Past and Present – A look back at former music venues in Sheffield

Fifty years ago this December, Pitsmoor Road’s King Mojo Club closed its doors after three years of hedonistic 1960’s success. Peter Stringfellow’s club had hosted acts that are household names today, but all that remains now is housing built on the site.

There’s certainly an irony to what is now occupying its place. It had to close at the end of 1967 because it couldn’t get a license in the residential area.

Over the generations the music scene has lost several of its mainstays. Here’s a look at a few of them, and what’s there today.

The King Mojo Club

A little-known 23-year old Yorkshire man by the name of Peter Stringellow was instrumental in the rise of the music scene in Sheffield.

He was involved with many venues at the time, and one of them was Pitsmoor Road’s King Mojo Club.

Bill Haley and the Comets, Jimmy Hendrix, and the Kinks all performed there. The Who, and Edwin Starr too. What was it good for? Going and listening to music in the 1960s, that’s what, and Stringfellow’s club brought in the big names.

In 1967, the King Mojo Club closed its doors, a victim of its own success. It needed a license to continue, which wasn’t granted. Stringfellow on to earn great acclaim and wealth in London, and the acts went elsewhere.

Azena Ballroom

The sixties were the Beatles, as much as the Beatles were the sixties. It’s nearly impossible to talk about popular culture in the decade and omit the four Liverpudlians.

Their first number 1 hit, ‘From Me To You’ topped the charts on May 2nd 1963. A month to the day before, they had played their ten-song set at the Azena Ballroom, (pictured at top) introduced on stage by Stringfellow. The Beatles went on to be a worldwide phenomenon.

However if you were to find Beatles on the floor of the venue over five decades later, the Food Standards Authority would have to be called. Today, shoppers at White Lane’s Co-Op Food can shop without any idea that one of the world’s most famous bands played there at the old Azena Ballroom.

This Co-Op on White Lane stands where the Azena Ballroom once stood

Fiesta Club

It’s never known whether the line in Lionel Richie’s song ‘All Night Long’ was inspired by the Fiesta Club, but there were certainly many people who were up all night long in the Fiesta in the 1970s.

Situated between Arundel Gate, and Pond Street where an Odeon Cinema now resides, it was described by Sheffield music historian Neil Anderson as “a bit of Las Vegas in South Yorkshire.”

The club was more known for its cabaret acts, and comedians than other venues in the city. Bruce Forsyth, Morecambe and Wise, and Tommy Cooper all performed at the Fiesta, however it was also the club that was the closest to getting rock-and-roll hero Elvis Presley to perform in the UK.

Famously, Elvis never visited blighty, but if he had, serious negotiations were had to bring him to Sheffield’s Fiesta Club.

Elvis had said in an edition of NME that he would never play a concert in Britain as none suited the type of venue he was after. The Fiesta Club challenged this, and negotiations took place with Colonel Tom Parker sending the head of the UK Elvis fanclub, Todd Slaughter, to have a look.

Sadly, although in principle a visit was agreed, the demands by Colonel Parker became too much, and Elvis’ visit was off. He didn’t visit the UK before his death in 1977.

Henry Taylor

Current Sheffield University postgrad covering the Dearne Valley. Interested in politics and sport. Frequently suffering Kidderminster Harriers fan.