Sheffield's 'favourite nightclub' attracted big stars, went on until 4am and served no alcohol

It was a teenage club that only lasted three and a half years at 555 Pitsmoor Road but it’s still making headlines nearly 55 years after it shut.

Monday, 11th October 2021, 11:15 am
Updated Monday, 11th October 2021, 11:15 am

King Mojo – which was opened by Peter and Geoff Stringfellow in March 1964 – has been voted Sheffield’s best venue of the 1960s by hundreds of former clubgoers in a poll run by the city’s Dirty Stop Outs.

The venue made its name for attracting up-and-coming stars that went on to become global icons. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Ike and Tina Turner were just four of the scores of acts that performed.

Lifelong friendships were made at King Mojo and its regulars were seen as some of the most stylish around.

The King Mojo crowd.

Looking back, the thing that singled it out for many was the fact it didn’t serve alcohol. It was a teenage club with members as young as 13-years-old.

King Mojo had regular all-nighters and revellers would attend from all over the north of England – one die-hard used to walk all the way from Mansfield!

Peter Stringfellow always spoke with great fondness for the place: “Every Saturday for three years, we had an all-nighter, but the big named bands would play on a Friday night. Chris Farlowe, Graham Bond Organisation, Wilson Pickett, Sonny Boy Williamson, Pretty Things, Small Faces and The Who were some of the artist we had.

"One of my old all time favourites was Geno Washington And The Ram Jam Band.

Ben E King at the King Mojo.

“On the nights when it was not an all-nighter a bunch of us would rush off at about 11.30pm to the Ocelot coffee bar. It was a truly weird and wonderful crowd left over when everyone else was in bed.

"Believe me you had to be in the know to get into this place and it would go on until three or four in the morning – no booze just coffee and good music.”

Sixties’ Sheffield was arguably the era everything changed for the youth of the city.

It was the decade people finally started looking forward to a bright future rather than looking backwards to the dark days of austerity and World War Two.

Vince Eager (centre), Gene Vincent (right) and Eddie Cochran having their picture taken at Sheffield Gaumont in spring 1960.

It was an era that saw Sheffield have its own chart success with names like Joe Cocker, Jimmy Crawford and Dave Berry making their mark; the city was on the global stage thanks to its involvement in the 1966 World Cup and Eddie Cochran played one of his last ever gigs – the iconic rocker played the Gaumont in spring 1960, just days before he was killed in a car accident following the last date of the ground-breaking tour.

In second place in the poll came King Mojo’s arch rival the Esquire – situated on Leadmill Road. It was run by Terry Thornton who first launched the iconic Club 60 in 1960.

John C Haywood (better known as ‘Johnny Hotdogs’ in his Esquire days) worked behind the bar of the Esquire every Saturday night and regularly ferried Joe Cocker to perform as frontman of the houseband (they were Vance Arnold and the Avengers way back then).

He said: “The Esquire Club in itself was quite unique, There was three levels, nothing much downstairs, then a very steep set of stairs with a flat section halfway.

"As you came around at the second level there was a pay desk and the girls’ toilet, then upward to the dance floor and stage, which was at the far end.

"The stage had a round roof support right in the centre, and it was this round support that Dave Berry crept around with his gloved hand.”

Around the dance floor was subdued lighting along with fluorescent lighting that showed up anything white. On the top floor, you could sit on a stool around a full-size beer barrel. People that went to the Esquire Club, consisted of rock and rollers/mods/rhythm and blues, and country. The club was a success right from the start, we had to turn people away a lot of nights.”

London Road’s Locarno got third place in the poll.

King Mojo now features on the cover of a 10th anniversary edition of the ‘Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1960s Sheffield’.

250 collector’s edition copies are now on sale from www.retrobookoffers.net for £19.95