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Memories of Sheffield Fiesta
Roy Orbison (left) and Bob Mundy (right) at Sheffield Fiesta
Roy Orbison (left) and Bob Mundy (right) at Sheffield Fiesta in the 1970s

Peter Stringfellow's Pittsmoor nightclub The Mojo was not the only one to attract big names in swinging Sheffield.

The big, bold Fiesta nightclub opened in Sheffield in the 1970s and it was another venue which attracted big acts like The Jackson Five, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and The Four Tops.

Bob Mundy was Roy Orbison's drummer from 1967-74. They played at The Fiesta and Bob later worked there as a compère.

Fiesta nightclub sign (1970s)
Fiesta nightclub sign (1970s)

Bob decided to put together a book about the nightclub and his experiences.

As well as the big international names there were many famous homegrown acts too: Cilla Black, Bruce Forsyth, Les Dawson, Tommy Cooper and Sheffield's own Tony Christie - to name but a few.

Chrissy Clarke saw The Jackson Five at the Fiesta in 1977 or 1978:

"I met Michael Jackson at the Sheffield Fiesta - it was The Jackson Five - the place was packed. They were absolutely brilliant. They'd just performed Destiny.

"He was the most amazing dancer - he had this presence about him. He was 17 or 18 - my age. He smiled at me, I was on the front row and he came and sat with me. He kissed me and held my hand, he was just a really, really nice guy. He gave me a flower. I was just mute!"

Anyone who knows Sheffield will know the big building on Arundel Gate which is now the Odeon cinema. Next door was the Top Rank nightclub (later known as the Roxy Disco and now is the O2 Academy.)

Bob at the Fiesta

The Fiesta was full of good old fashioned entertainment - stage, tinselly curtains, musical heroes, cabaret acts and hypnotists, chicken-in-a-basket served to your dimly-lit table, dancing girls and a compère.

It was owned by Keith and Jim Lipthorpe who had already opened the Fiesta nightclub in Stockton-on-Tees - previously a cinema.

Bob Mundy on The Big O LP (1970)
Bob Mundy on The Big O LP (1970)

One of the compères who worked at the Fiesta was Bob Mundy who had been Roy Orbison's drummer for six years in the late 1960s and 1970s. Roy Orbison and his band started their tour of the north at Batley Variety Club, followed by Stockton Fiesta and then Sheffield Fiesta in the 1970s. They went on to tour the world together.

Bob came to BBC Radio Sheffield in May 2009 to talk to Gareth Evans about his memories of playing and compèring at the Fiesta nightclub and about being The Big O's drummer and close friend. He now runs a recording studio in Leeds.

"Is anybody there?..."

Roy Orbison once said that the only two things he needed to go on stage were a drummer and a bass player - and Bob was one of those.

"He had these little signals to let me know if he wanted it louder or quieter - if he wanted it louder he'd pull his guitar forward, or for quieter he'd move it back," says Bob. So how did he come to be compèring at the Fiesta?

"I went to the Fiesta while we were doing a few tours with the Dronfield singer Karen Young who had a hit single with Nobody's Child.

Bob Mundy, Roy Orbison's drummer from 1967-1974
Bob Mundy was Roy Orbison's drummer from 1967 until 1974

They asked me what I thought of the compère. I said, 'He's alright, I could do that job'. A couple of weeks later they sent me a contract, it scared the life out of me! Being in the background with Roy Orbison and then suddenly being plunged into making the show go on... Karen Young was on tour at the time I was compèring. She lived in Dronfield and she let me use her place to stay.

"The Bachelors were playing at the Fiesta the first week I was compèring. We'd done several concerts with them but this was my first night as the compère and I was dreading it.

"The Fiesta was packed out. I had a catchphrase that came by accident that night... Usually you walk on to the stage and the spotlight picks you up and you go to the microphone. But the spotlight never came on!

"I didn't know what to say... so I said, 'Is anybody there? Knock three times for yes and twice for no!'

"Everybody started banging on the tables and then the lights came up! It broke the atmosphere - we decided to keep it as part of the act and it became a great catchphrase - people used to shout it out in the street when they saw me shopping in Sheffield!

Tony Christie
Tony Christie outside the former Fiesta

"It was a great crowd at the Fiesta - a real cross-section of people. They had some fantastic big names - The Beach Boys, The Bachelors... Kenny Rogers and The First Edition were on stage on my last night there. The drummer Mickey wanted to tour Sheffield's antique shops looking for war memorabilia, so me and him used to go out looking during the day. Rock 'n' roll!"

