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Plaque unveiled at Norwich Jimi Hendrix venue

PUBLISHED: 11:19 07 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:38 02 July 2010

Lucas unveiles the plaque at Norwich's Orford cellar

Lucas unveiles the plaque at Norwich's Orford cellar

Jon Welch

A blue plaque commemorating the dark and dingy venue that hosted some of the most famous names in music has been unveiled in Norwich. Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart were among the stars that played there.

A blue plaque commemorating the dark and dingy venue that hosted some of the most famous names in music has been unveiled in Norwich.

Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart were among the stars that played the Orford Cellar in Red Lion Street in the 1960s.

City-based soul singer Lucas unveiled the plaque, watched by an audience of fellow musicians and former Orford regulars.

Lucas, 67, said: “It's an honour to be here as one of the original people that actually played here. I used to play here mostly every other week in those days. I'm an adopted son of Norwich and this was my second home.

“This was one of the first places I performed and it's a special place for me. It was hot and crowded all the time. The walls were sweaty but we used to go in and have a good time.”

The plaque is one of 18 erected in the past few weeks in the Timberhill and Elm Hill areas of the city by Norwich Heritage and Economic Regeneration Trust (Heart).

Its installation marks the end of four years of lobbying by Fred Agombar, who runs the Olde Norwich sightseeing tours.

Mr Agombar, 62, was a regular at the Orford Cellar and re-opened it for a short time in the late 60s after it closed down.

He said: “I'm delighted. Getting that plaque up has been a pre-occupation of mine for the last 25 years.

“The Orford was like The Cavern for East Anglia. Groups always used to come here first and they would often try out a new name or a new line-up before they went on tour.

“On my sightseeing tours I always ask if anyone likes 60s music and they always say 'yes'. They're always very interested when I tell them about the place and now I can point out the plaque.”

The cellar stood in what is now the basement of Nando's restaurant, and the plaque can be seen a few yards further along the street outside the Thai Wellbeing gym and spa.

Jim Archer, 66, was a regular at the Cellar and a barman there. “It was the first real nightclub in the city. It was always heaving and the atmosphere was electric. I'd pay a lot of money for another night there,” he said.

John Bailey, 60, visited every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night and remembers seeing Hendrix at the venue on January 25, 1967.

“I was queuing up from near the Bell Hotel. When I got there it was full but because I was a regular, the bouncer Levi McCarthy lifted someone out so I could get in,” he said.

Do you have a story or pictures of an old Norwich nightspot? Contact Derek James on 01603 772420 or email derek.james@archant.co.uk

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