The Original Pokey Hole dates from 1969 and has run continuously with only a 47-year break
Some Pokey history for our newer members...The Original Pokey Hole Blues Club ran for around a year at the end of the Sixties as a meeting place run by Blues lovers for Blues fans. While not as well known as Birmingham's Henrys or Mothers in Erdington, it secured its own little niche in history when blues band Earth changed their name and played their new number 'Black Sabbath' on stage for the very first time. We hosted several bands whose names have passed into legend, saw the debut of Medicine Head and even had a tribute club named after us. The three original organisers of the Hole, Terry Gallagher, Phil Smith and Norman Hood, after a break of 47 years, decided to try to hold back senility by promoting one last Original Pokey Hole Blues Club, forming a traditional Blues based members club but with the accent on fun (and probably chaos). It seemed such a good idea after several pints in the pub, but even more amazingly it has been incredibly well received by blues fans and musicians everywhere. We would love input from any Blues lovers out there, especially if you remember the original club. Whether you were around in 1969, or just wish you were - this ones for you!
It was on Friday 1st August 1969 at The Pokey Hole in Lichfield when the city reverberated to the loudest sounds since the Civil War. In the Robin Hood, club favourites Earth revealed their new name and their new sound by playing 'Black Sabbath' on stage for the first time. The photo below is the only known one taken inside the first Pokey - The Prince of Wales - at the legendary Christmas Party (Friday 21st March 1969) and shows a very young Ozzy Osborne with Bill Ward in the background...
Two of the Original Pokeys were involved with local Lichfield band 'The Levi Set' which featured the stunning slide guitar of Jeremy Spencer. In February 1967, Phil Smith organised an audition with Mike Vernon at Wall Village Hall, just outside Lichfield, and a few days later Norman Hood and Phil drove the band to play with John Mayalls Bluesbreakers at Le Metro in Birmingham. Jerry was introduced to Peter Green, and the first and greatest Fleetwood Mac line-up was created.
Although the full band did not play at the Pokey Hole, drummer John Hinch and later singer Rob Halford both played there with different bands. When Norman Hood formed the Tramp Agency with Tony Iommi, based in Wissage Court, Lichfield, Judas Priest became one of the major working bands in the Midlands
We first met John Fiddler and Peter Hope-Evans when they turned up at the Pokey Hole and asked to audition for us. We said yes (!) They were soon one of our favourite bands, and went on to worldwide popularity after being championed by John Peel. John Fiddler designed and produced this poster for an appearance at the Hole in 1969
One of the questions we are often asked is 'is this the club featured on the sleeve of Duster Bennett's album Smiling Like I'm Happy?' The answer of course, is yes and no. The Rectangle was the club that morphed into The Pokey Hole after a change of venue and, ultimately, management. The Rectangle opened at the British Legion in July 1968, and moved to The Prince of Wales later that year, being superceded by the Hole in February '69 when Terry, Phil and Norman took over from organisers Colin Richardson and Phil Barker. Dusters career had by then started to take off, and we were never able to get him back to the club.