TagBaileys Cabaret Club

Tribute to a great man – Industry legend Sid Steward has passed away

Tribute to a great man

We were saddened to learn of the death of industry legend Sid Stewart, who  passed away on the 17th of April 2014.

There are a number of articles on Locarno Boy relating to Sid, but the greatest memories are with those who worked with him over the years, and became lifetime friends.

He was both an industry character and an industry professional who worked tirelessly to help others.

Retirement was never an option for him. When he finished his nightclub career he concentrated on his work with the Samaritans, where he worked tirelessly to help others.

Originally from the North East, Sid was one of the key players in the growth of the Bailey Organisation,  which brought him to Blackburn. It was from here that he helped the company open cabaret clubs in the North West, but his heart was always in the Cavendish at Blackburn.

We were lucky enough to meet up with Sid  a few months ago. He was witty and as sharp as ever, reminiscing about his days at the “Cav”, laughing about the occasion when Norman Wisdom wanted to fight with him, and the hours spent with Tommy Cooper and the Cavendish staff – as Tommy ate a basket meal of chicken and chips that lasted from the public leaving the premises to the sun rising.

Those of us who had the pleasure of working with Sid will never forget the honesty and warmth he offered. Sometimes “shooting from the hip”, but never malicious or hurtful. He was a man who knew the importance of loyalty, and was inherently loyal by instinct.

A true professional and a great man.




Life was never going to be dull at Bailey`s Liverpool

Stuart Edwards quickly discovered that life was never going to be dull at Bailey`s Liverpool.

Preparation for the opening of Baileys Liverpool began at the Hull club during January 1974. Stuart was appointed General Manager. Jeff Marshall became Bar`s Manager; ten potential trainee managers were appointed, one of which was the inimitable Graham White, who eventually went on to manage Bailey`s Watford.

During the second week in February the team crossed the Pennines and began working at the Liverpool club.

Mike Payne organised accommodation for the management. He was friends with Jack Ferguson. One of the Holiday Inn executives. Stuart took a number of former Hull staff with him. They were allowed four weeks stay in bed and breakfast accommodation, then had to fend for themselves, while management enjoyed ten weeks at the Holiday Inn.

Part of the manager`s package was use of the “Bailey`s liveried” company car, and a company house.

At this point in our conversation Stuart grinned and switched to anecdotal mode.


He remembered  The Peddlers topping the bill at Bailey`s Liverpool. They had good album sales. Had previously toured America with Frank Sinatra, and had similarities to the very popular Emerson Lake and Palmer. Consequently they attracted a huge following, but perhaps had something to learn about the dangers of ill conceived announcements to the audience.

So when the keyboard player decided that it would be hilarious to announce  –

“You can always tell when the manager comes Hull”

Brief pause

“Because he always smells of fish” –

The Hull staff decided it was time to start a collection.

The insults increased as the week went along – as did the collection.

The Peddlers show began in complete blackout, followed by a wall of sound and flood of lighting.

But not on the Saturday night.

The blackout went well.

The wall of sound quickly came and went.

And so did The Peddlers – straight off the stage.

The key board player had suddenly realised he was not alone.

A huge dead fish lay across his keyboard – complete with tail, head, any staring eyes.


“You can always tell when a keyboard player comes from Hull………………..”


Stuart continued –

R Dean Taylor

During the final week of the R Dean Taylor tour, it became apparent that his South American tour manager had severe racists tendencies. Evidenced by his cruel racist comments towards black staff members; some of which came from Hull.

R Dean had wowed audiences throughout the week, and looked forward to end of tour party at the Holiday Inn, so a plot was hatched when he confided to the staff that the man had been “a pain” all week,

Unbeknown to the tour manager he was the subject of much plotting, giggling and scheming. His racist comments and attitude increased, to which his victims merely responded with stoic smiles. He too looked forward to the end of tour party at the Holiday Inn.

Saturday eventually came along, and the hapless tour manager was greeted by a cheerful smiling faces. The same ones he had abused and insulted throughout the week, including some of the Hull staff.

And the same faces continued to smile as they threw him full clothed into the swimming pool.

Of course those faces had now stopped.

They were roaring with laughter, with note more enthusiastic than R Dean Taylor.

“Hell hath no fury like a Hull guy scorned ???”


 Now to Stuart`s final Bailey`s story –

Jimmy Ruffin toured the Bailey clubs when his re-released single “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” went to number two in the charts during 1974. Audiences loved him. Cabaret club owners adored him – but some managers had other views.

Fifteen hundred people went to watch him on the Tuesday night of his week at Bailey`s Liverpool. The majority of which were avid female fans.

His show was exceptional.

Such was the audience response that he “faked” five false tabs. By this time door staff were having difficulty holding back more than 1000 enthusiastic females, at which point Stuart demanded “enough – stop now”.

And off stormed an angry Jimmy Ruffin. Straight to the dressing room to cool down.

On the Wednesday morning he was booked to go to London to record Top of the Pops. Clearly this was an opportunity to further enhance his revived stature and appeal.

The show was to be televised the following night, Thursday.

But he never made to London, or to the Bailey`s stage for the rest of the week.

We went straight back to America.

So for the remainder of the week compère Bob Ellis had to announce –

“Due to circumstances beyond our control Jimmy Ruffin will not be appearing tonight.”

As for Jimmy Ruffin`s disappearance

Rumours quickly circulated regarding a heavy drinking session with Graham White`s brother in law and a certain entertainer with black and very swollen eyes.

As for the truth – Stuart never had the opportunity to hear Jimmy`s side of the story.


 Stuart detected a fall-out between Bailey executives Ian Young and Ray Copeland, brought on by what he interpreted as a power struggle, and left the company in August 1974.

