Big names at the King Mojo Club

The King Mojo Club
The King Mojo Club

Did you know that Burngreave has seen its share of stardom perform at the King Mojo Club back in the 60’s? For just three years, from 1964 to 1967 the club on Pitsmoor Road became a thriving scene of modern music and a place where an amazing array of famous names performed.

Many Burngreave locals know the story of how Peter Stringfellow, London night club owner, started his career in this neighbourhood. To find out more about the club and hear about the bands that played there, I went to meet Ted and Leroy Walcott and Joseph Brown at a house on Burngreave Road. Joseph started off:

“We were just teenagers at a time when teenagers were first discovering their freedom! And we loved music so we started going to the club every week, from the day it opened to the day it closed. It was just up the road and it was quite something! People used to come from all over – Lincoln, even London! And everyone came for the music. There was just a coffee bar – no alcohol sold there. When it started it cost two shillings and sixpence to get in! The décor wasn’t much – all black paint inside but the music was fantastic!”

The club was based in an ordinary house that had formerly been Dey’s School of Dancing. The ballroom had a sprung floor (“Great for the twist!” said Leroy, “as it was covered in that slippery white stuff dancers put on their shoes!”) When asked what bands they had seen there, all three reeled off a list of names that blows the mind: Ike and Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, The Who (“They were a loud lot!”), Rod Stewart, Jimmy Cliff, Elton John, Joe Cocker, John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Geno Washington, Jimi Hendrix…and so many more. In fact it was forty years ago this January that Jimi Hendrix played in the Mojo!

A lot of the British bands were up and coming at the time, not yet famous,” said Ted,

“although there were famous names too, mostly the American bands that were already established. That place really took off as a club!”

The Pitiful Souls
The Pitiful Souls

“And it was the start of our musical career too,” said Leroy. “We had just formed a band in ‘66 called The Pitiful Souls and asked Pete if we could practice at the Mojo. He agreed and one day, when we still only knew six songs, he heard us and said, “Right, you’re on for an all nighter!” That set us off on a musical career that took us touring in Europe, the Middle East and Japan. We did that for fifteen years and two of our band members settled in Japan, marrying there.”

For the Mojo, however, the end was in sight. Complaints from neighbours of noise and drug taking resulted in the club being closed down in 1967. Peter Stringfellow and his brother Geoff started up a new club in the city centre but it lacked the atmosphere of the Mojo and so they moved on to Leeds and then London. The house became a bingo club and was finally demolished in the 80’s, its place now occupied by a block of modern housing. But the memory still lives on of how the Mojo brought excitement to the music scene of Pitsmoor and the whole of Sheffield. It’s hard to imagine some of the really great names in the music world playing here…but they really did!

A big thank you to Ted, Leroy and Joseph for talking to me about the Mojo Club!

by Nikky Wilson.

If you want to read more about the Mojo and the bands that played there, try ‘Memories of Sheffield’s King Mojo Club’ by Dave Manvell and John Firminger: there’s a copy in Burngreave Library.

Burngreave Voices: Our Stories Celebrated is a Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust project in partnership with Sheffield Libraries and Information Service, supported by Burngreave New Deal for Communities.

This document was last modified on 2007-02-04 18:16:30.