By Linda Serck
BBC Berkshire Reporter
The Rolling Stones played at 39 Ricky Tick club nights in the 1960s
Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and a Who's Who of 1960s musicians all started their careers at the Ricky Tick - the famous club nights founded in Windsor.
"They looked a bit like the Beverly Hillbillies, they were like shaggy dogs and their clothes were like things even Oxfam wouldn't sell."
John Mansfield recollects the first time he saw the Rolling Stones.
The music promoter was looking for bands to put on at his Ricky Tick club.
The new nights were to start at the Star & Garter hotel in Windsor.
He'd heard about the Stones and booked them to play on 14 December 1962.
"It was a privilege to be there because you could see mega-artists for 50p."
Cheaper back then
"By the time they'd finished their first number you could tell that they'd hit the girls' musical G spot because they were all just screaming wild. It was like hypnotic music because it was a fusion between Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry - it was all pulsating rhythms."
Of course The Rolling Stones are now a multi-million-album-selling band, packing out stadiums across the world. But they got their first big break in Windsor.
In fact, The Rolling Stones played for Ricky Tick at least 39 times during 1962 and 1964.
And it wasn't just the Stones for whom Ricky Tick was a launch pad. The club soon became a hotbed of musical talent.
One of the original Ricky Tick posters advertising the club night
Mods and rockers flocked to see the Animals, The Yardbirds, Georgie Fame, the Moody Blues, Van Morrison and Fleetwood Mac to name but a few.
"It was at the beginning of a new age for teenagers because there was a new type of music that was coming through," says John.
"Everybody I spoke to that went to the Ricky Tick said they had a magical time. It was a privilege to be there because you could see mega-artists for 50p."
In April 1964 the Ricky Tick in Windsor moved into a semi-derelict mansion called Clewer Mead, a sprawling demesne along the Thames with six flats containing no less than 58 rooms.
The rent was £16 a week and John, with his late business partner Philip Hayward, spent a fiver refurbishing the council-owned building. Using black paper for the walls, lighting was made out of ice-cream tins and furniture was made out of packing cases from the old Volkswagon depot in Slough.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
These were exciting times for the Ricky Tick. During its four-year reign John and Philip promoted in 27 towns, including Reading, Slough and Maidenhead. Fans packed out the clubs to see regulars such as Rod Stewart, Elton John, visiting American stars such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Howling Wolf - oh, and a then unknown Jimi Hendrix.
"He was very humble there was nothing showbiz at all about him," John recalls. Jimi was paid £20 for a Ricky Tick gig in Hounslow.
Eric Clapton was once part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
"We were the first people to book Eric Clapton with The Cream," John continues. "We had John Mayall at the club (at the time Clapton was part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers) with Jack Bruce on guitar - and Ginger Baker turned up and he did a few numbers with them so that may have been the first public performance of what was to be The Cream."
A very young Eric Clapton also played at a Ricky Tick-promoted night at the Reading ballroom, with a group called The Roosters.
John is now writing a tribute to the 60s club where rock history was made. He's looking for people with memories, photos, ticket stubs, posters - anything that can contribute to his book.
He certainly has lots of memories of his own.
"With the Stones," remembers John, "after their first gig we took them to a restaurant up by the castle because they were ravenously hungry.
"They were being a bit unruly and they kept throwing things at each other. There was a bookmaker Henry, his wife and twin daughters sat behind us and the Stones kept making licentious remarks.
"As we were leaving Keith Richards made some slightly crude remark to the girls. Henry stood up and with arms outstretched in front of his daughters he said: "I wouldn't let a daughter of mine go out with a Rolling Stone.""
John also remembers, in January 1963, the unique way that Chrissie Shrimpton, soon to be Mick Jagger's girlfriend, reached the Stones on stage during a packed-out night.
"Chrissie climbed onto a table and clambered into the fishnets which were dangling from the ceiling. She proceeded to crawl towards the Stones, over the heads of fans who aided her by putting their hands in the air and paddling her towards the stage."
Could Chrissie be the first person to ever crowd surf at a gig?
John is working with former Melody Maker journalist Chris Welch and designer Jo Mirowski to write this book, delving into archives and tracking people down. John has already written more than 200 pages, telling the memories as seen through the eyes of the musicians, promoters and teenagers of the era.
The Ricky Tick club may be no more (for one, Clewer Mead was pulled down), but its memory lives on.