The Nag''s Head - a Memory of Wollaston.
One didn't have to travel to London in the past to watch pro bands plying their trade. The Nag's Head public house was a much attended venue during the late 1960s and early 1970s for watching many of the (what was then known as) progressive bands of that era. The pub was run by the a very large man by the name of Bob Knight, Bob was a Godsend to Northamptonshire in attracting many bands from London to play in our county. These were the days of Afghan coats, velvet trousers, large floppy hats and ridiculous stack heeled boots! 'Make love not war' was well and truly in fashion and although the place was full every Friday night I never witnessed any trouble there in the five years that I visited the venue, yes, the 1960s had a lot of good points as long as you didn't look too hard at the shopping malls etc. Some of the better known bands who played 'The Nag's' were (I must make an apology here for the sheer length of this list) URIAH HEEP, THIN LIZZY, SUPERTRAMP, ATOMIC ROOSTER (with Carl Palmer on drums), MEDICINE HEAD, UFO, BLOSSOM TOES, RARE BIRD, BLODWIN PIG, WHITE TRASH, BREWERS DROOP (with Mark Knopfler on guitar), EDISON LIGHTHOUSE, SKID ROW (with Gary Moore on guitar), KILLING FLOOR, BRONCO (with Jess Roden), BLACK CAT BONES, THE ACE KEFFORD BAND( ex MOVE), WISHBONE ASH, T2, BLACK WIDOW, FORMERLY FAT HARRY, PALADIN,GROUND HOGS, SAM APPLE PIE, IF, AUDIENCE, LITTLE FREE ROCK etc etc...I remember ROD STEWERT & THE FACES playing for free and handing out copies of their latest album, they also handed out free pints of beer, the reason for this was the fact that they didn't turn up the first time they were booked to play! Another memory was seeing a Danish band called BURNING RED IVANHOE appear there and for the only time in my life I saw the same band twice in one night as we travelled down to London after our Friday night at 'The Nags' to attend the Lyceum all nighter where at 4am Burning Red Ivanhoe were appearing again. The greatest band (in my opinion) to play the venue was FREE (Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Andy Fraser, Simon Kirk), they were fantastic and I obtained Paul Kossoff's autograph by de-fault. The band were sitting in the bar of the pub signing albums etc. I happened to pass a letter across the table to my friend for him to read and Mr Kossoff signed it and gave it back to me (I still have the autograph but sadly Paul Kossoff died 19/3/76 of a drug related problem). The 'Nags' was one of the first gigs that FREE ever played whilst under the wing of another great artist ALEXIS KORNER. Bands at the Nags were easily approachable and one could talk about music, recording etc at ease. The room in which the bands played was situated upstairs where the clock (installed to celebrate the coronation in 1952) is pictured. The smokey, dark room had a small bar which was all too regularly swamped by the audience during a break in the music (bands played two sets until RAREBIRD started a trend to play straight through). Mick Abrahams (of Blodwin Pig) was also renowned for asking the audience to sit on the floor during their performance which became the norm. Another well known character who appeared regularly free of charge was the lovely JOHN PEEL, he loved the place and never lost contact with some of the people he came into contact with there until his death a while back. The road through Wollaston was by-passed in the 1980s but in the 1960s-70s it was a busy road with night trunker lorries passing all night. Bob Knight is still alive and organizes a few gigs, inviting many of the old Nags audiences to the annual re-union, playing 1960s music and giving the money to charity. He must have been responsible for countless weddings due to people meeting their partners at the Nag's. He was a a man not to be messed with (probably another reason why there was no trouble). I remember him having a heated argument with CARL PALMER over the band's late arrival! He did lose a lot of weight at one time, he looked great but he never lost the name BIG BOB. The regular DJ was JORK, I believe he lived in Wollaston and was part of the furniture at the pub. Today the 'Nag's' is still there and looks exactly the same from outside but inside it is now a trendy wine bar/restaraunt and goes by the name of The Wollaston Inn (I think). Only yards from 'The Nag's' was another pub called The St Crispin Arms, I often wonder if the landlord there ever cast a grudging eye towards the Nag's Head as so many people were leaving at about midnight to walk, hitch or drive back to their homes in Wellingborough, Rushden and other towns and villages nearby. My kids have such a restrictive night life at weekends and I hate to say it but I don't believe the Bob Knights of this world are out there any more, we had loads of different music venues based in local pubs, we would go to the nags on Friday, The Tin Hat Club, Kettering on Saturday and The George in Wilby on a Sunday, each venue would promote different bands on these nights but we now live in an age of the concert hall and video, bands no longer have to play live on such a regular basis to promote their work. Most of the musicians we witnessed playing the Nag's are still out there earning a living in today's bands as session men, I've lost count of the times I've seen those 60 year olds holding their own in the backing line-up to a 'star' more than half their age. I'm sure all of them perfected their trade in pubs just like Nag's. Where are the new kids going to learn the skills of playing live? Certainly not at Birmingham NEC or the Royal Albert Hall! Thanks Bob for giving us a great past.
POST SCRIPT Sadly 'Big' Bob Knight was tragically killed in a traffic accident in
2010. THANK YOU BOB, YOU WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING THE STREETS OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE PEACEFUL DURING THE 'NAG'S' DAYS, GIVING A GENERATION OF YOUNG KIDS A GREAT VENUE TO ENJOY GREAT MUSIC !
GOD BLESS YOU BOB AND REST IN PEACE.
A memory shared by on Nov 1st, 2007. Send Mick Austin a message
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