Bob Mundy is looking for people's memories and memorabilia from The Fiesta for a book. Contact him with your memories: robert@uptomidnightstudio.com

Touring with The Big O

Roy Orbison's life was touched by tragedy. "Two of his children died in a fire at the end of the first year that we toured together," says Bob. "It was really hard for him. One child, Wesley, survived. His wife Claudette had been killed in a motorbike accident two years before. We became very close and it was like a shockwave when I found out he'd died in 1988.

"People said he always looks sad, but actually Roy picked up a lot of the English sense of humour. He liked Frankie Howard, The Goons and stuff - he was really funny at times, we had a real good laugh with him.

Orbison found love again, in Batley of all places. The band were in Peter Stringfellow's West Yorkshire nightclub when Roy's fellow band members introduced him to a German student called Barbara - and it went from there. Roy and Barbara went on to have two more sons.

Roy Orbison died of a massive heart attack in December 1988 - a moment which shook his friends like Bob on the other side of the world. "It was so devastating, a shockwave. Elvis said Roy Orbison was the best singer he'd ever known. As his backing band we were very close to him. It was very sad."

Bob Mundy is looking for people's memories and memorabilia from the Fiesta nightclub. Contact him with your memories: robert@uptomidnightstudio.com

Peter Stringfellow's Mojo Club in Sheffield (1960s)
Peter Stringfellow's Mojo Club in Sheffield (1960s)

Click on the links to read about the city of Sheffield in the 1970s, and about Peter Stringfellow's famous Mojo Club on Pittsmoor Road in the 1960s. Share your memories about the city's nightclub and disco scene through the years in the Have Your Say box below, and to relive the hits from the 70s and 80s, choose Phil Butler's show on the BBC iPlayer.

Your memoriesMike Hayes, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA Terry Clayton and I used to swap gigs, he going to the Aquarius in Chesterfield or on the cruise ship where I was resident bandleader and me doing the Fiesta gig. It usually occurred when we both needed a break or a laugh. I always remember what great people Max Bygraves, Bernie Clifton, Gene Pitney, Les Crowther, Marti were..no airs and graces.

Richard Harrison, Leeds

Haha, I work with Rob Munday as a musician in his studio. He has some great stories about Roy and the Fiesta club to tell. He's a brilliant guy.

Sean Healey

My wife and I had our wedding reception at the Fiesta on 15th September 1979.

Julie

I remember seeing the New Seekers in a matinee performance with my mum, they were great.

Karen, Calgary, Canada

Have a great photo of my 21st birthday with the girls, FRONT ROW Fiesta, watching the Four Tops, Brilliant night, loved the place!!

Trevor

First of all message for Janet Harrison... the club above the skating rink was The Heartbeat. I also visited The "fab" Fiesta, saw The Four Tops and also danced on stage while the band played. Enjoyed Dave Allen the Irish comic (as opposed to the ex Sheffield Wednesday comic. Lol). I was also dancing when I overheard Michael Parkinson chatting up a young lady he he... Good times to be had in those days at many clubs already mentioned.

Pat McClusky

Hi, I was Compere at the fiesta Fiesta in 1978-9, after three years at the Wakefield Theatre Club. I remember the Jacksons well, especially Michael. My recollection of him was being comforted by two minders, he had lost his voice and was unable to finish the show. I also worked with Roy Orbison several times when he did his tours of Ireland.

Sheffield's Roxy Disco (now the O2 Academy)
Sheffield's Roxy Disco (now the O2 Academy)

Steve in Bradway

Four tops... brilliant, Jimmy Ruffin Nookie Bear! I went for a job there one day... it closed the next day... Sorry!

Barbara T

It was 1975 and I was a student at Sheffield City College (now Hallam Uni). I was asked out by a fellow student, Kevin, to see Jimmy Ruffin at the Fiesta. It seemed to me at the time to be the most sophisticated place I'd ever seen, far classier than the usual student 'dives' we frequented. It was a great show, and 34 years on Kevin and I are still together!

Bernice Coates

I went every weekend, I was 15 and still at school. Part of the time i visited we always got free chicken/chips in a basket. My boyfriend was a coach driver, that was a perk. The times i visited i saw Bob Monkhouse and Showaddywaddy - they shouted out names and if they said your name you went up on stage and they gave out a signed poster. Tony Christie many times, Kenny Rogers - he had broken his leg but still did the show. Suzi Quatro, The Four Tops, wow, everyone stood on the tables. Cannon & Ball were support acts, then in the early 1970s far too many to mention for me but one comedian I saw five times in one year was the brilliant Freddy Star - March 11 1976, my hen night. We had a mini coach of lasses after our chicken chasseur and seeing Freddy we went downstairs. You could go round the back of the reception and knock on the door - stars and acts would come out for photos and autographs. Freddy did this and asked me in his dressing room, while there, to my embarrassment passed wind he heard me and said, did you fart? I felt so stoopid I said no it was my shoes that squeaked - how i was so quick thinking i will never know - what an amazing place i for one miss it.

