McGoos, formerly the Palace Picture House, was THE mod hangout in mid sixties Edinburgh, located at 18-20 High Street, opposite John Knox’s house. The frontage of the building complete with engraved Palace Picture House logo is still present, though the structure behind has now been demolished.
The site of McGoos, High Street Edinburgh 20th April 2009. ©S.S. 2009.
- 1966 23rd April The Hipple People, Three’s A Crowd, Manorlands, & The Squad
- 1966 24th April The Kinks
- 1966 16th May The Spencer Davis Group
- 1966 1st June Radio Scotland Night (this night was filmed to be screened in Edinburgh cinemas. Could this film still exist somewhere?).
- 1966 June 3rd Wayne Fontana, The Hipple People, & The Images
- 1966 6th June The Small Faces
- 1966 13th June The Troggs, & The Moonies
- 1966 19th June The Who
- 1966 28th-30th August The Kinks
- 1967 26th April The Small Faces
- 1967 6th August Cream, support band The Jury who would later become The Writing On The Wall
David Byron recalls The Who at McGoos:
“I’ve lived in New Zealand since 1968 but prior to leaving Edinburgh I saw The Who at McGoos – first half of 1967, I think.
High points of the evening were Barbara Ann (yes, the Beach Boys), CC RIder and the final song – My Generation.
l always remember Keith Moon struggling to kick the last of his nailed down drum kit into the audience and Pete Townsend walking off the stage while his Fender Telecaster was flying through the air and was yet to return to the the stage courtesy of gravity – it landed in perfect time to the last beat on Keith’s remaining drum – prior to it too heading into the audience.
Earlier in the evening Pete T. had the bottom half of his Rickenbacker guitar fall off, after running into his speaker stack, and he had to change to the Telecaster which had large chunks of the body missing through previous run-ins with his speakers – strong guitar.
I don’t remember the concert being advertised. I think it was a word of mouth thing and cost 6 shillings to get in.
I still have a plectrum that John Entwistle threw into the audience. This is odd as I always remember him playing with his fingert tips. His Marshall speaker stack was immaculate while Pete Townsend’s was full of holes. I remember him knocking his Fender amps off the top of the speaker stacks, using the tuning head end of his guitar neck, and the roadies catching them – they looked like twins with page-boy haircuts. It was the first time we had seen anyone with so many speakers and 2 x 100 watt Fender amps – wow….!
Great times at McGoos with The Kinks, the Small Faces, Alan Price and the best sound of all the Spencer Davis Group – I was always in awe of Stevie Winwood as he was only a couple of months older than me.. They were supported by the local group the Moonrakers who played the Spencer Davis’ current hit “Somebody Help Me”. Bit cheeky really….but it brought those in the upstairs cafeout into the main room as they thought that the Spencer Davis Group were on.
There were some great local bands in the 60’s. My favourites were The Partisans, The Screaming Citizens and my Broughton School band – The Hipple People .
Thanks for reminding me of this period. They were great times
Thank you to David Byron for allowing me to include his reminiscences on the site.
David Irving recalls the various clubs of mid sixties Edinburgh:
The Top Storey was in a converted snooker hall in Leith Street, above Burton’s Gents Outfitters. As its name suggests, it was on the top floor. In those days Leith Street had an upper terrace, a bit like the terrace in Victoria Street, where you walked along the top of the shops to get to the buildings above. The Top Storey was accessed off the terrace, up three flights of stairs. (All of these buildings were demolished in 1973 to make way for the St. James’ Centre.)
As a club it was relatively short lived, from the end of 1963 until September 1965.
I saw many top groups there: The Animals, The Kinks, The Pretty Things, Them with Van Morrison. The Moody Blues, Unit 4+2, The Rocking Berries, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and Jimmy James and the Vagabonds
Edinburgh groups who played regularly at the Top Storey were The Athenians, The Beachcombers, Tiny and the Titans, The Crusaders, The Saracens, The Embers and the Jury.
The Waldman Brothers ( Brian and Paul) were instrumental in setting up the Edinburgh Gig scene in the 1960s.
They were Londoners in their early twenties who, in a reversal of the usual cliché, had come up to Edinburgh to make their fame and fortune. Of the two, Brian Waldman was the driving force. He thought that Edinburgh was a bit drab and decided to do something about it, so he opened Bungy’s.
Bungy’s was the first genuine coffee bar in the city. Edinburgh had seen nothing like it. It proved instantly popular. It was a magnet for teenagers like us. It wasn’t like the Top Storey, which was frenetic. In Bungy’s you could hang out to talk and listen to the music.
The resident band was the Andy Russell Seven.
The Waldmans needed no further encouragement and quickly moved to consolidate their position in Edinburgh’s social scene. They opened The Place, a jazz and rock venue in Victoria Street, which featured all the local groups as well as headlining chart acts. Upstairs in the same building was Nicky Tams. Then a disco, the Casablanca in Rose Street Lane. Then they opened The Kontiki, a sophisticated club above a car showroom in Lothian Road and switched from there to Queen Street with a hamburger joint named Buck Rogers. Moving on to Leith, they opened Bonkers, a club with live entertainment, where patrons were invited to sing, play instruments or do comedy routines in the bar. When they had saturated Edinburgh they moved back to London, opening the Middle Earth club in Covent Garden in 1967, with an up and coming DJ, John Peel.
The Place was a basement warehouse in Victoria Street which had been used as storage by the John Menzies newspaper chain. Over the years since it has had lots of different names: The Onion Cellar, the Mission and Shady Lady’s. It’s most recently been called Espionage.
The Place was always busy. Like the Top Storey it was a bit of a fire trap. Instead of going up three flights, this time you had to go down three flights of a steep stair into the basement. The escape route at the rear was a spiral staircase. There was no real separation between the band platform and the dance floor, so you could get really close up to the groups. It got very hot, with condensed sweat running down the walls. I can still remember that the DJ was Eric Kent and the bouncer was called Eddie Phillips.
The biggest regular ‘name’ act at the Place was Jimmy James and the Vagabonds. Dean Ford and the Gaylords , who later became Marmalade also played regularly. I can remember John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (when Peter Green was lead guitarist) and Unit 4+2.
Various Edinburgh bands played there, but the one that stood out for me were the Boston Dexters. Dressed as gangsters from the 1930s, their lead singer, Tam White, called himself ‘Humphrey the Hood’. He was supported by the ubiquitous ‘Toto’ McNaughton on drums and Frankie Connors on guitar. ‘Toto’ seemed to drum for every other band in Edinburgh in the 60s. Strangely, the resident band was The Pathfinders from Glasgow.
Thank you to David Irving for allowing me to include this piece on the site.
The above slideshow depicts mid sixties Edinburgh bands “The Good Companions” and “The Jokers” at various venues including The Palais at Fountainbridge, The Place, Cephus Cellar, and The Green Light at Holy Corner. Thank you to Frank Ferri for providing these rare pictures.