Bay Hotel, Cullercoats: 1977

cullercoats_bayhotelSee here for the story from the band itself, but these recollections have proved more accurate!

“All this all happened when flared trousers were popular the first time around – you’ll have to forgive my recollections for being so hazy.

“It was about 1976 or ’77 when I moved out of the family home and into a shared flat in Whitley Bay with a friend called Barbara. Other friends included Sue, Jo and Jane. We were all looking for somewhere to go one Sunday night and I remembered there was a folk night on at the Bay Hotel in Cullercoats (next resort to Whitley Bay). We trooped along thinking a local folk singer called Pete Scott was on, but when we arrived he’d finished his residency a week previous. Instead a Northeast band called Avalon had started a series of Sunday nightspots, so we decided to stay and see what they were like.

“I can’t remember many other people but our little crowd being there the first night and some friends of the band who were there to lend moral support. I can’t totally remember but I think the cover charge should have been 40p. As it was the first night and such a low turn out we were let in free that night. I can’t recall too much about the group apart from the main guitar/vocalist called Paddy, who we were very impressed by. I know there was also a guy on drums, and another guitarist/vocalist. There may have been a fourth member to the band, but once again my memory fails me on details.

“We really enjoyed Avalon the first time we saw them, and went back every single week of their stint (about six weeks or so). We took more friends along who also made this a regular Sunday night and the audience built up quite well over the weeks. Avalon’s material consisted of Paddy’s own compositions, among which Walk On and Marsden Rock, about a coastal beauty spot in South Tyneside. I loved Paddy’s own songs but we all enjoyed the cover versions Avalon performed. The ones I remember include While My Guitar Gently Weeps – that was everyone’s favourite – and Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll which I can’t recollect, but my friend Sue swears she vividly remembers. The Eagles numbers were also covered, I’m sure New Kid In Town was one, or Lying Eyes but I can’t be 100% on the exact songs.

“The last night Avalon performed at the Bay Hotel someone asked us if we’d like to go along and watch them gig at an open day at a local mental hospital, Prudhoe Hospital. We met up and went along on the Saturday morning. The grounds of the hospital were large, it was a lovely sunny day (must have been ’77!) so we sat on the grass in a good position to watch the band. I still remember thinking that they were brilliant live, and the sound was great, especially for an open-air gig. In the afternoon there was tea laid on for performers and helpers. Since we were “hey, we’re with the band” that day, we had tea and sarnies in a dismal looking canteen with the guys. We hung around the rest of the afternoon since Avalon were supposed to be playing at the dance in the evening. Another group turned up who said they’d been booked so Avalon packed up their gear and prepared to leave. As I think we’d been there supposedly to help I remember I carried a cymbal stand to the van! A roadie for Avalon!

“I never saw Avalon anywhere else after that. I heard they also used to perform at a pub in Heaton called The Corner House, then I heard that they split up. I used to often think of them and wonder what had happened to them. When Prefab Sprout had When Love Breaks Down out as a single I used to wonder if “Paddy” and Paddy McAloon could be the same person. Paddy’s appearance changes so much, I could never be absolutely sure. I started getting more and more into the Sprouts and chasing around for earlier releases. One day I found Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) with the B-side Walk On. Even before I heard it I realised it must be the same song Avalon used to perform. The very first time I put the record on I sang along to all the words. I used to love the song and it had just really stuck in my mind. When Paddy mentioned in interviews about Golden Calf being around since the 70’s I often wonder if they used to play it at the Bay Hotel and I was one of the first “Sprout” fans to ever hear it.”

Sue Dyer, Rollmo fanzine

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