Jeff Marshall left three months later.

Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher

This happened in I believe Bristol; the club (Baileys?) had been refurbished and was re-opening so a crowd-pulling idea was being sought. After some discussion amongst the club management all traditional ideas were rejected – an act that would reflect the excitement and vibrancy of the new venue was sought. It was at this point that the name of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher came up. The act was very simple – cannon fired a round ball like a shot-put over a distance of about 30 – 40 feet and Dave caught it! Dave regularly performed at shows and fetes throughout the summer and had something of a cult following, he had also never appeared indoors since a large venue was needed to accommodate him, the concept seemed perfect. Dave was duly booked and posters and flyers printed advertising a World Exclusive – the First Ever Indoor Appearance of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher!!

The opening night of the club arrived and the venue was packed with expectant customers. As the time of Dave’s appearance arrived the dance floor was cleared, the cannon – newly washed, scrubbed and polished – was wheeled out and Dave emerged onto the stage with his glamorous assistant Vera. Dave was in his late 40’s, a squat, barrel chested man covered in hair and sporting a huge beer belly had dressed for the occasion in red football shorts so abbreviated that they could have passed for hot pants and a white singlet that looked as if it had last been washed at the beginning of his summer season, a strong waft of body odour accompanying him. Vera was actually his wife, a bleached blonde woman with the cough of an inveterate chain smoker and a complexion to match who wore a red sheath dress which accentuated every roll of fat and sported a split almost to the waist exposing some of the most impressive varicose veins in the West Country. Vera tottered from the stage to the cannon which were situated on the far side of the dance floor whilst Dave positioned himself at the front of the stage at the opposite side to the dj stand and assumed the stance of a goal keeper – he looked like Barbary ape with the evident speed and agility of a striking sloth. Vera lit the taper used to fire the cannon and called “Ready Dave?” With a reply of “Awright moi dear” the scene was set for the World Exclusive – the First Ever Indoor Appearance of Dangerous Dave the Cannon Ball Catcher.

It was at this point that a flaw in the otherwise immaculate plan became evident. No-one had considered that the friction coefficient between grass and cannon’s wheels was rather different from that between the wheels and a highly polished, brand new dance floor. As the cannon fired the recoil spun it through about 15 degrees launching the cannon ball straight at a somewhat startled dj that disappeared cowering behind the dj stand. Dave, belying his appearance, dived across the stage like Peter Shilton on one of his better days and just managed to deflect the cannon ball, breaking 2 of his fingers in the process whilst the crowd at the side of the stage parted like the Red Sea allowing the cannon ball to smash through the very expensive dance floor leaving a 12 inch splintered hole………


The Bailey Organisation:

Taken from a full page feature from “The Stage” newspaper 1973

During October 1973 THE STAGE newspaper presented a full page feature on THE BAILEY ORGANISATION, one of the largest and fastest growing nightclub operators in Europe.

The company had a chain of almost 20 nightclubs, and plans to use a £3m budget to develop a further 10.

Vice Chairman, JOHN SMITH explained that the success of the company was its ability to recruit a young enthusiastic management team with flair.

“Flair is often of more important than experience”, explained JOHN, “and understanding and willingness to learn are often more useful than knowledge.”

Tony Spragg Sid Stewart Mike Payne

Twenty six year old TONY SPRAGG was the Area Manager for the Midlands. Originally from Cardiff, TONY had been with the company for three years. Prior to this he was a Deputy Manager for the RANK ORGANISATION.

One of the most popular figures in the Lancashire area was 36 year old SID STEWART. SID worked as Area Controller for Lancashire and Yorkshire, and had been with BAILEYS for 10 years.

Tireless charity fundraising had made the BLACKBURN people “adopt” SID as one of their own.

Currently he was taking care of BAILEYS OLDHAM, but would be returning to BLACKBURN when the CAVENDISH was rebuilt after a tragic fire.

Former metropolitan policeman MIKE PAYNE had been with BAILEYS for less than two years when he was made Manager of BAILEYS LEICESTER. MIKE had originally joined as a Trainee Manager but his ability, drive and enthusiasm received quick recognition, and soon became manager of the largest nightclub in the company.



Back in the days

I began my career in the late night industry at Romeos and Juliet`s in Colyear Street. Back in the days when it was essential to work as a door supervisor, usually with two years or so of training before you began moving up the management ladder.

The building was fitted out in the 1960s (I am told) as a bowling alley, then converted into Baileys Cabaret Club around 1970. When Baileys was changed to Romeos and Juliet`s, many of the key staff were retained; Marie Burton, Angie Weston and Greg and Jane Kobernic. I joined the company in the early 1980s, when business was good, but not good enough to warrant the investment required to create the Pink Coconut.

John West, Daryl Rogers, John Kay and Jules Burton headed up the entertainment team, and Tony Walker and Stafford Scalley strengthened the management – and the business began to grow. The Pink Coconut opened on the 13th of October 1983. The following year it made over a million pounds profit, and continued to do so for many years to come.

Due to the phenomenal success of the Pink Coconut, Clouds discotheque (formerly Sadies), was added to the complex as the Slick Chick. Stafford Scalley took over as manager, and was assisted by John Sulley, who had been poached from the Rhode Island Diner.

The main bar was built within a greenhouse, onto which water “rained” onto the roof. Or that was the plan until it began to leak like a sieve. The second bar was further into the room, with a stage built on top of it – complete with a DJ dressed as an American Baseball player, and supporting cheer leaders.

When Stafford moved over to the Superbowl section of the company I took my first managers job at the Slick Chick.

Not of a bar, or a discotheque or a nightclub – but a “Fun Drinkery”

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