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JB's in Dudley is 40 years old
By Scott Faulkner
BBC Black Country

JB's in Dudley
Steve Gibbons was just one of many artists to perform live at JB's

One of the Black Country's most famous music clubs celebrates its 40th birthday this year.

JB's in Dudley claims to be the longest-running live music venue in the country.

Over the last four decades, the likes of Robert Plant, U2, Dire Straights and Judas Priest have all performed there before they cracked the big time.

The club has had three different homes but only one owner, 61-year-old Sam Jukes from Tipton.

"No one had heard of U2 when we booked them," he said.

"People would ring up and and say, 'Who's on tonight?' and we'd tell them, and they'd say, 'Who're they?'

"Oh, some Irish blues band, come and have a look."

Courtesy: Sid Weston, JB's
A young Robert Plant takes to the stage inside JB's

Three JB's

The father-of-two originally opened JB's at Dudley Town Football Club before it moved to King Street in the early 1970s. Another club was opened in neighbouring Walsall but closed after eight years in the early 90s.

JB's currently stands on Castle Hill near Dudley Zoo and Castle. It's been there since 1994.

"I was never into music to be honest, " said Sam. "My old partner Sid Weston was more of a music buff than me.

"We got cajoled into doing it as we used to go and see a lot of bands from outside of the area so we decided to do it ourselves.

"We used to go to the Mothers [Club] at Erdington and we brought a lot of bands over from there to Dudley and persuaded them to come and see us for a change."

JB's in Dudley
The Edge from a then-unknown band called U2 playing live at JB's

Cradley Heathens

Sam started the club after his football and speedway career ended prematurely after a bad accident in a meeting with Cradley Heathens.

The former Walsall FC trainee, who played for semi-pro teams Kidderminster Harriers and Dudley Town, says he was riding for Sheffield during the mid-60s when he fractured his leg and knee.

"I got crocked down Cradley and that brought everything to an end," he said. "My thigh was broken in three places and I'm still limping now.

"I've still never seen an accident like it - somehow I hit the starting gate going down the straight."

The JB's name

JB's took its name from the initials of local DJ John Bryant, who Sam says was a hit with the ladies:

"He was a bit like George Best only better looking.

JB's in Dudley
Chrissie Hynhe from the Pretenders salutes the crowd at JB's

"The women used to love him to bits and he'd fill venues so we thought it would be a good name for the club.

"We used to go down the colleges and universities and end up getting home at six or seven in the morning and then be in work for eight. Eventually we thought we'd better get a base of our own."

The first night at JB's was virtually empty but soon Sam was turning away hundreds of music fans and had to look for bigger premises.

The toilets

"This was a really healthy period for us," he said.

"There were a lot of venues across the country - 'the toilets' as they were called.

"Everybody played 'the toilets' and quite a few bands have gone on to national and international fame and are still there."

"The riders for groups back then extended to burger and chips and bottles of Newcastle Brown [Ale] but now it's a bit more sophisticated. It's cans of Newcastle Brown and homemade curries."

For more information, visit the JB's website .

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