories of Led Zeppelin, Slade, Thin Lizzy and a Russian bouncer

We boogied on down Memory Lane to look at the former nightclubs of Sunderland.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 11:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 11:51 am
Ian Stewart's ticket to see Led Zeppelin at the Locarno Ballroom in the Mecca in 1972.

And when we asked which famous acts you’d seen, the answer was loads of them!

We got a fabulous response from Sunderland Echo readers who were keen to share the memories, particularly Ian Stewart who has even kept a reminder of one legendary act that he went to see.

Gass nightclub in Newbottle Street, Houghton. Remember it?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ian and his pal Graham Dawson got to watch Led Zeppelin at the Mecca in 1971. He recalled: “I still have the ticket. I remember getting there and the queue was massive.

“But my friend Graham and I got to the front. We were mesmerised.”

Hit after hit blared out and it was all for a bargain 75 pence, which Ian described as “unbelievable!!”

Ian added: “The ticket was purchased from Bergs Records in Blanford Street. The gig was to promote the untitled number four album.

Mecca in Sunderland.

“Remember them playing Rock ‘n’ Roll and they sat down on stools, played Stairway To Heaven and Going to California.”

He had recollections of watching other top bands and added: “Remember seeing The Groundhogs at the Bay Hotel on the seafront and The Who at The Rink around that time also.”

La Strada Nightclub was a favourite for Alan Mitcheson on Saturdays between 1971 and 1974 – and that, of course, included the year when Sunderland reached and won the FA Cup Final.

There was one great coincidence in ’73 and that was the appearance at La Strada of Frankie Vaughan – just weeks before he led the community signing at Wembley.

Gass nightclub in Newbottle Street, Houghton. Remember it?

Alan remembered: “Acts that I remember were Norman Vaughan, Leah Bell and most importantly Frankie Vaughan, who was to lead the singing at Wembley before the FA Cup Final between Sunderland and Leeds United in 1973.

“At the end of his act, everyone was shouting, ‘see you at Wembley Frankie’.”

Alan also remembered that the La Strada compere was “little Ted Rae, who had a voice like Frank Sinatra”.

Thanks to Alan for some fantastic memories and to Trisha Bernstein who told us on social media: “I saw Slade, Vinegar Joe, Thin Lizzy and Free at the Rink. Brilliant!”

Mecca in Sunderland.

And our best wishes also go to Linda Johnson, who said: “Saw the Small Faces at The Rink, many times. Free and Jethro Tull at The Bay. Rolling Stones and The Hollies on the Odeon. Led Zeppelin at the Mecca.

“Just a few of the fantastic acts I was lucky enough to see.”

She said the music scene in Sunderland in the late ’60s and ’70s, took some beating.”

We agree and the comments just kept on coming.

We also asked who remembered Gass nightclub in Houghton. More than 42,000 people took a look at the post.

Alison Young said: “Me and my bestie had many a good night in here before I had my children, that was 20 years ago.”

Others including Neil Hildreth and Ben Douthwaite remembered a Russian bouncer at the place who “was a legend”, said Hildy Hildy who also described the place as “better than Ibiza”.

Faye Moralee tagged a friend and said: “Our youth was spent here haha xxx.”

Melanie Thornton remembered “house nights at gass” while her friend Christine Hopps said: “Had a few good nights in there.”

Brian Lawrence said he was a regular and Christopher Watson was there “Friday, Saturday without fail”.

Daniele Higgins said: “Enjoyed a few nights in there after Finnegans x,” while Connor Gibson commented: “Back in the day was good.”

Graeme Defty said: “Few nights in there,” and thanks also to the others who left comments including Michael Cavanagh, Paul Mez Merrington, Michael Scott, Philip Bainbridge, Aiden Littlemore, Gary Robinson and Paul Calvert.

Andy John Gray remembered: “Back in the day, 2-50 in Wednesday night. Good times.”

Why not share your own memories of the Sunderland and Wearside nightclub scene. Or for that matter, get in touch with any aspect of nostalgia you would like us to cover.

It could be anything from a favourite football match to a restaurant, nightclub or pub you loved.

It might be memories of the school you went to.

But whatever the reason for getting in touch, contact us by emailing [email protected]