Lesley

I remember it well, it was thick in snow and i took my clothes to work just in case i could not get home to get changed. I was just about to see the best group in the world, the Jackson 5 and not even the weather was going to stop me. It was one of the BEST NIGHTS of my life and i feel honoured and privileged to have seen Michael Jackson live.

Michael Jackson in The Jackson Five
Michael Jackson in The Jackson Five

Ros Winsor

I saw Michael Jackson there in the 70s after queuing in the snow outside to get in. He was mind blowing and I have always remembered that night with great fondness. We went to the Fiesta almost every week for a few years and had some great times, cut my "nightclubbing" teeth there. Also, saw the Four Tops in '75 when I was heavily pregnant and there was a heat wave. They turned all the fans on the stage round for the fans that night, another fantastic memory. Wish it was still here!

Paul Deeley

I grew up in Sheffield and was only young when it was open, it is a well remembered landmark with lots of memories for my parents who met there and used to go regularly. I definitely remember them seeing Bob Monkhouse there.

Janet Harrison

Penny Farthing, Down Broadway, Fiesta, Shades, not forgetting The Marquis of Granby, Baileys and one on Queens Road above the skating ring I can't remember the name - and what is now the Leadmill! Visited all of them with very happy memories, there was no trouble in those days. Wish I could dance now like I did then!

Dave

Can remember actually being on stage being hypnotised by Martin St. James, acting out a chicken laying a square egg and shouting, 'The Russians are coming!' The year was approx 1974.

Wayne Bralsford

My mum used to be a waitress at The Fiesta. I am not 100% certain of the years she worked there. I can remember her telling me that Leslie Crowther was one of the nicest people she met and gave her a £5 tip.

Josie Warburton Powell

I saw lots of acts there in the late 1960s early 70s before I moved to Miami, I recall seeing the Dubliners, I'm almost sure i saw them there, we all went dancing later. Also went to school with Pete Stringfellow's brother, and we went to the Mojo club a couple of times but nothing like the Old Fiesta, what times I had in Sheffield. Great ones.

Kevan Smith

I lost my mother in January 1975 and as I was 18 in February I didn't really feel like having a party. In May 1975 my mates took me to see the Rockin Berries at the Fiesta in the disco downstairs which I think may have been called the Sunset Room. I met a girl called Gail Ibbotson. In March 1976 Gail and I had our daughter Kerry Louise who is now 33 years old. The relationship lasted about 18 months after Kerry was born but had it not been for the Fiesta, I probably would not have met Gail and Kerry would never have been born.

Paul Crookes

My father Ronald Crookes worked at Fiesta nightclub sheffield boxer. Lots of memories for Bob Mundy's book. Big party with The Four Tops at Sheffield's Penny Farthing. My father was Father Christmas for Tony Christie at his home. Loads more stories - Joe Cocker, Marti Caine, Bobby Knutt and all the big stars. Living in Barbados now.

Shelagh

I worked there as a bar supervisor from 1972 to 1975 and saw all the big acts, some of which we saw over and over but never tired of Tommy Cooper; The Four Tops; Shirley Bassey. Lesley Crowther once refereed a charity football match for our ladies football team the 'Fiesta Fillies' (I still have the photos) and we bought him a grand piano shaped cigarette box for a birthday he was celebrating whilst appearing one year. Some artists liked the bars closed whilst they were performing - one I remember was Jack Jones, this sometimes caused a rush for double orders which was hard work for waitresses and bar staff. I drank scotch and ate steak sandwiches with Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons and kissed Jimmy Ruffin. A lot of acts came out to talk to staff and sit in the old lounge bar after hours. I also have vivid memories of the band Showaddywaddy doing matinees on a Saturday afternoon and having to work an extra shift to serve non-alcoholic drinks to thousands of screaming kids. AWFUL!

Donella Burrows

My mother worked at The Fiesta, I can't remember the year as she passed away 17 years ago, but Freddie Starr showed there and my mother found him an hotel and he gave her a signed pic of him saying, 'Thanks for the bed Linda'. Everyone wondered what he meant by it. i would love to be able to speak to anyone who knew my mum Linda Burrows - she worked on reception.

Bernie Johnson, Örebro in Sweden

I saw the Jackson 5 (Destiny Tour) at the Fiesta. Chicken in a basket meal included. Also saw The 4 Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The 3 Degrees, The Drifters, and if I remember correctly The Barron Knights, but we'll keep that between ourselves.




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