Pub rocking again

Sheffield band Greensleeper
Sheffield band Greensleeper

Veteran Sheffield band Greensleeper are aiming to revive a Sheffield pub as a live music venue.

The band have organised a gig at Old Crown, 137 London Road and are keen that others should follow on.

Drummer Pete ‘Kipper’ Billingsley said: “Years ago it was a famous rock venue with bands every week.”

Of course, owners have come and gone over the years and the band popped in for a chat with the current landlord after they saw the pub had changed hands again recently, to see if he’d be interested in having bands in.

Now they’re playing on Friday, October 12 and if the show pulls in a crowd there is a possibility of bands playing there every week again, Pete said.

Singer Albert Bennett said: “We’re trying it out really. If we’re successful, they’ll probably keep doing it.”

The band cover six decades of rock, with the earliest song in their repertoire dating back to 1959.

Albert said: “We do quite a lot of 60s stuff and more up-to-date songs as well.”

One big problem for bands like Greensleeper is finding venues of the right size to play in.

They say that often venues like pubs will book the same bands time after time, making it difficult to find new places to play.

They also prefer to play at different venues rather than have a long-term residency.

Greensleeper were formed in 1970 and have had various line-ups and breaks over that time. 

A 1966 precursor to Greensleeper had a name that became famous for another Sheffield band – ABC. That stood for the Albert Bennett Crowd, later to be the Blue Circus Soul Band.

Their website, www.greensleeper.co.uk, says the name Greensleeper came from a sculpture and was chosen in Pete’s parents’ pub, The New Inn on Ecclesall Road.

They re-formed last year, playing at the Old Crown last February, and the rest of the current line-up are guitarists Alan Walker and Peter ‘Oz’ Oldfield and Mike ’Spike’ Stoddart on bass. 

Albert said: “There's nothing quite like playing live. People look at the Stones and say ‘why do they do it?’ It's just the enjoyment of doing it.

“There's nothing like being on stage with other people and knowing it’s just all coming together.”

Pete added: “It's the audience as well. You look at the audience and if your playing is appealing to them, that’s a right buzz. It makes you feel better as well.”

Over the years the band have supported Badfinger, Be Bop Deluxe, Medicine Head, Super Sister, UFO and Saxon.

They missed out on potentially being signed by Stiff Records in that company’s early days after a gig at the Greyhound in London because they didn’t take the offer seriously enough.

They were chuffed that Worksop-born rocker Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, mentioned them in his autobiography, What Does This Button Do?.

Bruce remembers Greensleeper headlining an outdoor concert at Western Park in the 1970s.

Greensleeper had a big following at the time, so after they played, the audience left without staying to hear anyone else, Bruce recalled.

They found out when a member of the audience told them: “Bruce Dickinson brought me here”.