Hotlines 07989 960746 / 01827 382999

Rebeccas - my memories

Rebeccas was located on Severn Street, Birmingham. I saw the job in the Evening Mail - "DJ required for top Birmingham nightclub" - and I found myself auditioning for DJ in the Cabasa - the clubroom at the top of the building. It was held during the day, with club manager Johnny Fewtrell as judge and jury. I had had only youth club experience really and had no idea what was in store but in any event I got the job at £3/night working 6 evenings a week.

The equipment in the club was all Hocken Sound, which was based on the Pershore Road. The speakers used were good, particularly those in the middle room - The Blue Soul - which were huge. Any problems with the sound system were always treated by Hocken Sound engineers replacing the cartridges - never cured the problem but was all they ever did.
The lighting systems in the Blue Soul and Sin Bin were quite sophisticated but by the time I started work there, in 1972, had deteriorated to the bare functionality with most of the strobe and sound actuated aspects defunct.

DJs in the club were Pat Martin, Pete King, Bob King (affectionately now known as Bob The Plumber). Also the late Les Benedict (RIP), Sam T, Pete Allen and Jerry Brooker,

The Cabasa

As already stated this was the room at the top of the building, generally the more refined of the 3 rooms at the club. Cabaret would take place here on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, indeed this was where I first met Dustin Gee and Les Dennis.

The manager of the room was Magic Gaffa, I don't know if the spelling is right as he was Tunisian but that is exactly as I remember it phonetically. He was a charming personality and was very helpful to me - in fact we kept in touch long after he left Rebeccas during his period as licensees of both the Old Union Mill at Aston and the Shakespeare at Stratford. He could speak something like 9 languages and doubled as an interpreter at Birmingham airport during the day. Can't remember the bar staff in the Cabasa though.

Rebeccas' DJs

Yet another blast from the past. Left to right: Sam T, Barry , Peter King (Fowler), Pat Martin (Meeson), the late Les Benedict (Dobbyns) Taken in the early 90s at the Red Lion, Shirley. A reunion to end all reunions - DJs at the Eddie "King of Clubs" Fewtrell's 3rd club Rebeccas.
Read Bob King's memoirs of Rebeccas - another Rebeccas DJ friend of the time.
Revisited 2011 - Baz and Pete King

One could also have a meal in the Cabasa as there was a very small restaurant area. There were also back stairs from here to the Blue Soul room.

As one walked into the Cabasa the dancefloor was on the immediate right with the stage on the far right and the DJ console in the far right corner of this area at which point a small stairs reached the elevated area where the bar stretched to the absolute far right corner. There was an elevated section to the left. Walk forward about 20 feet and steps (left) led to the elevated section which also had a bar the length of the left wall (or directly in front of you as you walked the steps).

During my stint as DJ in this room the Glam Rock era arrived and the room underwent a steady change supporting the changes in the music scene taking place nationally. The cabaret evenings were also droppped. Philly sound was arriving toward the end of my spell in the Cabasa.
It was not unusual to find Roger Tonge and Susan Hanson (both of Crossroads) enjoying themselves at the club and one night I even met Peter Vaughan in the audience.

The Blue Soul

Without a doubt the flagship room of the club. It was a superb room with a whopping great loudspeaker system occupying almost the whole of one wall, either side of the console. The console was suspended on girders sticking out from the wall, no doubt to prevent feedback via the floor.
After working about 12 months in the Cabasa, Pat Martin left to work at Meccas Locarno, Pete King left to get married and I became the Blue Soul DJ for a year or so until I also left.
Sitting at the console, scanning 180 degrees from left to right, one had the stage entrance for the cabaret at -10, left speaker system at 0, dancefloor 1 at 10, dancefloor 2 at 90, dancefloor 3 at 130, right speaker system at 180. The bar was to the right, a part at dancefloor level and an elevated section extreme right. At the start of the elevated section was the Gaffers standpoint enabling a view across the whole of the room, often occupied by John or Tony. Sometimes DJ Pete Allen and Roger Irving would be there too.
Across the far wall (parallel to Severn st.) was a long stretch of tables for meals. I also remember Dennis the barman and Zeena whose boyfriend Tony played the guitar and was a top man.

The Sin Bin

This basement room always smelled kinda fusty and the walls always seemed damp.
Going down the stairs, which had a right turn, one found the bar along the right wall and the dance floor directly in front with the DJ area on across the far wall. The console was in what can only be described as a small cave with an entrance at the left and windows for viewing the dance floor. The ceiling was very low and I remember Bob King always seemed to be crouching in order to avoid smashing his head.
The left wall had a kitchen entrance with the immediate left offering a few seats and tables for eating. The clientelle in the Sin Bin were mainly of ethnic background with the music always reflecting the top funk and reggae sounds of the day and Bob was an expert with this kind of music.

Ghosts

I don't know if it was true but the club was supposed to be haunted. However I can only relate my own experience:
It was the end of the night and the Chef (whose name eludes me) had locked up the kitchen which was at the top of a single flight of stairs in the very highest level of the club. In the Cabasa the few staff who were still around heard a steady banging of the door, just as if someone was banging the door from the other side trying to get out. I followed the Chef upstairs and he opened the door to find no-one there. And that's the truth!

I'll always look on Rebeccas club with some affection, after all I effectively served my apprenticeship as a DJ there. I met many stars, top DJs and varied audiences, all of which imparted invaluable experience and stood me in good stead when I later developed my mobile disco service.

If you have any memories of Rebeccas or any of the other Birmingham nightclubs back in the 70s that you wish to share, e-mail Barry. He'll gladly publish them on this site.

Clubbers' Memories A Barbarellas membership card - free to all employees.