How it all began at Fibbers (and how the music venue got its name…)

How it all began at Fibbers (and how the music venue got its name…)
17 Jul 2014 @ 11.31 am
| History

As YorkMix revealed earlier this month, York’s legendary live music venue Fibbers has moved to a new home. Here musician Kev Benson explains its origins…

At the time Fibbers was launched on to an unsuspecting world in 1992, I was in a band called The Rocking Goose Horns.

A friend of the band, who used to come to many of the gigs, was a chap called Graeme Fox. He was well known for his Billy Liar style of bending the truth – you know the sort, a statement that is so obviously untrue and so easily verified.

This led to him having the nickname of “Fibber Fox”.

When he went into partnership with Tim Hornsby to open a music venue they hit on the name Fibbers in honour of Graeme.

One early gig we did there was a scratch band of Fibber as vocalist, Lloyd Massingham of MOR Music fame on guitar, me on bass and John Halder, recently of Ice Hole, at that time drummer of The Rocking Goose Horns.

The rehearsal went splendidly, but on the night, after a couple of hours waiting in the Black Swan (ahem), it was a total, hilarious shambles. Such is rock’n’roll…

The above named John Halder – a joiner by trade – fitted out the interior. So, you see, there was no other band that could possibly open the place!

I don’t remember a great deal about the night (not due to drink, rather advancing years), but I do recall it was very busy.

There would have been a lot of our friends in the audience, including Dave Aldo (Aldo’s Orphans, Gideon’s Few) and Garry Barrett.

Even then we knew it would be an important venue – as it was the only one in York that provided a PA for the bands!

Amongst the line-up of the band was Pat McGarry (now in The Bogus Brothers) on vocals, Sean McMullen (Ice Hole), and trombonist Tony Embleton, who remained in the band until recently. Or perhaps is still in it. If it is still going.

I wouldn’t know, these days I am too busy playing with professional beat group Flashback, who I have been with for 12 years now,.

We were one of the resident bands at Liverpool’s Cavern Club for about five years – we played at the invitation-only party to celebrate the Club’s 50th birthday in 2007.

If you wade through the gallery photos on the website you will see plenty of stuff related to Liverpool, and the bands who were around in the early Sixties, who we are proud to call friends.

The founder writes

freddie-mercury-hooverTim Hornsby launched Fibbers in 1992, and as the promoter Mr H Presents books all the acts there to this day…

Graeme Fox was, and still is, one of my best friends. After he came back from a holiday with chums one of them in particular was always remarking that whatever you had done Graeme had done it before you, bigger and better.

Hence the nickname “Fibber” Fox.

The same friend suggested we call the venue Fibbers and deck it with stuff we would lie about. So old birdcage was labelled “Tweety Pie’s”, a Hoover was chained to the wall “As used by Freddie Mercury”, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s flak jacket etc etc

John Halder did indeed refurb the venue; I remember going with him to scrapyards for the flooring, most of which had been reclaimed from a house fire …

For the record I wanted to call the venue ‘The Waggonload Of Monkeys’.

I arrived the day before opening to find a supermarket trolley rammed through the plate glass front doors. No time to order new doors, so a hurried remodel of entire front of venue was necessary…

When we took over there was an additional small bar in the corner, where the drawings were. We pulled it out and the brewery duly replumbed in all the lines – but left a hole in the floor.

I decided to fill it with cement, but being completely impractical didn’t know where to start. I mean, I’d only ever seen cement mixers so what do you do – add one egg and milk? What?

Then I remembered I had a copy of Viz and one of the characters had to mix a bucket of cement – and he recited the formula. It might have been Felix And His Amazing Underpants, actually. Anyway, cue a quick dash home to retrieve comic.

Fibbers – the only venue built with detailed instructions from Viz.

The telephone box had to be lifted in by twelve of us and there it stayed as a working phone for ten years.

We had a council assessment of the capacity and they backtracked and gave me just 100. Disaster.

I pondered long and hard about another exit but it seemed impossible without major building works.

And then one morning as I pulled in to the garage thinking it was all over, I spotted the faint outline in the wall of where a door had once been many years ago.

Hey presto, quickly bang out the bricks and a fire exit was born for £100 – capacity now 200.

Once again on the night before opening I managed to lose the safe key in all the hubbub.

I called the previous guy who had gone bankrupt and he said he could ‘probably’ find the spare.

For £500. Bastard.