A FORMER Manton miner’s love of music led to him rubbing shoulders with some of the top name bands of the sixties.
In his job as a club manager Ray Pearce had the job of booking acts like Mud, Lulu, Dave Berry, Billy Fury and Sweet when they were making a name for themselves in the 60s.
His passion for music began when, as a teenager living at Dukeries Crescent, Worksop, he used to tune into the American Forces Network to listen to music being broadcast to troops based in Germany.
Ray, 75, said: “I was always interested in music and I used to listen in the early hours of the morning.”
“My favourites were the big bands like Ted Heath, and Jack Parnell and even after working with all the groups in the 60s I would say the big band music is still what I like best.”
“We used to get see them at the Central Ballroom in Worksop and at Edwinstowe village hall and Sheffield City Hall.”
Ray was brought up in Manton with his two sisters and two brothers. He went to Manton Infants and Newcastle Street schools and then Central Secondary school on Memorial Avenue.
He worked at Manton pit for ten years before transferring to Warsop Main colliery after marrying his wife Hazel, now 62, who came from Mansfield Woodhouse.
Ray said: “I worked there for about three or four years but then a friend and I were in a pit accident and it put me off and I left.”
“We started going to the Diamond Club in Sutton in the 1950s and I used to dress in a suit and tie with a watch and chain.”
“One of the members asked me if I wanted to come on the committee so I said yes. Then they made me president and then after a while they made me general manager and I was the one booking the acts.”
After leaving Warsop pit Ray worked for Blaskeys Wallpapers in Worksop and Mansfield, and then Jacobs Biscuits. But he could be found at the Diamond Club five nights a week.
It was a members’ club in a converted house in Stoney Street.
Ray said: “The atmosphere was fantastic and so were the acoustics.”
“The group I liked the best from that era were The Hollies, which were about the only band I didn’t get to work with.”
“I also liked Mud, who I did get to bring to the Diamond.”
“The only slip-up I ever made was when I turned down was a new group who wanted £125 and I said that was too much for a group I’d never heard of. They were called Slade.”
“Most of the groups played the Diamond before making it big.”
Ray, who has a daughter and two grandsons, said his friends used to travel from Worksop to Sutton to go to the Diamond Club with him.
“The club was packed out every night and I’ll never forget the atmosphere of the place. I still like to see bands today, music is in my blood,” he said.
Ray said the audience always got good value too. It seems incredible now, but members got in for 50p and visitors for £1, working on the principle of just covering the bar.
“We never really sorted our prices out, we never charged enough,” he said.
“And it would be almost impossible to get today’s equivalent bands here today, they want too much money.”
Ray also ran clubs in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Skegness.